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Ideas to Upgrade Rail Service From Los Angeles to San Diego

January 29, 1989

The article by Carl H. Schiermeyer on upgrading the train service between Los Angeles and San Diego (Jan. 15) is too simplistic to merit serious consideration. Of course, if there were more trains probably people would ride them, but the observations proposed by the author contain several flaws, namely:

- Doubling rail trackage is quite a different exercise than adding a freeway lane; the comparison cannot be made without a detailed engineering analysis and extensive cost estimates.

- Doubling the track may be very difficult or very costly or virtually impossible in some areas, even if this is merely for "trains to cross."

- "Because people like trains" is no reason, per se, to commit a very heavy financial investment in a rail-line upgrade.

- Doubling trackage is not the only method of increasing capacity; many other equally viable components and systems are readily available in considering what best method to use, if it is deemed desirable.

It would appear that Schiermeyer is in favor of more taxes, which he proposes should be allocated to rail--another tax-and-spend advocate! However, the already heavily taxed public may not care to tax themselves further to pay for an upgraded rail service that only a small fraction of Orange County residents could or would use.

Lest it be thought otherwise, I am in favor of rail transportation, provided that it is properly thought out on a systems and cost-effectiveness basis, and not on dubious superficial statistics. Let us not forget the demise of the "Bullet Train," which was so ineptly handled, showing us all how not to run a railroad.

J. PETER CUNLIFFE

Orange

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