Travel agents, your customers may be calling you about a high speed train proposal to Las Vegas. But this train starts from Victorville? We know the first question you are going to ask is where in the world is Victorville and why would you put a high speed rail station there?
And here are the answers. Victorville is a California town in the Mojave Desert of about 100,000 people located 90 miles outside of Los Angeles. Victorville was selected as the starting point of the high speed rail system to Las Vegas because securing and building out the right of ways within Los Angeles proper would make the project cost prohibitive. Others say Victorville was selected as the starting point because the high speed train would not be able negotiate the steep incline through the Cajon Pass area as you come out of the Los Angeles area.
The project’s proponents, XpressWest made news recently as they are now partnered with a Chinese company to bring their version of high speed rail to the US. Previously, XpressWest was known as DesertWest and unsuccessfully tried since 2007 to secure a $5.5 billion government loan to build out this system. China’s largest rail company, China Railway, is now providing the $100 million start-up funding; but other details, such as the new overall costs and completion dates have yet to be announced. Of course, neither XpressWest nor the mass media are calling it the Victorville to Las Vegas high speed rail project, but rather the Los Angeles to Las Vegas high speed rail project for obvious reasons. But doing so only puts a thin veil over the major reason why some people may not think it’s something they’ll ever consider using.
Consider this, according to Google Maps, it’ll take 2 hours and 37 minutes to drive from Victorville to Las Vegas; but it’ll also initially take 2 hours and 40 minutes to drive from Los Angeles International Airport to Victorville. One of the major benefits of taking the proposed is that it’ll only take 80 minutes to get from Victorville to Las Vegas on the proposed XpressWest line. But on the other hand, you’ll probably have to add at least 30 minutes to park your car, unload your luggage and wait for the train and at least another 30 minutes to rent another car in Las Vegas or to catch a taxi from the Las Vegas station to your hotel. So under this scenario, all you would save, time-wise, would be a mere 20 minutes over driving your call all the way to your hotel destination in Las Vegas, assuming normal highway traffic conditions. Plus, in addition to having to drive to Victorville, you’ll have to consider if paying the train fare and rental car or taxi fare is worth all the trouble to save 20 minutes.
The line is supposed going to be extended from Victorville to Palmdale, California, one day in the future; so that it can link up with the proposed California high speed rail system. But this is still is in the future. And when and if it’s finished, you’ll have to get off the California high speed rail and then transfer to the rail going through Victorville, wait for a stop, then continue on to Las Vegas. All of which adds additional commute time.
The proposed $89 round trip train fare would be typically lower than for what you can pay for a plane ride out of any of the airports serving the Los Angeles-Orange County metropolitan area. But, catching a plane, rather than the high speed rail, to Las Vegas will get you there much faster under normal conditions.
But then again, some people enjoy riding trains. Some people don’t like driving long distances. Some people don’t like the hassles associated with flying. The question is are there enough people like this to support this project on a continuing basis? The project backers certainly hope so.
It’s going to be interesting to see if travelers between the Los Angeles to Las Vegas corridor will soon have another transportation option to Sin City in the form of a high speed rail system. But if it does not or if it somehow fails, at least for now, it’s not going to cost taxpayers a dime.