Everyone’s talking about California's high-speed rail project – a $68 billion network that could zip passengers from San Francisco to Los Angeles in less than three hours. Construction of the first phase of the line will begin next year in the Central Valley, a 28-mile stretch from Madera to Fresno. In future years, the rail line will stretch north to San Jose and south to Palmdale and the San Fernando Valley north of Los Angeles. The whole network might not be completed until 2028.
The project has been surrounded by controversy. Some have said even though the nation’s first bullet train will take a quarter of the time it currently takes, it will still not be fast enough to attract sufficient customers.
Others have said the price tag is too high. Yet officials at California’s High-Speed Rail Authority say it is still cheaper than building dozens of new airport runways and highways to accommodate a state population that is estimated to reach 46 million by 2035.
At a special ceremony in Fresno on Tuesday, California Governor Jerry Brown compared the rail line to the construction of the great cathedrals of Europe, which took generations. “The high-speed rail links us from the past to the future, from the south to the north,” he said. “It's not that expensive. We cannot really afford not to build it.
All these projects are a little controversial. You’ll always have some critics say why spend all this money?”
Last year, two government transport officials from the state, Brian Kelly and Mary Nichols, wrote in a newspaper article that the only genuine alternative to the high-speed train was to invest up to $150 billion to build 4,300 new lanes of highway, more freeways and hundreds of new airport gates and runways. They added: “This would cover large parts of the state with concrete and asphalt.”
By car, the journey takes at least six-and-a-half hours in optimum traffic conditions, and can cost about as much depending on the type of car, fuel and highway tolls. The high-speed train tickets will be similar to the cost of air travel, promoters say, and deliver people to central stations, saving more time and money.
The Independent, 7 January 2015 (Adapted)
Question 1: [2 POINTS] Indicate whether the following statements are true or false and write down which part of the text justifies your answer.
a) The first phase of building has already started.
b) The complete project could take more than 10 years to finish.
c) All the critics say that building the line will be too expensive.
d) People will find it cheaper to use the train than flying.
Question 2: [2 POINTS] Answer the following questions in your own words according to the text.
a) Why does the text say that not everyone is happy with the planned rail link?
b) What are the disadvantages of alternative transport options such as road and air?
Question 3: [1,5 POINTS] Find words or phrases in the text that correspond to the words and definitions given.
- a) stage (paragraph 1) phase
- b) entire (paragraph 1) whole
- c) clients (paragraph 2) customers
- d) authentic (paragraph 4) genuine
- e) the best (paragraph 5) optimum
Question 4: [1,5 POINTS] Complete the following sentences without changing the meaning.
a) My mother didn’t listen to me and went to see the new horror film.
b) A technician is installing a new PC at our house at the moment.
c) “It’ll be warm and sunny for the next week,” Samantha told Michael.
- Samantha told Michael that ...it would be warm and sunny for the following week.
WRITINGQuestion 5: [3 POINTS] Write a short essay (about 120-150 words) on the following topic:
- How do you prefer to travel long distances and why?