LA Times Uncovers Secret HSR Story

LA Times Uncovers Secret
HSR Story

07/09/12 Filed in:

TRANSDEF was the source
for the story that ran in the LA Times today on the
rejection of an offer two years ago by the French
National Railways, SNCF, to build the system between
LA and San Francisco. The California High-Speed Rail
Authority turned them down flat, but kept the offer
secret.

Had the HSRA been operating in the public interest,
it would now be under contract with an international
HSR operator selected through an open bidding
process, and be proceeding towards a fully funded
LA-SF buildout (which, incidentally, would probably
not have been challenged by the current litigants).
Instead, if the project proceeds as planned,
Californians will end up with a $6 billion track that
can’t be used for HSR, and have no prospects of ever
receiving a statewide system.

LA Times
Story:
High-speed rail officials rebuffed
proposal from French railway
Here is the letter I sent the LA
Times, in response to today’s article:

To the LA Times:

Your otherwise excellent story “High-speed rail
officials rebuffed proposal from French railway”
was far too kind to California High-Speed Rail
Authority officials. At the time of its proposal,
SNCF had the investment backing to actually build
the LA-SF line, in a deal that sheltered the State
from the risk of subsidizing an unprofitable
project.

The Authority’s 2012 Business Plan covered up this
offer, instead insisting that no private capital
would be willing to invest until the first
high-speed line showed a profit. The $6 billion
Central Valley project approved last week by the
Legislature thus exposes the State to unlimited
operating losses. Worse yet, before that line can
be completed, it will need an additional $27
billion from the federal government–quite unlikely
in today’s political climate.

I’d sure like to understand the thinking behind the
rejection of the French offer.

It’s unfortunate the story didn’t run earlier. It
would have informed the Legislature’s debate.

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