Taiwanese Bullet Train Image via Shutterstock
The Golden State is making history this summer by breaking ground on the United States’ first high-speed rail (HSR) line. The new line, which is slated for completion in 2029, will zip passengers from San Francisco to Los Angeles in under three hours on clean electrified trains traveling at speeds up to 220 miles per hour. The California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) got the greenlight in June to begin building the first 65-mile stretch between the Central Valley cities of Fresno and Merced.
Image via Shutterstock
Besides revitalizing second-tier cities and improving quality of life for the seven million residents of the Central Valley, HSR construction is expected to create 20,000 jobs annually over the next five years. As of May, Fresno’s unemployment rate was 13 percent and Merced’s unemployment rate was 14.9 percent compared to 8.6 percent overall in California and 7.6 percent nationally.
HSR will have the added benefits of addressing air pollution and climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. CHSRA released a report in early July stating that construction of the project will emit zero carbon emissions as the C02 will be offset by a tree planting program. The system will run entirely on clean energy—20 percent solar, 30 percent wind, 45 percent geothermal and five percent biogas.
With only $10 billion of the $68 billion needed to complete the bullet train system secured, California Governor Jerry Brown traveled to China last April to ride the newest and largest high-speed rail system in the world and court potential investors. If the Chinese and other foreign investors get on board with California’s bullet train project, the construction timetable may be sped up. Since 2007, China has built more than 5,000 miles of HSR track with nearly 9,000 miles under construction.