The decision by Gavin Newsom, the newly-minted Gov. of hyper-blue California to pull the plug on the Bay area to Los Angeles line is important. It is noteworthy that the Bakersfield to Merced route currently under construction will move forward, but the more critical, populous, and costly route will not move forward “at this time.”
The development of high speed rail across America will be VERY expensive if seriously pursued, but Randal O’Toole in his recent book really dismantles the case for widespread deployment of high speed rail in the USA. Basically, having to create new infrastructure to get from point to point nationwide is going to be incredibly expensive. The beauty of airports is that once they are built, they can be used to fly anywhere. High speed rail will require a literal “hub and spoke” system to every major city and the costs of that will be astronomical. (The book is still worth a read) This is just one component of the “Green New Deal” that is unrealistic and very expensive.
Finally, the Rail Runner remains New Mexico’s rail boondoggle. Larry Barker at KRQE did an excellent report recently found that taxpayers spent $800,000 on a “Lobo” platform for the train that is not even used. Of course, the train already has too many stops and the addition of the Santa Fe Zia stop didn’t help matters, but the number of stations and their placement is a political matter.
Ultimately, outside of a few high-population corridors, inter-city rail doesn’t make much sense. Where it DOES make sense (like the Bay area to Los Angeles) it is often so expensive to build that it doesn’t make sense once construction prices are considered. Policymakers (from New Mexico to California to Washington, DC) need to read Randal O’toole’s book, really.