Smoke and Mirrors and High-Speed Rail to Vegas

by Greg Pollowitz

DesertXpress, the high-speed rail line between Vegas and Victorville, California has a new name: XpressWest.

The Vegas-led cadre of business leaders planning the route recently inked a deal with the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority to study connecting the route eventually to Palmdale, north of Los Angeles.

That expansion necessitated the name change, officials said.

This is nuts. The main complaint was of the original plan was that riders were not going to drive through L.A. and its traffic and then over the Cajon pass to Victorville and then get on a train to Vegas. So the backers of this boondoggle announce a plan to “study” the route to Palmdale — and that’s supposed to make the project more believable? Here’s the map that highlights the stupidity of this plan:

What the backers of XpressWest are saying is that Los Angeles residents will drive to Palmdale and then get on a high-speed train that will connect through Victorville and then on to Vegas. And the backers are hoping that once their Palmdale to Vegas route is in place, California will move on connecting Union Station in Los Angeles to Palmdale — a plan that’s going nowhere fast.

There is a direct rail route that more or less follows I-15 over the Cajon Pass, but it won’t work for high-speed trains due to the steep grades and turns. Amtrak does have a train from Union Station to Victorville, California, but the travel time is three hours.

No matter how you look at this plan, it just doesn’t make any sense to have high-speed rail from Las Vegas to Victorville.

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