High Speed Railway: A Needed Pipeline Or A Hopeless Pipe Dream?

With the seemingly ever-changing nature of the California high-speed rail system, many people are starting to wonder: Is it ever going to happen? Even more so, with the many changes that have been made from the original plan, is it even worth it for the project to continue?

The original plan of the high-speed rail saw the line going from Los Angeles to San Francisco with stops throughout the Central Valley and a promise of extending it to Sacramento and San Diego.

As a Fresnan who looked forward to the opportunities that would become available with the original plan, I am left disappointed with the now scaled-back plan for the railway.

As of February 2019, Governor Gavin Newsom announced a shift in priorities, assuring the completion of part of the original high speed rail – the route from Merced to Bakersfield. This casts doubt on the rest of the San Francisco to Los Angeles route being completed, never mind the planned extensions to go from Sacramento to San Diego.

This route has left the railway with the label of “the train to nowhere” since it no longer connects two of the largest hubs in the state.

While this leaves many in the valley, myself included, disillusioned with the reality of what this high-speed rail will connect, it will still help the valley in many ways by bringing the urban and rural communities of the valley easier access to each other.

The railway, which had a budget of around $45 billion and an expected completion time of 2020 in 2010, now has an inflated budget of $77.3 billion and an estimated completion time of 2033,13 years behind the original projected date, according to the latest report by the high-speed rail authority in 2018.

So with all of these setbacks – from the fight from homeowners and businesses that would be left displaced to the constant back-and-forth between the federal and state government for funding – we are left to ponder which setback will be the one that forces people to finally start seeing it as an unattainable goal. Or, if it’s ever completed, if it was even worth the trouble.

For me personally, I am still excited with the possibility of a high-speed rail that travels throughout California, but with the constant drawbacks from what the original plan was, I await to see what the next development in the production of this railway will be.

Rocky Walker (he/him/his)

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