My following column ran in the NORTH COUNTY TIMES on 11 February
Terrorists Will Love California’s High Speed Rail
11 February, 2010
by Richard Rider Phone: 858-530-3027 Email: RRider@san.rr.com
On behalf of terrorists everywhere, let me say that high speed rail (HSR) is a Godsend to the Jihad (or whatever cause lights their fire).
A speeding “bullet train” will be like a plane flying at ground level at (supposedly) 220 MPH. At that velocity, if the train left the blown-up track, it would be like a plane coming down.
Most passengers would likely be killed. Those that weren’t killed would probably wish they HAD been killed. The graphic pictures of the horribly maimed and dead would be exactly what the terrorists long for.
Terrorists will take their cue from the French and Russian partisans in WWII who blew up NAZI trains with great success. Planes are hard to bring down — not so for trains.
With HSR, all a terrorist needs to do is properly place a relatively small explosive charge on the track. As a HSR bullet train comes flying up to the spot, the terrorist remotely detonates the explosive.
The best part for terrorists is that one doesn’t even have to be a suicide bomber. Just set the charge, detonate it, and drive away for another bombing later.
One rebuttal I’ve heard from HSR proponents is that terrorists are interested in planes only as missiles they can dive into buildings. But one has to wonder if such Pollyannas have been watching the news since 2001. Does “shoe bomber” or “underpants on fire” ring a bell?
But put that aside. The 9/11 attacks cost the bad guys 20 men. How many must die to blow up a HSR train track? Zero.
A California “bullet train” will carry 950 when fully loaded. Presumably that full load is the terrorists’ target.
So, assuming the bad guys want to repeat the casualties of 9/11 — How many HSR trains much be demolished to kill the same number of people as 9/11?
With no loss of life to the terrorists.
Most important, HSR is an EASY train to wreck compared to airplanes. A HSR derailment requires minimal explosives, and recycles the terrorist. And the terrorists get to pick the worst spot to plant the explosives — perhaps just before the speeding train reaches a curve, or a bridge over a river or valley.
Sure, terrorists are willing to die for their cause. But any terrorist (and their bosses) would rather they cause several catastrophes before finally getting killed or caught.
One such disastrous bombing will be the effective end of California’s “high speed” rail. For safety purposes, “bullet train” traffic will have to be slowed to 60-70 MPH to reduce casualties from such derailings. HSR train passenger traffic will plummet, and this useless financial choo-choo will hang around our necks for decades.
The terrorists would never get three filled HSR trains to blow up at 200 MPH speed — unless they coordinated the attacks at the same time (sound familiar?). After the fatal attack(s), there would be no more HSR in CA. Just rail. Very, VERY expensive rail.