IF you live in San Francisco and you want to get to LA, you kind of only have two options: a six-hour drive, or a journey out of the city to the airport, followed by the journey through the airport to a plane, followed by a 50-minute flight, then a journey through LA airport and then a drive to wherever you’re headed.

It’s not exactly easy. That’s where the incredibly sensible plan for a high speed rail line comes in. It would better connect cities, boost the economy, cut emissions and help bring the world’s only superpower into the high-speed club that’s currently dominated by China.

But work on the line has been nowhere near as fast and efficient as the trains it one day hopes to run. Plagued by difficulties, and battling America’s cultural preference for flying and driving, the massive building project hasn’t delivered much at all – and some now think it may never be fully completed.This is a look inside California’s long, tumultuous and somewhat unbelievable struggle to build America’s first high-speed rail line.