Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Spain, California and high-speed rail

In the current issue of the New Yorker:

"What did Spain do with its European money, its cheap debt?" [Cesar] Molinas said. "We made empty buildings and airports and high-speed trains." (As the Madrid banker told me, "The cost embedded in taking someone by high-speed rail to Galicia is so high that it would be cheaper just to give people in Galicia a free plane ticket.") Molinas would have preferred investments in what is often called human capital, the very stuff that the crisis was forcing Spain to stint on. "Now we are cutting education, research and development, health care. People making the laws don't understand." (Letter from Madrid, Nick Paumgarten)

That Spain's high-speed rail system wasn't making much money---not even enough to operate the system---isn't news to readers of the SF Chronicle, which had a front-page story telling us that little more than a year ago. The folks who write the Chronicle's editorials, however, apparently don't read their own paper, since they published a dumb pro-high-speed rail editorial---taking the "long view"!---after our state legislature okayed the bonds to finance the-train-to-nowhere segment of the project in the Central Valley.

Cesar Molinas on what ails Spain.

Kathy Hamilton has been monitoring the ongoing California High-Speed Rail follies. Her latest column is here.

The best source of analysis of the whole misbegotten project is here.

Of course Scott Wiener supports the boondoggle, as does Mayor Lee.

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