I didn't know whether to laugh or cry when I read Rep. Kevin McCarthy's concern in his recent debate with challenger Terry Phillips that the proposed high-speed rail line will go "right by Bakersfield High School" ("Sharp contrasts emerge in McCarthy-Phillips debate," Oct. 12).

Trains have been "going right by" BHS for decades, including back in the 1920s when my mother and her brother, children of a Santa Fe official at the railroad's big yard there, graduated from "KC." As one of the few people in this county who has ever actually ridden high-speed trains such as the French TGV and the U.S. trains in the Northeast Corridor, I can assure you that first, they slow down through cities, and second, they're quieter and cleaner than steam- and diesel-powered trains that have used the Santa Fe (now BNSF) yard since the late 1890s.

What is also ironic about McCarthy's comments is that the Santa Fe was running passenger trains that reached speeds over 100 mph beginning in the late 1930s between Bakersfield and Oakland. As I keep telling folks, two years after these trains are up and running in California, people will be asking, "Why didn't we do this sooner?" I think we know the answer.