The four-hour-plus drive to Vegas is a total buzzkill, as many of you well know, especially when that time gets even longer as a result of traffic jams you'll inevitably encounter in Los Angeles and the Inland Empire.
You plan Hangover-style raging, but when you get to the Strip, you just want to nap like a grandpa.
China Railway International and railroad company XpressWest this week announced that they're creating a joint venture that will “accelerate launch” an L.A.-to-Las Vegas high-speed rail line, the partners said in a statement.
Be prepared to relax, hard-core, as you zip to Sin City at speeds of up to 150 miles per hour, the partners say. Try doing that in your car (no, don't).
The companies say they'll be ready to start construction as soon as one year from now. They have $100 million in “initial capital” ready in order to initiate the 229-mile Southwest Rail Network.
China Railway and XpressWest stated:
The Project will develop, finance, build and operate the Southwest Rail Network, with stations in Las Vegas, Nevada, Victorville, California, and Palmdale, California, and service throughout Los Angeles. The decision to form a joint venture is the culmination of years of work and builds upon the significant accomplishments of XpressWest.
Before the announcement, the rail plan relied on $51 million in private investment. The joint venture hasn't appeared to rule out using your tax dollars, however. The parnters also are seeking $33 billion in federal loans, they say, that will be repaid after a few decades. Another $1.4 billion in private financing would be added to the pot.
What's in it for us?
The investors claim that 80,000 “direct and indirect” jobs would be created during construction, including much hiring in recession-stunned San Bernardino County, XpressWest says.
About 2,109 “long-term permanent jobs” will result after service launches, the firm said. “Over a 50-year cycle, XpressWest estimates that local, state and federal agencies will collect approximately $47 billion of tax revenue directly relating to XpressWest operations,” it said.
Will state and federal regulators let Chinese investors take over miles and miles of land for the project? The companies said that, within 100 days, “the project will immediately undertake all necessary regulatory and commercial activities to advance the reality of regional high-speed rail in the United States.”
We reached out to California regulators but didn't hear back.
XpressWest says the train will keep 2 million car trips a year from happening as party people take the train to Vegas instead of driving on the 15 freeway.
That means less congestion, fewer crashes and a 40 percent reduction in pollution along the 15 corridor, investors say.
Finally, there's this claim: “XpressWest will be the fasted and most advanced train ever constructed in the United States,” the firm says.
One thing it won't say is when the first trip across the desert will take place. And we've been hearing (and writing) about this dream train for years.