RailPAC March Review February 24th, 2010
Commentary by Paul Dyson, RailPAC President
I’ve been looking back at some of my previous commentaries, particularly “High Speed Rail, Stay the Course”, and my more recent “High Speed Rail Dilemma” offering. Trying to reach a consensus among a couple of thousand passenger rail advocates in California about our largest ever public works project is a work of art, and there will inevitably be differences of priority, preferences as to the train builders, arguments about station locations and service patterns. But I hope we can agree on this. This is our one and only chance to bring about a modern passenger rail system in California. We need to support it.
There is of course a caveat to that statement. It is entirely possible that if the early funds are misspent, and if the public does not see at least some return on their investment after a year or two then the political support will evaporate and we’ll be left with a pile of studies and reports and nothing else to show for it. So while we support the project in principle it is our responsibility to be the public’s watchdog and to act as constructive critics of the process. I happen to be believe that collectively you, our members and readers, are better informed about this project and railroad issues in general than any other group in the State so who better to take on this task?
To this end I have invited a group of advocates to form a panel for our April 17 meeting in Los Angeles. The nominal title of the session is “How to spend the first billion dollars”, but I’m sure it will become a wide ranging discussion and debate about California and Nevada High Speed Rail. In addition we’ll have presentations from suppliers such as Talgo and Siemens, and an afternoon session devoted to state corridors and Southern California. It’s going to be another great meeting and I urge you to go to Railpac.org and register today. We only have 300 places.