Even major global powers won’t use HSR, China is failing
Washington Post 11 (http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-politics-of-chinas-high-speed-train-wreck/2011/07/27/gIQAGedXdI_story.html, July 27)
Too late: Last Saturday, China’s high-speed rail produced the long-feared catastrophe.Two bullet trains collided in the eastern province of Zhejiang, leaving more than three dozen people dead and scores more injured. The terrible collision is not only a human tragedy but also a major blow to the credibility of the communist government, which had hoped to sell its trains to other countries – including the United States. Authorities blamed a lightning strike for causing one train to stall out, after which a second train rear-ended it, causing four cars to plunge off a bridge. Unlikely on its face, this scenario does not explain why no fail-safe mechanism halted the second train after the first stopped. That’s what would have happened in Japan, where bullet trains have operated for half a century with zero fatalities.
China’s HSR fails because of its government, regardless of spillover
East Asia Forum 12 (Francis Broderick, July 20th, http://www.eastasiaforum.org/2012/07/20/is-china-s-high-speed-rail-system-slowing-down/)
Yet the ambitious growth plan has been implemented extremely quickly, which has led to corruption, faulty equipment and flawed procedures, all of which has have become evident in the past two years of construction and operation. By early 2012, the Chinese HSR system was beginning to struggle,with 70 per cent of projects delayed or suspended. The railways ministry is under a heavy cloud of debt and banks are reluctant to continue financing the expansion of HSR in China. The ministry has taken out loans of around US$37 billion and is failing to recoup money from passengers. The disastrous slowdown can be taken into context by the fact that nine new railway projects will be commissioned in 2012, down from seventy in 2011. While the glory days of HSR construction might have come to an end, the Chinese can still boast a hugely advanced network of high-speed trains. Rail travel in China is now much faster, smoother and more efficient than ever before, in what amounts to an infrastructure revolution that is still a long way away for Western Europe and the US.
Russia is building HSR because of European interests, not because of American influence
Singh 12 (Timon, http://inhabitat.com/russian-constructing-high-speed-rail-system-for-2018-world-cup/russianworldcup4/,
Now if you are American, you may not be completely familiar with the FIFA World Cup (despite the USA doing reasonably well in recent tournaments), but it is the world’s largest sporting event. This month, there was much chagrin here in the UK, when the country lost the bid for the 2018 World Cup to Russia, with Qatar winning the right to host the tournament in 2022. (Of course, Qatar has planned to transform their infrastructure accordingly by then, including the completion of the world’s longest bridge.) In a press statement, Putin said, “[The tournament] will be a powerful incentive for the development of high speed rail services in the European part of Russia.” He made the announcement after he and Finnish President Tarja Halonen had embarked “an inaugural journey on the French-made high speed Allegro train linking Helsinki to St. Petersburg.” So with the U.S. planning high-speed lines in Florida and California, China increasing their own networks, Europe fully embracing the concept, and now Russia investing the same infrastructure for the World Cup, it would appear that the age of the high-speed rail has well arrived.
High speed Rail wouldn’t make a dent in air pollution figures – airline usage would drop 2.5% in American ALONE – suburbanization proves that population density simply isn’t high enough to support cost-benefit tradeoff
Samuelson 2010, Robert Samuelson is a column author and writer for both Newsweek and the Washington Post and he is the author of “The Great Inflation and Its Aftermath: The Past and Future of American Affluence” and “Untruth: Why the Conventional Wisdom Is (Almost Always) Wrong,” “High-Speed Pork: Why fast trains are a waste of money,” DA: 7/17/12, http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2010/10/29/why-high-speed-trains-don-t-make-sense.html
Somehow, it has become fashionable to think that high-speed trains connecting major cities will help “save the planet.” They won’t. They’re a perfect example of wasteful spending masquerading as a respectable social cause. They would further burden already-overburdened governments and drain dollars from worthier programs—schools, defense, research. Let’s suppose that the Obama administration gets its wish to build high-speed rail systems in 13 urban corridors. The administration has already committed $10.5 billion, and that’s just a token down payment. California wants about $19 billion for an 800-mile track from Anaheim to San Francisco. Constructing all 13 corridors could easily approach $200 billion. Most (or all) of that would have to come from government. What would we get for this huge investment? Not much. Here’s what we wouldn’t get: any meaningful reduction in traffic congestion, greenhouse-gas emissions, air travel, or oil consumption and imports. Nada, zip. If you can do fourth-grade math, you can understand why. High-speed intercity trains (not commuter lines) travel at up to 250 miles per hour and are most competitive with planes and cars over distances of less than 500 miles. In a report on high-speed rail, the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service examined the 12 corridors of 500 miles or less with the most daily air traffic in 2007. Los Angeles to San Francisco led the list with 13,838 passengers; altogether, daily air passengers in these 12 corridors totaled 52,934. If all of them switched to trains, the number of airline passengers, about 2 million a day, would drop only 2.5 percent.Any fuel savings would be less than that; even trains need fuel. Indeed, intercity trains—at whatever speed—target such a small part of total travel that the effects on reduced oil use, traffic congestion, and greenhouse gases must be microscopic.Every day, about 140 million Americans go to work, with 85 percent driving an average of 25 minutes (three quarters drive alone, 10 percent carpool). Even with 250,000 high-speed rail passengers, there would be no visible effect on routine commuting, let alone personal driving. In the Northeast Corridor, with about 45 million people, Amtrak’s daily ridership is 28,500. If its trains shut down tomorrow, no one except the affected passengers would notice. We are prisoners of economic geography. Suburbanization after World War II made most rail travel impractical. From 1950 to 2000, the share of the metropolitan population living in central cities fell from 56 percent to 32 percent, report UCLA economists Leah Platt Boustan and Allison Shertzer. Jobs moved too. Trip origins and destinations are too dispersed to support most rail service. Only in places (Europe, Asia) with greater population densities is high-speed rail potentially attractive.
A2: Air Pollution Adv.
Long term environmental effects of construction cut back against possible benefits in the future
Sheehan 5/26/2012, Tim Sheehan is a writer for the Fresno Bee, “High-speed rail construction will give Valley's bad air a big bump before reductions take hold,” DA: 7/17/2012, http://www.fresnobee.com/2012/05/26/2851875_p2/high-speed-rail-secret-construction.html
Some of that money could go to the air district's incentive programs, which include helping homeowners replace gas-powered lawnmowers with low-cost electric ones, and helping businesses, farmers and industries replace or upgrade trucks and machinery, said Samir Sheihk, the district's director of strategies and incentives. "Those programs are always oversubscribed -- there's always more demand than we have money for," Sheikh said. In Spain, where high-speed trains have been running for 20 years, some experts said it can take decades for high-speed rail to make up for environmental damage from construction. High-speed trains "might be green, [but] don't take it for granted," said Germà Bel, a professor of political economics at the University of Barcelona and a former deputy in the Spanish parliament. "Because there is a lot of environmental damage while the construction is on. "The story does not begin the day that high-speed lines begin service: The story with the environment begins the day on which the first work began." Disregarding the construction effects "gives the environmental effects of high-speed rail a kind of mythological value," he said. To make up for construction impacts, a high-speed train line must attract enough people from cars and planes. "If you have a new line with huge demand, it might be environmentally friendly -- at a huge cost," Bel said. "If you have medium use of such a line, you take about 30 years to recover the environmental damage done because of construction. If the usage is low, you actually have a very bad effect on the environment. "The point with high-speed rail is whether you get dozens of millions of trips [per year]. It's very demanding, and it's not the case with any single line in Spain." Rail officials in California say they'll do such a good job of offsetting pollution while the system is built, there will be nothing to "make up or pay back" by the time the trains would start carrying passengers in 2022.