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California High Speed Rail Could Have 100 Million Riders Per Year by 2030

A forecast by Cambridge Systematics predicts that the proposed California high-speed rail system would attract 2.5 million daily trips for the electric, 700-mile train system. That would translate into ridership of more than 100 million in 2030, and $3 billion in annual revenue.

The ridership projections exceed the previous forecast of 700 million riders the California High Speed Rail Authority’s 2000 Business Plan due to: inclusion of long-distance commuters in this model; users from other areas in the state; the rise of auto use; and increasing costs of auto and air travel.

The proposed high-speed train system will travel at speeds up to 220 mph from San Francisco and Sacramento in the north through the Central Valley to Los Angeles and San Diego.



Great stuff. I'd love to see Amtrak get on board and connect Seattle, Tacoma, Portland, Salem, Eugene, Medford, Redding, and Chico in a line to Sacramento. Then, link Reno to Sacramento as well. Extra bonus if they could link Las Vegas to the CA line near LA or somesuch.

It would be nice if Acela could take notes -- they've got to figure out a way to make that run faster, making it more competitive with air travel for longer distances. The price of the CA system is on the order of 10%-20% of the price of Acela; that might have something to do with ridership as well.

Jack Rosebro

Now would be the time for the US to set a voltage and current standard for high-speed rail, so that any future network (hey, I can dream) will not suffer from the fragmented current levels and attendant inefficiences suffered by most of Europe's high-speed rail. Even the Acela must contend with three different voltage levels.

As for making high-speed electric rail competitive with air travel: link government susidiarity of transport modes to per-mile carbon output, and you'll be well on the way.


it's too bad that it appears that the governator has no intention of fully funding this project. in addition, i'd like to point out very specifically that this project will NOT involve amtrak in any way and the vast majority of trackage/ROW will be HSR-exclusive and will NOT be shared with any existing passenger or freight trackage.

side note: the acela is slow because it travels on existing infrastructure, infrastructure that was only minimally upgraded and only in some sections. it attains its maximum speed (of a not-so-fast 150 mph) for only 18 miles out of its 450-mile route!


...mike, that site requires registration – any freely viewable links?


100 million riders per year?

Don't make me laugh. The Amtrak trains here in Orange County, CA run north and south at less than 10% full, even in rush hour. Quit wasting tax dollars on Amtrak let it die a quick death. The taxpayers have been forced to subsidize this socialist boondoggle for too long.


Terry I'm afraid that your numbers are far from the reality. Amtrak runs 174 trains through Orange County each week, not counting the long distance trains to Chicago and New Orleans. Last fiscal year (which ended in September 2006) the Surfliner service, that runs through Orange County on its way to San Diego, carried 2,657,773 people. That's an average of 293 passengers per train.

And actually that average is a bit higher, since I did not adjust for Holidays, when less trains run than normal.

I believe that the normal train runs with 4 cars, which can carry a total of 326 passengers. If the normal is 5 cars, then the total would be 417 passengers. With 4 cars trains, they are running 90% full on every train. If they are using 5 car trains, then they are running just over 70% full.

Either way, the trains are running at far more than 10% of capacity.


If you get a good inter city service like that running it can be self sustaining. The operation of the GNER East Coast Railway in the UK is one of the most lucrative, operating at a profit rather than a loss. This is using a 125 mph route. I dare say Virgin Trains are making similar profits on the West Coast Mail Line.

Its the small and remote lines that fail to make any money and need huge numbers of tax pounds to operate empty trains or undercapacity trains, which in my view is first very wasteful and secondly unsustainable (considering the CO2 per passenger equivalent)

My point is trains have their place in a sustainable transport system, as does walking, cycling, taking the bus or driving.


But can a public project be built at anywhere near reasonable construction costs anymore{big dig Boston}.
In my lttle town{10,000 peeps} fifty million was spent rebuilding schools.The new roof blew off,the leaky windows still leak,the mold problem still exists......and on and on.i could take you on a tour of ma.[prevailing wage state} and show you over cost over time projects that immediately begin to fall apart and are substandard work.We just built a rail line;any guesses as to the cost projections and schedule?


Part of the trick to making a HSR system fly might be to modularize passenger loading such that cars are added only as ticket sales predict up and to departure time. Public transit links to inner cities from rail stops. Parking and tax credits for each rail trip. High quality service with airline type amenities or better. Dedicated track/infrastructure is required to avoid the kinds of shared track slowdowns that plague Amtrak today.

Finally if energy used to power HSR was supplied even in part by renewable resources - the cost of construction and operation can be discounted against the long term costs of auto transport.

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