Proposals For Vegas-SoCal Passenger Rail Now At 5

Jul 25th, 2010 | Posted by

It was rather appropriate that the Las Vegas Review-Journal chose today to run their long and very informative article on the various passenger rail proposals to link Southern Nevada and Southern California. The article mentions the five different train proposals, but really focuses on the DesertXpress project, which would provide 150mph high speed train service and the maglev project, which is reputed to be able to provide 310mph speeds.

Why was the article appropriate? Because today saw netroots activists from across America – the very people who will need to be engaged in the battle for high speed rail – leaving Las Vegas and coming to see first-hand the benefits of connecting Vegas to LA with a high speed train.

A lot of Southern Californians were at Netroots Nation this weekend, and today I heard many of them complaining about the prospect of a long, traffic-choked drive back home on Interstate 15. (Some are in that jam right now.) Every single one of them said they wish a high speed train existed, and most said they thought a station at Victorville would be workable as an interim measure, with an eventual link to LA via Palmdale as being something they’d be interested in using.

So it was very useful to have the LVRJ provide this very good discussion on the status of the proposals. They offered a useful map of the 5 proposals, which are:

1. DesertXpress
2. Maglev
3. Desert Lightning – HSR from Vegas to Phoenix and Phoenix to LA
4. X Train (conventional passenger rail)
5. Z-Train (conventional passenger rail)

The focus of the article was on the ongoing “debate” between DesertXpress and maglev. My opinion has been very consistent on this, that DesertXpress is likely to move forward and that maglev is not ready for prime time. (Note that Californians For High Speed Rail hasn’t developed a policy yet on the Vegas-SoCal corridor, but will later this year.) That’s the same conclusion Senator Harry Reid reached when he shifted his support away from maglev and toward DesertXpress last year.

One person quoted in the article, Anthony Perl of the Post Carbon Institute, believes this “debate” causes more problems than it solves:

“They’re not going to do anything other than hold back progress by holding these types of debates,” said Perl, who has studied high-speed rail proposals and systems for 25 years.

Perl can’t envision these two trains vying for the same money source because he believes the magnetic levitation project is a fantasy.

“They’re the unicorn of the transportation world,” Perl said. “People are always imagining seeing them in the mist, but as you approach them they fade away.”

It would be great if maglev were a workable technology, but as the article explained, Shanghai’s experience indicates it’s got a ways to go before it can be a substitute for steel-wheel bullet trains.

The article, which really has to be read to be fully appreciated, also discussed the “debate” over destinations. DesertXpress’s plan to stop at Victorville – for now – generates a lot of claims that it’s an inferior plan because it wouldn’t go all the way into the LA basin in the first phase. Yet the maglev project would itself be built in steps, with only the segment from Vegas to the indefinitely delayed Ivanpah Valley Airport near the state line being built in its first phase.

Here’s what the LVRJ article had to say about Victorville:

Opponents of the DesertXpress scoff at the Victorville destination, a point chosen in large part because of the high-speed steel-wheeled technology’s in­ability to negotiate steep grades in the Cajon Pass which links the high desert to the Los Angeles basin…

“When we zero in on the Inland Empire and the high desert, that’s where the population growth is occurring,” Tom Stone, president of the DesertXpress, said in defense of the Victorville hub. “That’s where the growth revenues will be coming the next 20 years.”

Stone makes a very good point here. It’s good to stop thinking about a generic “Southern California” but of the discrete sub-regions that comprise the SoCal megalopolis. The Inland Empire is likely to continue to see population growth, although not in the sprawling way it had been. And with the traffic on Interstate 15 that affects nearly all Southern Californians who drive to Vegas, Victorville is still beneficial to those who don’t live in the Inland Empire.

Obviously the goal is to link the DesertXpress project to the inner cores of the Southern California region. And that would best be accomplished by extending that line westward across the flat Antelope Valley to the California HSR project at Palmdale. As Tom Stone of DesertXpress said at the RailPAC meeting in April, DesertXpress and the California High Speed Rail Authority are in “active discussions” on the topic.

Perl and Yonah Freemark of The Transport Politic were asked for their thoughts on the Victorville question for the LVRJ article, and make excellent points about the need to extend to Palmdale. I’d just add one more: if there’s construction on the DesertXpress project from Vegas to Victorville and on the California HSR project from Anaheim to SF happening at the same time, you’ll see a clamor to close that Palmdale-Victorville gap. Clamor becomes political momentum, as we often see with other rail lines that start off small but successful and generate demand for extensions.

Unfortunately, the otherwise solid article encounters bumps when examining the finances:

According to a U.S. Department of Transportation study performed in 1990, the average overrun costs related to rail projects is about 50 percent. Seven of 10 major rail lines studied in the United States had exceeded the original budget by 30 percent to 100 percent.

If that is the case, both projected price tags — DesertXpress’ $4 billion and Inter­state Maglev’s $12 billion — could be expected to balloon.

California can attest to this pattern. In 2008, voters approved a $9 billion bond to help fund the 700-mile route between San Francisco and Los Angeles, a project expected to cost $33.6 billion. According to Stanford University’s Hoover Institute, the price tag has grown to $42.6 billion.

I’m almost surprised Adrienne Packer (who wrote the article) didn’t go interview Bent Flyvberg, whose out-of-context studies on cost overruns are getting WAY too much attention in recent weeks. Unfortunately she misses some key details here, such as the fact that cost overruns are often caused by unwise but major design changes that take place after the project is underway, or the fact that the California HSR project’s price tag “grew” because the federal government forced the project to use year-of-expenditure dollars instead of 2008; the $33 and $42 billion numbers are therefore the same number with different inflation assumptions.

The underlying problem with “cost overruns” isn’t that they are inherent on big projects. Many rail lines, like the Metro Gold Line East extension and Seattle’s Central Link light rail, have been brought in on-budget. The underlying problem is that political forces demand unrealistically low cost assumptions at the outset. Instead of designing the best project, assigning a price tag to it, and finding the funding, anti-tax and anti-spending forces box public planners in and create a political imperative to lower the costs at the outset, often in unrealistic ways.

Those projects that had good political leadership, like Sound Transit in Seattle after 2001, have shown that one can build a good system without having any cost overruns. Projects with poor leadership, those that would not admit realities or were afraid to ask the voters to properly fund the projects, encountered problems.

Packer’s article also repeats some other misstatements about the California HSR project, including repeating this quote from the Hoover Institution, that the “latest business plan contains no realistic outline of how California will pay to build a high-speed rail system…And so the ridership problems, political problems, route problems and timeline problems all become secondary — none of them matters if billions of construction dollars never materialize.”

I’m guessing Packer didn’t realize the Hoover Institution is a biased, right-wing think tank that has an ideological agenda to push when it makes these statements. The business plan absolutely contained a realistic outline of how California will pay to build a high speed rail system. They just didn’t like the outline. Sure, more details are needed and will be coming, but the outline given in the 2009 plan IS realistic.

Of course, the billions of dollars won’t fail to materialize because of natural forces – it would fail to materialize because groups like the Hoover Institution actively worked to ensure they did not materialize.

The rest of the article briefly examined the conventional passenger train proposals, which Freemark doesn’t think will recover their operating costs, and the need to end the “debate” and move forward with a rail option to meet Las Vegas’s long-term needs.

I’ll admit that I’m not a particularly big fan of Las Vegas – its kind of entertainment isn’t mine. But it’s obvious that a hell of a lot of people – especially in Southern California – are indeed big fans of Vegas, and regularly drive there to enjoy the resorts. And that’s likely to continue to be the case for some time, despite the other, deeper issues with the economic and hydrological viability of Las Vegas as anything but a bunch of casinos on the Strip.

As many of my friends are experiencing right now out on Interstate 15, the status quo isn’t viable. We need a high speed train to connect Southern California to Southern Nevada. If Tom Stone can find the money – and we still don’t have any solid details on that all-important question – then he will build it, and the riders will come.

  1. Joe Markowitz
    Jul 25th, 2010 at 21:38

    Speaking as someone who just endured the drive back from Las Vegas, this train can’t get built fast enough. But it needs to go all the way to Union Station otherwise I wonder whether it would get sufficient ridership. If you had to time your trip to Victorville to make sure you got there in time to catch the train, you would have to leave yourself at least an extra half hour to an hour (because traffic on the 10 and 210 is often bad). That means you might have quite a bit of time to wait at the station in the middle of nowhere in Victorville. Or else you might miss your train. In either case, the temptation would be to keep on driving. And if the train relieves some of the congestion on the 15, that would also cause a lot of people to keep on driving. (Enjoyed meeting you yesterday at Netroots.)

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Those are good points. I think that you’ve gotta start somewhere, and Victorville is a good place to do it. It would create momentum for completing the extension west to Palmdale, where you can hook up with the California HSR line into Union Station. The ideal situation would be a one-seat ride from Union Station to Las Vegas, but that would require DesertXpress and the California High Speed Rail Authority to have the same infrastructure.

    Which needs to happen, without a doubt. The US DOT should take the lead in determining a single standard for HSR infrastructure, to ensure this kind of interoperability. (Also good to meet you!)

    James M. Reply:

    With the time needed to connect the Southland to the Bay area, perrhaps the Palmdale extension can be built and operational before the complete state HSR is ready. Then, as soon as tracks are available, Desert Express can start operations to downtown LA. That will start bringing revenues into the CAHSR and prove once, and for all, that America is ready to embrace an alternative to travel.


    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The people along the Northeast Corridor are Americans, they travel by train frequently. Many of them daily.

  2. Alon Levy
    Jul 25th, 2010 at 23:11

    Robert, way to go in portraying experts as hacks. Perl’s real credentials aren’t that he founded an institute dealing with peak oil; they’re that he’s been an urban studies professor at Simon Fraser and that he’s written a couple of academically-published books and a zillion peer-reviewed papers about transportation issues. In other words, Not Wendell Cox.

    political_incorrectness Reply:

    OT Alon, are any of the peer-reviewed sources and academically published books on high-speed rail? If so, any reccomended ones? I am in the progress of researching in favor of the HSR project but I am short on peer-reviewed sources.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    New Departures is a very good source. It might still be available on Google Books, I’m not sure.

    political_incorrectness Reply:

    It is, thank you!

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Where did I portray Perl as a hack? I’m not familiar with his academic background. In fact, this was the first I’ve heard of him, and I thought he came off sounding very smart and well-informed. I’m a bit stunned you thought I portrayed him as a hack and am curious why you thought I did.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I don’t know, Robert, but when the sole credential you list for someone is membership in a thinktank, it isn’t very auspicious. It’s like trying to list Cox and O’Toole’s credentials: they’re fellows at a couple of (low-quality, industry-funded) thinktanks, have written a few (non-peer-reviewed, unaudited) reports, etc.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    I think you’re reading your own bias onto this. I was merely citing Perl as I knew him from the LVRJ article; before that article I’d never heard of him and had only heard of the Post Carbon Institute once or twice.

    I do not believe that being at a think tank makes one a hack or implies that their quality of work is the same tripe as Cox and O’Toole. So here I think you’re reading this through your own bias, and therefore implying I meant something I never did.

    lyqwyd Reply:

    I agree with Robert, I didn’t get any implication that Perl was a hack, in fact I felt the quote Robert used indicated a fairly good understanding of the issues.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    It’s not exactly a bias. Reading your post, one would think Perl is a random person who supports HSR, and Flyvberg is a random person who opposes it. In reality, both are serious experts with peer-reviewed publications, which is more than one can say about either Atrios or Cox.

    I can’t speak for you, but when I see someone quoted on an issue, I check online who he is, and maybe read his arguments on the subject in full if he seems to have real credentials. Being an expert doesn’t automatically make a person correct, but it means the person should be taken seriously, and if I think he’s wrong I’ll try to argue it carefully.

    For example: Flyvberg’s work on strategic misrepresentation doesn’t automatically mean HSR is bad. For one, it applies equally to HSR and to the alternative, i.e. building more airport and highway capacity (this is in contrast to other HSR proposals, in areas where no-build is a serious alternative). For another, if the social rate of return exceeds the expected cost overruns, then the project is still worthwhile. It’s just that those counterpoints require more argument than just saying Flyvberg is a denier.

    Caelestor Reply:

    Namecalling is never a good way to promote your plans.
    Try to attack the idea, not the person.

    Spokker Reply:

    Name calling rules. Do it early and often.

    wu ming Reply:

    wanker. ;)

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Sometimes, the person is important. The issue here is that unless you delve into an issue, you may not know that someone’s a hack or a liar. For example, the first time I read Amity Shlaes’ argument for why Hoover was a great leader and FDR just worsened the Depression, I thought she was wrong, but I thought it was a serious criticism to be answered. It was only later, when I read what real economists thought, that I understood just how thoroughly baseless Shlaes is. In context of other articles she’s written, it means I’m probably not going to waste much time thinking over what Shlaes argues in the future.

    The same is true for many other people – typically, thinktank fellows with zero peer-reviewed publications in the field they profess expertise in. It takes expertise to tell a fake, and unless you have access to what experts think, you may get hoodwinked.

    Caelestor Reply:

    You do have a point. Perhaps what I meant to say is don’t dismiss someone’s claims just based on past claims and bash them through thorough refuting. People do have moments of inspiration.

    Then again, I’m young, and analyzing both sides of the debate to the smallest detail can be quite daunting to me.

  3. HSRforCali
    Jul 25th, 2010 at 23:38

    It seems to me that DesertXpress should instead build an extension down to Ontario to capture drivers before they head up the Cajon Pass. Given the CAHSR line wouldn’t be finished until 2020 and DesertXpress plans to open a Palmdale terminus far before then, it seems like it’d be more worthwhile to build a slow-speed (not high-speed, too expensive) down Cajon Pass to Ontario, especially since almost all travelers pass through this area on the way to Las Vegas. Let’s be realistic here, people are far less likely to drive to Palmdale than they are to Victorville before the completion of a CAHSR station. Also, an Ontario extension would allow riders to avoid driving up Cajon Pass, the largest bottleneck on the way to Vegas. I’ve heard DXE plans to start construction on the Palmdale extension by 2014; obviously this extension would be completed years before CAHSR comes through. Instead, an Ontario extension should be built with a Palmdale extension following that aims for a completion date of 2020.

    Emma Reply:

    You mean something equivalent to NCTD Sprinter? I totally agree.
    I looked up the area. That’s some difficult area to build any form of conventional rail. now I understand why they try to avoid it. But the extension must come. I also hope that Desertxpress and CAHSR use the same gauge so that Xpress trains can theoretically stop at California high speed rail stations.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Track gauge shouldn’t be a problem unless someone chooses something different (not too likely in this case), but there are other standards that should be compatible as well, including platform heights, overhead wire heights, power voltage and type, and train detection/signal systems.

    StevieB Reply:

    Four rail tracks and an interstate highway now traverse the Cajon Pass. Has a route for another rail line been surveyed through the Cajon Pass?

    Joey Reply:

    When did they add a fourth track?

    StevieB Reply:

    BNSF completed its triple track through the Cajon Pass in November 2008. UP owns the fourth track built in 1967 by SP.

    James M. Reply:

    I believe that BNSF already has plans for a fourth track if the capacity need arises in the future.


    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Where do the tracks go? If they’re going to build a fourth track through the Cajon Pass, why wouldn’t they build it to HSR standards? Money would be the prohibitive factor, which is why DesertXpress is sensibly avoiding the idea of going through the Cajon Pass.

    thatbruce Reply:

    With sufficient power, a routing of roughly Hesperia, Summit Valley Rd, tunnel beneath and follow CA-138, I-15 median, I-215 median, Ontario. Of course, that’s more than 3.5% at times, but does have a certain wow/gadgetbahn factor ;)

    HSRforCali Reply:

    DesertXpress will be taking on grades as large as 4% between Baker, CA and Primm, NV. I know this connection would not be a high-speed one, but at least you capture potential riders before they make the arduous drive up Cajon Pass.

    Walter Reply:

    I have a hard time believing that those 50 miles from Victorville to Riverside aren’t worth every penny.

    Caelestor Reply:

    I guarantee you, all these plans will fail unless service runs into the LA Basin.
    You pretty much need to get people out of their cars and get them to the station either via bus or taxi. And not a bus to Victorville, people will just want to keep going on.

  4. StevieB
    Jul 26th, 2010 at 04:29

    Passenger rail between Las Vegas and Southern California would very likely request federal funding. California politicians have not clamored for rail to Las Vegas. The members of the House of Representatives from Nevada number three whereas California Representatives number fifty three. It will not be easy for Nevada congressmen to direct federal funds to this line. Any money directed to a Nevada rail line could be seen as decreasing the amount available to California and could justifiable be opposed by the California delegation.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Yonah Freemark made a similar point in the article, that Republican criticism of the Vegas HSR project back in 2009 will make it less likely that the White House or other Democrats would be willing to direct a lot of federal funding to this, which is unfortunate. Still, as long as Harry Reid is Senate Majority Leader, I wouldn’t count Vegas HSR out when it comes to federal funds.

    StevieB Reply:

    Senator Reid tied the Las Vegas high speed rail corridor to California as an extension of the California corridor. This could be good for California rail as a Nevada line is not likely to be built unless the California High Speed Rail phase 1 is built.

  5. bleh
    Jul 26th, 2010 at 05:33

    I hate it when people come up with bullshit to support their points of view. Especially if it’s almost an insult to the reader:

    “These things run at a speed that would suck the windows out of buildings a half a block from the tracks. You can’t have anyone living near it,” Perl said. “It has to stop at the edge of California. By definition, it has to start in a place where people cannot get to quickly and easily unless you are prepared to tunnel, which triples the cost.”

    Uh huh, because it’s technically impossible to run maglev at less than Ludicrous Speeeeeeed. Their speed diagrams or that in Shanghai must frolic with the unicorns in the mists of time.

    Otherwise I haven’t seen anything that would do this:
    It would be great if maglev were a workable technology, but as the article explained, Shanghai’s experience indicates it’s got a ways to go before it can be a substitute for steel-wheel bullet trains.

    I’d be interested to know what you’re referring to especially, Robert. I admit I just skimmed through the whole article.

    If anything the Shanghai line *did* show that it’s a production-ready technology, so you’re gonna be overjoyed. =)

    The thing with maglev is that you pay roughly twice as much for an 50% increase in speed. How much more you pay depends on the specific route (e.g. if you’re JR Tokai and are gonna dig 300km of tunnels from Tokyo to Nagoya the additional costs are miniscule, if you’re laying tracks through the desert they probably aren’t) as does the question whether it’s worth it (kinda doubtful for the kind of ridership you’d reasonably expect on a LA-Vegas line)

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    If anything the Shanghai line *did* show that it’s a production-ready technology, so you’re gonna be overjoyed. =)

    Concorde was a production technology. Besides issues like sonic boom it’s just too expensive. If Shanghai proved it to be a production technology why hasn’t anyone else built one?

    bleh Reply:

    The difference is that with maglev it’s the infrastructure costs that are high, for the Concorde it was the operating costs. That means the Concorde was always limited to being a toy for the super-rich. For maglev it means you need enough riders to amortize the sunk costs. As there’s always a lot of uncertainty about a priori ridership estimates that requires quite a leap of faith even if the projections suggest it would be a good idea.

    Let’s just assume for the sake of argument that using maglev for California would increase costs from $43b to $70b, but that ridership estimates showed that it would be well worth it. Interoperability isn’t an issue for the project anyway so it sounds like a good idea. Would you go for it?
    No. Because the Anti-HSR brigade would throw a hissy fit, finding $70b for trying to get Americans to board a train would be even worse than $45b and the NIMBYs would scream about electro-smog. I mean if you believe that cell phones will kill you how bad is a whole train?

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    There is also a serious problem of no interoperability with conventional rail. Interoperability is something we want to take advantage of in the new system.

    bleh Reply:


    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Between the Las Vegas train the CHSR as a whole.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    No, the Shanghai maglev experience is exactly what Perl warns about. The line terminates in a random neighborhood, requiring an additional transfer to the subway; to bring it to the city center would require tunneling or leveling entire blocks. And the Transrapid specs call for a 100-meter separation between the tracks and buildings; China’s proposal to reduce the separation to 30 meters in extensions is part of what led to the protests that doomed all extension proposals.

    bleh Reply:

    Bringing any line into the city center would require tunneling or leveling entire blocks.

    The 100m are for noise reasons, not because death rays are going to kill you otherwise. And just because their Chinese NIMBYs doesn’t make their objections any less wrong. There are valid differences of opinion and there’s just crazy fear-mongering. If 30m was in any way dangerous the guy on the platform or on the train who gets roughly 900 times the magnetic death rays would drop dead in an instant.

    I’d absolutely understand if they don’t want the noise. China would build the extension to connect the airports and that would require high speed and therefore lots of noise. But that noise would still be a lot less than a conventional train at the same speeds.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    True. The real issue is that the Chinese government lies so often about environmental issues that nobody believes it when it says it has valid reasons to ignore the German specs. That’s why there are specious radiation concerns.

    As for the noise, the idea of having trains run at 431 km/h in the middle of the city isn’t exactly the best idea in the world. JR East tried 360, failed, and went down to 320, with much better sound mitigation than the Chinese government was offering.

    But bringing the line into the city is still impossible without tunneling or massive destruction. The issue isn’t curve radius anymore; it’s lack of space. For one, the line terminates right in front of a large housing project. Either the entire line gets relocated (unlikely) or the housing project goes (also unlikely).

  6. Scott
    Jul 26th, 2010 at 09:26

    OT: There was an article about the impact of HSR on rail freight in the US a couple days ago in The Economist.

    “American Railways: America’s system of rail freight is the world’s best. High-speed passenger trains could ruin it.”

    Thoughts on the article and the issues presented in it?

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    I haven’t had a chance to read the article in detail, but so far I agree with DoDo’s response.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Perhaps the smartest approach for America’s supposedly flush freight railroads would be to buy up all the Bechtels, etc. , seed them with operatives, and turn around the boondoggle to their position.

    All of a sudden the engineering studies would recommend routes that conspicuously avoided rr ROW’s. The fixers would be flummoxed.

  7. Roderick Llewellyn
    Jul 26th, 2010 at 10:10

    To those who argue that the CA HSR system may not attract sufficient funding to build the entire system as now planned, I suggest you respond that the same is true for the California highway system. As originally planned in the 1950s, it was supposed to be much grander than it now is. There were insufficient funds to build it as originally planned. But that doesn’t mean that the system actually built was useless, rather that plans cannot possibly cover any contingency of the future, and insisting that all risk be eliminated means that we can never plan or do anything.

  8. Tom Gamble
    Jul 26th, 2010 at 11:34

    Greetings readers/writers,

    Regarding LA-LV trains (of any sort), I have some thoughts based upon real experience and some practical knowledge.

    The LVRJ article got one aspect of the issue quite correct; MONEY. Whether its the money to build, to maintain, or to operate any of the systems, there is NO MONEY! There is not money from any source. There is not the billions for the maglev or the Desert Express (or even for the California HSR to create that supposed future connection at Palmdale); not the hundreds of millions for the capacity improvements that UPRR correctly insists upon (after all, it is their property); not for the continued maintenance of whatever system might be created (it sure will not be satisfied by the farebox, especially at the STUPID fare quotes being tossed around by ALL the systems (They all are so unrealistic that I wonder why they don’t just say it will cost a sawbuck — its no different that saying it will cost 50 bucks OW or $99 RT — both of these are just not possible, especially with all the “amenities” that are represented to be part of the deal. Maybe the $99 is just to board the train, then charges for everything else, including the seat?); and at the end of the day, there is NO government money for any of systems or for any purpose –after al, even Harry Reid couild not snaggle any of the 8B HSR money for this route.

    That said, the Desert Lightening wants the gov to fund 35 million JUST for DL to study its own proposal. Thats a real confidence builder.

    At the end of the day, all of the proposals sound like a lot of hooey. If any one of them was actually spending money on tangeable assets (instead of cute web pages and baloney email updates) such as right-of-way, property improvements, equipment, and valid contractual relationships with existing entities (such as UPRR), then maybe this would all be worthy of real consideration. But, the are not and it sure appears that they will not.

    It is my opinion that we will NOT see a worthwhile passenger rail resvice on this route until the money appears. I would guess that it will be decades at the earliest (unless some entity with PRIVATE money shows up and puts the money and effort to it). I suggest you don’t hold your breath!

    If you think I’m wrong, about this or any other aspect of my comments, you CAN go buy shares (for just pennies) of at least one of the rail proposals.

    But if you do, be very careful, for the vision of the future trains to LV is not yet clear!


  9. Spokker
    Jul 26th, 2010 at 12:01

    Off topic, but speaking of ridership estimates always being overly optimistic, the private sector is not without some hiccups. Disney’s California Adventure theme park was originally estimated to bring in 7 million visitors. It’s first full year of operation only attracted 4.7 million and today attendance is only 6 million, even with really deep discounts.

    Considering all the money Anaheim invested in the Disney Resort area, the faceless, soulless conglomerate didn’t come through on its promises with the second park.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    I’m missing the part about the state and federal governments bailing out the operation and state and federal agency employees claiming that there isn’t any sort of shortfall and public officials volunteering 100% public funding of followon theme parks.

    Spokker Reply:

    A railroad confers considerably more public benefit than a theme park. It will be a while before we can even think about operating passenger services without massive government support. No private investment should be expected.

    StevieB Reply:

    DesertXpress proposes a privately owned passenger line operated at a profit. Government loans would be requested for construction.

    Spokker Reply:

    “DesertXpress proposes a privately owned passenger line operated at a profit.”

    Which is why it terminates in Victorville.

  10. adirondacker12800
    Jul 26th, 2010 at 12:17

    I’ll admit that I’m not a particularly big fan of Las Vegas – its kind of entertainment isn’t mine. But it’s obvious that a hell of a lot of people – especially in Southern California – are indeed big fans of Vegas, and regularly drive there to enjoy the resorts.

    There’s two million people in metro Las Vegas who wan’t to go places in California. Then, since Las Vegas is a big convention draw, people like you who have other reasons to go to Las Vegas, it’s not just gambling…

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Good point – the HSR does run both ways!

  11. BruceMcF
    Jul 26th, 2010 at 13:49

    Proposals now at 5 … why is this not surprising? The Las Vegas ratio of proposals to long lasting relationships is probably fairly high across the board.

  12. Tom
    Jul 26th, 2010 at 14:58

    Very little has been said about X Train, and that it’s on schedule to be running by as quickly as 2011. I thought I read something around Sep. of 2011.

    Tom Reply:

    Here is the article for the rail cars……

  13. Spokker
    Jul 26th, 2010 at 16:18

    As far as these Las Vegas projects go, I’m thinking, “A little less conversation, a little more action.”

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Nailed it.

    bleh Reply:

    Please, NO!

    The Las Vegas projects are marginal at best. The last thing you want is a failed HSR project for all the HSR haters to latch onto. Florida’s bad enough (it might work but many of their decisions seem questionable), Vegas might be the death blow. California first, with it built even the Victorville-Express might be a valid idea.

    I hope the Vegas guys keep talking until the whole California system is done, so the more proposals the merrier. How about starting our own? The Disneyland-Vegas Outrageous Roller Coaster. The ORC’s easily gonna get across the pass, will then make a detour to, no *through*, the Grand Canyon and on to Vegas. A future expansion to Orlando’s in the works.

    Spokker Reply:

    Most of these projects are not HSR and Disneyland-Vegas maglev is not happening.

    By the time Desert Xpress fails, I hope that the CAHSR construction is well underway so it wouldn’t have much effect. Like the critics say, once you start construction you have to finish it no matter how much it costs or how bad of an idea they think it is.

  14. zach
    Jul 26th, 2010 at 18:59

    I would love to see them upgrade the tracks completely allowing the train to get up to 90 mph or higher making it a faster journey but still enjoyable.

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