Las Vegas Sun

November 13, 2018

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DesertXpress hopes for federal loan, aims for 2012 start on work


An artist’s rendering of a train on the XpressWest high-speed rail line, formerly DesertXpress.

CARSON CITY – Officials with the proposed high-speed train linking Las Vegas and Southern California expect to get an answer in six to nine months on plans to borrow about $6 billion from the federal government.

If all goes according to plan, construction would start in the final quarter of 2012, said Andrew Mack, chief operating officer of DesertXpress. Mack briefed the state transportation board Monday on the private-public project that he says has been in development for 10 years.

Gov. Brian Sandoval said the high-speed rail plans have been rejected in two other states and questioned whether it would survive in Nevada.

Mack said the other states were planning to use federal stimulus money, and if the project failed, the states would have assumed responsibility. In this case, the federal government would be loaning the money, so if the project went bankrupt, the government would take over the train. The state wouldn't have responsibility.

He told the board that $34 billion in federal funds were available to finance rail projects across the country.

The proposed train from Victorville, Calif., to Las Vegas would run at 150 mph and cover 185 miles in 80 minutes. During peak periods, there would be trains leaving each location every 20 minutes.

In Las Vegas there are two potential depots – one south of Flamingo Road and the other on 60 acres across from Mandalay Bay. Mack said the route would run along Interstate 15.

Board members questioned why Victorville was selected instead of running the all-electric train into Los Angeles. Mack said there would be added expense and environmental issues by extending it to the city.

He added that 11 million motorists visiting Las Vegas use Interstate 15 in the area that runs through Victorville.

He said 45,000 questionnaires were distributed at the California agriculture border station and there was a 5 percent response rate, with an estimated 85-90 percent saying they would try the train.

He projects 7 million passengers would use the train during the first year and construction would generate about 80,000 jobs. Of that, 17,500 would be direct work in Las Vegas.

DesertXpress would be a fully electric train with overhead lines powering it. Mack said the utilities have enough capacity to supply the electricity. It wouldn't carry freight.

The project could be completed in the final quarter of 2016, Mack said.

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