It seems like the only time LA-Las Vegas HSR has been in the news lately has been when either the anti-rail lobby and its friends use the “express train to sin” to attack HSR in general or when rail advocates fire back by pointing out that the route isn’t even part of Obama’s national HSR plan.
It’s not a particularly healthy outlook to develop if the line is ever going to get built, particularly considering that the maglev option could make it extremely expensive ($12 billion has been the running number). The project competing against maglev is the DesertXpress, a plan to cover the same ground using conventional HSR at a comparatively low low cost of $4 billion. The kicker? That’s all supposedly going to be covered by private investments. The federal government recently completed its draft environmental impact statement for the route, and the Las Vegas Review-Journal covers the story. Watch for the catch:
Like many of those who attended the hearing, Brondo doesn’t mind the train’s initial route. It would carry passengers to Victorville, Calif., a town 190 miles away and seemingly in the middle of nowhere.
Stone said the train would connect with a voter-approved California system that would take passengers to a major train station in Palmdale, Calif. As California expands that rail system, riders will be able to make their way to major cities in both Southern and Northern California.
“This would be a huge convenience,” Brondo said.
If the DesertXpress system’s initial phase is completed in 2013 as proposed, passengers would be able to rent a car in Victorville to make it to their ultimate destination. Southern Californians, who make up about a third of the 38 million visitors to Las Vegas annually, could park their car at the Victorville station. Their baggage would be loaded on the train and they could check into their hotel at the station.
They should be thankful they’re going for private money; a destination like Victorville, CA has “train to nowhere” politically written all over it [unfortunately]. And if I were a private investor, I might be a bit wary of the fact that DesertXpress’s future rail links will be waiting until build-out of the CAHSR project. Still, with apparently 1/3 of all Las Vegas visitors coming from Southern California, it’s a lucrative route. I’d be curious to hear some more opinion about the project (and its pricier maglev alternative).