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Letter: Bullet train will never pay for itself

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Posted: Saturday, February 1, 2014 12:00 am

From what I read, a multi-county committee is pushing ahead to create a bullet train. The predicted cost even before construction starts is $68 billion, similar to the projected cost of the new San Francisco Bay Bridge that went way over the original cost.

It’s hard to believe the train would start in Fresno. What would be the advantage of starting in Fresno? Starting in Fresno and arriving in Sacramento, using high-speed rail, would take just a little over an hour. The distance between these two cities is 171 miles. To drive would take 2 1/2 hours, at an average speed of 65 mph using 6.1 mpg. From these figures, it is well understood that people living in Fresno do not commute to Sacramento.

Also there would be two other units using the same track at times. First and foremost, freight trains with 100 cars or more would have to be on a siding long before the bullet train was within 10 or more miles, and then there is Amtrak to contend with. Amtrak stops in Stockton, Lodi and other points north.

To give a thought that high speed rail will speed through Lodi at 200 mph is most difficult to believe or understand since it is all open track. Overhead wires will be needed to power the high speed rail system. BART has the ideal system, using a third rail for power. It is not open track and runs either overhead or underground.

The biggest question is, who would use it on a daily basis? Perhaps people on weekends who want to observe what it is like going 200 mph. It would be used only for long runs, not from town to town, which would defeat the purpose. This is a project that will never pay for itself, and must be financed and subsidized in order to keep the trains running — along with maintenance and of course making sure the track ahead is clear.

Ed Walters


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