Wednesday, August 14, 2013

California’s Bullet Train Or Elon Musk’s Hyperloop?

How about “L.A. to S.F. in 30 minutes?”, which was the front page of the Los Angeles Times this week. At the same time Elon Mush of Tesla is proposing a Hyperloop, the conceptual superfast, solar-powered, tubular transit system. This news came after another L.A. Times piece about the potential Cal High Speed Rail experiencing delays again. The much delayed, and over budget, fast train is already in the works and beyond conception mode like the Hyperloop. The State of California has budgeted $68 Billion and years of planning on the CalHighSpeedRail plan. The LA Times reports that Musk deliberately hopes his Hyperloop will disrupt current plans for the railroad. “I don’t think we should do the high-speed rail thing,” Musk told reporters. “It’s basically going to be California’s Amtrak,” he said. He didn’t mean that as a compliment.(LA Times). The California High Speed Rail Authority Chairman Dan said Musk greatly underestimates the costs of the Hyperloop, not to mention how hard it is to secure funding for mass transit and convince neighbors and environmentalists that such a system won’t be harmful. “While we have a lot of respect for his inventiveness, I think we could tell him a few things about the realities of building in California,” Richard said. Hyperloop is just on the drawing board and has potentially many hurdles. It is speculated to only cost $6 Billion just 10% of the cost of the HighSpeed Rail? That too maybe farfetched as the Railroad plan started at $100 Billion for the entire project, and now it’s $68 Billion for a portion of the overall plan. Californians approved about $10 billion in bonds for the project back in 2008. The LA Times also reports the costs have multiplied since then, and the state hasn’t secured all of the additional funds needed. The train is also behind schedule because of delays in engineering the project and acquiring land along the route, and because of all the environmental and legal challenges. Although, the clock’s ticking on federal stimulus grants, which are set to expire in 2017. The Hyperloop certainly sounds better, it projected to be cheaper, solar powered and take less time to go from San Francisco to LA (30 minutes). You could easily link up with a rental car, taxi, Metro or Muni at either destination city. It also looks like you only need 4 to 6 people in order to fill a transport capsule, while the train would be 6 to 10 rail cars. There are engineering issues with the Hyperloop in that it would generation lots of heat, so a proposal to surround the tube with water but that could mean lots of water. Maybe a combination of the two plans could fit, but we don’t see the Hyperloop operating through the Central Valley or Antelope Valley. It could kill the train in Palmdale, Ca. The other option is the Hyperloop is not for California as they have made their bet with the train. It may fit better between Dallas and Houston, or New York and D. C., or even New York to L. A. so the liberals can zoom past those Red States as fast as possible to get to another liberal haven.

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