Drudge Retort: The Other Side of the News
Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Henry Grabar: Critics will whine, as they always do, that high-speed rail can't pay for itself. But neither do highways or airports, especially when you account for their enormous externalities. What makes the failure in California so frustrating is not that it was crazy to suggest the train could sharply curtail California's intercity air travel -- but that it might have, if we'd done it right.

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People say that no one will ride a train when they could just fly. I call BS.

Here's how life where I live goes.

My kid is playing ball all over the country for the next few weekends, I'm flying one time to see her because it's about 2700 miles from here to California. I can be in GA, NC, and SC in under 10 so I'm just driving.

It's pretty standard here.

#1 | Posted by MrSilenceDogood at 2019-02-13 09:27 AM | Reply | Newsworthy 1

I like this Churchill quote that was used to described this situtaion:

"The Americans can always be counted on to do the right thing after they've exhausted all the alternatives."

#2 | Posted by sentinel at 2019-02-13 11:17 AM | Reply | Newsworthy 3

There's Nothing Ridiculous About Trains Replacing Planes....um, yes there is.

Take a look at California's high-speed rail boondoggle. What a complete and utter failure.

#3 | Posted by JeffJ at 2019-02-13 11:46 AM | Reply | Newsworthy 8

The article is basically saying "We could have had nice trains, if it weren't for the politicians that implemented it."

It also mentions privatized HSR in Texas going forward as a reasonable model.

#4 | Posted by sitzkrieg at 2019-02-13 11:55 AM | Reply | Newsworthy 1

#3, the article addresses that exact point.

#5 | Posted by sentinel at 2019-02-13 12:50 PM | Reply

#3 | POSTED BY JEFFJ

Why would you choose an ancient and slow-by-modern-standard rail design being built as inefficiently as possible as the sole entity from which to judge HSR?

"HIGH SPEED RAIL WON'T WORK IN MURRRRICA!"

"NATIONALIZED HEALTHCARE WON'T WORK IN MURRRRICA!"

"GUN CONTROL WON'T WON'T WORK IN MURRRRICA!"

Such an old and tired excuse for lagging behind the developed world....

#6 | Posted by IndianaJones at 2019-02-13 01:23 PM | Reply | Funny: 1 | Newsworthy 2

"In 1862, Congress passed the Pacific Railway Act, which authorized the construction of a transcontinental railroad. The first such railroad was completed on May 10, 1869. ... Four of the five transcontinental railroads were built with assistance from the federal government through land grants.
Railroads in the Late 19th Century - American Memory Timeline ..."
www.loc.gov/teachers/classroommaterials/presentationsandactivities/.../riseind/railroad

So, in retrospect, that the vast majority of our current rail system was built by private companies, but with the assistance of the govt through those land grants. CA shows what happens when govt tries to accomplish such a task vs the private sector.

#7 | Posted by MSgt at 2019-02-13 01:25 PM | Reply | Newsworthy 1

"So, in retrospect, that the vast majority of our current rail system was built by private companies"

They were actually built by tens of thousands of Chinese immigrants and others. Sounds like you are all for mass influx of cheap labor from other parts of the world....

#8 | Posted by NerfHerder at 2019-02-13 01:35 PM | Reply | Funny: 2 | Newsworthy 1

For the South it was the Union Army. The Confederate system was a joke of mixed up track gauges. Okay what's Toradol and rebuilt it on their way I can't remember the general's name but he was a logistics genius.

#9 | Posted by sitzkrieg at 2019-02-13 05:15 PM | Reply

Except for this, from Forbes:

"And, if the dream of high speed rail blossoms rapidly some of that displaced air travel could shift to that new mode of transportation. But even the fastest high-speed maglev trains today travel at speeds of only around 400 mph - slower than commercial jets - and can do so only over relatively short distances of 200 to 400 miles. At that rate, transcontinental trips would take two or three days and the number of travelers would be strictly limited by safety-driven limits on train capacity and spacing. Furthermore, rapid travel between cities not served by high-speed rail would become impossible. Thus, a huge percentage of travel demand would simply dry up. Note: true high-speed rail service does not exist today in the United States, and prospects of developing adequate high-speed rail capacity in just 10 years are quite poor because of high costs, legal barriers, and high investment and construction costs. New California Governor Gavin Newsom this week said he's putting his state's controversial, way-behind schedule, and way over-budget plan to build a high-speed rail line from the Los Angeles area to the San Francisco area on the way, way back burner because of its costs and technical challenges"

#10 | Posted by Rightocenter at 2019-02-13 05:46 PM | Reply | Newsworthy 4

"transcontinental trips would take two or three days"

Oh come on, Cannonball Run can beat that time.

#11 | Posted by snoofy at 2019-02-13 05:50 PM | Reply

Can always count on Jeff to not read the article.

#12 | Posted by JOE at 2019-02-13 05:56 PM | Reply

AOC and the DemoKKKrats that back her plan will be exposed as the fools they are.

#13 | Posted by sawdust at 2019-02-13 05:56 PM | Reply

I drove from DC to Seattle in 3.5 days, driving 16 hours a day.

I drove from Seattle to Minneapolis in 25 hours, with one hour for rest.

Have you guys not driven across America repeatedly, you damn Commies???

#14 | Posted by snoofy at 2019-02-13 05:58 PM | Reply

I drove from DC to Seattle in 3.5 days, driving 16 hours a day.

That's funny, I flew from LA to DC in 4.5 hours (good tailwind) last Tuesday, returned in 5.1 hours on Thursday. Cost me $387 round trip on Alaska.

I drove from Seattle to Minneapolis in 25 hours, with one hour for rest.

I flew from LA to Minneapolis early in the morning (2.2 hours), met a client for lunch and flew back that afternoon (2.5 hours), with plenty of time for rest. Cost me $285 round trip on Delta.

Those trips took me less than 15 hours and cost around $700. By high speed rail those trips would take me 6-8 days and I would be shocked if they were cheaper.

#15 | Posted by Rightocenter at 2019-02-13 06:21 PM | Reply | Newsworthy 1

Whoever these people are that have a whole week to make a cross crountry trip to arrive for a business meeting, that sounds like a great deal and where do I sign up for that gig?

#16 | Posted by GOnoles92 at 2019-02-13 06:35 PM | Reply

A train will never replace a plane as far as efficiency and overall speed of getting people from one place to another.

#17 | Posted by boaz at 2019-02-13 07:53 PM | Reply

#17 | POSTED BY BOAZ AT 2019-02-13 07:53 PM | FLAG: I am sure there will still plane travel for the elites like congressmen and the wealthy, etc. [a plane of just all First Class].

#18 | Posted by MSgt at 2019-02-13 08:04 PM | Reply

"Those trips took me less than 15 hours and cost around $700. By high speed rail those trips would take me 6-8 days and I would be shocked if they were cheaper."

Rail is not suited to business travel in America, except when business is being conducted from DC to New York to Boston, in which case rail is best.

#19 | Posted by snoofy at 2019-02-13 08:59 PM | Reply

In a country like Germany, where high speed rail is a reality, it's still faster and cheaper to get from say Frankfurt to Berlin by air.

But it's not much faster, or not at all when you consider time to and from airports. Train is more comfortable and convenient, but it doesn't scale to a country our size.

#20 | Posted by snoofy at 2019-02-13 09:10 PM | Reply

Air is always going to be faster for trips over 500-600 miles. But as Snoofy noted, we now have to consider all the time it takes to arrive early, go through TSA, gather luggage/transportation at the arrival airport and ground travel time to your actual destination since most airports are often significant distances from city and business centers.

Living in the Midwest, we talk about this all the time. Indy to Chicago, St. Louis, Detroit, Cincinnati, Louisville, Nashville, Milwaukee, Cleveland, and connections within this grouping can often be navigated more quickly in point-to-point time by car than by flying. HSR would be a welcome alternative to fighting heavy traffic and deteriorating roads ensnaring most major cities these days. It certainly makes sense that we invest in making it a more viable option than it currently is where it can work the best.

#21 | Posted by tonyroma at 2019-02-13 09:20 PM | Reply

Look High speed rail is not going to replace cross country trips. It would replace a lot of regional flights and driving. I take the train to Chicago when I go - just as fast as driving and no huge parking fees and headaches. If it was high speed rail... wow. East coast already functions on a LOT of rail.

On top of it, imagine not having the airport hassles... I would go Michigan to Florida on rail if it was viable. I have rode high speed trains in Japan and Europe. Wonderful things.

#22 | Posted by GalaxiePete at 2019-02-13 09:44 PM | Reply

#22 | POSTED BY GALAXIEPETE AT 2019-02-13 09:44 PM | FLAG: Now all they have to do if figure out which land they need to 'take' and how to pay for it. Could be accomplished easily in 50 or 60 years. As for funding, just take the wealth from the rich, if they have any left after taking from them for all the other programs the left wants to fund with their money.

#23 | Posted by MSgt at 2019-02-13 09:57 PM | Reply | Newsworthy 1

#23 | POSTED BY MSGT

That's easy. Just take land from anyone that didn't own it before the Spanish got to California.

We the People should be able to confiscate stolen land.

#24 | Posted by IndianaJones at 2019-02-13 10:05 PM | Reply

#23 - MSGT

But I bet you support taking land from private citizens for the border wall campaign promise.

#25 | Posted by gavaster at 2019-02-13 10:24 PM | Reply | Funny: 1 | Newsworthy 1

California has a uniquely disparate regulatory structure which complicates planning to no end. But their government planning is still important and getting better. Someone must plan before anything is built and engineers and architects play an important role. It should not be criminal real estate developers and bankers, but all to often it is.

#26 | Posted by bayviking at 2019-02-13 10:35 PM | Reply

"transcontinental trips would take two or three days"

Oh come on, Cannonball Run can beat that time.

#11 | Posted by snoofy

My son and I drove from Washington, DC to Orange Co, CA in 42 hours. And we ate every meal sitting down in a restaurant, NO FAST FOOD DRIVE THRU's.

OCU

#27 | Posted by OCUser at 2019-02-14 01:18 AM | Reply

Take a look at California's high-speed rail boondoggle. What a complete and utter failure.

#3 | POSTED BY JEFFJ

CA is a very topographically difficult location.

Anything from the Rockies to the Mississippi? Even for a considerable distance past the Mississippi...

#28 | Posted by jpw at 2019-02-14 02:51 AM | Reply

These posts about the convenience of US HSR stations being so much better that airports.. you are very, very optimistic. That optimism doesn't seem grounded in the reality of what has been presented to us.

You're not just stepping on and stepping off at will. You go through the same exact TSA security procedures as you would at the airport. Baggage handling times for checked luggage is similar. Speaking of airports...

The Tampa-Orlando line plan is airport to airport, with a stop at Disney. California's original plan was airport to airport.

The Dallas-Houston line on the other hand... where do you even start? The Houston end's "preferred location" dumps you in the ghetto near zero transportation hubs. There is opportunity there, but the massive amount of eminent domain required to get a North-South line in there means it's not really possible. The original ideas were to drop you off in the Woodlands. That's possible and much easier to implement, but it puts you 30 miles North of downtown. The Dallas end won't make it downtown even though it's planned for the same imminent domain reasons, you'll be in court for decades. The best place to terminate that line would be South of Dallas near the existing intermodal rail facilities, like the Woodlands, 30 minutes from Dallas.

#29 | Posted by sitzkrieg at 2019-02-14 07:50 AM | Reply

also, I'm impressed by you ironman drivers. Y'all know they make professional truck drivers stop after 14 hours a day, right?

#30 | Posted by sitzkrieg at 2019-02-14 08:03 AM | Reply

A train will never replace a plane as far as efficiency and overall speed of getting people from one place to another.

That might be true, but i do wonder if we subsidied trains to the level we subsidize air travel, what the cost comparison would look like. As for speed, i could see high speed rail being just as fast as a plane (for shorter legs like the Northeast corridor, LA->SF, etc) when you factor in the hours you have to spend getting through an airport versus just plopping down on a train five minutes before it leaves.

#31 | Posted by JOE at 2019-02-14 08:13 AM | Reply

You're not just stepping on and stepping off at will. You go through the same exact TSA security procedures as you would at the airport.

I commuted on Amtrak daily for years and I literally did just step on and step off. You're saying it will be different when the train goes faster?

#32 | Posted by JOE at 2019-02-14 08:14 AM | Reply

There is opportunity there, but the massive amount of eminent domain required to get a North-South line in there means it's not really possible.

SITZKRIEG

Kind of like the Mexico-Texas border (which is not U.S. public land) where Trump wants to build a wall his own party wouldn't give him for 2 years, and even border agents says aren't practical with ladders, tunnels, no need for it, etc etc

#33 | Posted by AMERICANUNITY at 2019-02-14 08:30 AM | Reply

Kind of like the Mexico-Texas border (which is not U.S. public land)

#33 | POSTED BY AMERICANUNITY AT 2019-02-14 08:30 AM | FLAG:

Yes, pretty much. Trump will die from old age long before any land grabs could wind its way through courts.

#34 | Posted by sitzkrieg at 2019-02-14 08:52 AM | Reply

I commuted on Amtrak daily for years and I literally did just step on and step off. You're saying it will be different when the train goes faster?

#32 | POSTED BY JOE AT 2019-02-14 08:14 AM | FLAG:

Yes, that's what I'm saying. HSR is a different animal from standard speed rail with much higher security requirements.

#35 | Posted by sitzkrieg at 2019-02-14 08:53 AM | Reply | Newsworthy 2

In related news, Trump is on twitter demanding California pay back that $3.5 billion in wasted train money.

...

#36 | Posted by sitzkrieg at 2019-02-14 08:56 AM | Reply

If rich, democrat-controlled, California--a model for the country according to the left--can't build it, it's unlikely anyone else can.

#37 | Posted by nullifidian at 2019-02-14 09:49 AM | Reply

But I bet you support taking land from private citizens for the border wall campaign promise.

#25 | POSTED BY GAVASTER AT 2019-02-13 10:24 PM | FLAG: As usual a libbie misinterprets something I wrote. All I am stating is that this could not be done in 10 years as the land taking alone would be a complicated procedure. First they would have to plan/identify where they need the land, then environmental studies followed with the 'taking' as the govt would have to deal with thousands of individuals, companies, etc., and their compensation. This will take years before the first rail could be laid. Also, pretty much major govt project in this day and age will come in over budget and take much longer than anticipated. Examples are the CA HSSP and Boston's Big Dig. It is rare that govt at any level could do better than the private sector.

#38 | Posted by MSgt at 2019-02-14 10:35 AM | Reply

-First they would have to plan/identify where they need the land, then environmental studies followed with the 'taking' as the govt would have to deal with thousands of individuals, companies, etc., and their compensation.

Can't let environmental studies get in the way of environmental policies.

Bullet train is CEQA exempt? - California Manufacturers & Technology ...
www.cmta.net/page/legupdate-article.php?legupdate_id=21616

California Attorney General Kamala Harris has declared that the high-speed rail project should not be subject to California's Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) ...

#39 | Posted by nullifidian at 2019-02-14 10:53 AM | Reply | Newsworthy 1

#39 | POSTED BY NULLIFIDIAN

Can't imagine the SierraClub letting CA get away with this....

#40 | Posted by AndreaMackris at 2019-02-14 11:52 AM | Reply

It also mentions privatized HSR in Texas going forward as a reasonable model.

That's TOTAL BS. No airline here in Texas is worried because it will never be built.

As it stands, not only has Texas Central been denied approval to construct, it has not yet established itself as a "railroad" with eminent domain authority in Texas. Amazingly, recent sworn testimony from a Texas Central representative revealed that Texas Central does not even have the money to buy the land it needs for the project, or even buy one train. Texas Central also admitted that it does not have sufficient financing in place for construction. Despite these undisputed facts, Texas Central continues to bully and has filed lawsuits against landowners across Texas in an attempt to enter private property, knowing full well it does not have that legal right. All the while, NO Texas court has ruled in Texas Central's favor, nor has any court ordered an injunction against a landowner to allow Texas Central access to private property.

www.texansagainsthsr.com<>

#41 | Posted by Pegasus at 2019-02-14 11:58 AM | Reply

Sorry busted link... this works...

www.texansagainsthsr.com

#42 | Posted by Pegasus at 2019-02-14 12:01 PM | Reply

-Can't imagine the SierraClub letting CA get away with this....

I would expect that they still have to follow CEQA for the merced-bakersfield line, unless they are saying California's environmental laws can be ignored for California projects that they like.

#43 | Posted by nullifidian at 2019-02-14 12:06 PM | Reply

unless they are saying California's environmental laws can be ignored for California projects that they like.

#43 | POSTED BY NULLIFIDIAN

Which makes me wonder if the ElonMusk shutting down the Bore down in LA because he had to conform to CEQA, perhaps the powers that be, didn't like that project...... being a capitalist? Or it took from flash from the CA HSR.

#44 | Posted by AndreaMackris at 2019-02-14 12:17 PM | Reply

Yet another Anti-Texas HSR website... Washington DC spin...

blowthewhistleonhsr.com

#45 | Posted by Pegasus at 2019-02-14 12:19 PM | Reply

A train will never replace a plane as far as efficiency and overall speed of getting people from one place to another.

#17 | Posted by boaz

The minute people start using rail in any great numbers we will have tsa lines just like at the air terminals.

#46 | Posted by Sniper at 2019-02-14 05:35 PM | Reply

Air is always going to be faster for trips over 500-600 miles. But as Snoofy noted, we now have to consider all the time it takes to arrive early, go through TSA, gather luggage/transportation at the arrival airport and ground travel time to your actual destination since most airports are often significant distances from city and business centers.

#21 | Posted by tonyroma

And you think that will be any better on a well used high-speed train? Tsa will be there with their long lines and baggage will be checked.

#47 | Posted by Sniper at 2019-02-14 05:38 PM | Reply

That's easy. Just take land from anyone that didn't own it before the Spanish got to California.

We the People should be able to confiscate stolen land.

#24 | Posted by IndianaJones

All land was stolen from someone at some time.

#48 | Posted by Sniper at 2019-02-14 05:40 PM | Reply

CA is a very topographically difficult location.

#28 | Posted by jpw

Not from frisco to la.

#49 | Posted by Sniper at 2019-02-14 05:41 PM | Reply

Y'all know they make professional truck drivers stop after 14 hours a day, right?

#30 | Posted by sitzkrieg a

8 hours sunshine.,

#50 | Posted by Sniper at 2019-02-14 05:42 PM | Reply

"Y'all know they make professional truck drivers stop after 14 hours a day, right?"

Sad what passes for professional these days.

Give me weed, whites, and wine!

#51 | Posted by snoofy at 2019-02-14 06:03 PM | Reply

"All land was stolen from someone at some time.
#48 | POSTED BY SNIPER"

Then I guess it's okay to steal yours!

#52 | Posted by snoofy at 2019-02-14 06:04 PM | Reply

HSR is a different animal from standard speed rail with much higher security requirements.

Source? Not saying i don't believe you, just curious if this is a legal matter or one of arbitrary policy.

#53 | Posted by JOE at 2019-02-15 08:12 AM | Reply

#22 | POSTED BY GALAXIEPETE AT 2019-02-13 09:44 PM | FLAG: Now all they have to do if figure out which land they need to 'take' and how to pay for it. Could be accomplished easily in 50 or 60 years. As for funding, just take the wealth from the rich, if they have any left after taking from them for all the other programs the left wants to fund with their money.

#23 | POSTED BY MSGT

Funny, people said the same thing about Trump's wall. But I don't hear Conservatives whining about land being taken there or the cost of building/maintaining it.

At least the train would have accomplished something.

#54 | Posted by Sycophant at 2019-02-15 10:26 AM | Reply

I would LOVE to have high speed trains in Florida. This state is prime for it as we have so many places to visit and things to do that are scattered all over the state. Unfortunately, upkeep prices are higher here due to various reasons but I'd still love it.

#55 | Posted by humtake at 2019-02-15 12:18 PM | Reply

#54 | POSTED BY SYCOPHANT AT 2019-02-15 10:26 AM | FLAG: Not getting it, are you? I do not say it could not be done, just it will take a long time for it to come to fruition due to all the hurdles which slow down the process, not even including the inefficiencies of a govt run project Look at the time frame of CA HSR project from when proposed to how far along today. May happen, but never with a 10 year timeframe.

#56 | Posted by MSgt at 2019-02-15 02:36 PM | Reply

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