Posted by Some Guy, a resident of the Menlo Park: Downtown neighborhood, on Mar 29, 2012 at 11:08 am
I once went to price a trip to Seattle on the train compared to flying.
The train trip cost $10 more and took 10 times as long. Was almost a 24 hour journey just to get to Seattle.
So, to get a train fast enough to match the speed of plane, while taking into account for station stops. Well, I just don't think any train can travel that fast.
From what I understand, the planned speed for HSR in California is about 90 MPH, with a sustained max of 125MPH. So, with stations stops, and delays, it will take just about the same amount of time to drive to LA as it would to take the train. Actually, quite a bit quicker I'm sure, since you can make it a straight shot, and there's no transferring to a bus in Bakersfield.
But even if we look 50 years down the line, and imagine that system has been built out so you can get on a train in San Francisco and get off in Los Angeles, it's still going to take about the same amount of time to drive. With benefits like, being able to decide you want to stop for the night, or see some sight, or choosing when you leave.
And just you watch, if this does come to pass, I'll bet security on the train will be as onerous as on the plane.
In Europe and Japan, high speed rail makes a lot of sense, where you have small countrys with large cities close together.
HSR would make sense between Boston and Washington DC in this country.
Other than that, it doesn't make a lick of sense. Plane travel is always going to be better when you are traveling more than a few hundred miles.