China joins growing interest in CA high speed rail

xpress-west-1 trainSeeking to tout its market value, California’s High Speed Rail Authority recently solicited bids for private investment, drawing dozens of responses.

“Facing criticism from opponents for the lack of private investors lining up to finance the $68 billion project, the rail authority asked private firms to respond to a list of questions on how to reduce costs, speed up construction and attract more private-sector investment for a segment from Merced to Burbank, which is scheduled to start operating in 2022,” ABC News reported.

Political challenges

Although the interest has not fundamentally altered the political calculus or the political controversy surrounding the embattled scheme, it has given fans of the bullet train some evidence that it could be more than a sinkhole for public funds.

But the Rail Authority has struggled to convince Californians in many communities that the upheaval promised by the train’s construction and operation are worth the added services. In preparation for a public forum on the so-called Peninsula segment of the line, running through Silicon Valley, the Authority said “it is planning to blend high-speed trains with Caltrain from San Francisco to San Jose to minimize the disruption to local communities,” according to the San Jose Mercury News.

The China connection

California has become something of a proving ground for high-speed rail, with interest running high among some of the most powerful companies and countries in the world.

Elon Musk’s hyperloop design for ultra-fast vacuum-powered mass transit has spawned a test track that will parallel a stretch of the same I-5 freeway intended to guide the state-funded bullet train Gov. Brown has long supported.

And China, one of the biggest international players in high-speed rail, has done its best to become a key player in California’s deployment of the technology. Among the 35 respondents to the Rail Authority’s solicitation for private funds was a group called the Chinese High Speed Rail Delivery Team, the AP reported. Additionally, the Chinese government’s railway conglomerate aced out rival Japan for the state’s other major rail project, the XpressWest train that would connect Las Vegas to Los Angeles commuters willing to take a modest trek to its westerly terminus.

Both moves have taken shape as part of a broader effort by China to establish a big tech-driven infrastructure footprint in the West. “Electric cars from Faraday Future, a project linked to Chinese tech conglomerate Leshi Internet Information and Technology, could roll off a production line in North Las Vegas,” the Las Vegas Sun reported, “if a rumored tax incentive passes a special session of the Legislature that Gov. Brian Sandoval may call. “Sandoval also plans to embark on a trade mission to China in October, to visit Xi’an, Nanjiang, Shanghai and Beijing with governors of other Western states to drum up business in clean technology, taking advantage of the country’s recently announced cap-and-trade program to limit carbon emissions.”

In the meantime, China has kept its eye on the level of interest surrounding the state’s high speed rail endeavor. Reporting on Morales’s reaction to the responses, Shanghai Daily noted that “[a] few of them expressed their interest in helping build the whole Initial Operating Segment (IOS) […] in a package including the civil works, track, infrastructure, stations and rolling stock. But more of them are focusing on one or a few elements, Morales said.”

9 comments

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  1. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 10 October, 2015, 08:38

    … for a segment from Merced to Burbank

    That will be a gold mine of commuters and $$$$$…oh wait, no it won’t NO ONE will ride that segment. What makes ANYONE think there is a need for “high speed rail” from Merced of all places, to Burbank????

    Reply this comment
  2. Richard Rider
    Richard Rider 10 October, 2015, 11:23

    I doubt the Chinese will be interested without revenue guarantees from the state — and other subsidies as well — which of course violate the prop that approved the project.

    But if the ChiComs DO want to build it without subsidies, let’s facilitate the effort.

    Our state can use the economic stimulus of foreign capital foolishly spent on a little-used slow train to nowhere built in the hinterlands. Who knows what the inscrutable (and financially crumbling) Chinese will decide?

    After all, there’s one born every minute. No, NOT Chinese — suckers!

    Reply this comment
  3. Dork
    Dork 10 October, 2015, 11:34

    This is going to be such a big money maker for the investors, I think we should REQUIRE the various Public Employee Retirement Funds Fully invest ALL THEIR FUNDS in this venture. They can KEEP ALL THE PROFITS and of course if they lose, tough, beans and rice

    Reply this comment
  4. Hutch
    Hutch 10 October, 2015, 16:20

    I thought the Govt. Was Bragging about how this was gonna create all these new jobs for all Californions and such. Now we’re bringing in foreign investors. Are we going to start bringing in workers from other Countries? What a “CROCK OF SHIT! We need Damn’s.

    Reply this comment
  5. Just Another Disruntled Citizen
    Just Another Disruntled Citizen 10 October, 2015, 16:57

    If ever there was a stupid government project, the High-Speed Rail is it. And now HSR project boosters have taken astute advice from the opposition.

    Does that cure the HSR project of its stupidity?

    No.

    Reply this comment
  6. bob
    bob 10 October, 2015, 18:12

    I doubt this goes anywhere, certainly not if the Chinese don’t get guarantees.

    If it does proceed it will be the hapless Colliefonian (as Ahnode sez) taxpayer who will be on the hook, as always.

    But all this probably goes nowhere.

    The Chinese are too busy buying American real estate and other hard assets. The are unloading their Amerikan Gooberment IOU Nothings (t bonds) for real assets.

    Reply this comment
  7. Dude
    Dude 10 October, 2015, 18:23

    China joins growing interest in CA high speed rail…

    “Re rerry, rerry rike train”

    Reply this comment
  8. ricky65
    ricky65 11 October, 2015, 09:39

    I think we’re all missing the point here in this article.
    The Chinese are interested in “building” this train. I didn’t see anything in here that says they’re interested in “financing” it.
    They need work for work for their increasingly idle construction industry not financing a fools errand.

    Reply this comment
  9. Duc Anh Vu Tran
    Duc Anh Vu Tran 12 November, 2015, 09:52

    The seats of those trains are too small. The train is not wider than the rail. It is like the high speed train in asia and the tgv made by the same persons.

    Reply this comment

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