When your train is imaginary, it probably doesn’t matter what fictional power source it runs on. Unicorns, happy thoughts, or solar power. California’s high-speed rail, which started out costing $9 billion back in the 90s and is now set to cost $128 billion if it were ever to be built, despite not actually being built, could just as easily run on love or small children clapping.
But solar is more popular now so they’re going with that.
The California High-Speed Rail Authority is preparing to begin discussions with potential suppliers of a $200 million utility-scale system it will own and operate. It will include 552 acres of solar panels generating 44 megawatts of electricity — enough for a city of 33,000 people — and batteries to store 62 megawatt hours of power. The system must be robust enough to provide powerful electrical bursts to propel trains at up to 220 miles per through the 171-mile Central Valley segment of the railway, withstand intense heat and keep passengers moving along — even if there’s a blackout at local utilities.
So it’s really going to cost another $20 billion at the least without ever actually existing?
Far be it for me to question whether a high-speed train can go 220 miles on solar energy while traveling for hundreds of miles. Especially when a solar car can manage about 40 miles a day before it explodes into shimmering snowflakes that spread toxic materials for over 3 feet, but that’s a moot point.
Since the imaginary train will stay that way, it doesn’t matter if it’s powered by love or sunshine. Or the dreams of dancing fairies. Or Al Gore’s humility. Imaginary trains can be powered by imaginary things.
Work could begin by 2026 to ensure it’s ready to power trains by 2030, the target opening date for the railway’s initial segment, Margaret Cederoth, the authority’s director of planning and sustainability, told Forbes. (The timing of when connections to San Francisco and L.A. aren’t fixed owing to funding challenges.)
As in there’s no money. So 2026, 2030 or 2198. It doesn’t really matter. So long as the California Authority of Imaginary Rail truly believes it, it’s not fraud and embezzlement.
The country’s most ambitious and expensive infrastructure project, with an estimated cost of more than $100 billion to ultimately connect Los Angeles and San Francisco in a 422-mile system, was initially conceived as an environmentally friendly alternative to expanding highways or airport capacity, both major sources of carbon emissions.
Good thing California didn’t go ahead and expand its overcrowded highways and instead spent decades pouring money into a giant politically connected hole in the ground.
Construction of the initial segment is slowly advancing, though the authority is seeking $2.8 billion in additional funds from the 2021 bipartisan infrastructure law to help complete it. The source of the extra $70 billion or so to complete the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles segments hasn’t been worked out yet.
Come on guys, this is obvious. Just get the extra money from the sun.
Solar money is so much better and environmentally friendly than earth money. Once you shovel it into a train, it will keep going for parsecs and parsecs before reaching lightspeed and then entering a dimension in which impossible things like honest politicians, leprechauns, and this train exist.
California, as former Gov. Jerry Brown said, is the land of dreams. And some people get very rich imagining things that don’t exist.