California High Speed Rail Posts Summer Update Video

The California High Speed Rail Authority used to post videos every month or two summarizing their construction progress. Unfortunately, that ended around October of last year. Now they’re back with a new video highlighting what has been going on. At under four minutes, it’s a good watch.

While they’ve been stingy with their videos, they have continuously updated their Flickr account. Usually new photos go up every 3-5 weeks.

Here are some of my recent favorites. I especially like the ones from angles I cannot get myself.







I’m hoping that in 2019, we see these various construction sites linked up with rails and walls. I think that once that happens, the project will really seem to be real, even though we know train service is still far away.

Additionally, one other major piece of infrastructure was recently “finished,” and that’s the train station in San Francisco.Or at least the box where it goes. Streetsblog has a tour here.

Of course, I wish this all was moving faster. But it’s still nice to see that it is moving at all.

9 Replies to “California High Speed Rail Posts Summer Update Video”

  1. LOLOL. Daaamn J, pretty short article. For a pretty short topic. They need to HURRY THE FUCK UP with that project. Smh.

  2. My question is how could the project move more quickly? More funding? Employ more people to work on the project? Are there legislative solutions, simplifying any hurdles? It would be nice if after the 2018 elections, the change in leadership in Sacramento produces a rethinking of the project that may improve it. I’m particularly jealous of Los Angeles, where new revenue streams have allowed for transit projects there to be sped up.

    1. From what I have heard, a lot of the problems are at the top of the agency. It is all very political, so people are scared to make decisions quickly. The biggest delay came from land acquisition. The negotiations were too feeble. There were some landowners who were never going to sell without a court order, but the agency didnt want to go to court because it looked bad, so they stretched out the negotiations hoping for a compromise that would never come.

      Then theres the issue of knowledge. In countries like China and Spain, they know how to build HSR so the process runs well. Here, it’s all new to them, even though it shoudlnt be. When a new road is built, everybody, from the politicians to the engineers to the finance guys to the company bidding to the subcontractor all know what their role is and what they have to do, there are no surprises.

  3. Nice, a couple photos I didn’t see yet. What some may not know is that the HSR tracks could be used, and I believe the idea was already tossed around, that “high speed” Amtrak Siemans Charger locomotives could use the short run of track to lop off over an hour from the SF to Fresno trip. People seem to be suggesting a speed bump from the current 80 MPH up to 125 MPH on the HSR tracks.

  4. Construction packages 1 through 5, which include the laying of rail, are not expected or estimated to be completed before 2022 when it is estimated that trains will be running at least between Madera and Poplar Road near Shafter. This is all detailed in California High-Speed Rail 2018 Business Plan.

    My best guess tells me that Amtrak will run its “San Joaquin” trains on this higher-speed corridor, initially. I am also guessing that top speed for such trains will be 110 to 125 miles per hour.

    The advantage though is that this 119-mile section will be fully grade separated (no at-grade intersections of road and rail – similar in principle to the way highways are constructed) and the line will be completely double-tracked (no interference from either opposing freight and passenger trains – meaning no waiting in sidings for other trains to go past).

    My contention is, once riders experience the faster, presumably smoother, obviously safer and air-friendlier (rail travel is by its very nature less destructive to air quality comparatively speaking – accounts for just 2 percent of emissions from transportation while car-based travel accounts for 73 percent of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions) rail travel experience, they’ll be clamoring for more. With the faster travel times, this will lead to more people taking the train as opposed to driving or flying. This has proven to be the case elsewhere in the world.

  5. As I understand, the one of the reasons this project isn’t moving along faster is that not all the funding has been secured. When California voters approved HSR, they only approved 1/5 of the funding, and they left the agency to find the rest of the money. To date they have secured 1/3 the total funding, and they are expecting to secure more funding with the next administration.

  6. Also wanted to mention, Amtrak took delivery of the Siemans Charger locomotives. The Chargers are diesel-electric but with a designed 125 mph operational speed. While they can’t push past 79mph on the freight rails, they can, however, hit those speeds on the partially completed HSR lines. Something as a means of addressing all those joking of HSR being a Fresno to Madera/Bakersfield train. These dedicated rail lines will immediately benefits Amtrak valley service easily lopping off over an hour in the San Jaquin Fresno to Silicon Valley train.

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