Will California’s High Speed Rail Be Safe?

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In the wake of the Amtrak train crash this week, how safe will High Speed Rail be?

This week’s tragic Amtrak accident introduced us all to the concept of Positive Train Control, an automated speed reduction system that was not installed in the curving stretch of the New York-Philadelphia line where the fast-speeding train derailed.

And it prompted us to wonder: just how safe will be California’s proposed High Speed Rail, especially when it’s rocketing along at over 200 miles per hour?

According to Michelle Boehm, Southern California Regional Director, California High Speed Rail Authority, the trains will have Positive Train Control. And beyond that, she says:

— The alignment will be as straight as possible to accommodate trains at up to 220mph minimum (tested at 250mph), meaning the route will have as few curves as possible (according to CHSR, the radius necessary for a fast train to navigate a curve is 5 miles.)

— The system will be double tracked, meaning you have one track going in each direction, compared to a single-track railway where trains in both directions share the same track.

— The system will be completely grade separated, meaning no crashes with cars or buses, because rail lines will go over or under other transit ways.

— The system will be completely ‘sealed’, keeping tracks clear

— The system will have Early Earthquake Warning System (EEWS) modeled after Japan’s system