Major construction, equipment and engineering firms around the world, responding to a solicitation to form a partnership with the California high-speed rail project, have raised serious concerns about the state’s shortage of funding, the potential need for long-term operating subsidies and whether the project can meet the current construction schedule.
The comments were included in 36 responses sent by the international firms to the California High-Speed Rail Authority after it requested suggestions on how to complete the $68-billion project. Despite the concerns, many of the companies expressed a willingness to participate in the project.
Construction of the first section of the planned Los Angeles to San Francisco rail line began earlier this year. But the state has only half the $31 billion needed to complete the initial operating segment between Burbank and Merced. The appeal for financial and technical partners drew responses from across Europe, Asia and the U.S. But none of the companies expressed a readiness to invest their own money, and some included reservations about the risks.
Yeah, this is going to work out well. But hey — government is just the name we give to the stupid ideas no person in his right mind would ever want to bet on.
The state, which has been counting on private investment as part of its funding plans, disclosed receipt of the responses last week. They were released Friday after Public Records Act requests were filed by The Times and other organizations. Subsidiaries of the Spanish company Ferrovial SA wrote that most high-speed rail systems around the world require operating subsidies and that the same will probably be true for California’s bullet train.
“We believe it is highly unlikely that the [California system] will turn an operating profit within the first 10 years of operation,” the company’s 37-page submission said. “More likely, [the system] will require large government subsidies for years to come.”
As Dr. Watson said to Mr. Holmes…