High Speed Rail On Track to Incur Billions in Cost Overruns

high speed rail trainHigh-speed rail continues to be an expensive, sick joke for California. Under the current plan, it is no longer “high-speed” and projected costs, which seem to change almost daily, appear to be doubling.

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In the latest news, the nascent California high-speed rail system is running $50 million over budget for a two-mile stretch in Fresno.

Let that sink in for a moment.

$50 million, over budget, for just a two mile stretch.

Let’s see, HSR has a $50,000,000 cost over run on 2 miles of a 32 mile job. Does that mean we can expect total cost overrun of $25 million per mile times 32 miles or $800,000,000?

Better yet, let’s extrapolate that to the entire project. You know, the one sold to voters. According to High Speed Rail Authority itself, over 800 miles of track are needed. So, at $25 million of cost overruns per mile, that works out to $20,000,000,000. That’s $20 billion in cost overruns!

In just 3 years, from the original passage of Proposition 1A authorizing about $10 billion in High Speed Rail bonds, the estimated cost for high-speed rail had gone from $40 billion to $98 billion, the amount that independent expert analysis had predicted prior to the bond’s being approved.

Responding to public outrage, the High-Speed Rail Authority came up with a plan costing “only” $68 billion. The new “blended” system would combine high and low speed rail, doubling the travel times as well as ticket prices.

Fearing a voter revolt, the High-Speed Rail Authority rushed to break ground, hoping that once they dug a hole, the pet project of Gov. Brown and the majority of Sacramento lawmakers, who receive backing from construction contractors and labor unions that expect to be the primary beneficiaries of billions of dollars of public spending, would be safe from outside interference.

By beginning a first segment between Merced and Fresno, the rail authority engaged in the classic Willie Brown strategy. The former Assembly Speaker, in a moment of candor, once told the San Francisco Chronicle, “In the world of civic projects, the first budget is really just a down payment. If people knew the real cost from the start, nothing would ever be approved. The idea is to get going. Start digging a hole and make it so big, there’s no alternative to coming up with the money to fill it in.”

Constant cost overruns and a lack of accountability plague California’s infrastructure projects. Perhaps, as a public service, it should be required that Brown’s words be reprinted in every ballot summary for every construction bond placed before the voters.

Jon Coupal is president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association — California’s largest grass-roots taxpayer organization dedicated to the protection of Proposition 13 and the advancement of taxpayers’ rights.


  1. retiredxlr8r says

    Ignorance appears to be the norm in Sacramento.
    This rail project is the West Coast’s version of the East Coasts “Big Dig”, a project that ran for 15 years and over ran their budget by 200%. This “High Speed Rail” appears to be on track to break that record!
    Why Emperor Brown doesn’t extend BART out to Roseville and into Stockton/Manteca is beyond me. Or, why not, a rapid transit system to elevate commuter traffic on the 134, 101, 805, 15, and on and on is beyond me. Seems these short more beneficial lines could be built with fewer taxpayer dollars then this huge waste of tax funds. But, alas, our legislatures in Sacramento our immature and selfish, somewhat like a three year old.

    • UpChuck Liberals says

      If this disaster ONLY runs 200% over it’ll be considered a rousing success. The only thing that Anziani left out of his comment was that plants need a MINIMUM of 200ppm of CO2 to survive, we are currently at a whopping 400ppm. We’d best pray that nature keeps up the good work otherwise….bye bye life on this planet. He also left out that humans can survive 2000ppm.

    • In other words, the legislatures in Sacramento truly reflect the voters who elected them.

      Hurray for representative democracy!

  2. retiredxlr8r, You just don’t understand Jerry, the Splendid’s scheme. He is bound and determined to save the earth from “deadly” CO2 with this train. It will remove all sorts of this “deadly” gas by taking cars off the road between LA and Frisco. Never mind that the World is low on CO2, a gas NEEDED for growth of agriculture. Never mind that there have been many times in our past where the CO2 level was well over 1000 and there was no detriment, only warmth and more crops. Never mind that mankind is responsible for only 6% of CO2 emitted into the atmosphere, the other 94% comes from nature. Never mind that CO2 makes up only .0039% of the atmosphere and mankind contributes only .0000234% of this and I don’t have enough “zeros” to figure out what infinitesimal amount that Kalifornians contribute. But Jerry the Spendid is going to save us all and burnish his “legacy”.

  3. The Train to Nowhere fiasco was planned by the union minions as well as the Left Wing Nuts in Sacramento as payback for their support of the Party as well as a devastating monument to the shortsightedness of the reining Peoples Leader!

  4. It’s a good thing that states can’t go “bankrupt”;
    if only they had some barrier to their insolvency.

  5. Unfortunately, recalls of ridiculous spendthrifts such as Brown the less than magnificent ruler, are costly and require involvement from the population. Also, unfortunately, the majority of our populace have become complacent with little or no interest in developing a “good” government. It starts from top, folks; Obamacare, which threatens to destroy our medical community; lobbyists, which have become our fourth division of government; illegal aliens that threaten to break the backs of tax payers; corporations (particularly those in the production of prescription drugs) that continue to escalate costs while rewarding their Board members with millions; illegal gun control, which threatens to destroy our 2nd amendment rights; and then there’s Jerry, with his toy train and twin tunnels. When will this madness stop? Only when we exercise our strength as taxpaying, legal citizens. I hope that day is coming soon. I’m ready to sign up!

  6. A desire named streetcar.

  7. styrgwillidar says

    It is putting money in the connected folks pockets, including the husband of one of CA’s senators. It will continue.

    Just as Hillary, selling her services as the SoS, will be elected to be POTUS.

    We’ve just become accustomed to the idea that government is simply a way for the government folks to reward cronies and enrich themselves. We reward it with our votes.

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