LA-Las Vegas bullet train scores major OK
October 26, 2011
• Surface Transportation Board approves new rail line
• Don’t buy your tickets just yet
The federal Surface Transportation Board has approved building a 190-mile high-speed passenger rail link between Las Vegas and Southern California.
If and when built by DesertXpress Enterprises LLC, the passenger trains would to provide a rail alternative to driving and flying. The all-electric trains would run primarily adjacent to Interstate 15, the only freeway between Las Vegas, Nev., and Los Angeles.
Initially, top speeds would be 150 miles per hour.
Construction of any new railroad line in the U.S. requires prior Surface Transportation Board approval.
The approval is conditioned on DesertXpress implementing 146 environmental mitigation measures recommended by an Environmental Impact Statement approved by the Federal Railroad Administration with input and expertise provided by the STB.
Initially, there would be stations at Victorville, in Southern California, and in central Las Vegas. There are no planned at-grade vehicle or pedestrian crossings. The project would reduce air pollution, fuel consumption and congestion along the busy I-15 corridor, supporters say.
The company says it expects to begin final design and construction in 2012 with full service expected to begin by the end of 2016.
A key to the project’s financial viability is thought to be its eventual connection to California’s proposed high-speed rail system, currently expected to be routed trough Palmdale, about 50 miles from Victorville. But in addition to being questioned in its entirety by critics, California’s project is reconsidering a previously rejected route over the Grapevine along Interstate 5. Such a route would eliminate Palmdale as a stop.