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Train fans are on the right track

October 05, 2008

Re "They're loco for all that motion," Column One, Oct. 1

As a former railroader and lifelong rail fan, I think The Times' otherwise thorough story missed the most important contribution our merry band has made to the general public -- the promotion of freight and passenger rail transportation during the auto age.

Rail fans have for decades lobbied Congress, appeared before public meetings and written letters to newspapers, all in an effort to preserve and promote the safe and clean transport of goods and people by rail.

Rail fans work in freight and passenger rail companies in significant numbers -- not only for the money but to serve the traveling and shipping public, and to be part of the most civilized and humane form of public transport.

Whether a young rail fan and his engineer friend contributed to the Metrolink tragedy by texting each other is for the National Transportation Safety Board and the courts to decide. If there is a culprit in the Metrolink wreck, I think it is a public that refuses to be taxed for vital social needs, including an adequate public transport budget. I think that without rail fans, the country would have lost much of what little rail transportation it still has. Awkward as we may seem at times, events continue to prove us right.

Tom Savio

Pasadena

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As a professional transit planner and engineer, I am now involved in the local railway museum working to save historic buildings, sites and equipment. I enjoy working to share my interest in trains. To this day, I cannot understand the ignorance of some in the railroad industry toward people who share an interest in their work.

Do pilots think poorly of people who park near airports and watch planes land and take off? Do the rangers in our parks think people are crazy for looking for bears or watching birds?

I think not. So why do some railroads look down on people who share an interest in railroading?

Jim Lundquist

La Mesa

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