History and Outlook
October 26, 1999
InterRail is the rebirth of an organization that covered Utah and Wyoming in the early 80's. After several of the original organizers moved out of the area, the group was inactive for a number of years.
After my company moved me from Spokane to Salt Lake, I started getting involved in rail issues. I had been involved in pushing for a light rail option in Spokane, and supported better rail passenger service. Before that, I was an officer in Citizens for Rail California/RailPAC.
Earlier this year, with help with many people from RailPAC -- including Russ Jackson who is the Editor of RailPAC news, and William Lidley who has helped us get on the Internet -- I revived InterRail. Since that time, we have been working to get more people involved. This is a slow process, since there has been no organization in 17 years.
One of our first projects was to show support for the new Salt Lake Light rail line, which will open next month -- ahead of schedule and under budget. There was a vocal minority opposing the project led by a man named Drew Chamberlain. In the last six months, more and more people have shown their support for a light rail line. When I first moved here there would be only negative letters to the editor about the light rail line. Now, for every negative letter, there is two or three positive letters in the paper. I hope my grass roots campaign has helped to involve more supporters of light rail.
I believe that it is the local people that get things done. You need to have local people, doing the grass roots campaigns to get things done. A local person better understands what the situation is in the community. A national organization is there to put the local coalitions together to show support for the national system. A person in Washington DC or Seattle or LA is going to have a hard time seeing what problems may cause the proposed Intermodal station in Salt Lake never to be built. But with the help of others (in the national association) the locals can put a campaign together to make change.
Salt Lake City