CAHighSpeedRail25 karma2021-04-27 17:51:42 UTC
We cannot emphasize how important it is to have a reengaged federal partner. A big transformational project like this can only be done in a spirit of collaboration and partnership. Specifically in the President's proposal, we see billions of dollars potentially available in proposed competitive grants. Our current business plan outlines our timetable for the sections of the project if funding is identified. So we're not contemplating any specific accelerations at this time. We're just keeping our head down and doing the work.
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CAHighSpeedRail24 karma2021-04-27 17:21:24 UTC
I'll assume you're talking about cost estimates. The alternative is to not be open and transparent about how our estimates change. This project is a massive, once-in-a-generation undertaking, and adjustments shouldn't be surprising, but they should be well-managed and reflect the best information available. Since 2018, our CEO Brian Kelly has been adamant on presenting a range of costs, clarity about the level of certainty around certain costs, and making big changes to agency to be both streamlined and accountable. He has also focused the Authority on delivering what it can, as soon as it can, with the money in hand. He's patient and committed. So, more like Schroeder doing his best with the piano he has, rather than Lucy and her football.
This project, like high-speed rail systems globally, has always been about building out in blocks. Starting with the Central Valley system, which is home to more than 3 million people; Fresno has a larger population than Atlanta and New Orleans; the Valley has some of the worst air quality and highest rates of Asthma; we're already removing or avoiding more emissions in *construction* than we're creating. And our purpose-built infrastructure will be the only place in the US that we'll be able to test and certify our trainsets at the speeds approved by voters in 2008.
CAHighSpeedRail22 karma2021-04-27 19:20:44 UTC
Thank you for the question! In addition to door to door travel time (which can vary widely based on your proximity to an airport vs. proximity to a downtown HSR station), it is important to also consider consistent travel time between those two major markets. On top of that, compared with a plane journey, your trip on a high-speed train involves more productive time, such as more time on your laptop for work, or a smoother overall journey for a good nap. The Los Angeles – San Francisco air corridor is the busiest air corridor in the country. In fact, it is one of the busiest air routes in the world. But with that activity comes delay: according to the Bureau of Travel Statistics, from 2012 to 2019, an average of 20% of arrivals to LAX and 25% of arrivals to SFO experienced a delay. HSR will not be subject to the same types of delays due to the dedicated right-of-way being built for the system. High-speed rail addresses a critical issue of capacity: shifting trips from flying or driving to high-speed rail postpones the need for additional capacity increases at the busiest and most congested airports as well as roadways. Around the world, countries that have initiated high-speed rail service between two destination cities—such as San Francisco and Los Angeles—have seen the type of mode shift we would expect, 30% or greater from the air market. Also, HSR provides an environmentally responsible alternative to travel between LA and SF. In the first 50 years of operation, cumulative reductions of tailpipe emissions are projected to be up to 100 million metric tons of carbon dioxide avoided. The fact is that the cost of inaction on climate change will result in costs that outweigh the cost of mitigation measures. We can’t afford not to act on climate change. Check out some of these studies which are just a few that highlight the need for action as soon as possible:
Yes, as we have refined design we have refined our cost estimates; that is normal for project delivery. As we advance the detail of design, we will gain a greater understanding of the total cost for delivery of full Phase 1 system to Californians. And yes, certainly cities need investment in local transit. State funding from several sources, and new proposed federal funding for transit, can help with capital expansion and operational improvements. In addition, the Authority is working with regional partners to implement a statewide rail modernization plan that will invest billions of dollars in local and regional passenger rail lines to meet the state’s 21st century transportation needs. However, the Authority’s principal mission is to connect the state’s megaregions to the Central Valley. By connecting the growing Central Valley, the Authority is meeting Governor Newsom’s challenge for the state’s regions to rise together.
CAHighSpeedRail19 karma2021-04-27 18:00:56 UTC
The Authority is developing a solution that will utilize a combination of solar generation along the route, large scale grid level battery storage and agreements with utilities to provide only energy from renewable sources. This will ensure that 100% of the energy used by the system will come from fully renewable sources.
CAHighSpeedRail16 karma2021-04-27 19:15:43 UTC
If we went back to France in the 80s or Spain in the 90s, they too probably felt their project was going too slowly! Building out new, dedicated HSR lines does take time, and at least in their cases their existing passenger rail networks were more robust than ours.
Here in California, we are really proud of being at the forefront of environmental sustainability and determining impacts of construction progress. But that does take time. The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) is a worthwhile but often lengthy process to determine the impacts to communities and land as a result of development. We also are subject to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). These reviews are valuable though! It means we work with and connect communities, rather than just going around or through them. Happily, in terms of streamlining the process, in 2019, the Authority signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Federal Rail Authority to assume the responsibilities as lead agency under NEPA. This allows the state environmental review responsibilities under NEPA for the Phase 1 system. The Authority will be able to accelerate project delivery while protecting the environment, by conducting more efficient environmental reviews and approvals of the environmental documents required to advance the High-Speed Rail Program.
Another element to consider is a slightly different rail market and supply chain which introduces some delay, but is worth developing! Just compared to Europe, California does not have as well of an established passenger railroad and supply chain system that feeds the project delivery process. However, the Authority is doing a lot by creating and growing this industry and expanding the rail supply chain so future project segments will be both faster and cheaper.
We agree that we want to advance as much of the system as quickly as possible. The Authority is actively engaging with the federal government to seek additional funding for completion of the project. And we have also engaged with private sector interests to understand what aspects of the project delivery are appropriate for the private sector to engage in, and what the Authority can do to improve the certainty of project advancement, better define project configuration, and refine cost estimates that reflect realities on the ground. This is one of the reasons the 2020 Business Plan focuses on advancing design work in each segment statewide once each segment’s environmental work is completed.
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