North Coast Journal    May 2,02002

More trouble on the tracks


The North Coast Railroad Authority could have another obstacle to overcome before it can re-establish railroad service in Humboldt County.

A bill recently introduced in the California Assembly would initiate light rail passenger service within Sonoma and Marin Counties. The proposed legislation might interfere with the authority's plan to use the line for freight service.

For safety purposes, freight and passenger trains must run two hours apart. A collision between the two would be devastating for the lighter passenger train. In order to operate a successful passenger service, trains would have to run throughout the day. That would relegate freight service to a few hours in the middle of the night.

Reacting to the bill, the authority proposed several amendments, including the use of heavier passenger trains. Although these trains would be more expensive, they would be safer and decrease the amount of time between which freight and passenger trains can run.