SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -

A Santa Barbara senator will head a select committee focused on creating a passenger rail system up and down the coast.

The first hearing of the new select committee in the Senate is planned for spring and will be chaired by state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson.

Jackson said the committee was created by a group of legislators to address the issue of a passenger rail system across the state.

Jackson adds the goal of the committee is to give existing  and future passenger and commuter rail projects the priority they deserve.  She said this will not only help with reducing congestion and vehicle emissions, but help improve the quality of life.

"It encourages passenger rail, particularly at commuter times," Jackson said.  "So that we can move people between the main cities in which we find people working which would be from Oxnard to Ventura, coming up to Santa Barbara and Goleta, and bringing them up and bringing them back at the end of the day."