PERSPECTIVE--We've been talking with many of you for over three years now about the fact that high speed trains do NOT belong in our residential communities or sensitive environmental areas. Before anyone gets numb from these constant occurrences or gets bamboozled by CHSRA that it can mitigate this old technology to somehow prevent such occurrences from happening in your Districts, it is time NOW to stop this lunacy called high speed trains from Palmdale to Burbank.
The upcoming 2018 Business Plan review, comment period and CHSRA Board action is your opportunity to represent your stakeholders and demand removal of high speed trains from the NE San Fernando Valley. The Legislature should not approve this Business Plan if these route alternatives are not removed!
High speed trains cannot be operated safely, cost-effectively or efficiently in the midst of our densely populated communities. And, they cannot be safely tunneled either. As we've explained to many of you, because CHSRA did not, cut and cover trenching is NOT core drilled, fully underground high- speed train operations. Cut and cover trenching is above ground and, just like above ground trains and tracks, is a construction and operational disaster. It is an above ground train! Don't put poor policy before the safety of your constituents and the protection of their real property.
For three years, in hundreds of comment letters and testimony we warned CHSRA that among other impacts, high speed trains would lead to increased fire danger in our Forest, in our mountains and in our open space. And then we experienced the La Tuna and Creek Fires in the exact footprint that one of the proposed routes covers.
The high-speed train will lead to fires in the future; this train is dangerous and everyone knows it.
We've been a broken record warning that 220 mph trains, running from 5 a.m. until midnight every 5-10 minutes is insane. Yet, here we are calling a public meeting on February 22 at All Nations Church, because the CHSRA won't, and because some of our electeds are conflicted and afraid to stand up to the Governor, the unions and others on this issue.
Most of you have now written to express your opposition to the existing routes and we thank you for that. It's time to stop tolerating the CHSRA and their bogus track record. It's time for action here in the NE San Fernando Valley. It's time to get rid of the project and allow all of us to move on! That is why your constituents have organized the Unity Meeting on February 22. It's time to make sure the 2018 Business Plan being worked on right now ELIMINATES these routes through the NE San Fernando Valley once and for all. Let's put our tax dollars to work on water reliability, road repairs and improvements and new transportation technology. This high-speed train project is a disaster!
A SPECIAL MESSAGE TO MAYOR GARCETTI AND COUNCILMEMBER MONICA RODRIGUEZ
For nearly a year, neither you nor your staff have met with leaders of the SAFE Coalition. You will not return our calls, and you will not talk with us about this issue. We have submitted HUNDREDS of request letters, phone calls, emails, text messages and written meeting request forms and been ignored.
We've emphasized how important it is for you to meet and talk with us before our community meeting on February 22. We've extended ourselves, we've been professional, we've been polite, and we've been courteous. You know this is true and we've kept the records of all the phone calls, text messages, emails and letters sent to your offices. And we have video and audio recordings of you in public on this issue.
It's getting very late in the game. This is our last public request to meet with us, in person, and work with us, as partners, on the high-speed train issue before our community meeting on Thursday, February 22.
Below is an article from the New York Post about Tuesday morning's high-speed train crash on the east coast for your information:
Amtrak train breaks apart at 125 mph
Tragedy-prone Amtrak suffered another terrifying setback Tuesday — when a high-speed Acela train broke apart as it raced north toward Penn Station at 125 mph, sources said.
In the third wreck in just one week — and the fourth in two months — several cars of an Acela Express heading from Washington, DC, to the Big Apple decoupled at about 6:30 a.m. and were left held together only by their air hoses.
Sparks flew from dragging cables and the train jerked wildly, but none of the 52 terrified passengers aboard were injured, according to reports.
“Someone could have been walking through the train when that happened and fell to their death,” one source said.
A photo taken by an Amtrak worker shows the connector between two coupled trains broken and separated, with a six-foot gap between them.
“There was a lot of sparking and smoking at the head of the train and a lot of bouncing around,” a source said.
The train separated in Maryland about 50 miles north of Baltimore. One passenger was playing on his phone when he felt his car shake suddenly and then saw sparks outside his window.
“It felt almost like we were dragging something,” said Andrew Exum, 39, a journalist who lives in the Washington area and works in New York.
“I looked out the window and saw a shower of sparks coming out the side of the train,” Exum said. “Pretty quickly, the train came to a halt and the Amtrak folks rushed forward. I could tell by their faces that this was serious, and that we weren’t going anywhere.”
The crew first tried to fix the situation themselves, and then told passengers that they had to evacuate everyone from first class and the quiet car, which is where Exum was, the commuter shared.
“There were a lot of fumes and a little bit of smoke,” he said. “So we moved to the next car and just kind of waited. They powered down the train so we were literally in the dark for 30 minutes or so, maybe a little bit longer.”
Tuesday’s scare comes as a rash of wrecks plagues the passenger-rail service.
On Sunday, an Amtrak train traveling through South Carolina from New York City slammed into the back of a freight train, killing two workers.
Four days earlier, an Amtrak train carrying Republican members of Congress slammed into a garbage truck in Virginia, killing one person in the truck.
The worst recent incident happened in December, when an Amtrak train on an inaugural run in Washington state derailed on a turn, killing three people and injuring scores.
Some Amtrak regulars say they are now terrified to ride the trains.
“Seriously, how did riding the train get to be so hazardous?” mused Steve Rosen, 45, who had just arrived in Penn Station on an Amtrak train from Philadelphia.
“Every time I ride Amtrak now, I utter a silent prayer that this train or this car or this conductor or this track won’t be one of the defective ones that ends my life.”
Critics say the federal government needs to fork over the money to pay for Amtrak to repair its aging infrastructure.
“If we just keep kicking the can down the road, we will have one tragedy after another,” said personal attorney Michael Barasch, who has represented victims in several Amtrak crashes, including this weekend’s South Carolina incident.
As for the broken Acela, a rescue train eventually arrived and took the passengers to Philadelphia, where they continued on to New York City.
Amtrak officials said they were still probing the incident.
“We are currently investigating the cause of the car separation, inspecting every Acela trainset, and taking any necessary actions to prevent a reoccurrence,” said Amtrak spokesman Jason Abrams.
Additional reporting by Reuven Fenton
Amtrak’s disastrous track record
May 12, 2015 — A distracted engineer speeds into a turn in the Port Richmond neighborhood of Philadelphia, killing eight and injuring more than 200.
April 3, 2016 — A train strikes a backhoe parked on the tracks in Chester, Pa., and derails, killing two and injuring 41.
Dec. 18, 2017 — A train making the inaugural run of a high-speed service from Seattle to Portland hurtles into a turn on an overpass, causing it to derail and crash onto the highway below. Three are killed and dozens injured.
Jan. 31, 2018 — A train carrying several members of Congress crashes into a garbage truck in Charlottesville, Va., killing a passenger in the truck.
Feb. 4, 2018 — An engineer following orders from a dispatcher puts his train on the wrong track in Cayce, SC, where it crashes into a freight train, killing two crewmen on the passenger locomotive.
(David J. DePinto is President of the Shadow Hills Property Owners Assn. and a member of S.A.F.E. Coalition (Save Angeles Forest for Everyone)) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.