Looks Like the X Train Is Dead
Bad news for people who wanted to get their party on before they crossed the Nevada state line: the proposed X Train appears to be dead:
A group hoping to start running an adults-only “party train” between Southern California and the Las Vegas area said the deal has gone off the tracks.
Las Vegas Railway Express had planned to shuttle partiers from an Amtrak station in Fullerton, Calif., to the heart of Sin City in a club on wheels called the X Train.
A year-old agreement with Union Pacific allowed the company to use a rail line that’s currently limited to freight trains and hasn’t served a passenger line since Amtrak discontinued its Desert Wind service in 1997 due to low ridership.
In a Securities and Exchange Commission filing on Tuesday, Railway Express officials disclosed that the Union Pacific deal had fallen apart, and Union Pacific would be keeping the company’s $600,000 deposit.
The company painted a grim picture in its filing, though it insisted the project remains viable.
Railway Express said it still needs to raise $1 million for the California-Vegas route and added, “there is no assurance such funding will be available on terms acceptable to the company, or at all.”
The article doesn’t explain why exactly the deal with UP fell apart, but if their goal was to raise $1 million to begin service, losing the $600,000 deposit is a big blow. It’s hard to see how the X Train will find the funding it needs to begin service, especially without a deal with UP.
I doubt that many readers of this site will lament the X Train’s demise. Yonah Freemark of The Transport Politic explained this news as Nonsense party train from CA to Las Vegas collapses on the weight of its own absurdity. Few will argue that a party train from Fullerton to Las Vegas is a high priority for passenger rail in America.
I’ve always been more open to the idea. Anything that builds public support for more passenger trains is a good thing, and LA-Vegas is a strong candidate for passenger rail given the convenience of trains and the inconvenience of driving. The X Train might have attracted a lot of riders who don’t normally take trains and who would have evangelized the benefits of passenger rail to their friends. Of course, it could just as easily have been a bust.
Of greater significance is the fact that this is another example of just how difficult it is for the private sector to fund passenger rail. Government has to take the lead in order to make it happen, just as government has done with every other form of transportation in this country. There’s no way that a party train to Vegas counts as a priority for any government. But a high speed rail link from LA to Vegas, as part of a national HSR network, is still a very good idea.