High passenger demand is a precondition to a successful HSR development.
– Adam Minter in a Bloomberg article
Problems dogging HSR projects in California and the UK – cost overruns, construction delay and rising scepticism that benefits outweigh the drawbacks – highlight potential speed bumps.
California’s HSR – the first in the US – involves building a 530km line between San Francisco and Los Angeles in Phase 1 while Phase 2 will stretch from Sacramento to San Diego.
Launched in 2008 during the Obama administration, costs were initially estimated at US$30 billion, soared to US$100 billion before construction changes trimmed the figure to US$68 billion while completion of Phase 1 will be delayed for four years to 2033.
Analysts suggest two benefits of HSR – creating new employment opportunities during construction and connecting cheaper housing areas in California to Los Angeles and Silicon Valley which have plenty of jobs but unaffordable housing.
Similarly, UK’s high-speed rail project HS2 has been bedevilled by rising costs. In 2012, the cost of HS2 was estimated at £32.7 billion; the figure has swelled today to £55.7 billion.
Based on a 531km track, the HS2 could cost £104.8 million/km – six times higher than the