California's $68 billion bullet train is supposed to travel from San Francisco to Los Angeles in less than two hours and 40 minutes.
That speed - an average of more than 140 mph, including stops - is a legal requirement, written into the state voter initiative that gave the project the go-ahead in 2008...
But according to a lawsuit filed by project opponents, the state High-Speed Rail Authority has not done any studies or written reports to verify that the trains actually will go fast enough to follow the law. The suit, filed by the County of Kings Board of Supervisors, quotes a May 31 email from a project official as saying that "no document exists" to verify that the train can meet its travel time deadline...
Some rail experts, including advocates of the California project, questioned how bullet train speeds could be maintained.
"All over the state ... they're going to use commuter trains, Caltrain, light rail in Stockton," [Kings County lawyer Michael] Brady said. "You're not going to be able to get from Los Angeles to San Francisco in six hours."
That would violate state law. But if the train is too slow, the project is doomed anyway, many experts say, because most passengers will buy a plane ticket instead.
By way of comparison, a flight between Los Angeles and San Francisco generally takes just under an hour. So if Mr. Brady's numbers are right, California's great leap forward in the transportation sector will take six times as long as commercial air travel.
It's no wonder that California voters are now publicly recanting their support of high-speed rail. Only central planning could make convenience so inconvenient.