Statement by Bill Kerby, RailPAC Director and Treasurer
at the April 29, 2010 meeting in Fresno, CA
Three events motivate this statement:
- Development of ideas at the joint RailPAC/NARP meeting in Los Angeles on April 17
- Joint agreement proposals among regional railroads and the HSR
- The 29th anniversary of the last run of the SP San Joaquin Daylight from Sacramento to Los Angeles.
Although the words are now definitely chiseled in the frieze of State Office Building #1, across 10th street from the State Capitol, are the words “Bring me Men … and now Women … to Match my Mountains”. Since that last run April 30, 1971 the Mountains, specifically the Tehachipi Mountains, have more than matched the men. They have stopped people from taking a single seat ride from the north to the south.
This committee has brought the issue up the freight railroads on a regular basis receiving the response that the railroad line through the Tehachipis has no capacity for passenger service.
Today, we are in a unique position to advocate for a brand new railroad that will more than match the mountains. High Speed Rail funding can be melded with regional authorities contractually. Caltrain, the San Joaquin Valley Regional Rail Authority and others are partnering with the High Speed Rail Authority. For commuter length routes, these partnerships—proposing to use equipment capable of 140 MPH + peak speeds, will serve destinations in northern California which is definitely a sensible and economical use of public and private funds.
The Bakersfield Gap, that broken link between the Central Valley and the Los Angeles Basin needs to be reconnected. More than one generation has already been deprived of rail passenger service over this route. RailPAC believes that restoration of this link deserves top priority in reunifying California. Focus on high speed rail is of necessity the first job of the HSR authority, but its mission should be broader one. This committee can expand attention to regional uses of the high speed rail system between Bakersfield and Los Angeles when headways permit.
RailPAC lends its strong support to accelerating the closing the Bakersfield gap.