Las Vegas Sun

January 31, 2015

Currently: 63° — Complete forecast | Log in | Create an account

DesertXpress hopes for federal loan, aims for 2012 start on work


An artist’s rendering of a train on the XpressWest high-speed rail line, formerly DesertXpress.

CARSON CITY – Officials with the proposed high-speed train linking Las Vegas and Southern California expect to get an answer in six to nine months on plans to borrow about $6 billion from the federal government.

If all goes according to plan, construction would start in the final quarter of 2012, said Andrew Mack, chief operating officer of DesertXpress. Mack briefed the state transportation board Monday on the private-public project that he says has been in development for 10 years.

Gov. Brian Sandoval said the high-speed rail plans have been rejected in two other states and questioned whether it would survive in Nevada.

Mack said the other states were planning to use federal stimulus money, and if the project failed, the states would have assumed responsibility. In this case, the federal government would be loaning the money, so if the project went bankrupt, the government would take over the train. The state wouldn't have responsibility.

He told the board that $34 billion in federal funds were available to finance rail projects across the country.

The proposed train from Victorville, Calif., to Las Vegas would run at 150 mph and cover 185 miles in 80 minutes. During peak periods, there would be trains leaving each location every 20 minutes.

In Las Vegas there are two potential depots – one south of Flamingo Road and the other on 60 acres across from Mandalay Bay. Mack said the route would run along Interstate 15.

Board members questioned why Victorville was selected instead of running the all-electric train into Los Angeles. Mack said there would be added expense and environmental issues by extending it to the city.

He added that 11 million motorists visiting Las Vegas use Interstate 15 in the area that runs through Victorville.

He said 45,000 questionnaires were distributed at the California agriculture border station and there was a 5 percent response rate, with an estimated 85-90 percent saying they would try the train.

He projects 7 million passengers would use the train during the first year and construction would generate about 80,000 jobs. Of that, 17,500 would be direct work in Las Vegas.

DesertXpress would be a fully electric train with overhead lines powering it. Mack said the utilities have enough capacity to supply the electricity. It wouldn't carry freight.

The project could be completed in the final quarter of 2016, Mack said.

Join the Discussion:

Check this out for a full explanation of our conversion to the LiveFyre commenting system and instructions on how to sign up for an account.

Full comments policy

Previous Discussion: 20 comments so far…

Comments are moderated by Las Vegas Sun editors. Our goal is not to limit the discussion, but rather to elevate it. Comments should be relevant and contain no abusive language. Comments that are off-topic, vulgar, profane or include personal attacks will be removed. Full comments policy. Additionally, we now display comments from trusted commenters by default. Those wishing to become a trusted commenter need to verify their identity or sign in with Facebook Connect to tie their Facebook account to their Las Vegas Sun account. For more on this change, read our story about how it works and why we did it.

Only trusted comments are displayed on this page. Untrusted comments have expired from this story.

  1. There are so many things wrong with this proposal, one can hardly know where to begin. Coming on the heals of Solyndra as it does is not going to inspire confidence, either.

  2. Comment removed by moderator. - -

  3. Comment removed by moderator. Name Calling

  4. No one will use this train. I'm from CA and the worst part of the trip is to victorville. That was half the trip. Its a 2 hr trip from victorville to las vegas. All the friday traffic is before you get to victorville. The Cajone pass is ridiculous on friday. No one is going to use this. Its a loser.

  5. Chunky says:

    How about fixing schools, jobs and crime first before even thinking about another disaster 1000x the size of the Vegas monorail !

    For gosh sake, add another lane or two to I-15 first! Chunky doesn't want to hear any enviro BS either; the carbon impact of construction of a high speed train and destruction to the desert would take a million years to recoup!

    That's what Chunky thinks!

  6. Comment removed by moderator. Name Calling

  7. byron_g,

    You're close. Victorville was chosen so they could someday put in a link to the planned transportation hub at Palmdale that would connect to Los Angeles and points south.

    Fat chance of that ever happening.

  8. How about putting in an Autobahn type lane all the way to the pass with no speed limit? Seems cheaper and more effective. If it does not work they can build the train on it in 50-60 years

  9. What a difference two years make!

    Look at this story in the Sun from June of 2009:

    Read it carefully and a few things should stand out, the biggest being that this project was not supposed to require government funding. Now they are asking for a $6B federal loan (more than 10x the Solyndra fiasco.) We will be on the hook for this when it fails.

    Another item is how Reid switched his support from the MagLev that would have gone to Anaheim to this, citing the private funding as one of the reasons for doing so.

    At the bottom of the story is this information:
    "Among Desert Xpress' chief backers is [Sid] Rogich, among Republicans in Nevada who have announced their support for Reid's re-election in 2010. Rogich announced his support for Reid in February."

    Has anyone checked out who owns land along the proposed route?

  10. It has to go somewhere where you can easily connect to other major sites in LA like the airport, disney, sports venues, downtown. It has to go to the strip at the other end.

  11. DesertXpress is DOA. Nobody is going to take the train to Victorville.

    There is a system, however, that would succeed here. The Maglev. Yes, it costs a great deal of money, but it would drastically alter the southwest. Going from Vegas to Anaheim in 80 minutes could turn Vegas into a bedroom community for LA. It could also have the opposite effect: it could bring businesses to Vegas who like the tax structure but need quick access to southern California.

    We need to be big and bold, not timid if we want to make a difference... and yesterday's technology to nowhere isn't it. Want to see Vegas recover? Widen I-15 to 3 lanes each way and build the Maglev.

  12. Harry wants it because he's got to pay back many of his contributors.... Politics as usual.

  13. Take the Train to LAX, even if it runs somewhat slower through LA. Otherwise its useless for Nevada Residents and not much better for CA residents. The Casinos will subsidize the fares for CA gamblers while Nevada residents will have to travel on their own dime. The advantage would be a reliable travel time from Vegas to LA. And if CA ever gets their North-South Rail Line built, we will have an alternative to the current Highway and Airport congestion.

    On another connection subject - It takes a Nine Hour drive from Vegas to San Francisco, a journey a little over 300 Air Miles. It there not a Single Spot in the entire 500 Mile long CA/NV Sierra range where a Tunnel cannot be built to connect the two cities with an Intestate Highway?
    Please hire the Europeans since they have machinery to build 10 mile tunnels without problems.

  14. WHY are the taxpayers going to be on the hook for this IF it fails? Shouldn't those politicians that pushed it through be on the hook since THEY benefit the MOST from it?

    Honestly, the Maglev to Anaheim or Riverside makes better sense and has a greater potential of being successful.

  15. More traffic lanes and higher speed limits from LA will accomplish the same thing for a lot less money and put a lot of construction workers back to work.

  16. summerof69,

    If this gets built the airlines could *raise* their fares and the train would still fail.

  17. Dennis et al: I believe the reason that the train will not end in LA or anywhere else that people might actually use is because of the extreme cost to obtain right-of-way from Victorville to LA. Considering the price of real estate they could not afford the land to put the train on

  18. So Andrew Mack is basing part of "Mack said" conclusions on the return of less than 2,250 questionnaires as a good reason to proceed spending $6 Billion dollars of taxpayers money?

    No freight would be hauled on the DesertExpress?

    Talk about a project that stinks. . .

  19. <<How about putting in an Autobahn type lane all the way to the pass with no speed limit? Seems cheaper and more effective. If it does not work they can build the train on it in 50-60 years>>

    Cheaper??? Just think of the state and local money that will be spent sending out paramedics and other rescue personnel when there are pile-ups and fatal accidents.

  20. Nevada is never going to get funding for this. It is a non-essential project and not really necessary. The area I live in was earmarked for millions to build an Amtrak station for a route going directly into Chicago; last I heard the money is on hold and the State may not get it at all, which is too bad because the project will create jobs not only in building the station and fixing the existing track but also the employees working in the station complex. This project is a lot more feasible then a "train to nowhere" and yet the project is up in the air.

    IF the DesertXpress was going to run from LAX or close by (where people can easily drive to and safely park their cars), directly into Vegas - THEN you have a reason to build it. But Victorville to Vegas???? Ridership will NEVER make up the cost. Yeah -shades of the Monorail!!!