California's High-Speed Rail
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In the framework of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, in February 2010, California was granted a federal bailout for the construction of high-speed railway that would connect San Francisco to Los-Angeles, and to San Diego. The implementation of this gargantuan project will take as much as 10 years, while the test sections will be commissioned in 2015. It is believed that fulfillment of the project will require more than 600,000 employees, while the concomitant businesses (administrative departments, services industry, and adjacent branches) will trigger the creation of another 450,000 vacancies. The influx of potential jobs is the first overwhelmingly positive benefit from the implementation of this project, besides the existence of the high-speed railway itself. Other pros are as follows:
- The train will run at a speed of 220 miles per hour. Thus, a trip from San Hose to Los Angeles (384 miles) will last around two hours. Similar railroads have been put into operation in Europe and Japan years ago, but the Californian variant will be built with consideration of the latest achievements.
- Construction of this high-speed railway will entail a number of other projects and reboot the US economy in general;
- It will liberate the bulk of people from the dependence on oil, which undermines America’s efforts to escape the oil-exporting countries’ control. Simultaneously, substitution of a road trip by a train ride will save thousands of lives (43,000 Americans die each year in car accidents) and relieve congestion on highways in the long run;
- Taking into consideration the fact that a high-speed train will be powered by clean electricity obtained from certain alternative energy sources, such prudence will make a significant contribution to the struggle against global warming. Thus, popularity of the bullet train will postpone the depletion of oil fields.
Safety concerns is one of the most pronounced disadvantages of high-speed rail (high-speed derailments take place in other countries sometimes). Some analysts and residents of California remonstrate at the idea of the bullet train running through their state due to the following reasons:
- The train’s proposed route will blow a plethora of schools, campuses, churches, banks, homes, ranchos, and medical offices to kingdom come;
- Construction of this high-speed rail may turn out to be more expensive than expected. The increase in operating expenses may hit Californians in their pocket, as the government will try to plug the budget holes by means of levying new taxes;
- Improperly located, high-speed rail can cause environmental devastation;
- It will be hard to avoid noise, vibration, and visual blight in the congested areas.
Despite the existing enlivenment, there are no doubts that automotive means of conveyance will remain predominant for the residents of California in the near future. Neither railway communication nor public transport will manage to supplant comfort and universality of a common car. Moreover, few people in California do not possess a car of their own. However, construction of high-speed railway holds tantalizing perspectives for students, farmers, and antipollutionists. The bullet train will become a convenient means to pay a visit to one’s friends and relatives in another city, to go for a weekend to Disneyland or Legoland etc. By and large, the fact that authorities gave a carte blanche to the implantation of this project is welcome news for the vast majority of Californians.