China Announces 32 New High-Speed Rail Lines and the U.S. Is Building 1?

China is announcing the roll-out of 32 new high-speed rail lines tomorrow. Check out the Chinese high-speed rail yard below, and below the map that shows the shortened travel times between Chinese cities once new lines are built. And then read this excerpt from the Planning Report's just-published Q & A with CA High Speed Rail Authority CEO Jeff Morales:

"Our transportation infrastructure is at its capacity," Morales told the Planning Report. "We can’t keep building more roads. If you think what we are going through in clearing two tracks up and down the state is difficult, think about what it would mean to add 4,500 lane miles of freeway. That’s what would be needed to replace the capacity of our system. Think about what it would mean to try to add runways and new terminals at airports, because that’s what would be needed. Compared to our price tag, those alternatives are two to three times higher. An investment like this is absolutely critical.

"High-speed rail is filling a niche. That’s what it has done around the world. That’s what it will do here in California. It’s not about replacing cars or trains. It’s about providing transportation in a way that makes the most sense. A lot of people don’t realize that LA-to-San Francisco is the busiest short-haul air market in the country. In addition to the air quality issues that brings, it is not a very efficient way to utilize public facilities—runways—at airports. Airports would much rather use those to serve long-haul flights. That’s why San Francisco Airport is one of our major proponents, calling high-speed rail its third runway. That’s the answer to its capacity as we go forward. Our system will fill that niche, creating a much more efficient way to move people within the state on trips that aren’t efficient by car or plane.

"Very importantly—and I say this sometimes to the dismay of our engineers and manufacturers—it isn’t about the train. It’s about connecting up the state and what that can mean for its future. The folks who wrote Proposition 1A, which provides the initial funding for the program, had a lot of foresight to insist that the system connect all of the state’s population centers. That’s never been done before. When I-5 was built, it bypassed the Central Valley—which has 5-8 million people, depending on where you define boundaries.

"It’s going to be completely transformative to connect the Central Valley with the rest of the state for the first time. It’s going to connect Palmdale and the High Desert area to Los Angeles in a way it’s not connected today. It’s going to connect the Central Valley with Silicon Valley. Even within the Peninsula, driving up and down the 101 can take at least an hour, not to mention the aggravation that ages you even further as you’re driving. A half-hour connection between San Francisco and San Jose will change how that economy works."

Read more in the December issue of the Planning Report.

Donate Volunteer Find an Event


get updates