14 years into the original 500-mile-high speed rail line to be built by 2020 it is now down to 172 miles – or may be just 119 miles and might, may be, perhaps, if everything else works, get those done by 2030.

California voters that year approved the sale of $9bn in state bonds, on the understanding that the LA to San Francisco line would be up and running by 2020.


The California project is still technically up and running, but it is so far behind schedule that it has yet to lay a single mile of track, despite 14 years of work and about $5bn spent.

Source: Train to nowhere: can California’s high-speed rail project ever get back on track?

The scaled back project, in massive cost overrun, is now being sold as a “proof of concept” that “doesn’t connect anything to anything”. Another few hundred billion and they might build the rest of it.

 I am skeptical that we will electrify the nation’s transportation system by 2030 or 2035 (pick your year) – Big government infrastructure projects tend to take 2x to 3x longer, cost much more and deliver less than originally proposed. 

The U.S. does not have the structure or competence to build out large scale rail projects (repeatedly demonstrated). Does it have the ability to build out an EV infrastructure in 9 years?


I never understood the strong enthusiasm for spending tens of billions, may be hundreds of billions, on big passenger rail systems in the U.S. During the past 2 years, I’ve done a lot of reading and studying about global topics. From that I learned about the rail systems of other countries, such as China, Japan and Europe and began to see where this was coming from.

We can assume rail proponents have extensive experience abroad and it is from those experiences they have developed their interest in rail.

I am the rare, brain injured idiot who has not done international travel and is not globalized.

I was going to start my international journey in March of 2020 (actually in 2019 but that was postponed to early 2020). Much delayed, I am now on a plan to address this shortfall in my understanding and will soon be traveling internationally. Anyway, I realized my complete lack of international competency has skewed my perspectives on many topics, including rail.

International competency is far greater than I ever imagined.

  • Per Pew Research, 93% of those in the U.S. with a 4-year degree or higher have traveled abroad, and 70% of those have been to 3+ countries, and 28% to 10+ countries.
  • A staggering 35% of the U.S. population was born abroad, studied, lived or worked abroad at some point in their life.
  • In 2018, 25% of U.S. families with children visited another country.
  • In 2018, almost 1.5 billion people globally traveled to at least one other country.
  • About 50% of the U.S. population has visited at least one of their ancestral homelands.
  • 60% of the world’s population has some ability in 2 or more languages and 43% are fluent in at least two languages. English is spoken by 13% of the world’s population and 12% more have some ability (but not fluent) in English.

Clearly, global competency is huge and essential to modern life. I overwhelmingly recommend that all young people develop global skills, through foreign exchange opportunities, study abroad, internships abroad, or even travel, living and working abroad. Essentially 100% of professional workers have international skill sets – being “Global” is basically a requirement now.

I am the weird one and have been working harder than anyone can imagine addressing this shortfall in my skillset from learning other languages, to studying international business, studying history and culture of other countries and much more.

I write an entire blog about Global Thinking and Travel where you can learn more random thoughts on being global.

By EdwardM