High speed railway coming to California, Gov claims U.S. rail system needs upgrade

  • Chicago (IL) - California Governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, will be overseeing a technology injection into the state's railway system. A new high-speed bullet train will be built in California over the next two decades. The 800 mile railway will travel at speeds up to 220 miles per hour, and is the first major advance in railway commuter speed in the U.S. over the past 100 years.

    Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said, "We need a high-speed rail. Our rail system in America is so old, we are driving the same speed as we did 100 years ago. We should do what other countries do. All over the world we see high-speed rail. We should do the same in this country, and especially in this state."

    California's population alone is expected to be 50 million people by the year 2030, the planned time of full completion for the upgrades. To avoid everybody having a car driven to and from work every single day in bumper-to-bumper traffic, this kind of mass transit system would save on pollution and, as been shown in other countries, could ultimately prove to be a very cost effective way of moving large numbers of commuters around.

    The rail system will be modeled after similar systems in Japan and France. It will be 800 miles of extremely straight track, costing an estimated $50 billion. The funding will consume budget resources that would've otherwise gone to update the highway infrastructure and building new runways. Critics suggest the project could cost $81 billion. California officials believe up to $16 billion will be provided by federal aid, which is part of the Obama administration's $787 billion stimulus package.

    Quentin Kopp, chairman of the California High-Speed Rail Authority, said, "It would be difficult, if not impossible, to add that kind of airport capacity and freeway capacity." The plan calls for a system with one component capable of providing a two hour and 38 minute ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles, making return day-trips by rail practical and feasible -- an alternative to expensive air travel.

    David Allgood, the California League of Conservation Voters, said in a phone interview to AFP, "The advantages are great. It's more energy efficient and cleaner to move people around on trains than in planes or cars. There are just too many people on the roads. High-speed rail will save a lot on emissions."

    The alleged environmental benefits would come from an anticipated savings of 12 million barrels of oil annually. And, speaking personally, if a far better railway system existed in this country, I would gladly take trains for all of my long-distance domestic traveling as I truly hate to fly.

    See the original AFP article republished on Yahoo News Canada.