Is there no end to it? Evidently not. Today’s Los Angeles Times reveals that the deal between California and the feds who are partially financing the California high-speed rail line — whose first link is supposed to run between Bakersfield and Fresno, down the largely empty middle of the Central Valley, and coincidentally, the middle of nowhere — provides that just in case the high-speed rail project does not pan out, the tracks built for it would be used by Amtrack. Sounds prudent in the abstract, but there are two hitches to it. First, Amtrack wants no part of it. It has not done any studies, including cost-benefit studies of the impact of such an operation on its existing service. Second, the high-speed tracks have been designed to bypass svereal small towns, which is where the central valley population that would presumably use the conjectured Amtrack service line lives. So it’s difficult to see how Amtrack could serve those folks.
Altogether, it’s a jim-dandy contigency plan, except that it can’t accomplish its intended purpose.
For the L.A. Times story, see Dan Weikel and Ralph Vartabedian, Plan to Use Amtrack as Fallback for High-Speed Rail Criticized, L.A. Times, December 27, 2011 — click here.