pacomartin
pacomartin
Joined: Jan 14, 2010
  • Threads: 649
  • Posts: 7895
January 18th, 2010 at 1:23:18 AM permalink
If you are unfamiliar with the primary contenders, the the DesertXpress is the completely privately funded option. The technology under discussion is a Bombardier trainset (Bombardier makes the trainsets for Acela Express in Washington-Boston run). It would make the 186 mile run from somewhere on the Vegas strip (probably the Rio Casino parking lot) to some land purchased on the edge of Victorville in 86 minutes with no intermediate stops . Advantages is it involves proven technology that has been operating for more than 12 years and cost is roughly $4 billion which will involve private financing. Tickets will probably be $100 each way. A future link to Palmdale where it could connect to the future California High Speed Rail is discussed, but not budgeted and may be more of a selling point than anything else.
----------
Initially the DesertXpress would primarily be of interest to single person drivers, more than likely who live in the inland empire (population of 4-5 million). It would have very little attraction to residents of Las Vegas since the need to rent a car in Victorville would offset the small advantage of the high speed. It would have limited appeal to the more populous counties of Los Angeles and Orange County since driving to Victorville is the most congested portion of the trip. In the future, if airport crowding in southern California airports means that cheap shuttle flights to Las Vegas disappear, the DesertXpress may grow more popular.
=========
The second contender is California Nevada Maglev . This route would make the 269 mile link from Las Vegas strip to Anaheim stadium in as fast as 86 minutes. Anaheim stadium is a short drive from most of the population centers, 16 miles from the beach, and a few miles from Disneyland. It is also a transit hub for Amtrak to San Diego and metrolink. There would be four intermediate stops (1) Future Ivanpah Valley Airport, (2) Primm, Nevada, (3) Barstow, California and (4) Ontario, California. Despite the fact that Japan is budgeting over $54 billion for a 180 mile Maglev to start in two years, the advertised budget for this 269 mile CA-NV system is $12 billion. Financing would be a public private partnership.
==========
Naysayers say the DesertXpress will appeal to such a small group that it might as well not be there. Naysays say that Anaheim Maglev will never be financed and will remain on the drawing board for more decades. Pro-DesertXpress people believe that if they can meet their initial goal of 5 million passengers each way it is a positive boost to the Vegas economy. Future enhancements will boost it's appeal. Pro-Maglev people believe it is the only way to have a sustainable economy for Las Vegas well into the 21st century and a hedge against overcrowded airports that will dramatically raise the cost of short haul flights to maintain room for long haul and international routes.
==========
Metrolink has discussed expanding the Inland Empire-Orange County Line which currently goes from Oceanside to San Bernardino (15 stations). There is a demand to expand as far as Victorville (possibly future negotiations could co-link with the Victorville High Speed Rail station). However, Metrolink has used existing rail lines in the past. The current rail tracks through the El Cajon pass are overcrowded with freight trains. So far it has been considered a insurmountable obstacle. It would allow people to connect to Victorville from all 15 current stations, but the initial segment would be at low speeds.

Here is a proposed extension of the metrolink into the Victor Valley with a connection to DesertXpress. Let me emphasize that there is currently no funding for this proposed line.

Last edited by: pacomartin on Jan 23, 2010
AZDuffman
AZDuffman
Joined: Nov 2, 2009
  • Threads: 228
  • Posts: 12535
January 18th, 2010 at 5:32:52 AM permalink
Quote: pacomartin


Naysayers say the DesertXpress will appeal to such a small group that it might as well not be there. Naysays say that Anaheim Maglev will never be financed and will remain on the drawing board for more decades. Pro-DesertXpress people believe that if they can meet their initial goal of 5 million passengers each way it is a positive boost to the Vegas economy. Future enhancements will boost it's appeal. Pro-Maglev people believe it is the only way to have a sustainable economy for Las Vegas well into the 21st century and a hedge against overcrowded airports that will dramatically raise the cost of short haul flights to maintain room for long haul and international routes.



Count me among the naysayers. The privatly funded option I doubt will make it-railroads in the USA went out in the 1950s for a reason. Even if you could get the funding, very expensive for one route. An investor would do better to put a private line from San Fran to LA/San Diego and get many times the traffic. Another disadvantage is that it seems they are building their own full terminal instead of a small airline that rents a gate and (maybe) slot.

As to Magtlev, I was once a true believer but now am a critic. Maglev sounds good but it is always "decades away." I first read about maglev in study hall--in 1985! It is barely closer now. The problem with high speed rail/maglev of any type seems to be that you only hit the "high speed" for a small portion of the trip. So a short hop of 300 or so miles the time savings over a plane is negligable and over a long haul of say 1,000 miles the construction cost is too high.

No idea if it was reality, but in "Bugsy" Ben talks about having a high-speed train to go from LA to Vegas!
All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others
pacomartin
pacomartin
Joined: Jan 14, 2010
  • Threads: 649
  • Posts: 7895
January 18th, 2010 at 6:08:37 AM permalink
The Spanish built a roughly 269 mile high speed rail from Madrid to Seville. They joined the EU in 1986 and had the line open and running so you could purchase tickets by 1992. It goes a maximum of 300 km/hr (182 miles/hr). This turnaround of only 5 years was remarkable for a nation who at the time was very poor for Western Europe. Certainly it was considerably poorer than Nevada or California. The new train cut the trip from 9 hours, to about 2.25 hours. Seville has a metropolitan population of 1.5 million (less than Metropolitan Las Vegas).
============
Los Angeles to Las vegas is the busiest air route in the country of less than 300 miles. Flying air routes of less then 300 miles is a massive misuse of scarce facilities (runway capacity) and a terrible environmental atrocity. Needless to say, doing the same route in millions of private vehicles is off the chart in terms of environmental abuse.
============
Most of Europe aspire to nearly replace domestic air transport with train transport. That is clearly impossible given the geographic size of the USA. However, interstate transport over California and Nevad, and within Texas, Florida, Seattle to Portland, and in the Northeast is a achievable goal.
FleaStiff
FleaStiff
Joined: Oct 19, 2009
  • Threads: 265
  • Posts: 14484
January 18th, 2010 at 6:57:53 AM permalink
>it is the only way to have a sustainable economy for Las Vegas well into the 21st century
Have they consulted the casino owners of Reno who have seen significant declines in visitors from California who now patronize all those Indian casinos?
What will Las Vegas offer even after an ultra-fast MagLev ride that won't be available in California after a much shorter but less impressive trip?
BenJammin
BenJammin
Joined: Nov 1, 2009
  • Threads: 48
  • Posts: 133
January 18th, 2010 at 7:59:27 AM permalink
Sounds like they're going to tear up the freeway for about 10 years, making it a very unpleasant drive. Delays, cost overruns. Earthquake proof construction will cost far more than the line in Spain.

$100 one way? I can fly Southwest for $59 bucks.

And how many stops will it make along the way? Barstow, Baker, S. Las Vegas, etc.

The company will go broke and we'll end up bailing them out too.

Bad Idea.
Member In Good Standing!
pacomartin
pacomartin
Joined: Jan 14, 2010
  • Threads: 649
  • Posts: 7895
January 18th, 2010 at 9:23:19 AM permalink
People can't envision the loss of inexpensive fares.
The $59 fare on Southwest is not going to exist forever. San Diego, Orange county, Long Beach, and Burbank airports are almost at capacity. For the first time in the history of the world a major airport, LAX, is going to stop growth. When passengers get to 75 million they are required by the terms of the court to begin closing 2 gates a year until they get to 10 gates closed. The passenger load can't exceed 78.9 million passengers a year. One sure consequence of this is that the 236 mile flights from LAX to Las Vegas will either be gone or become a lot more expensive. This route is currently the busiest route out of LAX.
-------------
Ontario Airport will pick up the slack for a few years, but they will hit capacity in no more than 10 years. There is some vague plans for a train system to get peple to Ontario airport. The city owns Palmdale Airport, but people are counting on some future transport system to get there since the road is already moving at about 20 mph in rush hour.
-------------
Since 1979 this country has gambled on cheap intercity airfare, but it won't last forever.


To FleaStiff. Look at my post about the different games. Baccarat is the only game that has returned to pre-depression numbers. Las Vegas offers the fanciest casinos and the lifestyle associated with baccarat and big fights and luxury at relatively affordable rates. I don't think they can re-create this in California. But as far as penny slots and blackjack tables they are available at slot parlors, racinos, and Indian casinos all around the country.
leftwing
leftwing
Joined: Jan 18, 2010
  • Threads: 1
  • Posts: 3
January 18th, 2010 at 2:56:52 PM permalink
High speed rail, quick and easy boarding, minimal security checks? For me, it beats flying hands down. Flying has become a real pain in the butt and anything less than 500 miles just isn't worth it.
pacomartin
pacomartin
Joined: Jan 14, 2010
  • Threads: 649
  • Posts: 7895
January 18th, 2010 at 3:44:36 PM permalink
Las Vegas bought land in Ivanpah for a "reliever" airport when McCarren gets full. Now just for a minute think about what that means. Cities have "replaced" airports (like Austin and Denver), and they have taken very old airports that have operated for decades and beefed them up to function as reliever airports (like Tenafly NJ which is only 12 miles from Newark International) or Ontario airport which is about 50 miles from LAX.
===============================
Guess how many communities have built a reliever airport from scratch and kept their original airport open? That's right, the correct answer is none. No community can afford the expense of running a new reliever airport. It was done once by the US national government (Dulles airport in suburban Washington DC). It took 20 years until it became profitable. Only the US federal government could sustain the losses for the first 20 years, it would bankrupt any city. The Canadian government tried it outside of Montreal. It was one of the most spectacular failures in the history of northern America. They tried to keep the original airport open, but no one would use the new airport. Finally after decades they closed the "new" airport. In the meantime the population and the economic center of eastern Canada shifted to Toronto.
==============================
So basically McCarran is going to fill up and Las Vegas is going to build a "reliever airport" in Ivanpah. Las Vegas is going to do what no other city in the entire world has done. Think about that for a second. Doesn't it make more sense to try to shift the short haul traffic to trains and reserve the airport for passengers that have no other reasonable choice except to fly.
Wizard
Administrator
Wizard
Joined: Oct 14, 2009
  • Threads: 1399
  • Posts: 23625
January 18th, 2010 at 8:18:37 PM permalink
Count me among the DesertXpress naysayers too. I'll go further to say it is one of the stupidest ideas I have ever heard of. For those unfamiliar with the proposed route, it would go from Victorville to Las Vegas. Victorville is located about 80 miles from downtown LA, and 200 miles from Las Vegas. The population is about 100,000. The population of Victorville is much too small to fill the trains, and if LA drivers can make it to Victorville, they will likely hit the gas and speed the rest of the way through the desert, as opposed to park, buy tickets, wait for a train, and pay for ground transportation in Vegas.

I'm less skeptical about the Maglev. Nevada is long overdue its fair share of pork, but putting my regional selfish interests aside, I tend to oppose it on cost/benefit grounds. I think the public would get more benefit from expanding service between DC and Boston, making it faster and more affordable. It would also be nice to see more bike trails.

So my order of preference is:

1. Neither
2. Maglev
3. DesertXpress
It's not whether you win or lose; it's whether or not you had a good bet.
pocketaces
pocketaces
Joined: Nov 11, 2009
  • Threads: 3
  • Posts: 158
January 18th, 2010 at 9:16:25 PM permalink
I've got to ask the obvious, why can't they just build the las vegas to LA route using conventional high-speed rail, rather than the maglev? This stuff is so common in Europe that the train technology is basically 'off-the-shelf' and could include many bidders and options. The track specifications are close to or the same as regular rail and simple to build - we've been doing it for over a century. Speeds are 2-3x faster than normal highway speeds.

I have to imagine that would be the logical option here. Maglev is far too expensive for the benefit. It should only be considered between the largest urban centers where a highly-popular train route is already established. Because its such an expensive project, it cannot be built simply on the hope that people will ride it enough to justify the capital cost. But the desertXpress, while being far, far cheaper, just isn't long enough. It should at least come within 25 miles of downtown LA and integrate with the local and commuter transit systems. So combine the best from both and present it versus the 'do nothing' option and see what wins out.

  • Jump to: