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The Madera Tribune

Letters: Passenger trains aren’t high tech

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webmaster | 05/25/12

While what is now the contiguous 48 states was once “owned” by three empires, what built the society was commerce under a system of free enterprise.

The first transportation systems were on the oceans and our rivers. Steam power evolved in private enterprise and soon had to be regulated because of explosions and fires.

Cities evolved at certain locations because of commerce, government came later. Railroads came into being as a free enterprise, and while some were subsidized to the extent of getting a square mile of land for every mile of track laid, other railroads were built as part of a business; mining, lumber, and sugar are examples.

Rail transportation in the 19th century became an essential and lucrative business.

The railroad barons waged war for routes, such as from Benicia to Sacramento.

Railroading in California early on was problematic. The only fuel available was wood. Then sub-bituminous coal was found. The coal quality was bad, at best, and briquetting evolved to make the coal less dusty and safer to handle. Then oil was discovered and eventually eliminated the use of wood, coal, whale oil, and tallow for fuel and light.

This bit of history connects up something everyone is leaving out of the HST (excuse me, HSR) discussion.

Major disagreement: By WWII our railroads had been milked too long. The government immediately forced modernization of signaling and communications systems. The railroads were still using Grenet Cells to power signals section by section. Engines were all steam. Mallet locomotives boosted trains over Donner and Tehachapi passes. The Daylight was pulled by a streamlined steam engine. New steam engines were being built through 1944. Upgrading to diesel was after WWII. Europe had better rail transportation. Our rail systems were definitely not to be envied in the 1940s. Everything I remember was antique.

Spending huge sums of money to make a hot rod from 19th century technology will further destabilize our state government (the state cannot print money), will not improve transportation of goods (only people), and makes no advance in technology. There is no foundation for the benefits being claimed.

The HSR Authority recently changed plans and immediately approved an Environmental Impact Report that said it is OK to run roughshod over private interests, small towns, etc. because their goals are noble.

Nothing is included in this report about powering these proposed electric trains. California has been behind with power plants and transmission lines since we started pumping water over the Tehachapis to Southern California. Merced might be a good place to build the nuclear power plant necessary to power the proposed system. Of course, all of the needed transmission lines would start in Merced.

We have high-speed transportation now that should be improved. I have known a person who lived in Los Angeles and worked in San Francisco, commuting weekly, until he retired. With ground handling improvements at key airports, air transport could be more reliable than HSR and faster. HSR cannot operate in severe weather either.

I embrace the history of railroading, not the technology.

Robert Christenson,

Government isn’t here to serve you

Government is here to protect the people from enemies both foreign and domestic.

Health Department: Do they really care? I had a problem with a neighboring farmer not providing toilets for his crew. Three different agencies and no help. Did it myself. Threw the crap on the neighbor’s shop door.

Airplane mechanics: Licensed by the government. Some good, some bad. Do they go after the bad? No. Bad doctors, teachers, lazy government workers ... no. What does the government do? Cellphones to worthless ne’er-do-wells. Can we not pay that tax ... no.

How do YOU get a free mega soda? You get your soda and start to suck on it and then run your EBT card for it along with a bag of chips. Denied. Try again, denied. You can’t get the chips but you got the soda. Who cares? Not the government. “Farmers” with insurance move crops around to different family members to both sell a crop and collect insurance ... who cares? Not the government.

Illegals voting: who cares? Not the government.

A customer of mine does not respond to the police department’s correspondence about an alarm permit. Police department sends me a letter about fining me if we send an alarm request to them — 250 bucks! First offense. Iasked if the ones breaking in need a license or a permit. They say “Huh?” Isaid it’s their “business” to break and enter, how come they don’t have to have a license and Ido? Why? Because they know where Ilive and they can shut me down if I don’t pay. Sound familiar? Mafia window insurance. No pay, we break your windows. Government is not here to help us, the payers of taxes.

Bill Hoffrage,


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