California needs a high speed rail system, that much is certain, but I'm not sure that the California HSR project is the way to get there. In both France and Japan, there were already very extensive rail networks in place when the HSR lines were built, and which could provide effective feeder services. In the case of France, the HSR trains generally continue off the HSR line and on regular lines, providing connections throughout the country.What California needs even more than High Speed Rail is Normal Speed Rail, namely conventional trains running on mixed-traffic lines, at speeds up to 125 mph. A travel time from LA to San Diego that edging ever closer to 3 hours is an embarrassment. The complete lack of trains from Los Angeles to San Francisco or Las Vegas is an embarrassment. Having a well-developed conventional network will allow the HSR to serve many more customers via connecting and through services. And it makes it possible to build the HSR network incrementally, rather in one huge mega-project.
Gapper writes, "... ride a taxi on the pot-holed and congested Brooklyn-Queens Expressway ... ," but then talks about "smooth flights, train rides and road travel, and speedy communications networks" in other cities.Might I suggest that Gapper try taking the Airtrain to the Long Island Rail Road the next time he flies into Kennedy? It's a smooth ride and a smooth transfer, and there's no problem getting a cell phone signal.It's true that in New York the road infrastructure is shitty. That's how we undermine the federal road subsidies and keep the trains competitive.
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