Modern high-speed rail travel hasn’t caught on dramatically in the United States as it has in Europe and Japan. The exception is the Northeast corridor, between Washington, DC, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York and Boston, served by Amtrak’s Acela Express Train. But now, California is looking to create its own statewide high-speed train system to ease congestion and improve the state’s environment. If built, the California High Speed Train System would connect the state’s major cities with a state-of-the-art transportation conduit for people and goods.
The map above shows a segment of the proposed train lines crisscrossing California. Click here or on the picture above to see a full route map. You should also click here to explore an excellent interactive route map that allows you to plot distance, time, and cost of travel between any two of the proposed stations. Cleverly, the map also shows the pounds of CO2 saved for each trip plotted.
A few examples: a trip from San Jose to Irvine would take 2 hours and 45 minutes and cost $55. San Francisco to Los Angeles would take 2 hours and 38 minutes and save 325 pounds of CO2. Like the fist example, this trip would also cost $55, compared to $126 for a flight and $86 by car, according to the map. The longest possible trip on the system–Sacramento to San Diego–would cover nearly 600 miles in 3 hours and 35 minutes, for only $68.
To build the train system, California voters will have to pass a $9.95 billion bond proposal on the November 2008 ballot. The state government is pulling out all the stops to convince voters to support the proposal. The project’s website claims the trains will create 450,000 new jobs, eliminate 10,000 automobile accidents per year, save 22 billion barrels of oil per year, and attract tourists and business to less accessible parts of the state. The site also includes snazzy videos that show gleaming trains speeding across California rural landscapes dotted with environmentally friendly wind turbines:
America has lagged behind much of the rest of the world in developing high-speed trains like those California is proposing. If the studies are to be believed, these trains can reduce congestion, improve the environment, and make it easier and more affordable for people to commute and travel long distances. Whether it succeeds or not, California’s plan is on the right track. If the system is built, it may rightly spur other states to develop similar transit plans.
I found the original information on this train system via Greater Greater Washington.