Thursday, Dec. 25, 2008 | 2:01 a.m.
Building a high-speed rail line between Las Vegas and Southern California would be a welcome move.
But what’s with this bone-headed idea of making it a maglev train?
Maglev trains represent an expensive technology that is not yet ready for prime time.
Luckily, there is no need to risk experimental concepts.
European high-speed trains are already in their second generation and running at speeds near 300 mph on a huge multinational network that is highly successful. And those trains are made by companies that would be only too glad to start building a line here tomorrow at an affordable price.
I have traveled on the European lines, and the superb engineering, smooth, rock steadiness at speed and wonderfully quiet interiors of these beautifully designed trains put so-called express trains in the U.S. to shame.
Making the trip from Las Vegas to California in 86 minutes is unnecessary. All the train has to do is match or, preferably, beat the city-center-to-city-center times for driving or flying, at a reasonable price. Exactly the European model.
But one of the newest European trains could do the 288 miles to the coast in about 1 hour on simple metal rails.
And what’s with making the line go to Anaheim, Calif.?
It needs to go directly to Los Angeles, the biggest single population and business center, so travelers can change to that city’s existing public transit and Amtrak hubs.