Comparing China high-speed rail vs CA HSR is not apples to apples


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Let’s set the “feel good” emotions of high-speed rail aside for some realism. For over 50 years I have enjoyed the rush of high-speed starting with my involvement in drag racing to our recent trip on the maglev train in China. That said let’s look at some numbers, especially as some proponents point out that China provides high-speed passenger service.
 
The Wuhan-Guagzhou CRH high-speed line covers 601 miles. Two of its 21 trains provide non-stop service between those two major cities in 3 hours. Wuhan has a population of 9.7 million people while Guangzhou’s population is 10.25 million. Their local HSR trains, covering the same starting and finishing point, provides service at Xinaning-[population 2.8 million]; Chibi–[population 500,000]; Yueyang-[-population 5.5 million]; Changsha-[-population 6.6 million]; Zhuzhou-[-population 3.7 million[; Hengyang-[-population 7.2 million[; Shaoguan-[-population 3.1 million] and tiny Huadu whose population is a paltry 650,000.
So this entire high-speed rail system, in a nation of 1.3 billion people, provides service for over 50 million people between 10 stations.
 
Let’s cross the ocean and check out the proposed CA HSR service from Sac and SF to LA extending down to SD based on their own reports. Depending on which day you check the HSRA has several options based on phasing. According to my analysis our HSRA is considering service between 25 stations in an 800 mile span. Adding up the population of those cities you will get approximately 11.3 million people or 22 percent of the potential ridership when compared to China. And don’t be misled by statements that each of these cities will draw from their neighboring cities as I could make the same case for China who population is four times the USA.
 
Those potential HSR cities are: Sacramento; Stockton; Modesto; Merced; SF; Milbrae; Redwood City; San Jose; Gilroy; Fresno; Visalia/Tulare; Bakersfield; Palmdale; Sylmar; Burbank; LA; Pomona; Norwalk/Fullerton; Ontario; San Bernardino; Riverside; Anaheim; Murrieta; Escondido; Univercity City and San Diego.
 
“Prop 1A mandates a maximum time for travel between LA and SF to be 2 hours and 40 minutes.”  With that fixed requirement will these trains stop to pick up anyone at the numerous stops along the way or will they be left on the platforms holding their hats as the empty bullet passes them by?
 
We must keep our ears and eyes open as we listen to the proponents effort to convince us that CA HSR will be a success in our state 20 to 30 years down the road, or should I say down the line from now.

  

China HSR

China HSR


About Larry Gilbert