Wednesday, Dec. 15, 1999 | 10:23 a.m.
Tourists will once again be able to ride the rails between this gambling city and Los Angeles when Amtrak begins roundtrip service next September.
Amtrak and government officials gathered Tuesday to announce the new rail service in a custom-designed train that will make the trip in about five hours.
Amtrak will start the service with one daily route between Los Angeles and Las Vegas with an intermediate stop in Montclair, Calif., about 30 miles east of Los Angeles.
The cost of traveling the route has not been determined, but officials estimated a roundtrip ride will be between $115 and $160.
Nevada officials hope the new service will lessen traffic congestion on Interstate 15.
"This is just an additional avenue. It will not replace the airline industry nor will it replace cars," Sen. Richard Bryan, D-Nev., said.
Bryan said the train will be a great alternative for people who want to socialize as they travel.
As a member of the Senate Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee, Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., worked to secure $5 million in federal funding for the new route.
"This is good for tourism, good for business and a sound investment in the future of Southern Nevada," he said.
Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson, Amtrak's chairman of the board, said this is just the beginning of a resurgence in rail travel.
"If this doesn't sound anything like the old Amtrak, it's not. This is a new Amtrak," said Thompson.
He claimed traffic woes and crowded airports would lead to increased ridership on America's railways.
"Imagine looking out the window at the bottlenecked interstate while sipping a glass of wine and eating a gourmet meal," Thompson said at a news conference to unveil the new train that will serve the route.
Governor Kenny Guinn, who helped secure $2 million in federal funding for the project's operating expenses, welcomes the rail service as an alternative mode of transportation for visitors from Nevada's chief source of tourism.
"It will kind of set the template, if we can get some of the traffic off I-15," said Guinn. "It's an opportunity for the people of Southern California to enjoy a bit slower pace."
The line will be served by a new custom-designed train capable of traveling 125 mph, though as of now the tracks are only capable of supporting speeds of 79 mph. The Talgo trains will be able to carry 300 passengers a trip.
Amtrak discontinued passenger trains between the cities in 1997.