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Better rail links take leadership

June 09, 2008

Re "Union Pacific blocks bullet train," June 5

What's needed is political leadership in Sacramento to improve existing rail corridors and link them together in an economical and efficient way. Amtrak already connects the San Francisco Bay Area to Bakersfield; for a fraction of the bullet train's projected multibillion-dollar cost, Amtrak and the state could work together to re-connect Bakersfield and L.A. and improve trackage, signaling and stations. They could also upgrade the busiest corridor outside the Northeast U.S.: the L.A.-San Diego line, which is continually starved for resources while Interstate 5 is regularly improved.

Rail works best in densely populated corridors; it can't work at all if leaders fail to set priorities and plan ahead.

Dave Saltman

Toluca Lake

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Union Pacific is declining to share its right-of-way for the proposed Los Angeles to San Francisco bullet train, citing safety concerns that can be satisfactorily addressed.

It would seem, if Union Pacific refuses to yield, to be an excellent application for eminent domain. Although the fair market value of the land would probably be exorbitant, the cost might be recouped by leasing the right-of-way back to Union Pacific or another railroad.

Riley McIntire

Los Angeles

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