The California High Speed Rail Network "The Bullet Train"

California Bullet Train
Rendering from/by Paula Wallis, TunnelTalk Jan - 2012

I am a big supporter in California building and operating a High Speed Rail Network throughout the state in the future – Here are the reasons why!

Every technologically advanced and innovative country on this planet has one and they cannot all be wrong – in fact I believe they are right in doing so. Japan, China, France, Germany, Spain, and more all have been building high speed rail networks since the early 80’s and why , because High Speed Rail Networks literally helped to transforms their economies.

California Bullet Train
Rendering from/by The Contributor, Chaz Bolte Published May 6, 2014

One of the more successful transformation of how a country travels was accomplished in the country of France with the TGV (French: Train à Grande Vitesse, "high-speed train") – in two decades the country of France built a high speed rail system connecting all of its major cities resulting in one of the most efficient ways to travel and transforming how the French travel throughout their country. As result of their high speed rail networks the French people could move freely, live and work in another city if they chooses to do so. California can and should do the same.

The TGV helped France propel their economy as individuals found work where otherwise they may not have had the opportunity to do so. In addition the TGV spawned entire new industries built around the TGV train and stations putting many more people to work. The TGV High Speed Train was not just a train it was the French internet to economic growth through people movement and new business creation.

California Bullet Train California Bullet Train

The attacks of 9-11 demonstrated the single point of failure of the US Transportation System that exist to this day!

In less than a few hours 30,000 domestic and 5000 international flights were grounded, rental cars gone within hours, hotels filled to capacity as several million business and leisure travelers were literally stuck for days throughout the US and Canada sometimes hundreds if not more than one to two thousand miles from home. Travelers were hard put to get back home or to their destination for days!

A high speed rail network in the US can be the back-up transportation system in the event air traffic shuts down. THE US NEEDS IT!! Why not start it in the one place where a high speed rail network is already being planned – California! The US is the only advanced country that has no such back up travel network leaving not only passengers stranded in the wake of a disaster but affecting businesses for months. The US has no high speed rail manufacturing so why not start that in California as well. In addition, the High Speed Rail Network should be a US effort, not just a California effort, and it is my belief it should be in part funded by the Federal Government

The most critical issue in California is creating economic growth.

A High Speed Rail Network will assist us to achieve that goal. Individuals who live in cities such as Bakersfield, Fresno, and the like will be able to commute to Los Angeles for work, and vice versa. On a monthly rail pass an individual living in Palmdale or Lancaster area could commute for work as far away as Sacramento on a daily basis. That’s huge as individuals who may otherwise not be able to find work where they live in their particular expertise and industry may not need to upheave their families and move.

California Bullet Train A High Speed Rail Network would boost the California Economy through thousands of new construction jobs in fields such as bridge building, tunneling, track production, earth movement, station building, and much, much more.

There would be a creation of entirely new companies in goods and services in all of the major cities linking the high speed rail network.

The High Speed Rail Network is the Innovation and Insight California needs for economic growth!

As part of my personal goal as governor for the High Speed Rail Network of California is to work with Federal regulators to ease regulations on local small and medium size community banks that will be located along the network route.

Small and medium size community banks will be critical in helping the formation of small businesses that are connected to the rail system by providing good loans and credit to construction, goods, and service companies because small and medium size community banks understand the credit risks better than anybody else. It is the small and medium size businesses that will be the engine of economic growth around the High Speed Rail Network in California.

California Bullet Train California Bullet Train

Construction materials such as steel for the tracks and rebar for concrete will have to come from US based manufacturers.

There are no bullet trains currently manufactured in the United States, but for the California High Speed Rail Network the train supplier will need to build factories that assemble the trains in Bakersfield and Fresno providing for hundreds US based local jobs i.e. boosting their local economies.

California Bullet Train California Bullet Train

Passenger Travel but Also Light-freight via High Speed Rail (HSR)!

“As high-speed rail (HSR) networks that provide passenger transport are developed and put into operation, they provide another modal opportunity to move freight as well as people. While existing freight rail operations will always move larger, heavier cargoes, an opportunity exists to transport a selected subset of cargo via HSR. For example, high-value and/or time-sensitive goods may be well suited to HSR, particularly over midrange distances. HSR may also work well for transporting the goods of freight integrators, such as United Parcel Service (UPS), FedEx and the United State (U.S.) Postal Service (small package delivery). High-speed rail has the potential to increase freight capacity and reduce the number of trucks on congested roadways while generating a stream of revenue that could aid in capital and operating costs.”

REFERENCE: The above paragraph taken directly from Report: Preliminary Investigation - Caltrans Division of Research, Innovation and System Information DRSI - The Feasibility of Moving Freight on HighSpeed Rail Networks Requested by Joanne McDermott and Todd LaCasse Caltrans Office of Freight Planning April 27, 2015

The tourism boost via The High Speed Rail Network of California

Tourism in California is a big industry just take a look at the below statistics for 2016:

2016 Travel Impacts (source: Dean Runyan Associates)

  • Total direct travel spending in California was $126.3 billion in 2016, a 3.1 percent increase from 2015
  • Travel spending in California directly supported 1,096,000 jobs, with earnings of $45.4 billion
  • Travel spending in 2016 generated $4.9 billion in local taxes and $5.3 billion in state taxes

A similar projected 3.1 percent increase is expected in 2017

California Bullet Train

A tourist can visit Hollywood and have dinner in San Francisco on the same day without the stress of driving or flying, at the same time traveling in first class comfort seeing the landscape passing by the window.

The California High Speed Rail Network may just boost tourism to new levels.

The Funding Challenge

The biggest challenge is funding High Speed Rail construction in California. Construction costs of the rail system is now estimated at around $68 Billion possibly more. The construction of the High Speed Rail Network is no small feat either and is similar to the effort and complexity of building the Panama Canal. There are economic similarities as well that go beyond the cost of the project for that in every dollar spent in construction may result in more than a $5 return to the California Economy, or some half-a-trillion USD. Every similar project of this magnitude that mankind has undertaken has eventually resulted in a massive return to their respective economies. For instance massive projects like the Apollo Program was a $750 Billion return to the US Economy, Hoover Dam, Panama Canal all yielded big returns and benefits to the US Economy. The initial benefit will be a massive boom in engineering and construction jobs through 2030 in California. However, once built the economic scale should shift to a tourism boom the likes we have not seen before and similar to what occurred in other countries when the bullet train was completed there, estimated at 10% plus per year. The economic benefits to California are far reaching across many businesses in California and will be there for decades to come. In the future the question may very well become not why we built the High Speed Rail Network, but why did we take so long to decide to do it when everyone else in the World apparently knew what we did not know long beforehand.

California Bullet Train California Bullet Train

Funding for the California High Speed Rail Network needs to be just as creative – possibly split into a triad funding mechanism and the high speed rail network does not need to be built overnight, it should just eventually be built:

  • Federal Government Funding - $7 to $10 billion per year until built!

    Incremental Investment return to the Federal Government will be immediate for decades in taxes, both construction and operation and the Federal Government may more than just recoup its investment. In fact it probably will.
  • Private investment in station building all along the routes run as separate individual business profit centers similar to malls. Investment return through sales of goods and services as well as a small tax on ticket receipts.
  • Partial State Funding – Investment return through taxes on tickets and other mechanisms.

California Bullet Train California Bullet Train

“It is better to do something with the visions we have to try to make them a reality rather than sit idly by and be safe doing nothing at all!”