Union Pacific Continues War Against High Speed Rail
It should come as no surprise that Union Pacific, which has long opposed high speed rail, is continuing to wage war against the California project. They gave their anti-HSR comments to the LA Times so that the paper would run a story critical of the project. Ralph Vartabedian, the biased anti-HSR reporter at the LA Times, ran with the comments in this story:
Union Pacific says the California High Speed Rail Authority’s Central Valley route raises serious safety issues, disregards the company’s property rights and would disrupt its freight operations.
The company’s comments as part of an environmental review assert that the authority, which is building the $43-billion system, has made a “false conclusion” that the bullet train would not affect the freight railroad’s operations during construction or later passenger service. Documents and drawings show encroachment onto the railroad’s right of way in Fresno and Merced. The comments were provided to the Times by Union Pacific.
UP’s concerns are the same old tired bullshit they have spewed since at least 2008 – that bullet train tracks or operations anywhere near their own tracks are somehow an encroachment on their freight movements and is inherently unsafe. UP wasn’t able to offer the LA Times any evidence of these claims, which is significant since Vartabedian would automatically print them without bothering to check their validity himself.
More importantly, this is a reminder of UP’s constant obstruction and harassment of the effort to improve passenger rail in California. Kings County farmers who are upset at the HSR route would do well to target UP with their complaints – were UP more cooperative, perhaps a Highway 99 alignment would have been a possibility south of Fresno.
Let’s also remember that UP is a creation of the United States government, established with massive subsidies in the mid-19th century with the task of hauling people and freight across the continent. If Congress wasn’t a broken institution we might be able to expect Congress to step in and tell UP to back off, or help mediate a resolution to the issue. Unfortunately, Congress is AWOL.
The California High Speed Rail Authority will have to respond to UP’s comments, which were submitted as part of the draft EIR process. And that should shed some light on what, if any, issues actually exist here. What is clear is that UP’s war on passenger rail continues, and it’s long past time for Congress to step in and do something about it.