Capdiamont\’s Weblog

A letter in NCJ print, not online

Somehow my, and another letter about the rail failed to appear online at the North Coast Journal.


Rees Hughes makes a mistake by assuming all rail travel is more expensive than trails in the “A Walk on the Wild Side.” The problem is a matter of the weight of the rail travel exerting forces on the track. Speeders, hand cars, and rail-cycles do not weigh as much as a train. They are not classified by the Federal Railroad Administration as a train. All of these can run on the rail as it is today with the only exception is a little clearing of trees. The Arcata & Mad River Speeder Crewcar has traveled from the Arcata Marsh to the last crossing North of Eureka. Those washouts are minor, and I have lawfully walked that path, because of volunteering with the Timber Heritage Association. The costs are only that of clearing and inspection of the track. The reason that side is not regularly used is political, not physical. The mistake is assuming costs are all the same. So minimal costs versus millions of dollars to make the trail. The speeder clearly is the lowest cost version.

Another mistake is the thinking the speeder crewcar/hand cars would not attract many people. Already thousands of people have ridden the speeder on trips given by the Timber Heritage Association. Many of those people are from out of the area, enhancing the local economy. Last year twelve thousand people showed up for the annual one event called the Handcar Regretta, at the Santa Rosa Depot. I would describe that event as a Steam Punk sculpture race on the rails. Rail based transport is hugely popular.

Might I suggest we do a serious look at rail based passenger transport? I suggest we look at DMUs  SMART will be using in Sonoma and Marin counties.

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