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April 27, 2015

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High-speed rail backers urged ‘to get everybody on board’

Supporters of high-speed rail need to take an evangelistic approach to convert doubters and skeptics that building a network of trains traveling at more than 150 mph can be done in the United States, speakers at the first-ever Western High Speed Rail Alliance conference agreed today.

“You need to get out and tell your friends and your neighbors about the benefits to get everybody on board,” William Millar, president of the American Public Transportation Association, said in the opening session of the conference.

The three-day event, which has drawn nearly 200 transportation experts to Vdara, opened Wednesday with an appearance by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

Opening sessions focused on what rail boosters can learn from successful high-speed systems worldwide and overviews of regional high-speed efforts in California, Colorado, Texas and the Northeast.

Representatives of DesertXpress, a high-speed transportation system proposed between Southern Nevada and Southern California, were scheduled to appear later in the conference.

Rod Diridon, executive director of California’s Mineta Transportation Institute, said he’s confident a high-speed rail system will be operational in that state by 2017 because of the determination of President Obama and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzeneggar to get it done, even though they are political opposites.

Diridon described how Obama went to legislative leaders to get $100 billion cut from an economic stimulus bill so that $10 billion could be directed to high-speed rail. Lawmakers eventually dedicated $8 billion to rail, but they’ll be asked for $50 billion more in next year’s budget requests.

The California system is important to Nevada because the proposed DesertXpress system between Las Vegas and Victorville, Calif., ultimately would tie to the California system at Palmdale, giving Las Vegas access to California cities from San Diego to Sacramento.

California currently is in the environmental approval stage, according to panelist Will Kempton, CEO of the Orange County Transportation Authority. The state looks to build its system in phases with San Francisco to San Jose, Los Angeles to Anaheim, Merced to Fresno and Fresno to Bakersfield currently listed as the top priorities.

Kempton said right-of-way issues already are arising in the Los Angeles-Anaheim section, as leaders attempt to sort out which train systems will be enabled to use passenger-only tracks with high-speed rail, two Amtrak lines and the Orange County Metrolink in the mix. Other tracks are available for the Burlington Northern Santa Fe freight movement.

Kempton indicated the right-of-way probably can’t be widened because 491 residences would have to be purchased to make way for a new track. As a result, a shared rail corridor subcommittee has been formed to sort out details of how high-speed rail would fit in.

Conference participants also heard from experts working on high-speed lines in France, Spain, Brazil and Japan so that American rail developers can avoid some of the issues that European, South American and Asian companies have experienced.

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  1. "but they'll be asked for $50 billion more in next year's budget requests."

    Enough said. This is a complete waste of money, 90% of taxpayers will not want their taxes wasted on this.

  2. $10b plus $50b is $60 billion

    Why don't they just give $10,000 to 6,000,000 people instead. That's a better use of $60,000,000,000.

  3. "You need to get out and tell your friends and your neighbors about the benefits to get everybody on board," William Millar, president of the American Public Transportation Association, said in the opening session of the conference.

    Translation: Lets the lies, exaggerations and distortions begin!

  4. I this isn't enough to get voters to the poles then nothing is. Just like Obamacare shoved down the peoples throats.

  5. Tom Skancke, head of this Western Rail Alliance, is the one who lied to us and told us the DesertXpress would break ground in April of 2010 and would not use any federal money. He's sold us all down the river before with the Las Vegas Monorail- why is he still the head of anything? He should have been tarred and feathered when the Monorail declared bankruptcy this year.

  6. There are only loco motives when it comes to backing high speed rail - there is no way they will get 3 times as many riders as the DC to NYC to Boston high speed line.

  7. Save your $$$. It is dead before it starts. Too many Indian Casinos. Not worth the effort to travel. You surely are not going catch a "High Roller" riding one of those things. It is a "Loose-Loose situation. Contractors - Politicians - Lawyer will be the only winners here. We tried it once with the "Gamblers Special Train" It went bust.

  8. This appears so similar to the Monorail fiasco.
    I realize that politicians want to convey their sense of vision, but at this moment in time all governments need to have the vision of greatly reduced spending and reduction of accumulated debt.

  9. Save yourself some time. Take a couple of thousand dollars out of your bank account, burn it or flush it or throw it out the window. Then find a way to take thousands from your children, grandchildren and every other american and flush it down the drain.

    Same thing. If you throw it out the window it might at least benefit someone who genuinely needs it.

  10. The DesertXpress will never fly and will give people a sour taste for High Speed Rail.

    The MAGLEV would have ridership.

    What happened Harry ?

    Someone pay you off.

    Below is a letter from Harry Reed dated May 9, 2008.

    May 9, 2008

    Mr. Ben Merliss


    # XXXX

    Las Vegas, Nevada XXXXX

    Dear Mr. Merliss:

    Thank you for contacting me about the proposed MAGLEV train corridor between the Las Vegas Valley and Southern California. I appreciate hearing from you.

    Like you, I am excited about the prospect of fast, fuel-efficient rail transit returning to Southern Nevada. As our state's senior senator, and using my role as Majority Leader of the Senate, I have been working to secure federal resources to achieve this goal. I have asked the Government Accountability Office to study the feasibility of a high-speed rail connection between Southern Nevada and Southern California, and I look forward to the results of that study. Most recently, I asked the Senate to consider legislation, H.R. 1195, which will release $45 million for the design and implementation of a MAGLEV train between Las Vegas and Anaheim, CA. On April 17, 2008 the Senate overwhelmingly supported that legislation which must now be presented to the President for his signature.

    Clark County remains the fastest growing county in the country and this growth continues to put a heavy strain on the region's infrastructure. Up to 100 cars per day are added to the area's roads and highways; I-15 from Las Vegas to Los Angeles carries an estimated 10 million trips per year, the second busiest long-distance corridor in the United States; andMcCarran International Airport, with over 48 million passengers annually, is now the 6th busiest airport in America. The passage of H.R. 1195 will help meet these challenges, as well as create thousands of good-paying jobs and bolster Nevada's economy.

    Be assured that I will continue looking for opportunities to promote and expand high-quality rail access in our state and around the nation. For more information about my efforts to improve Nevada's transportation infrastructure, please visit my Web site at I look forward to hearing from you again.

    My best wishes to you.



    United States Senator

    The only thing High Speed is the way Harry Reed flip flops about his choices.

  11. Scott Walker the Republican candidate for governor here in Wisconsin has promised to kill high speed rail in our state if he is elected. The money supplied by the feds is up front money. Maintainence costs fall back on the states..... forever. The best that will ever happen, is a patchwork of lines, but no where near what promoters are pitching. As this comes to the forefront in other states, expect them to kill it in their states as well as budgets just do not have the fluff in them to pay for this.....forever.