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September 1, 2014

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Letter to the editor:

Build a train that makes more sense

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After having driven Interstate 15 between Las Vegas and points south hundreds of times, I just can’t quite understand how a train between Victorville and Las Vegas is going to do anyone any good.

Perhaps if they could use different technology that would allow going all the way to Orange County, they would have something worth doing.

I envision a system between Salt Lake City and Los Angeles. This system would be a winner year-round — summer for the beaches, winter for the skiing, and year-round for gaming in Las Vegas.

Las Vegas could then do some serious thinking about expanding the monorail to include the new train system, the airport, the northwest valley and Henderson.

This whole thing would be a financial boon for our valley in so many ways, especially jobs and the expansion of our tax base. Las Vegas, Henderson, North Las Vegas, Boulder City and even Mesquite would all potentially become bedroom communities feeding off of the economies of Los Angeles and Salt Lake City. I have seen it happen in the Bay Area and Los Angeles.

The train that our senior senator is pushing is a boondoggle at best. We need to reassess what our tax dollars are spent on before they are thrown into the same trash heap to which so many other government projects have contributed.

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  1. The drive to Victorville, now, is generally a time consuming borefest. The train would shave time off of that part of the trip to SoCal, but the benefits stop there. Once reaching Victorville, the passengers now have to find alternate means of transportation. In my case, that would be to rent a car. Then the wonders of the Cajon pass and the marvels of the freeway system to get where you're going await. At least a termination point in Orange county would help folks whose ending destination is not Victorville.

  2. This train is just one more example of why we need public financing of campaigns, term limits and lobbying reform.

    The train Senator Reid supports is supported because some group(s) with lobbyists will benefit by its construction.

    If instead, Senator Reid was freed from trading legislation for money and support from powerful interest groups with lobbyists, he'd favor a 'bullet' train that extended from Las Vegas all the way to Los Angeles or at least a regular speed train that did not end in Victorville.

    This is yet one more example of why we must force a change in our corrupted Congressional system. I simply do not believe that Senator Reid believes this train, as proposed, is a good idea. I think people who the Senator needs and wants support from 'want' this train built at taxpayer expense.

    Term limits, public financing of campaigns and lobbying reform.

    Michael

  3. Senator Reid is looking to leave a legacy. Perhaps the train is it?

    Carmine D

  4. With the exception, perhaps, of commuter routes in the Northeast, there is no area where train ridership pays its own way. All routes are heavily subsidized by taxpayers and this "White Elephant" in development will be no different. Make those proposing its construction invest their own money and see how fast the idea is flushed down the toilet.

  5. Those who stand to make a lot money from the train project support it. Anyone with common sense knows it will turn out to be that bridge to nowhere.

  6. Every form of transportation receives some type of governmental support and subsidy. Passenger/light rail makes sense in some locations...NE Corridor, urban cities, etc., and should be considered for those areas. This particular project does not seem to make much sense.

  7. A high speed rail system from Las Vegas To California makes perfectly good sense.However it should run all the way to Orange County,and not just Victorville. Orange County is where the Lion's share of the riders, who are coming to Las Vegas seem to be.

    The Xpress west(desert express) can travel at 150 mph, and runs on either diesel or electric power.It would cost 5.5 billion dollars to build the Express West to Victorville.

    The Meglev can travel at speeds of up to 300 mph and runs on magnetic levitation and can reach Orange County faster than the Xpress West can make it to Victorville.

    It will cost almost double to build the Meglev to Orange County,but it is almost 100 miles farther then Victorville is. This would exlpain the difference in some of the cost.

  8. Many of the comments are shortsighted on the scope the rail project. There are two separate company in the process of offering rail service in and out of Las Vegas. The X-Train and XpressWest.

    First, why would the X-Train have service on existing rail if the marketing did not support the funding and the effort.

    The X-Train is separate from the XpressWest project.

    It is clear train ridership is up throughout the nation at an all time high, and expecting to continue. Also, young people are not buying cars like their parents before them. People are selecting other means of transportation. There are options. Plus, much of the younger population is in urban areas, the cities. And many workers prefer mass transit.

    The savings are clear in many areas. Cutting down on emissions. Reduced accidents. Reduced insurance cost. And in many cases, no insurance if you do not own a car. And, best of all, getting to your destination on time without doing the driving.

    Bottomline, based on the information available there will be a train service between Las Vegas and California. I am confident that many of you who are in opposition to rail service coming in and out of Las Vegas will use the service.

  9. Tom,

    Your correct, subsidizing is necessary. The rail lines in America required government support. Without it, we would not have rail service.

    In Europe, the railway is owned by the government. In Japan there are several companies in partnership controlling 70% of the market.

    What is certain, the US federal government has an enormous investment in our current rail infrastructure and has committed to High Speed Rail (HSR).

  10. The fallacy in comparing government owned rails in the U.S. versus Europe and Japan is geographic size and population size. The U.S. is much larger in both categories. Can't compare the U.S. accurately with these smaller geographic and populated countries and draw sound economic conclusions.

    Carmine D

  11. Carmine wrote:

    "The fallacy in comparing government owned rails in the U.S. versus Europe....."

    Just to be clear, your statement is not accurate. The US government does not own the rails in America. In the United States the railway tracks are owned by railroad companies. The federal government gave land grants to the railroads in 1800s.

    The government does not own or operate the railway system. Even the freight railroad companies are privately owned.

    The United States freight train system carries the most freight in the world. The European train system is mostly for passengers.

  12. I equate government subsidies and bailouts, of any degree regardless of the industry/company/business, with government ownership. Why? Think GM: Government motors. Government has no business in business. Period. End of story. Subsidies cost taxpayers money, increase government deficits and debts, and discourage private investment in the industries at the expense of public goods like health, education and welfare. Outside of that, subsidies work perfectly.

    Carmine D

  13. "Barack Obama and 36-year Amtrak passenger Joe Biden want government to double down and build high-speed rail lines across the country.

    "Imagine boarding a train in the center of a city," Obama said in April 2009. "Imagine whisking through towns at speeds over 100 miles an hour, walking only a few steps to public transportation and ending up just blocks from your destination."

    The problem is most Americans live in suburbs, not central cities, and most destinations are not just blocks from public transportation.

    The Obama administration is pumping money into California's lunatic high-speed rail project, whose estimated cost has jumped from $40 billion to $100 billion -- for a line between the metropolises of Fresno and Bakersfield.

    That's nutty. And so may be the private investors who are trying to build Houston-Dallas and Miami-Orlando high-speed lines.

    But they're betting their own money, with strong incentives to meet competition and squeeze out cost.

    Just like the people who made freight rail work."

    Michael Barone, The Examiner's senior political analyst, can be contacted at [email protected].

    Carmine D

  14. Carmine,

    When you cannot argue the facts, you argue the law. And when you cannot argue the law...well?

    Based on your responses, you have neither!

    With that, you are apparently offering your opinion.

  15. "The government does not own or operate the railway system. Even the freight railroad companies are privately owned."

    I consider government regulations as government operation and management.

    "American freight rail was technologically obsolescent and hamstrung by union rules and government rate regulation. American passenger rail was unprofitable and unreliable.

    Freight rail was losing business to trucking firms. Passenger rail was losing out to cars on the new interstate highways and airplanes on long routes.

    The past 40 years have seen a laboratory experiment on how to revive railroads. Government has gotten out of freight rail, while passenger rail has become largely a public sector function.

    We've had a chance to see which works better and to understand why.

    It took a while for the government to get out of the freight rail business. In 1973, Congress created Conrail, which took over the lines of the Penn Central and other Northeast railroads.

    Despite rosy projections, Conrail racked up big losses, with the federal government picking up the tab.

    Fortunately, the idea of transportation deregulation -- pushed by Ralph Nader as well as market-oriented think tanks -- was picking up steam.

    In 1980, Congress passed and Jimmy Carter signed the Staggers Act, ending the rigid rate regulation by the 1887-vintage Interstate Commerce Commission. Conrail began making profits and was sold to private investors in 1987."

    Carmine D

  16. Aaah, Carmine,

    This is 2013.

  17. "Tom,

    Your correct, subsidizing is necessary. The rail lines in America required government support. Without it, we would not have rail service."

    This statement, you made above, is pure scatological nonsense. I provided excerpts dated March 30, 2013 above on facts and circumstances for rails [both freight and passenger] over the last 40 years in the U.S. which proves so.

    Carmine D

  18. "Aaah, Carmine,

    This is 2013."

    The excerpts are dated March 30, 2013. The commentary provides facts and circumstances for rails, both freight and passenger, for the last 40 years.

    Carmine D

  19. And more, same source, same date:

    "Passenger rail, alas, is a different story. It was a big money loser for railroad companies under the old regulatory regime, and they were happy to slough it off to the government-created Amtrak in 1971.

    Amtrak was supposed to be a profit-making enterprise but would receive government subsidies, uh, just temporarily. It's still getting them 42 years later.

    One reason is that Congress insists on passenger service in 46 of the 50 states. The long lines are huge money losers, but if Amtrak cuts off service to Havre, Montana, someone will complain -- and get loads of publicity from the passenger-train lobby.

    Amtrak is also saddled with union restrictions and procurement rules..."

    Carmine D

  20. Carmine,

    Look, I've had responses from you in the past. Man, you switch more times on subjects then a roundhouse in a train yard.

    I have a little time today, so I will indulge.

    Just to be clear, Conrail moved freight. Amtrack moves passengers. That is fact. Please do not confuse the two.

    Neither would be successful, or in operation, without the help of the federal government.

    I'm in support of rail service in and out of Las Vegas and California. Your obvious not in support of rail service for Las Vegas based on your opposition of government support. What is clear, in order to do big projects in America, you need government support. The proposed rail service coming into Las Vegas has a wider scope.

    I am sure once the Las Vegas segment is completed, you and others who are in opposition will use the service.

  21. I understand American rails and I understand that government subsidies and regulations of both freight and passenger trains over the years failed miserably. Now, you can argue the opposite and I'm patient to hear you. However, I can not think of a single industry, including rails, company, business or group thereof where government interference in any form has made it more efficient and effective. Not even the postal service.

    Carmine D

  22. "Even with government subsidies, some businesses have not survived. In recent decades, America has seen the decline of the railroad industry, the bankruptcy and extinction of several once-major airlines and the disappearance of smaller farms acquired or put out of business by big agriculture, all supported by government subsidies. (For more, see What You Need To Know About Bankruptcy.)

    Although some businesses claim that they cannot survive economically without government help, the questions that must be answered are: which businesses will continue to get government support, which will not, how much will be spent and will the expense be worth the return?"

    Carmine D

  23. Carmine,

    If that is how you truly feel, your wrong. Your wrong because there is information available that states the opposite of your conclusions.

    What I'm reading from you is, your refusing to do the homework on the current data.

    I have the sites where you got your information from. Word for word, is what you posted. That says you have not done your homework, your using the opinions of others. Plus, using dated information as your own assessment.

    That's fine, if you prefer to have thoughts that do not reflect the status of today.

  24. "That's fine, if you prefer to have thoughts that do not reflect the status of today."

    "High Speed Rail Update January 2013

    My goal is to quickly update the progress (if any) made on all of the federally designated high speed rail corridors every six months. Read my July 2012 update .

    The past six months have not been good for supporters of high speed rail, as there seems likely to be no additional federal money for it in the foreseeable future . In most of the corridors, "high speed rail" seems to have been replaced by "faster than usual AMTRAK speeds" rail. Let us review the different corridors."

    Carmine D

  25. " using dated information"

    January and March 2013. How recent is yours?

    Carmine D

  26. And one from July 2011....dated? Have the facts and circumstances for rails changed that much in 2 years? I'm not convinced they have.

    Carmine D

  27. Your funny. In a good way.

    I like people who are passionate. Carmine, you may be wrong, or inaccurate with the core of your argument, but you are passionate. I respect that. Please continue.

  28. Sure, here you are.

    I'm fortunate, or not, depending on how you look at it. I spent 30 plus years in Washington DC and the outlying counties, which are measured today as the wealthiest in the U.S. I'm not. The counties are. I saw transportation options evolve from nothing: RTC [busses to and from outlying areas to DC, sound familiar?] Metro [subway system in DC to the outskirts of DC not the police], AMTRAK [from nearby cities to DC] which you know very well by your own admission of the facts, and 'slugging.' Yes, I'll repeat so you don't accuse me of being drunk and/or not have my first cup of coffee yet: S-L-U-G-G-I-N-G.

    I'm sure you've done your homework, unlike me. It will be very easy for you to tell us which of these transit systems got the most taxpayers' money, the least taxpayers' money and what was the oldest, newest, best and worst? Take it from here.

    BTW, being a Fed I got, like many others, free fare cards on a quarterly bases that I could use for commuting. It's called a government subsidy for the privileged Fed employees, although I have to admit, after the government did it for several years, several of the businesses did too. Why? Maybe you can us that too. All yours.

    Carmine D

  29. Oh, I forgot to mention. Before going to DC I spent a number of years in Europe, mostly Germany, where I met and married my wife, who was born and raised in Germany.

    Now, it's all yours....

    Carmine D

  30. ....and we are back at the starting point.

    Federal dollars are needed to support our rail industry, both freight and passenger service.

    Your against federal support. You have an opinion of why the federal government should not support rail projects. Demand for service in both freight and passenger service is up.

    Moving forward, it is clear (by the numbers in both demand and investment in our current system) we will expand rail service throughout the US, with High Speed Rail being presented on the West Coast.

    The scope of this expansion demands the support of the federal government. It is happening right now. In a nutshell, this is called progress. Some people can see it and understand the complexities, and others are helping making this happen. What is certain, no matter your position on this subject, everyone will use the service. And some will use the service and still complain.

  31. BTW, DC and suburbs as you might expect had "car pools" too that commuted to and from DC with daily workers. You can factor this method into your response here [when you get around to it] with the government subsidized transits like RTC, Metro [not police but subway system], and AMTRAK. I gave you a clue, already, did you get it. Slug lines were not subsidized by the Fed fare cards. Actually, that's a few clues for you.

    Carmine D

  32. ....and this entire discussion started because of the reality, Federal support is needed for our rail system.

    And your argument is, your against federal support, but you have no solution other then your opinion.

    That's ok.

    Your opinion does not change the data.

  33. Here's my opinion based on fact and experience:

    Uncle Sam does not know how to run a railroad. Period, end of story. Whether it's CONRAIL or AMTRAK.

    If you do your homework, with an open mind, you'll note that this sense prevails too by many for European rails and transit encumbered by government interference. Government intervention has not made rails and public transit better. In fact, just the opposite.

    Carmine D

  34. "And your argument is, your against federal support, but you have no solution other then your opinion."

    Oh, contraire. In DC, slugging by far was the best mode of daily commuting. Bested Metro, RTC, and AMTRAK. Works fine with and without government subsidies for rails and transits. Strictly market driven and people supported. For over 40 years.

    Carmine D

  35. ...Carmine your going off the rail..:)

    You are truly a funny guy. I mean, (where) or how does your thought process work?...Man, you are funny.

    Ok....now your saying the federal government is running the US rail system? Where did that come from? You need to lay off the coffee. Or put some cut in your espresso.

    Ok, ok...you win. I concede. Your beating me with experience. Your funny.

  36. Here's a summary of a report done by a Senior Fellow at the DC Institute of Urban Affairs written for 2010/2011.

    "INTRODUCTION
    IT IS WELL ESTABLISHED THAT GOVERNMENTS OF ALL LEVELS,
    including state and local governments in the United States
    and European Union countries, control large and diverse
    portfolios of real estate, infrastructure, movable property,
    and business interests. Unfortunately, any systematic data
    on the size and composition of government property and
    business holdings is still lacking or not disclosed to the
    public in most countries, and the holdings can be strikingly
    large. Occasional data assembled over the past decade
    confirms that government property assets constitute a very
    substantial share of public wealth in most countries, and in
    former centrally planned economies, these assets often
    make up the lion's share of public wealth (for illustrative
    examples of typical cases see Table I).
    It is also clear that government land and property assets
    can be very important for many public management
    objectives, including spatial development of cities, infrastructure
    finance, local economic development, local
    housing policies, and efforts to curb corruption. Moreover,
    recent research identified multiple risks associated with a
    lack of proper asset management, along with the negative
    implications of these risks--from substantial financial
    losses to public budgets to non-sustainable housing
    policies.1 In practice, many municipal and regional
    governments are moving to better management of
    property assets, in particular, by consolidating this
    function within a specialized department or assigning
    some functions to a specialized corporate-type subsidiary.2"

    Carmine D