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California dreaming



News flash:

SACRAMENTO, Calif.—The new business plan for California's high-speed rail system shows the nation's most ambitious state rail project could cost nearly $100 billion in inflation-adjusted funding over a 20-year construction period, far above the amount originally projected.
The plan, which was shared late Monday with The Associated Press, also shows the system would be profitable even at the lowest ridership estimates and would not require public subsidies to operate.
The report estimates the actual cost at $98.5 billion if the route between San Francisco and Anaheim is completed in 2033. It assumes private investment will account for roughly 20 percent of the final cost.
The initial estimate to build the system when voters approved bond funding for it in 2008 was $43 billion in non-adjusted dollars.

Heaven help U.S. taxpayers (non-California residents are going to be on the hook for many billions of dollars) if this project ever gets off the ground. The projected costs have doubled, yet the planners still insist that the project will produce a profit. One train line is going to have enough riders to service a $100 billion debt, cover operating costs, and generate a profit to boot? The entire Amtrak system generated revenues of only $1.6 billion in FY '09, and that fell short of costs by $1 billion. I'll guess that the California line would have to at least quadruple or quintuple the current Amtrak ridership to break even. With one line? 

California: where dreams can become reality, no matter how much they cost.

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