DesertXpress May Miss Connection
California High-Speed Rail
Not Up To Speed
Posted December 17, 2011
California High-Speed Rail Impacts DesertXpress
The Newberry Springs Community Alliance and the local property owners association
have voiced opposition to the DesertXpress rail proposal which will weaken Barstow's economy and
DesertXpress' financial viability is tied to many factors, one of which is a
future Palmdale passenger connection with the proposed California High-Speed Rail system.
The California High-Speed Rail Authority has been taking a beating recently in its
inability to meet a voter imposed mandate; that of complying with a 2-hour 40-minute transit
time between Los Angeles and the Bay Area. This time mandate is deemed necessary for the
rail system to compete with airline competition and the requirement was included in the 2008 voter
approved proposition for the issuance of high-speed rail state bonds.
A major operating expense for the California high-speed proposal will be
electrical power for engine propulsion. Due to aerodynamic drag, an increase of 35 MPH
from 160 MPH to 195 MPH raises costly power consumption by 50%.
About 11 countries operate high-speed rail; some with capable speeds of up
220 MPH; however, the California operator needs an economical operation of 160 MPH or
below for financial sustainability.
The current California High-Speed Rail has been proposed to be routed from
Los Angeles through Palmdale and then to Bakersfield. However, due to political realignments
in other parts of the state, the rail line may now need to bypass Palmdale and directly align with
the I-5 through the Gorman area.
Removing the Palmdale jog would decrease travel time by 15
This more direct route is being proposed because the longer route realignments
in the north prevent the train from meeting its mandated timetable. The 2-hour 40-minute time
would be for an express, nonstop train between L.A. and San Francisco.
The California High-Speed Rail Authority has failed to respond to the Community
Alliance for engineering and building costs for such a mountainous route. High-speed trains
go through mountains, not climb them. The 4,000-foot elevation is seasonally impacted by snow
and creating a high-speed rail grade over the mountain would appear to be cost prohibited.
Under the current route proposal, 106 miles of the route will be along existing
rail line where speed would have to be reduced to between 110 and 125 MPH. This would
necessitate speeds of more than 190 MPH on other portions of the route to meet the timetable.
Should Palmdale be removed from the California High-Speed Rail route, the
DesertXpress would not be able to connect there and the strength of DesertXpress to acquire
construction capital would be diminished.
Non-express trains that will stop at each station will take considerably
longer commute times. It takes a high-speed train 7 minutes to accelerate and 7 minutes
to slow to a stop.
Opponents of the California High-Speed Rail on Capital Hill have called the
project a boondoggle deception that is laced with corruption and bureaucratic experimentation.
The California High-Speed Rail Authority has already paid-out $800 million in research studies in
the last 15 years. Its chief executive is paid an annual $375,000 salary, more than Amtrak's
The Authority's latest business plan appears to have bloated income projections
on revenues; such as basing some financial predictions on an estimate that the Merced station
would be handling more passengers than New York City's Penn Station.
Despite a groundswell of growing opposition against the project in California,
the Obama Administration is determined to finance it with deficit federal funding.