Commentary, Issues

Why we need to protect the Sunset route

Commentary by Paul Dyson, RailPAC President
Those of you who are NARP members will have received a letter from Matt Melzer, former RailPAC director and now Communications Associate at NARP HQ. Matt points out the ongoing threat to the Sunset Limited and calls for action by NARP members to draw attention to the danger to this service.

I believe we should support NARP’s campaign, even though as presently operated the Sunset Limited represents most of the bad aspects of long distance train service. For years RailPAC and like-minded groups have pointed out that the bare minimum frequency for any long distance service to be effective is daily. We have pointed out, so far in vain, the high fixed costs such as stations that need more volume to pay the bills. We’ve also pointed out how many people are turned off by the inconvenience of three day a week service. Given the horrible on time performance of the train it’s a miracle to me that so many people continue to patronize the service, as unreliable as it is. It is real evidence of the underlying demand for long distance rail passenger service, and what could be accomplished with a good product.

From the regional point of view of rail advocates in California and Arizona, we need to protect the Sunset’s route for passenger service. It’s vital for the Southern California region that we implement passenger service to the Coachella Valley as soon as resources permit. Beyond that we’d like to see passenger trains to Calexico and to Phoenix via the restored direct line from Wellton. If we don’t maintain our present toehold on the Union Pacific Sunset route it will become vastly more expensive and difficult to implement these much needed new services.

Our RailPAC director, Bob Manning from Palm Springs is working hard to keep his local political and business leaders aware of the situation and deserves support from you. Contact Bob, myself, or Matt Melzer at NARP to see how you can help, and in any event write to your congressman and senators to tell them to support the Sunset Limited.

Paul Dyson (
NOTE: A report of Sunset Limited timekeeping will be posted on this site the week of 10/22.

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