A new dispatch from the Los Angeles Times informs us that the transportation nabobs who say they are about to give us our very own, la-la land “bullet train,” had been consulting successful high-speed train operators, namely the French SNCF and the Japan Railway Co., operator of the Shinkansen “bullet trains” over there. Dan Weikel and Ralph Vartabedian, High-Speed Rail Officials Rebuffed Proposal From French Railway, L.A. Times, July 9, 2012. http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-rail-advice-20120709,0,4539140.story
The French wanted to work with us but they thought that it would save money to select a route along the Central Valley’s Interstate 5 corridor. One would have thought that they know what they are talking about, being that they have been successfully operating their Train a Grande Vitesse system with 1100 miles of track, running 800 high-speed trains a day. Which goes to show that the French may know something besides good cooking. According to their approach, money would be saved by using existing state-owned rights-of-way along a shorter, more direct Central Valley route. Their conclusion: “California has a wish list, not a plan.”
As for the Japanese who successfully run the famous Shinkansen train, they “turned their attention elsewhere when the [California railroad] authority decided to save money by sharing tracks in major urban areas with freight and passenger trains.” Which sounds like a sensible thing for them to do. And if your memory runs that far back, you may recall that the Japanese are also experienced with the concept of Kamikaze, and they know that you don’t do it with trains, so they prefer dedicated high-speed tracks for high-speed trains.