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Some fast math on bullet train

October 20, 2008

Re "Backers hope voters give bullet train a shot," Oct. 15

During our recent vacation in Europe, we took several high-speed trains. The Thalys from Brussels to Cologne was doing well if it got above 60 mph. The ICE in Germany hit speeds of 170 mph, and the Eurostar Trenitalia from Florence to Venice averaged about 90 mph.

Promoters of Proposition 1A promise us a journey from L.A. to San Francisco -- a distance of 432 miles -- in 2 1/2 hours. The train would make numerous stops and would traverse the Tehachapi grade and the Pacheco Pass. It would require an average speed of about 170 mph. Compare this to an ICE train from Hamburg to Nuremberg, which takes 4 hours, 23 minutes over 485 miles that are essentially flat. Its average speed is about 110 mph.

As much as I favor more public transportation and love high-speed trains, I'm afraid that the promoters of Proposition 1A are overly optimistic.

Lutz Moeckel

Garden Grove

Now we are being asked to authorize an initial $10 billion for a bullet train, the cost of which will surely grow.

Meanwhile, the Westside of Los Angeles remains snarled at rush hour, and it takes half as much time to travel by bus from Santa Monica to downtown.

It seems to me that the energy saved by a "subway to the sea" would far exceed that saved by a bullet train to Baghdad by the Bay. It would be far more useful for many more people.

John Crandell

Sacramento

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