trainmaster611 wrote:I don't think that financial self-sufficiency should be an end unto itself. ...[but] Don't build vanity lines whether it's HSR between Sacramento and Eugene or a subway out into the suburbs.
Of course, financial self-sufficiency shouldn't be and end until itself. Amtrak certainly isn't self-sufficient. The issue is, "should HSR be built anywhere and everywhere, or should it be built only where it is able to attract some minimum amount of ridership and revenues (which don't need to cover all of its costs)?"
In the US, we build passenger rail that's not self-sufficient, although passenger rail is generally built only where it can attract enough revenues to cover at least a decent portion of its costs, indicating that our passenger rail lines are built where there is enough ridership demand to make it worthwhile.
In China, the amounts being spent are so high, and the revenues being earned are so low, that I'd be tempted to put some Chinese HSR lines in the category of "vanity lines", like a subway to a distant suburb that doesn't really provide public benefits to make the projects worthwhile.
Would we build an Acela Express across Montana? No. Perhaps China would, though.