Imagine being able to make it from Las Vegas to Los Angeles in an hour and a half.
That’s the appeal which fuels XpressWest, a high speed rail proposal intent on connecting Southern Nevada to Southern California.
XpressWest was recently acquired by Florida-based high speed rail operator Brightline, and it was announced construction would start this year and conclude in 2022. Admittedly, the service would initially only run to Victorville due to complications in getting over the Cajon Pass.
Las Vegas hasn’t seen a passenger train service since 1997, meaning any journey to Los Angeles would be upwards of four hours, without taking into account the less than desirable traffic issues in LA.
A rail link between Las Vegas and LA would not only serve to reduce travel times but would boost tourism. A trip to LA and vice versa would be a hop, skip and a jump compared to a grueling drive on the interstate.
High speed rail is not a new concept. The Northeast Corridor, connecting the 454 miles between Boston and Washington DC, began its construction in the 19th century but did not have service with 150 mph segments until the 1990’s.
Even still, road crossings, bridges and curves limit the routes capabilities. XpressWest aims to avoid those pitfalls and keep the line running at 150 mph for the majority of the route, producing quick travel times.
The Northeast Corridor is an example of the “old world” of passenger rail service. Throughout the country, high speed rail proposals are popping up, akin to the bullet train style service seen in Japan.
California voted in 2008 to begin construction of 220 mph high speed rail connecting San Francisco to Los Angeles, and later Sacramento. Florida already has high speed rail up and running, named Brightline. Eventually completely connecting Miami and Orlando, it runs at up to 125mph.
I have always preferred rail travel to any other method. It is fair to say I was influenced by my dad growing up, as he works with the railroad himself, but childhood infatuation with trains stuck.
A question often received asks why I don’t drive from Reno to Sacramento or take a bus. There is no denying the train trip from here to Sacramento takes longer than a car ride, but what you lose in time you make up for in comfort.
The train cars have bathrooms, reclining seats, dining services and beautiful views. It is a more streamlined experience than taking a bus. Extensive security checks found at the airport, eating up an hour of time, are avoided when traveling by rail.
With the implementation of high speed rail, there will be a serious, affordable alternative to car travel and a contender to air travel.
Opinions expressed in The Nevada Sagebrush are solely those of the author and do not necessarily express the views of The Sagebrush or of its staff. Nick Alvarez studies computer science and engineering and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @NevadaSagebrush.