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Why high-speed rail in California will fail

To the editor: As an old, long retired railroad executive in the U.S. and Canada, I can predict that Gov. Jerry Brown's high-speed rail line will fail and cost taxpayers plenty for years. ("After two-year delay, construction on California's bullet train is set to start," Jan. 4)

My company participated in planning several similar projects in different counties. We always concluded that rail was only ideal for passengers when there were plenty of freight trains to help pay for it.

Since there's very little freight between Los Angeles and San Francisco, you can bet your boots that taxpayers will have to cover the costs for years and years. Busses and planes are far more economical. The only self-supporting rail line in the U.S. is the busy commuter line between Boston, New York and Washington.

If Brown is looking for a legacy, the money for high-speed rail would be far more useful if spent on water for Southern California.

Dick Ettington, Palos Verdes Peninsula

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To the editor: In his inaugural address, Brown said he wants to "build for the future, not steal from it." Yet the Sylmar company hired to build at least the early portion of the bullet train has no experience with this demanding mode of transportation and has been involved in lawsuits over what it did build.

Why not hire the Spanish company that built the high-speed rail line from Madrid to Seville (a similar distance) in two years as well as the bridge from Denmark to Sweden? Spain's line was built just before the 1992 Summer Olympics, which no doubt helped pay for it, but it is currently filled with business travelers on a daily basis.

An experienced contractor with a superb record will help California build successfully for its future.

Lynne Shapiro and Guillermo Curbera, Marina del Rey

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