Trains For America

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Still more news on the Las Vegas maglev

This is in some web news for construction professionals.

Competition Over Southern Nevada Rail Proposals
Las Vegas – As if the competition over arena proposals for Las Vegas isn’t enough, there is increasing competition between two proposals for high-speed train service between southern California and Las Vegas. The group backing a long-studied magnetic levitation train project hopes to gain an advantage through a provision of a technical corrections bill to the 2005 SAFETEA-LU federal transportation funding legislation. The House has approved the measure on a 422-1 vote and the Senate will soon consider it. The important correction, from the maglev supporters’ point of view, directs $45 million not to assessment of a high-speed rail project between Las Vegas and Anaheim, Calif., but more specifically to a project utilizing magnetic levitation over the 200-mile route.

Maglev trains could travel at speeds up to 300 mph. Maglev supporters say the wording of the original bill forced them to compete for annual appropriations, which were not approved. With no federal funding, the project stalled, opening the door for a rival, the privately financed DesertXpress Enterprises, to move forward with plans to build a high-speed conventional rail line between the same end points, following the Interstate 15 corridor and delivering passengers from LA to Vegas in an hour and a half. DesertXpress says regardless of the federal legislation, it is moving full speed ahead with its $3.5-billion project and hopes to have trains running in 2012.

Filed under: United States High Speed Rail

4 Responses

  1. Scott Mercer says:

    The important thing to note about the Desert Xpress proposal: though it is cheaper than the Maglev and privately funded, it does not reach Los Angeles, not even in the loosest sense.

    It does not end in Los Angeles city, nor in Los Angeles County. It ends in Victorville, and does not go beyond the notoriously difficult Cajon Pass.

    To use the Desert Xpress, someone living in, say, Glendale, would have to drive their own car to Victorville, nearly a two hour drive even with no road congestion. They would park their car in Victorville, then take the train the rest of the way to Las Vegas.

    True, this does shave over two hours off the driving time. But is a two hour time saving worth that kind of hassle, using two modes of transport? Sure, people who live in Victorville or nearby, might use it.

    The only way I could see this working, is if Desert Xpress extends their line across the Antelope Valley, so it could meet up with the Metrolink service in Lancaster or Palmdale. Desert Xpress has already said they don’t have enough money to go over the Cajon Pass. But connecting with Metrolink would hook them up with most of Southern California by train. Then you could go from Van Nuys (or Ventura, or Los Angeles, or Oceanside) to Las Vegas by train with only one or two transfers. That would open it up to a much bigger market.

  2. James Friedlander says:

    I doubt whether the Downeaster (Portland, ME – Boston, MA)
    would be running today had Maine not had a Majority Leader in the United States Senate at the time that renewed passenger rail service was considered. A line from Los Angeles only to Las Vegas wouldn’t make too much sense to me as part of a National System if it were it not to go on to, say, Salt Lake City and Denver.

    We are STILL trying to figure out how passengers can go from Portland to the Northeast Corridor
    without train and station changes in Boston. The original
    thought was for there to be a dedicated bus shuttling between Boston’s North and South Stations. Why create a bottleneck like that in Las Vegas?

    If your sole purpose is to haul Los Angeles gamblers (pardon, GAMERS)to Las Vegas and ship their impoverished bodies home, then maybe a privately-run stubbed-end line
    might do the job. But if you want to create a Federally-subsidized, high-speed link in a national system,
    make a marriage at both ends, and assure that it goes into the heart of L.A. Los Angeles – Las Vegas – Denver – Chicago?

    Now all you have to do is find a Majority Leader who cares about rail travel. And stick with conventional steel wheels on steel rails; so the cost doesn’t shock too many people.

  3. Teri Boylan says:

    This Country needs this in a big way. What ever happen to the America the Great, and be the innovators again, that we once were.
    Why is it this country can break all kind of Olympic records in sports, but we can’t get out from under old ways of doing things. We’ve made strides with computer technology, but we so lack in ingenuity with engineering back plans to make our country better in the way of fast Maglev trains, wind power, solar power, and oil ( we have so lets use it. in a clean way that can be done) please do this for our children, something we all can be proud of again.

  4. Abram says:

    An American maglev line won’t exactly be a coup for American technical progress and innovation, since there is no American-developed maglev technology to use. Rather, any American system would just send cash to the Japanese, or more likely, the Germans, for the licensure of their proprietary technology.

    In the latter case it would be yet another US cash cow for Siemens, which already holds a disproportionate influence here through their virtual ownership of the U.S. LRV market.

    If you want to make rail transport a matter of national pride, and not just a way to get passengers from point A to point B quickly, the companies to watch are Colorado Railcar (an independent company which has developed the first FRA-compliant DMU), MPI (locomotive manufacturer which traces its roots to Westinghouse), EMD (“What’s good for General Motors…”), GE, and to a lesser extent Bombardier, since Bombardier absorbed the technology of the old-line American rail manufacturers (Pullman, ALCO, Budd, etc.)

    In this (“national pride”) context, DesertXpress wins, since the description and computer simulations seem to suggest Bombardier trainsets of the type currently in use in Sweden and the UK. In a more rational cost-benefit analysis, DesertXpress also wins, since standard gauge is cheap and infinitely expandable to places like Phoenix, L.A., the Central Valley, and beyond.

    LA-LV Maglev would be quite a bit faster than steel-wheel steel-rail technology, but at the expense of limited expansion opportunities. My money’s on a regional network. Best of luck to DesertXpress.

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