The Science of Sustainability

Reporter's Notes: A Bumpy Ride for High Speed Rail

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As the high-speed rail inches toward reality, it's encountering a thicket of NIMBYism.

We'd been wanting to do an update on the California high speed rail project for months now. (Here's David Gorn's HSR Quest Radio piece from 9/08.) Luckily, there's no bad time to cover high speed rail. The project is so huge, so expensive, so ambitious and so controversial that you could make a whole beat out of it and stay entertained for a good long time.

But if – like me – you're just taking a dip, the first place to check out is the High Speed Rail Authority site. The Authority clearly has deep pockets when it comes to producing animations of the 432-mile train line. Would that the planning process ran as smoothly as those blue and yellow trains.

Click below to use the interactive map.


Your next stop should be this great primer on the technology and issues surrounding HSR, produced by my TV colleagues at QUEST.

I also recommend Robert Cruickshank's California High Speed Rail Blog. Cruickshank makes no secret of his pro-HSR stance — nor of his irritation at those who've put up roadblocks or expressed concerns — but his site is readable and impressively comprehensive. I guess you can count on the train buffs to track every twist and turn of the most ambitious rail project since the Transcontinental Railroad.

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Category: Engineering, Radio

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About the Author ()

As a radio reporter for KQED Science, Amy's grappled with archaic maps, brain fitness exercises, albino redwood trees, and jet-lagged lab rats, as well as modeled a wide variety of hard hats and construction vests. Long before all that, she learned to cut actual tape interning for a Latin American news show at WBAI in New York, then took her first radio job as a producer for Pulse of the Planet. Since then, Amy has been an editor at, the editor of Terrain Magazine, and has produced stories for NPR, Living on Earth, Philosophy Talk, and Pop Up Magazine. She's also a founding editor of Meatpaper Magazine.