About the Colony

Best trains are slow but steady

I’ve been following California’s plan for a high-speed train with interest.

I love traveling by train. I’ve ridden the train from San Luis Obispo to San Diego several times.

It makes a delightful getaway for my wife and me to take the train to San Diego on Friday and return Sunday night.

Many times we’ve been picked up in San Juan Capistrano by our daughter. I love to watch the scenery go by while reading a good book, or sipping on a cup of hot coffee.

Judging from observing the cars on the freeway when the train I’m on is next to the roadway, we’re doing about 60 to 65 miles an hour. That’s good enough for me.

I see no need for a train that goes 200 miles an hour.

I’d be happy with one that went, say, 60 miles an hour, but did it throughout the trip. I have spent many hours sitting on a siding in Santa Barbara, Goleta or Vandenberg Air Force Base at Surf Beach waiting for a freight train to pass.

Freight has priority over people these days. So instead of spending billions of dollars on a train that can zip along at what I consider an unreasonable speed, why not spend less money and make more tracks that parallel the ones we have so people don’t have to wait for a trainload of lumber to pass?

According to recent news reports, the California High-Speed Rail Authority has a lot of pressure on it to pick a route and get moving.

To make that happen, the rail authority folks have suggested an area of the San Joaquin Valley to put down the first section of tracks, which critics have already labeled “a train to nowhere.”

Bakersfield, with a population of more than 300,000 people, isn’t even included on the route. Right now the proposed 65-mile route goes from Corcoran to Borden, neither place I am eager to go at any speed.

The late Arnold Hoffman, a real train buff, always asked why there was no train service to San Francisco from Paso Robles.

He was always asking me to stir up “the powers that be” to get passenger service to the Bay Area. Arnold was upset that there was no service to San Francisco from the Central Coast that didn’t include at least some time riding on a bus.

It just doesn’t make sense, in these difficult economic times, to spend billions on a train that goes fast.

Just give me one that keeps a steady pace and is not stopping every hour or so to let the freight go by.

Reach Lon Allan at 466-8529 or leallan@tcsn.net.