California’s electric bullet train: no electricity, no money, no “high speed”

“If built, California’s high-speed rail would be the largest public works project in state history. That fact alone seems intoxicating for state officials, in a perpetual quest to make California the first state to do anything,” I reported in 2011. This is how long California’s high-speed rail has served as nothing but a jobs program and a very bad joke to California voters and taxpayers.

In 2011, it was evident that the High Speed ​​Rail Authority was violating important mandates in the 2008 initiative, adopted by voters. Proposal 1A$9 billion in high-speed rail bonds, many of which warrantsnone of which can be legally circumvented on the way to building the massive rail system.

At the top of the list, the railway system must be at high speed. “Electric trains capable of generating maximum sustained revenue at operating speeds of at least 200 miles per hour,” the law states. However, much of the first segment between Fresno and Bakersfield is not high speed; high speed will also not be accessible in dense cities.

“Despite warnings of a skyrocketing price of nearly $100 billion, no tracks laid, no trains running, dwindling legislative support and even opposition from die-hard rail advocates, High-Speed​​ Rail Authority is moving full steam ahead with plans to build the most expensive high-speed rail system in history. It’s also from 2011 – 11 years ago. And nothing has changed except more spending on the train to nowhere.

A 2011 Field survey found that two-thirds of Californians want a new referendum on the project. And by a two-to-one margin, they say they would vote to derail it, just three years after passing Prop. 1A.

California Senate Republicans just released a “Myths versus Factsreport on the California high-speed rail debacle. They reported: “14 years later, this ‘efficient’ high-speed train was supposed to be completed in the early 2020s, but it is far from complete, as the cost has risen from $33 billion to $105 billion. of dollars. In the 2022-23 state budget, legislative Democrats earmarked an additional $4.2 billion for the first phase of the project, which would run from Bakersfield to Merced.

“Adding insult to California voters, the California High Speed ​​Rail Authority (HSRA) has published a website peddling high-speed rail myths,” Senate Republicans said. “While they suggest they try to ‘dispel myths’ and separate ‘fact from fiction’, their own website is full of more opinion than fact.”

Even in 2011, California’s high-speed rail pushers were agitating for the $3.5 billion in matching federal funding for the rail plan. However, this federal money came with a requirement for exclusive use in the economically depressed Central Valley.

A 2011 report by the legislative analyst found that future sources of funding for high-speed rail were “highly speculative” and that the economic impact analysis included in the rail authority’s plan “may be incomplete and unbalanced, and paints therefore the project more favorably than might be justified”.

You think? It’s 2022 and the high-speed train from San Francisco to Los Angeles is still just a pipe dream – especially the “high-speed” part.

In February 2019, President Trump called on California to return all federal rail funding, following Governor Gavin Newsom’s State of the State address where the governor vowed to kill the bullet train saying “There’s just no way to get from Sacramento to San Diego, let alone San Francisco to Los Angeles. However, Newsom reversed his pledge within a week, announcing that he was allowing a bizarre segment of the Central Valley Rail Project, dubbed the “Marriage Express,” to be built, running from jail to jail, from Madera to Bakersfield. The purpose of this weird and unnecessary rail line was to save California from having to return $3.5 billion to the federal government.

California Senate Republicans dive deeper and break down real myths versus facts:

Myth: The high-speed rail “will establish a clean and efficient 220 MPH transportation system”.

Do“There hasn’t been anything efficient in high-speed rail in California. The initial cost of the project was estimated at $33 billion and is now expected to reach at least $105 billion before completion. Worse still, the plan does not even provide for the purchase of trains anymore. So the state has no way to test if the system works, or if the trains can even reach the promised 220 mph.

I reported in 2011, “To complicate matters, the first segment of the rail system won’t even run high-speed trains until the whole system is built. The initiative required the train to be high-speed only.

Myth: The high-speed train will travel “from Los Angeles to San Francisco in about 2.5 hours for about $50 per person.”

Do: “In 2015, the Los Angeles Times conducted a study and determined that the cost of a high-speed rail ride from Los Angeles to San Francisco at best would be between $83 and $105. With the cost rising from $33 billion to at least $105 billion and inflation at its highest level in 40 years, the likely cost will be significantly higher if (or when) the system is ever completed.

Myth: The high-speed train will be completed by 2020.

Do: This date has passed. The first leg of the high-speed train, from Merced to Bakersfield, now has an estimated completion of 2029.

Remember, the initiative was passed by voters in 2008.

According to Proposal 1AThe California High Speed ​​Rail Authority must have all the financing in advance, before the start of any construction on a new segment.

Pacific Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison will provide power for the high-speed train, with estimates of additional power demands already reaching 1-5% of the state’s total power consumption. “Same Cal ISO has no cost estimate,” a Capitol staffer told me in 2012. “The high-speed rail must be a lot of energy. Where will the power come from?

This question has never been answered. And with California’s poor power grid, electric car owners are advised not to charge their cars on hot summer afternoons. It is clear that the state cannot manage the energy needs of high-speed rail or electric cars. they try to convince everyone to buy.

Here is what lawmakers and the High Speed ​​Rail Authority knew in 2011:

Based on July 2011 energy consumption analysis prepared for the California high-speed rail program management team, the total electricity consumption for the proposed rail system would be “8.32 million kilowatt hours (kWh) per day”, and more than 3 billion kWh per year.

The average three-person household in California consumes about 6,000 kWh per year, or just over 2,000 kWh per person.

According to the California Public Utilities Commissionstate electricity customers paid an average rate of about 15.2 cents per kWh.

At 15.2 cents per kWh, the total utility bill for high-speed rail would be nearly $1.26 million per day and more than $460 million per year. And that’s probably a very conservative estimate.

With California’s climate change mantra ‘no dirty coal’, ‘no natural gas’, no hydroelectricity’ and ‘no nuclear’, many are wondering if high-speed trains will be powered by wind turbines. , solar panels, cooking oil and seaweed. .

Try not to boil when you read California Senate Republicans High-speed rail myth versus reality. The California legislature has had 14 years to put a fork in this egregious debacle, but punt each time because it’s a bottomless pit of taxpayers’ money and a plethora of union jobs. It doesn’t matter to the majority party if something is ever built.

Jose P. Rogers