Kings County Needs To Make Up Its Mind on Rail
Kings County political leaders have become vehemently opposed to the California high speed rail project, despite the clear need for the Hanford-Visalia region to have better connections to metropolitan regions around the state. So it’s very strange to see those same leaders demanding preservation of Amtrak service in Kings County:
According to the California High Speed Rail Authority’s business plan, Amtrak would switch over to high-speed lines east or west of Hanford when those lines are completed. Amtrak service between Merced and Bakersfield would be eliminated once high-speed train service started service, now slated to happen in 2022 between Merced and Anaheim.
But Authority officials have recently entered into discussions with Kings County to see if Amtrak service through Hanford and Corcoran can be preserved, said Larry Spikes, Kings County administrative officer. Downtown stations are considered critical to cities’ local economy.
Authority Board Chairman Dan Richard couldn’t be reached for comment.
“Taking Amtrak right out of the heart of Hanford and Corcoran is just not a good idea,” Spikes said.
I’m all for providing passenger rail service to Kings County. In fact, I want Kings County to have the best service possible. Amtrak is great and the San Joaquins provide good service to the Valley. Kings County is also in line to get high speed rail service, with a station near Hanford and Visalia, providing faster and more reliable rail service to connect county residents to the rest of California. Yet Kings County has been doing everything they can to kill high speed rail.
So which is it, Kings County? You didn’t want trains running through the middle of Hanford and Corcoran. You didn’t want trains bypassing Hanford and Corcoran through farmland. You didn’t want a faster, better, more frequent train service that connects to an entire half of the state (SoCal) that your existing service doesn’t include. But you do want to preserve Amtrak?
Again, while I support providing passenger rail to Kings County, I also think that actions have consequences. State legislators should not be in any rush to grant this request until Kings County elected leaders make up their mind about passenger rail.