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Bullet train won't make it to Anaheim in latest high-speed rail plan

April 6, 2012 |  6:02 pm

An artist's illustration of a bullet train station. Credit: California High-Speed Rail Authority

The California bullet train project has dropped a link to Anaheim from its current $68-billion plan, officials confirmed Friday, marking a significant departure for the Bay Area-to-Southern California high-speed rail system that state voters approved in 2008.

Under revised plans, the first phase of the line would have its southern terminus near downtown Los Angeles rather than in Orange County.

Bullet train passengers would have to transfer to slower Metrolink or Amtrak trains in Los Angeles to reach Anaheim, Orange County’s largest city. Until now, officials had vowed that under the first phase, the bullet trains would whisk riders about 40 miles southeast of downtown to the Disneyland area.

Walt Disney Co., which operates the state’s largest tourist attraction, has been a strong advocate for the project in the past. And Anaheim saw the bullet train as a centerpiece of a massive, $200-million transportation hub, known as ARTIC, near Angel Stadium. Anaheim is set to seek bids for the transit center next month.

Electrifying and improving the Los Angeles to Orange County route would cost $6 billion and save only 10 minutes of travel time, said rail authority Chairman Dan Richard.

“Why would we do that, pay $600 million per minute?” he said in an interview.

Richard said the savings to be achieved by dropping an Anaheim link from the initial construction plans made financial sense.

Anaheim City Councilwoman Kris Murray said it’s crucial that the bullet train reach her city and its tourist attractions and professional sports teams.

“The state of California is growing at a fast clip,” she said. “We need to have transit as well as highways.”

But Orange County Supervisor Shawn Nelson, whose district includes the city, agreed with Richard.

“It was never realistic to come to Anaheim,” Nelson said. “For four years, I’ve been saying the thing is never coming to Anaheim. To electrify the system accomplishes nothing.”


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-- Dan Weikel and Ralph Vartabedian

Photo: An artist's illustration of a bullet train station. Credit: California High-Speed Rail Authority