Bullet train could bring LA and San Francisco closer Gov. Jerry Brown and his wife Anne Gust sign a portion of the rail at the California High Speed Rail Authority ground breaking event (AP photos)
Bullet train could bring LA and San Francisco closer
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California has broken ground for its $68 billion high-speed rail system. The train promises to whisk travelers between Los Angeles and San Francisco in less than three hours.

The bullet train project is the first in the nation to get underway. The project faces challenges from cost-cutters in Congress and farmers suing to keep the rails off their fields. Others doubt the state can deliver the sleek system as designed. They worry it will become an expensive failure.

But Gov. Jerry Brown said high-speed rail is essential to meeting his latest goal. He wants the nation's most populous state to get half its power from renewable energy by 2030.

"It's not that expensive. We can afford it. In fact, we cannot NOT afford it," Brown said. "All these projects are a little touch and go. You'll have these critics say 'why spend all this money?'"

"On the other hand I like trains, I like clean air," Brown said. "And I like to enjoy the comfort of trains. I like to get up and walk around and shake hands. You can't do that in your little car as you look in your rearview mirror."

The high-speed rail project is one of the biggest public works endeavors in the country. Its supporters say it promises to boost the state's economy with thousands of jobs, including many in the Central Valley. That area has been hard-hit by recession and drought.

Zooming along at 200 mph, the trains could unite northern and southern California like never before.

The high-speed train tickets will be similar to the cost of air travel, promoters say. The trains would deliver people to downtown stations, saving more time and money. Fares are projected to run from $81 to $89 one-way between San Francisco and Los Angeles.

By comparison, riding Amtrak between east San Francisco Bay and Los Angeles now takes 11 to 19 hours. It costs $59 to $138 each way. That rivals the expense of an airline flight, which takes about an hour and 15 minutes.

By car, the journey takes at least 6 1/2 hours in the best traffic. The price varies widely depending on the type of car, gasoline prices and highway tolls.

Gina McCarthy is administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. She said the all-electric trains will run on renewable energy. The trains, she said, will take cars off highways and provide an alternative to flying on jet fuel, which pumps far more greenhouse gas into the atmosphere.

High-speed rail is good for our health. It is good for our climate and it is good for our economy," she said.

About a dozen protesters shouted "show me the money" during the groundbreaking for the train. The system will initially share existing rails with freight trains, but the plan is for it to eventually travel at higher speeds on dedicated rails.

Californians approved a nearly $10 billion bond for the train in 2008. In 2012, the federal government dedicated $3.3 billion in stimulus funds.

Bullet train systems make money in other countries. California officials are banking on this one to entice private investments. They want to see development around the stations to offset the costs.

The initial work is on a 142-mile stretch north and south of Fresno. By 2029, planners hope to complete 520 miles of rails. They would link San Francisco's downtown Transbay Terminal to Union Station in downtown Los Angeles.

Critical thinking challenge: San Francisco and Los Angeles are hundreds of miles apart. How will the bullet train make the cities seem closer?

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COMMENTS (82)
  • JM2000Blue
    1/26/2015 - 08:36 a.m.

    The bullet will make La and Los Angeles seem closer because it makes traveling from place to place easier and more affordable. The 3 hours t takes on the train is probably quicker than what people used before the train.

  • arifv-Tho
    1/26/2015 - 12:03 p.m.

    I think 68 billion is to much for a underground train because its just a waste of money and time. If i was to vote i would say no to having build .

  • Lin03
    1/26/2015 - 12:50 p.m.

    By car, the trip takes 6.5 hours, if not more. That seems like a long time. By chopping of half of that time, it makes these to big cities seem "closer" because now people can get to and from San Francisco and Los Angeles quicker.

    • christinab-Lam
      1/26/2015 - 04:37 p.m.

      Making the trip quicker doesn't make the trip more fun, though making all of the cool stops along the way is what makes the trip worthwhile. On a train, there are no stops.

  • calebbeast111
    1/26/2015 - 02:17 p.m.

    How could a bullet train bring cites together? The bullet train project is the first in the nation to get underway. Zooming along at 200mph could bring California closer than before. High speed rail is good for our health. It is good for our climate and it is good for our economy.

  • ksadat-5
    1/26/2015 - 03:55 p.m.

    California has spent sixty eight billion dollars on a bullet train that guarantees passage from LA to San Francisco in less than three hours. From tons of freeways and an approximate 8 hours driving distance, this is a new breakthrough in transportation. This allows people to enjoy the convenience of not driving eight hours to San Francisco and also do it in half the time. The building of the train will be one of the biggest building projects in the US.

    This is a huge break through. California is building a train from San Francisco to LA. The train ride will be about three hours, think about it, eight hours driving or three hours relaxing. The tickets will range from $81 to $89. Not only much cheaper than a flight, this train allows you to be at a destination on time, no luggage check. Put your baggage in the compartment and enjoy three hours of relaxing. This will be a big help to some families who travel from LA to San Francisco a lot.

  • paytont-Lam
    1/26/2015 - 04:45 p.m.

    It's amazing that the U.S is thinking about making a bullet train. We shouldn't waste so much money on a moving piece of metal because we could be using at least a billion of that money to find cures for diseases.

  • Eriku2
    1/26/2015 - 06:07 p.m.

    California is thinking of making a 68 bilion dollar bullet train. It will go from Los Angeles to San Francisco. it will only take 3 hours to get from L.A. to San Francisco. I think this a good new way of transportation.

  • sebastianserrano1
    1/26/2015 - 06:11 p.m.

    Its cool That they took of half of 6.5 hours to get there by car and it goes half that speed is just awesome. It makes these major cities a lot closer like from san Francisco to Los Angeles faster.

  • StephanieS-3
    1/26/2015 - 08:06 p.m.

    A train in California has promised to deliver passengers from place to place for at most 3 hours. The bullet train project has been the first to go into action but faces many challenges. Some worry that the project will just be an expensive failure. The governor says that the project is essential to his plans for the future. He wants California to use renewable energy for half of its power by 2030. I think that this goal might not be able to get accomplished, but it's possible. I'm not exactly sure if I support it or not.

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