Amtrak Involved in “Plan B” for Central Valley High-Speed Rail Line

California will soon begin construction on the first phase of their high-speed rail project in the Central valley, but many fear that this 100-mile stretch of track will become useless if the project flops.  To combat some of these fears, a “plan b” of sorts has been developed for the track to be incorporated into Amtrak’s Central Valley route.

The Los Angles Times has reported that this fallback plan is accompanied with just as much controversy as any aspect of the high-speed project has seen thus far.  Apart from financial concerns over Amtrak’s ability to pick up the bill for maintenance and use of the new track, many people feel that the line will have few, if any, positive effects for Amtrak and its passengers.  Amtrak’s Central Valley route is one of the rail service’s most popular in the west and the use of the high-speed rail lines will bypass several of its popular stops. According to Rep. Devin Nunes, any claim that the line could benefit Amtrak should be considered “a lie.”  Additionally, Amtrak has announced that they have “not been directly involved in the design or development” of the alternative rail system. Officials from Kings County, who have fought the California high-speed rail project from the beginning, have said that, “Plan B would be devastating for the Kings County economy.”

With all of the controversy surrounding the construction of the Central Valley high-speed rail lines, citizens have come to discuss the possibility of construction beginning in another reason besides the Central Valley, but the Federal Railroad Authority remains firm in their assertion that high-speed rail funds cannot be moved at this time.

While my support for California’s high-speed rail project is undying, “Plan B” for the project seems like a weak attempt to pacify critics of the project. The 130-miles of track in the Central Valley will the product of years of environmental research and design efforts for high-speed rail, not standard speed, Amtrak rail service.  Amtrak has no desire for the new track and it appears that the line would only disrupt a relatively successful passenger rail service.  The people of the Central Valley will already have suffered major inconveniences with the construction of the high-speed route, so taking away their current Amtrak service should not be considered a viable plan.  Instead, focus needs to be placed on making the initial high-speed rail plan a reality.


{ 1 comment }

Frank December 30, 2011 at 3:49 pm

No matter if high speed is built or not,some kind of commuter rail train should go down the UPRR route.This is the old SPRR route and most valley cities are built around it.Most exist because of it.So for this reason it runs thru the middle of most cities.Modesto uses to old SP depot as a transit hub but their is no train to connect with.Amtrak uses the old SF now BNSF route that skirts the outer edges of the cities.Just think how really much more great a center of town connection would be.

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