Last Tuesday, Californians voted in favor of an 800 mile high speed train system that will stop in every major city from Sacramento to San Diego. According to the High Speed Rail Authority, California is the 12th largest source of greenhouse gas emission on earth, 41% of which come from transportation. The trains will reduce greenhouse gases by up to 12.7 billion pounds annually, the equivalent of removing 1 million cars from the road each year. Set to begin construction as early as 2011, California’s high speed rail will create 450,000 new jobs and reduce dependence on foreign oil by 12 million barrels a year. Traveling at 220 miles per hour, the trains will be a good replacement for air travel as well as cars.
A 10-minute video of the California High-Speed Rail project
Californians waste countless hours and tanks of gas sitting on congested freeways and idling at stop lights. If population trends continue, by 2030 the state could have up to 100 million people, more than doubling its current number of about 40 million. California’s new FLY trains will use on average 1/3 the amount of energy required for air travel and 1/5 that of car travel.
There has been strong opposition to the project. Opponents to the proposition claim that energy-saving predictions are inflated and taxpayer costs underestimated.
If California’s train project reaches even half of its proposed goals of reducing greenhouse gases, dependence on foreign oil, and freeway congestion it is worth the expense. The United States is the among world’s largest oil consumers and contributors to greenhouse gases. Now they are taking some cues from European and Asian countries and are finally developing efficient alternatives to driving and flying they may have some chance of avoiding the worst efects of the coming liquid fuel crisis.