It's getting more real as the DesertXpress proposal, which would run a train from the Strip to Victorville, got the ball rolling today on extending the line to Palmdale, VegasInc.com reports. DesertXpress representatives signed a letter of intent today with Metro, specifically incoming chairman Michael Antonovich. An LA County Supervisor, Antonovich represents the rural and suburban areas of northern LA County, and is no fan of the Purple Line subway extension down Wilshire, but according to VegasInc.com, he just loves high-speed rail. The collaboration between Metro and DesertXpress will help the train get to Downtown LA's Union Station by electrifying Metrolink tracks between Palmdale and LA (Palmdale is also a stop on the proposed and precarious California bullet train), but even without the direct LA link, many Angelenos would likely drive to Palmdale to avoid the four to six hour slog to Nevada. While we can't see many people driving to faraway Victorville to get on a train, Palmdale is only 60 miles away--about an hour drive. Communities along the Palmdale-to-Victorville route appear supportive and environmental reports are already underway. The Federal Railroad Administration is considering a loan request from DesertXpress for the Vegas-Victorville leg right now. Though funding for Palmdale is not clear, the start of planning for an LA-area link undoubtedly looks good to the FRA.
Developers also plan to kick in $1.4 billion and no government funding would be required to operate the train.
Here are some potential benefits of the route, from VegasInc.com: "Officials anticipate the train would divert 2 million car trips from congested Interstate 15 a year, reducing traffic by an estimated 25 percent. The all-electric operation of the train is expected to reduce emissions by 40 percent along the I-15 corridor and save the equivalent of 8.5 million gallons of gasoline. Construction of the train line is expected to generate 80,000 primary and secondary jobs."
The idea is start the "Vegas experience" as soon as one gets on the train, with lots of booze and food, as well as opportunities to reserve tickets and dinners while on board.
· DesertXpress Archives [Curbed LA]