Will California's High-Speed Rail Be Obsolete From Day One?
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  • ljgude

    Indeed, pushing a technology beyond its natural limitations is sometimes not cost effective. I always thought the US was wise not to get involved in the Concorde. When I saw one from a 747 ready to take off at Heathrow I felt it shake the plane I was on impressively. I realized that it was mostly engine with a small passenger capacity and was a clear case of the law of diminishing returns. I agree this new technology is a long way from being realized, but this kind of huge ‘investment may not even make money over operating costs, never mind a return on investment. It looks like an expensive aspirational project that no one can afford.

  • Andrew Allison

    You omitted the major miscreant: “. . . California’s expensive white elephant of a high speed rail system is a more effective method of transferring the public’s money . . . and, via campaign contributions, etc., to politicians and their enablers than of moving people.
    The CEO’s last job, for example, was at “a global consulting firm assisting public and private clients to plan,
    develop, design, construct, operate and maintain critical infrastructure (http://www.pbworld.com/). The award of contacts will, of course, be scrupulously impartial! California’s HSR is an immense logrolling project doomed to failure at taxpayer expense.

  • Will California’s high-speed rail system be obsolete from Day One? Well, the answer is, it already is. Americans love their cars, love their planes and are indifferent to their trains. So why on earth do we want to spend incomprehensible amounts of money to build more of them?

  • MarkE

    This sounds like a scaled up version of the old pneumatic tube systems that we used to see in department stores. That was before fax and email and, probably, Elon Musk.

  • Corlyss

    I thought it was obsolete from conception.

    “This kind of scheme has long been a staple of science fiction, and the engineering obstacles between its conception and its production are not inconsiderable.”

    Right. Think “earthquakes.” And aesthetically its as bad as a windmill farm.

  • Pait

    High speed trains have worked in Europe and in Japan quite well for decades. It is a proven technology.

    Electric cars have a much less encouraging record, unfortunately. This blog seems to have a prejudice against high speed rail and a weak spot for electric cars, which may make it too excited about other unproven technologies such as ultratubes, hyperloops, and driverless cars.

    More attention to sober engineering analysis might be profitable.

    • rheddles

      Odd to use the word profitable when discussing HSR. In any country.

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