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Pay attention to rail safety

September 26, 2008

Re "Accord reached on rail bill," Sept. 24

The Times reports that "senators bluntly accused [the Federal Railroad Administration] of failing to act as a safety regulator over the nation's freight and commuter train services."

This comes as no surprise. I worked for the agency during the reign of Administrator Jolene Molitoris, who directed us to treat the railroads as our "customers" -- as in the expression, "The customer is never wrong."

Seems like an inappropriate relationship in a safety regulatory agency.

John T. Harding

Palm Springs

California Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer are right to inject urgency into the introduction of railroad safety measures.

But they should also promote legislation to provide federal dollars for double tracks based on the number of passenger trains using each route.

While the Northeast Corridor gets most of Amtrak's capital investment, the San Diego-Los Angeles-Santa Barbara-San Luis Obispo line through Chatsworth, the nation's second-busiest passenger route, receives very little.

This line and other busy routes in California are part of the national passenger rail network, the rail equivalent of the interstate highways.

Where are the federal matching funds? Why isn't the California congressional delegation working on this issue?

Paul Dyson


The writer is president of the Rail Passenger Assn. of California and vice chairman of the city of Burbank Transportation Commission.

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