Early in the HSR project there was a study, which I think is public, that had Bakersfield as one point and downtown Los Angeles as the other. It boiled down to:
That's...basically what I was thinking. Actually, is there any other way out of the valley (either a current or former alignment) that could work in that vein?
The "cheap" option would be to build a straighter and steeper passenger only line between Bakersfield and at least Palmdale. Just getting rid of the need to transfer to a bus at Bakersfield would almost certainly double, and probably triple or more the ridership on the San Joaquin trains even if it did not shorten the end to end times at all. However, the current railroad alignment is as crooked and slow as it is because there is no such thing as a cheap option between Bakersfield and LA.
A question with this situation: Is there any examination of a "cheap" option for at least getting a through train running through the Valley on the San Joaquin route in place? IIRC, Techiapi is already at capacity and then some, so is there some way that a "high speed conventional" route (i.e. 90-125 MPH) could be done for less? It wouldn't have the same appeal, but between higher gas prices, the time savings off of the Central Valley line with the current segment, and allowing a through train, you might be able to seriously close losses simply on traffic being forced over.
1. Generally follow I-5
2. Generally follow the current railroad line Bakersfield-Tehachapi-Palmdale-LA.
Both line require extensive tunneling and quite a bit of bridge work. Neither will be cheap. There are also several fault line crossings on either route. The current railroad line is very crooked and therefore slow. It is also heavily congested with freight trains between Bakersfield and Palmdale, particularly up the Tehachapi grade. A fast passenger route would hve steeper grades and lots of tunnel in order to get a line that has curves large enough for high speeds.
I can't believe I'm asking this, but how would the scenery be on that route?