Urban Transport

High-speed rail from LA to Las Vegas gets on track

High-speed rail from LA to Las...
A joint venture between Chinese and American companies promises to connect Las Vegas to Los Angeles with a high-speed train system
A joint venture between Chinese and American companies promises to connect Las Vegas to Los Angeles with a high-speed train system
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A joint venture between Chinese and American companies promises to connect Las Vegas to Los Angeles with a high-speed train system
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A joint venture between Chinese and American companies promises to connect Las Vegas to Los Angeles with a high-speed train system
The proposed new high-speed rail route
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The proposed new high-speed rail route
The XpressWest train will probably travel at around 150 mph (240 km/h)
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The XpressWest train will probably travel at around 150 mph (240 km/h)
New stations and infrastructure are slated to be built to accommodate the XpressWest high-speed rail service
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New stations and infrastructure are slated to be built to accommodate the XpressWest high-speed rail service
The XpressWest system concept shown traveling across the country
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The XpressWest system concept shown traveling across the country
An artist's rendering of an XpressWest train coming into a station
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An artist's rendering of an XpressWest train coming into a station
XpressWest trains are expected to travel at around 150 mph (240 km/h)
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XpressWest trains are expected to travel at around 150 mph (240 km/h)
The company believes that they may be able to begin construction on the new network perhaps as early as September 2016
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The company believes that they may be able to begin construction on the new network perhaps as early as September 2016
XpressWest and China Railway International USA. have come together to help boost the nascent Southwest Rail Network project
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XpressWest and China Railway International USA. have come together to help boost the nascent Southwest Rail Network project
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The trip from LA to Las Vegas may only take an hour by air, but the hassles associated with air travel have seen numerous proposals for a high-speed rail link between the two cities floated over the years. Lack of cash has usually proven the insurmountable hurdle, but after failing to secure a US$5.5 billion federal loan, XpressWest has found another way forward by teaming up with China Railway International USA in a joint venture that could see the link begin construction in late 2016.

The joint venture between the US and Chinese companies boasts $100 million in starting capital and will fund, construct, and operate the new rail network that will span some 370 km (230 miles) to connect Southern Nevada and Southern California, including stations in Las Vegas, Nevada, Victorville, California, and Palmdale, California, and service throughout Los Angeles. The project is expected to spur new economic growth and tourist development across the region. XpressWest believesconstruction on the network can begin as early asSeptember 2016.

XpressWest trains are expected to travel at around 150 mph (240 km/h)
XpressWest trains are expected to travel at around 150 mph (240 km/h)

Withaverage travel speeds expected to be in the vicinity of 150 mph (240 km/h), thenew track is an absolute necessity if this venture is to be successful. The onlyother high-speed train service in the US – the Amtrak Acela Express that links Boston,New York, and Washington DC – achieves these sorts of speeds, but for only veryshort distances due to track conditions and slower trains using the sameroutes.

It may not quite run at Hyperloop speeds, but with the high-speed train running on dedicated track at the assumed average speeds it could travel the proposed route, one-way, in around 80 minutes. That may still longer than the average flight time of around an hour for the same trip, but avoids the hassle of dealing with airport security and check-ins.

No announcement has been made regarding the total cost of the project or expected completion dates but, given that Amtrak's president quoted a figure of around $151 billion and about 25 years to build a dedicated high-speed network between Washington and Boston, high-speed train travel between Las Vegas and Los Angeles may be some time off yet.

Source: XpressWest (PDF)

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11 comments
Tommo
Classing 150mph as 'High Speed' is a bit misleading when you look at how fast Chinese trains are running right now. Granted, it's way fast for Americans but slow when compared to other countries more advanced rail systems.
Wolf0579
We should be doing this all over the country... but without foreign investors. We should keep ownership of American infrastructure American. We need to quit starving governments for funds. This is one project people should be happy to pay taxes to support. The revenues it will generate could be fed back into the governments that paid for it... allowing lower taxes in the future.
Bruce H. Anderson
Taking this train may avoid the TSA theater (for now) but there will still be some of the inherent time spent at each end (arrving early, tickets, parking, rental cars, baggage). But if it gets into LA itself it might make sense. Can we assume that the "average" speed includes stops? And since AMTRAK isn't involved, construction might be on time and under budget.
Chevypower
I'm not sure it makes as much economic sense in America as it does in high density small geographic countries. You need to fill most trains and have a large quantity of trains on the rails. You wouldn't build a freeway just for one bus every hour. It also has to make sense without subsidies, or you may as well subsidize airlines to bring the ticket prices down.
steviehn
They haven't learned from the Bay Bridge fiasco.
Bob
What happens when there is an earthquake??? Even a mild tremor could derail something running at those speeds.
fearnow
Sorry, but in terms of infrastructure we are far behind the rest of the world.
I can only hope that this gets built but if history is any indicator, profits will continue to be reaped from the diminishing returns of cars-on-roads and projects like these will be inevitably squashed by vested interests/NIMBYs or the like.
Slowburn
If the ineffective airport security wasn't violating everybody's rights foolish projects like this would never get off the ground.
BZD
@Chevypower While a coast to coast railway or anything like wouldn't make much sense there certainly are areas where railway could make a lot of sense. If you look at the true high speed railways in Europe and Asia they mostly run between the big cities. While the distances aren't like in the US I can certainly see the more densely populated areas where more rail will make sense. Also when done right and the infrastructure around the high speed lines are present then not only is there an environmental benefit since trains are load more efficient than flying, but there is a time saving as well since trains can connect city centers. Plus when flying one spends a lot of non-productive time either going to or from the airport or at the airports, with the train you will be sitting comfortably in a train for much of that time being able to read/work/sleep.
Nostromo47
Support for high speed rail in this country seems to follow political lines. Funny how, along the lines of climate change denial, right wing conservatives seem to be opposed to this type of development in the face of the clear need to proceed. This would be consistent with their general opposition to public transportation.