I asked social media followers if they had thoughts about rail service in Southern Oregon. Here are some responses:
Brian Mein: I talked to several Amtrak people over the last few years. The biggest reason they don’t come through the Rogue Valley is the tunnels to the north and south are too small. Also the tracks would have to be upgraded a ton. Because the line they use to Klamath Falls is a main line freight it is to that level already. The cost would astronomical with tight turns, stations, crossings updated and on and on. Great fantastic idea but…
Darin Rutledge: While it’s a handy thing for a community to have on its resume and creates some indirect economic benefit via tourism, etc., I don’t think there’s enough dollars at play to completely build out a new passenger rail system, at least in a long-haul capacity. Further, Amtrak’s business model (consensus is that the service is subsidized), makes it hard to argue for a substantial economic benefit. And the social benefits are hard to quantify as well. If there are compelling environmental impacts, they’re harder to put on paper than with urban mass transit, for example. As with a lot of things in Oregon, people in populated areas aren’t really interested in going to less-populated areas … at least not enough to support additional means of transportation that don’t already exist. Am I glad Klamath Falls has Amtrak? Yes, for several reasons. Do I think our economy would be devastated if it left? No. Plus, you guys have I-5. Let us keep Amtrak, at least!
Clay Cathcart: 1, (It) should be easier to buy a ticket; 2, should not cost more than a plane ticket; 3, be faster; 4, (provide) more direct routes to major cities; 5, (include) upgrade options that are not ridiculously priced, but are true upgrades; and 6, not skip major thoroughfares such as Medford.
Greg Bassett: I believe the capital that would build out rail infrastructure was spent decades ago building out our Interstate highway system and local/regional airports. While the United States may lag other nations in passenger rail, I’m not certain many would be willing to give up the transportation systems we do have in order to have more rail.
Tjay Johnson: I use the road system bigtime, also any other way to travel when it suits my agenda. Let’s not come out with outlandish fantastical ideas which are either unaffordable or don’t make sense.
Curt Johnson: If somebody other than the railroad ran it…it might have a chance.
Charlie McHenry: A low-cost, rapid transit or light rail system would be a wonderful, environment- and tourist-friendly addition to the Rogue Valley. Small and large businesses on the route would benefit, as would the increasing number of non-drivers in the region. But what my family would really like to see is an express train service from Medford to Portland. Our leg could be elevated in the middle of Interstate-5 to Roseburg.