President Obama Mulls $5bn Las Vegas California Bullet Train LinkMarch 26, 2012 3:32 pm
Las Vegas is often included in the stops of holidaymakers visiting Los Angeles and San Francisco. However, tourists may soon have an extra option to reach ‘Sin City’ other than by car or airplane, if the proposed new high-speed railway goes ahead.
DesertXpress is currently on the verge of being granted a $4.9 billion loan to carry out the project that could help rejuvenate the battered economy of the desert town of Las Vegas. In order to avoid excessive costs of building a rail link inside Los Angeles, the company would then build a park-and-ride station off Interstate 15 in the town Victorville around 100 miles away.
This would also come as good news for the struggling city of Victorville on the edge of the Mojave Desert with its population of 115,000.
At a price of $50 for a one-way trip, the journey would take 84 minutes using a 150 mph bullet train, with DesertXpress estimating around five million round trip passengers during the first year alone.
At present, the 270 mile drive from Los Angeles to Las Vegas takes around four hours, while round-trip flights cost about $100. Nonetheless, critics of the project debate whether much time and money would be saved on the train journey after parking, boarding and reaching a Las Vegas hotel are considered. As Thomas Finkbiner at the University of Denver explains:
“It’s insanity. People won’t drive to a train to go someplace. If you are going to drive, why not drive all the way and leave when you want?”
Another opposer of the scheme, Hasan Ikhrata, executive director of the Southern California Association of Governments further points out the cost of running the railway, and stated:
“When somebody comes and tells me I will build a system that pays for itself, I’m suspicious. There is no high-speed rail system in the world that operates without subsidies.”
Therefore, much resistance has still to be overcome in order to convince critics that the train link is necessary, whilst also assuring Californian’s that the ambitious project will not be a drain on their tax dollars.