California to get America's fastest high-speed rail line
By Ben Coxworth
July 31, 2013
When people grumble about how they think the US isn’t as technologically advanced as it should be, they like to bring up bullet trains – Europe and Asia have them, so why doesn’t America? Well, it’s getting one. Work is starting this summer on a high-speed rail line running from San Francisco to Los Angeles, that will carry a passenger train traveling at over 200 mph (322 km/h).
The first part of the line to be built will be a 65-mile (105 km) stretch between the Californian cities of Fresno and Merced, with the SF to LA run scheduled for completion in 2029. At that time, it is projected that passengers will be able to make the whole trip in three hours. Ultimately, plans call for the line to run 800 miles (1,287 km) from Sacramento to San Diego, incorporating up to 24 stops along the way.
Not much information is available on the train itself, although it will be electric, running entirely on renewable energy – a combination of wind, solar, geothermal and biogas. Construction of the line should also be carbon-neutral, as trees will be planted to offset the carbon generated in the construction process. In fact, the main purpose of the project is to lower the state of California's total greenhouse gas emissions.
So far, only US$10 billion of the project’s $68 billion price tag has been raised, although it is hoped that investors from countries such as China may be able to help make up the difference.
Amtrak’s Acela Express is currently the fastest train in the US, capable of a maximum speed of 150 mph (241 km/h) – although it typically travels at about half that speed. Depending on whose definition you go by, that may or may not qualify it as a high-speed train.