California high-speed rail could cost almost $100B
California has had its share of financial problems. The news yesterday probably didn’t help ease the minds in Sacramento.
A business plan for California’s high-speed rail network could cost almost $100 billion in inflation-adjusted spending over its anticipated 20-year construction period, according to the Associated Press. Preliminary reports indicate the earliest service would begin in 2033.
The proposed rail line would connect Anaheim and San Francisco, and estimates pegged the cost at $98.5 billion. Voters approved $43 billion in funding back in 2008; in non-adjusted 2010 figures, that amount is now $65.4 billion as costs have risen significantly.
“The good news is they’re at least coming up with a real number; the bad news is that’s a pretty scary number,” Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, told the AP.
The business plan is expected to be released on Tuesday during a news conference at the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento. Among the controversial issues included in the proposal is that construction would begin in the sparsely populated Central Valley.
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Opponents of that plan want to start construction in more populated areas, in case funding should run out before the rail line is completed. That way, the state won’t have spent taxpayers’ money on a so-called “train to nowhere.”
Starting in the Central Valley may be the only feasible option, however, as the federal government will fund $3.5 billion of the project if it starts in the middle of the state by October of next year. Such a tight timeframe won’t allow engineering proposals or environmental reviews to be completed in time in any other location.
Cainiao Network Launches Customer-Centric Logistics
As the logistics division of the Alibaba Group, Cainiao Smart Logistics Network has decided to provide its Southeast Asian customers with unsurpassed service during its annual shopping festival. Based on customer feedback surveys, the company will expand its real-time customer service support and speed up delivery times. ‘By expanding and deepening our services, we aim to provide a stronger logistics infrastructure that can bolster the booming eCommerce sector, support merchants’ expansion into new markets and diversify retail options for consumers’, said Chris Fan, Head of Cross-Border, Singapore, Cainiao Network.
Who Is Cainiao?
According to TIME Magazine, Cainiao ‘is far from a typical logistics firm’. The company controls an open platform that allows it to collaborate with 3,000 logistics partners and 3 million couriers. This means that merchants can choose the least expensive and most efficient shipping options, based on Cainiao’s real-time logistics analytics. The company’s goal is to ship packages anywhere in the world in under 72 hours—and for less than US$3.00.
For countless small business owners around the world, from coffee-growers to textile-weavers, this could change everything. Usually, it costs about US$100 to ship a DHL envelope from Shanghai to London in five days. Cainiao aims to change that. Said its CEO Wan Lin: ‘The biggest barrier to globalisation is logistics’.
What’s Part of the Upgrade?
Throughout the Tmall festival, Cainiao’s logistics upgrade will be divided into four critical segments:
- Real-time customer service support. Cainiao has launched a direct WhatsApp channel for customers to receive logistics updates and ask questions.
- Expansion of air freight parcel size and weight limits. Packages can now be up to 30 kilograms or 1-metre x 1.6 meters to help ship large items such as furniture.
- Daily air and sea freight connections. Shipping frequency will almost double to seven times weekly to maintain resilience and efficiency.
- Compensation for lost or damaged packages. Customers will be reimbursed up to RMB 2,000 (US$311).
Where is the Company Headed?
From June 1st to June 20th, the finale of Tmall, Cainiao will ensure that its customers feel confident in the company’s ability to deliver their packages. Despite global shipping delays due to COVID, the show will go on. Said Fan: ‘This series of customer-centric logistics upgrades reaffirms our goal of pursuing value-added services to enhance customers’ shopping experience while mitigating challenges posed by external factors’.
Furthermore, Cainiao has recently expanded its Southeast Asian operations, achieving revenue growth of 68% year-over-year. In Malaysia, the logistics operation has partnered with BEST Inc. and Yunda; in Singapore, the company has partnered with Roadbull, Park & Parcel, and the Singapore Post. And if its recent measures help retain and grow its customer base, the company will be well-poised to lead the industry in resilient and customer-centric global logistics. ‘COVID-19 made everyone realise how important the logistics infrastructure backbone is’, said Wan. ‘And it gave us a peek at what Cainiao should look like in three years’.