经济学人:无处高速 Going Nowhere Fast
日期:2012-03-12 10:40

(单词翻译:单击)

NOT long ago, Barack Obama was hoping that high-speed trains would provide America with the desired twofer. First, building the special tracks and locomotives would put a division or two of America’s army of unemployed back to work. Then, once built, the trains would get people out of cars and planes and to their destinations in a way that would be cleaner and use less foreign oil. But those dreams have mostly died. Republicans have decided that government spending, not outdated infrastructure, is the real bogeyman, and Republican governors in Florida, Wisconsin and Ohio have rejected federal money to begin building.
前不久,奥巴马希望通过高铁的修建给美国带来梦寐以求的两项实惠。第一,高铁轨道的修建及机车的制造将会让美国的无业人员重获工作。并且,一旦完工,人们的出行方式将从汽车和飞机变成高铁,一种更加清洁环保并且可以减少使用国外石油的出行方式。但这些美好的愿望几乎已全部幻灭。共和党人决定政府的开支不应花在过时的基础设施建设上,这是建造高铁的困难所在,在弗罗里达,威斯康星和俄亥俄州的共和党州长已经拒绝了用联邦州政府的公债基金建设高铁。


Only in California does the dream live on. As Governor Jerry Brown, aged 73 and a Democrat, likes to remember, another big railway project in the 19th century connected the young state to the rest of America. In the 1960s his father, Pat, served as governor and built ambitious aqueducts and highways. In the 1970s Mr Brown himself became governor for the first time, and had visions of his own grand projects. These, as much as his theological bent and his liking for meditation, earned him the nickname Governor Moonbeam.
唯有在加州建造高铁的愿望尚存一丝希望。因为73岁的民主党州长Governor Jerry Brown喜欢回忆19世纪另一项宏伟的铁路工程,该工程使成立不久的加州与美国的其它地区相连通。20世纪60年代,Brown的父亲Pat担任州长时建造了宏伟的水道和高速公路,70年代 Brown首次当选州长,并勾画建造自己宏伟工程的蓝图。以上这些加之他对神学的虔诚及酷爱冥想, 因此人们称之为月光州长。
Today Mr Brown still sparkles as he mocks the dystopian journalists and declinists who obstinately fail to see that California’s population will grow from just under 38m now to about 50m in 2030; and that, unless the state has something like Japan’s bullet trains, Californians will choke in traffic jams or go mad waiting for delayed flights in inadequate airports. Of late, he has compared his state’s planned high-speed train to the Panama and Suez canals. And he has added that if China, Germany, Spain and Japan can build one, there is no earthly reason why California shouldn’t do so too.
现今Brown因嘲弄反乌托邦记者和下滑主义者仍耀眼于政坛,下滑主义者顽固的认为加州现今不足3800万的人口在2030年将无法达到5000万;并且,加州除非有像日本的新干线之类的新型出行方式,否则加州市民在机场为数不多的情况下,不在交通拥堵中窒息就在因航班延误造成的慢长等待中疯狂。最近,Brown把修建高铁的计划比作同修建巴拿马及苏伊士运河一样重要势在必行。他补充道,如果中国,德国,西班牙和日本都可以建造高铁,那么还有什么理由能阻止加州也来建造高铁呢。
California’s voters used to agree. In a 2008 ballot measure (before Mr Brown became governor for the second time), they approved $9 billion in bonds to fund just such a train. As advertised, it was to connect the two big population centres, Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay area. Speeds were to reach 220mph, giving a travel time of less than three hours; the project was to cost $33 billion and be completed as early as 2020.
加州的选民之前对此表示支持。在2008年的投票表决中(Brown第二次任州长前),选民同意拿出90亿美元债券基金来建造高铁。如宣传中所描述的那样,该铁路建成后将连接洛杉矶和旧金山海岸地区这两大人口聚集区。到时列车的行驶速度将达到220英里/小时,两地的旅程时间将不到3小时。这项工程将花费330亿美元并预计最早于2020年完工。
Then the iron law of infrastructure projects asserted itself. According to current estimates, the train would in fact cost three times as much or more, and take 13 years longer to build. Mr Obama still wants to help; he has asked Congress for $35 billion in railway funding over five years, of which $3.5 billion may go to California. But even with the bond funds, those dollops would cover less than 13% of the estimated cost. Republicans are in no mood to allocate more.
之后基建工程的魔咒又开始应验。根据目前的估计,这项工程实际支出费用将是预想的三倍或更多,并需耗时长达13年之久。奥巴马对此仍不放弃并给予一定援助;在过去的五年里他已向国会申请了350亿美元用于铁路建设,其中大约35亿美元用于加州。但即便如此,所有这些费用仍不足预计支出的13%。对此共和党人再无心援助更多。
It gets worse. After the ballot measure, it was decided that construction should begin not in the two population centres but in the vast and flat farmlands of the Central Valley, where building is much easier. This means that funds could run dry before the big cities are even connected to the network. A high-speed train would then run through sparsely populated countryside, with hardly anybody riding it. Some call this a train to nowhere, others a white elephant. Using a rather more original metaphor Richard White, a professor of history at Stanford, calls it a Vietnam of transportation: easy to begin and difficult and expensive to stop.
更糟糕的是,在投票表决后,政府决定将铁路的起止点改建在中央大峡谷的耕地上,而非原定的两个人口密集区,与之前相比这里幅员辽阔,地势平坦易于施工。这意味着在铁路网与大城市连通前,资金很可能早已用光。那时高铁将穿梭于人迹稀少的乡村地区,当然也基本不会有人乘坐。一些人把它叫做无所适从的列车,其它人则说它是华而不实,赘而无用。斯坦福大学历史学教授Richard White用隐喻的方法称其为越南式交通:开始,容易且简单;停止,昂贵且困难

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重点单词
  • earthlyadj. 地球的,俗世的,可能的
  • networkn. 网络,网状物,网状系统 vt. (以网络)覆
  • populationn. 人口 ,(全体)居民,人数
  • allocatevt. 分派,分配,分配额
  • inadequateadj. 不充分的,不适当的
  • vastadj. 巨大的,广阔的 n. 浩瀚的太空
  • fundsn. 基金;资金,现金(fund的复数) v. 提供资金
  • meditationn. 沉思,冥想
  • bondn. 债券,结合,粘结剂,粘合剂 vt. 使结合,为 .
  • populatedadj. 粒子数增加的 v. 居住于…中;构成…的人口(