California High Speed Rail — is it worth to continue the project?


Kazuya Yasui

A Bullet Train at Tokyo Station stops.

Kazuya Yasui, Staff Writer

Announced in 2012, the California High-Speed Rail project brought a lot of excitement around it, as it promised riders a trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles in under 3 hours. The project was projected to be finished in 2020 with a 33 billion dollar price tag. 

However, it is now 2022, and the line is still under construction. The current estimated completion date is 2023 with a 100 billion dollar price tag, 67 billion dollars over budget.

“There is a lot of taxpayer money going into this project, so I know that these delays and over-budget are not only frustrating to the Rail Company, but also the regular person,” said Mihir Joshi (‘24)

The benefits of a high-speed rail line in California would definitely have its benefits, however. Because the line would be completely electrified it would cut down on the carbon emissions produced by planes and cars doing the commute to LA and vice versa. It would also make the commute much cheaper, with an estimated ticket cost of $53.

Driving and flying are much more detrimental to the environment than electrified high-speed rail because they almost exclusively rely on fossil fuels. Meanwhile California’s high-speed rail has the goal to be powered by 100% renewable energy. So one of the biggest benefits to giving Californians the choice of high-speed rail is helping to fight climate change.” said Maxwell Thogmartin, Social Media and Website Coordinator for California Highspeed Rail Authority

The projects can bring economic benefits to California too. A High-Speed Rail Line from LA to San Francisco would increase connectivity between the two economic regions. Because it would only take three hours to commute, it would somewhat make California one large economic zone, as you can take the train in the morning for a business trip, and be home back in time for dinner. 

For example, take a look at Osaka and Tokyo. When a high-speed rail line was built connecting the cities, it increased economic productivity between the two cities and small towns along the line. 

Before the trains even start running, the project has already created more than 7,500 good-paying jobs, mostly for folks in the Central Valley, and our investment has resulted in an estimated $13 billion in economic impact,” said Thogmartin

Even with the massive price tag on this project, the pros definitely outweigh the cons. The potential economic boost this project can give to California is too big to pass up. This is evident in the multiple other HSR projects going on in the US. 

We see our project as a proof of concept for skeptical or unaware Americans. There are other projects being envisioned right now, but none are as far along, already with so much under construction, as we are,” said Thogmartin