California “Bullet Train Follies” (Cont’d.)

As we had occasion to observe earlier ( ) the planned California Bullet Train may be one of those ideas whose time has come, sort of, but its detailed planning and eventual execution may be another story.

The Los Angeles Times (Dan Weikel and Rich Connell, Bullet Train Plan Under Fire, L.A. Times, April 5, 2010, at p. AA1) brings the dispatch that there is a serious difference of opinion among the movers and shakers as to how to implement this idea.

On one hand the High-Speed Rail Authority folks want to have a separate right of way for the bullet train, which seems reasonable, being as those trains are expected to hit 200 mph. But on the other hand, the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority folks want the new high-speed train tracks to fit into the existing railroad right of way between Anaheim and Los Angles. They note with alarm that laying down new tracks for high-spped trains in the densely populated Anaheim-Los Angeles corridor will require the use of eminent domain to acquire hundreds of homes in the Anaheim area alone. That may gladden the hearts of local condemnation lawyers, but it would double the projected cost of the Anaheim-Los Angeles segment and bring it up to about $4.5 billion, whereas using the existing rights of way would trim that figure by some $2 billion.

Oh, yes. Hidden in this story is the dispatch that to meet projected ridership figures under the proposed plans for the bullet train, those trains would have to run — are you ready? — every five minutes. Wow! Do you suppose they can do it, or is it another one of the familiar ridership projections that are prognosticated for new public transportation projects, that almost never materialize?

Update. The Los Angeles Times (Rich Connell, High-Speed Rail Plan Revived, April 9, 2010, at p. AA%) reports that the plan to use the existing rail right of way corridor between Los Angeles and Anaheim has been revived and is being considered by the California High Speed Rail Suthority. From this article we learn that these folks are not just talking about both kinds of trains running on different tracks within the existing corridor, but the existing tracks would be upgraded and jointly used by regular as well as high-speed trains.

Given the  — shall we say? — less than stellar safety record of trains in California, that gives us pause. A collision at 200 mph? Yikes! That gives a whole new meaning to the old exppression “train wreck.”