The news cycle of late has been kind to the proposed DesertXpress high-speed train from Las Vegas to Victorville, but hard on the California High-Speed Rail, for which construction on a Central Valley portion is supposed to start next year. According to the Wall Street Journal, the main problem with the California plan is a lack of funding--sufficient federal funding has not materialized, the cost of the project has been underestimated, and private developers want to see more progress before ponying up the big bucks. Roelof van Ark, CEO of the California High-Speed Rail Authority even told the WSJ that "Investors want to see a link to San Francisco or Los Angeles closer to completion before they put in billions."
Out in the desert, however, political support seems to be gathering for the 185-mile DesertXpress. An environmental review of the project was finished this past summer, and now Andrew Mack, chief operating officer of DesertXpress Enterprises, is saying that the company feels pretty good about its chances for receiving a federal loan in the next year. According to the Las Vegas Tribune, "If the project is approved for funding, construction would begin in late 2012 with 80-minute service between the two cities to begin in late 2016." Gov. Brian Sandoval, chairman of the Nevada Department of Transportation Board, said that while financing remains an issue (the project is expected to cost more than $6 billion), the project appears to be moving forward.
Of course, the fortunes of the two train lines are wrapped up in each other--DesertXpress is supposed to one day hit Palmdale, where there's supposed to one day be a CAHSR station (even if the line gets built, that station might not happen). And how useful can a Vegas train be if it doesn't somehow link up to Los Angeles?
For those with train sets in their basements: DesertXpress will use traditional rail technology, not maglev, and trains are expected to travel at 150 mph.
· Plan for High-Speed Rail Just Inching Along [Wall Street Journal]
· High Speed Rail Between Las Vegas, Southern California On Track For 2012 [Las Vegas Tribune]