Sunday Open Thread
A couple quick HSR-related items:
- Freight rail companies and their supporters take issue with CHSRA CEO Roelof van Ark’s comments that Peninsula tunnels are unworkable because of incompatibility with freight rail. It’s true that in some cities, like underneath downtown Seattle, there are freight rail tunnels. But along the Peninsula, they’ll need lots of ventilation, which will rile up the NIMBYs. And the cost is still enormous. As we’re going to see on Tuesday, the political window for building gold-plated HSR infrastructure is about to slam shut. Governor Jerry Brown, should he win a third term, is very unlikely to support anything but the cheapest HSR infrastructure. And Congress is about to become inhospitable to this kind of funding. The real problem with Peninsula tunneling is cost, something many of its supporters have never acknowledged.
- Despite claims that investors would never be interested in high speed rail, they’re showing quite a lot of interest in the UK’s High Speed 1 line from London to the Chunnel. While I’m not so sure I want the vampire squid to be so deeply involved in the California HSR project, this is further evidence that once we get the level of federal funding we need, we can fully expect private investors to get involved. Whether that’s a good thing or not remains an open question.