Passenger Rail in Southern California
Decades ago, Los Angeles had one of the most extensive passenger rail networks in the country. Streetcar lines were the lifeblood of personal transportation. Now, passenger rail transport in the Southland (on Metrolink commuter rail or Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner) is unreliable, subject to lengthy delays, and unsafe compared to other commuter rail systems across the country.
Such poor service can generally be explained by one reason: passenger trains in California run along freight railroads. Unlike in Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor, passenger trains in California must share tracks and yield to frieght trains. This makes service subject to significant unforeseen delays and safety concerns. Last week’s horrific Metrolink crash is an extreme example.
As rail traffic in California increases over the coming years, it is imperative that the state invest in grade-separated tracks dedicated to passenger service. California High Speed Rail would do just that. Passing the Safe, Reliable High-Speed Passenger Train Bond Act, on the ballot in November as Proposition 1A, is an important step in free ingpassenger rail from the constraints and dangers of sharing tracks with freight and creating environmentally friendly, rapid, and punctual service.