Monday, February 9, 2009

What Are the Benefits of High-Speed Trains?

There has been a lot of controversy regarding the Proposed High-Speed Train that will one day go right through areas of Atherton, Menlo Park and Palo Alto. Will this effect your property values? Should you consider relocating away from the proposed route? What will be the pros and cons for homeowners in the mid-Peninsula?

Obviously this will make travel to Los Angeles much quicker and less expensive. Will the train be obnoxiously loud? Will you be able to see it from your home? Is it an overall plus or a minus for the community? Most important -- Is your investment safe?

Why High-Speed Trains?

California's population is growing rapidly and our economy needs a jumpstart. Unless we find new transportation solutions, traffic will only get worse and airport delays will continue to increase, hindering the economy and eroding California’s quality of life. To serve the same number of travelers as the high-speed train system, California would have to build nearly 3,000 lane-miles of freeway plus five airport runways and 90 departure gates by 2020. With a price tag of at least twice what it would cost to implement the high-speed train system and having much higher environmental impacts. What’s more, the proposed high-speed train system will provide lower passenger costs than for travel by automobile or air for the same city-to-city markets.

California's planned 220 mph high-speed train system will cost less than half as much as building more freeway lanes and airport runways and will increase mobility while cutting air pollution and reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming. In addition to relieving traffic congestion by keeping cars off the roads, the system will eliminate traffic delays at existing at-grade railroad crossings by replacing crossings with overpasses or underpasses. And by moving people and goods quicker and cheaper than we do now, the system will boost our productivity to new heights. When it comes to safety, studies have shown that high-speed trains will reduce the number of traffic accidents on our roads and highways.

What are the benefits of high-speed trains?

Benefits of the California High-Speed Train System:

Carrying up to 117 million passengers annually by 2030, with the capacity to also carry high-value, lightweight freight.

Meeting the need for a safe and reliable mode of travel at less than half the cost of building more freeways and airport runways and would link the major metropolitan areas of the state and deliver predictable, consistent travel times sustainable over time.

Will not require an operating subsidy.

Serving tourist and leisure travel, business travel and long-distance commuters over a variety of long, intermediate and relatively short-distance trips (such as Los Angeles to Anaheim, Palmdale, Riverside, San Diego, Fresno, Sacramento and the Bay Area).

Sharing rail alignments throughout much of the system will improve joint facilities benefiting safety and operations of existing freight, commuter and conventional passenger rail services.

Providing quick, competitive travel times between California’s major intercity markets.

Providing door-to-door travel times for longer distance intercity markets that would be comparable to air transportation, and less than one-half as long as automobile travel times.

Providing considerably quicker travel times for intermediate intercity trips than either air or automobile transportation, and bringing frequent high-speed train service to many parts of the state that are not well served by air transportation.

Providing lower passenger costs than for travel by automobile or air for the same intercity markets.

Providing a new intercity, interregional and regional passenger mode—the high-speed train— which would improve mobility, connectivity and accessibility to other existing transit modes and airports compared to the other alternatives.

Improving the travel options available in the Central Valley and other areas of the state with limited bus, rail and air service for intercity trips.

Providing transportation options in cases of extreme events, such as adverse weather or petroleum shortages.

Providing a predominantly separate transportation system that would be less susceptible to many factors influencing reliability such as capacity constraints, congestion and incidents that disrupt service.

Providing superior on-time reliability.

Providing a lower accident and fatality rate than automobile travel. Will avoid over 10,000 auto accidents yearly with their attendant deaths, injuries and property damage when compared to exclusive reliance on highways.

Offering greater opportunities to expand service and capacity with minimal expansion of infrastructure.

Adding capacity to the state’s transportation infrastructure and reducing traffic on certain intercity highways and around airports to the extent that intercity trips are diverted to the high-speed train system.

Eliminating traffic delays at existing at-grade crossings where the high-speed train system would provide grade separation.

Using train technology proven to be the safest, most reliable form of transportation known through extensive regular revenue service in Europe and Asia.

Expanding airports and highways to meet the intercity travel demands of 2020 would cost two-to-three times more than building the high-speed train system.

Source: California High-Speed Rail Authority

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