Brightline (fka XpressWest/DesertXpress) Las Vegas Service

General discussion of passenger rail proposals and systems not otherwise covered in the specific forums in this category, including high speed rail.

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Re: DesertXpress - 150mph self powered trains

Postby trainmaster611 » Sat Feb 04, 2012 3:08 pm

amtrakowitz wrote:
Germany took the approach of just upgrading a lot of lines for ICE service

WADR, that's not accurate. Germany's ICE service per se consists of the NBS (Neubaustrecke) corridors, which are new build and upon which the ICE 1 trains operated originally at a top speed of 175 mph. ICE-T is the tilt-train service, which mostly runs between Germany and Hamburg and not upon any NBS.


Sorry, I should have been clearer. I didn't mean to say that the ICE service only operated along upgraded lines, just that they did operate along upgraded lines in a lot of places instead of having new lines built.

I've found a Railway Gazette article outlining speed statistics of various high speed or "higher speed" rail lines throughout the world. Just scroll through the entire article to see all of the tables.
http://www.railwaygazette.com/fileadmin ... ey2007.pdf
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Re: DesertXpress - 150mph self powered trains

Postby george matthews » Sat Feb 04, 2012 5:25 pm

trainmaster611 wrote:
amtrakowitz wrote:IOW, a term whose definition you wish to be fluid. You can't demand 186 mph or better from a railroad that is not to be part of the general railway network? Even tilt trains on general railway networks in other countries sustain triple-digit average speeds (in terms of MPH) for long periods of time, but nobody here would term them "true high speed", would they. It could be very likely that were all the FRA-demanded upgrades performed on the Northeast Corridor, you could have the Acela Express achieve triple-digit average speeds for most of its journey, or at least an overall triple-digit average speed between NYP and WAS and NYP and BOS, and if it did, would it then move into the realm of "true high speed" without having to have a separate rail infrastructure built for it?


There is no universal given definition for "true" high speed rail so in that sense it is fluid (or at least relative). "True" in this sense is more of a qualitative rather than a quantitative term. However, it is generally accepted is that true high speed rail consists of high sustained speeds over long distances. The average speed would preferably in the range of 110mph or faster. While some might say otherwise, I do not think new dedicated infrastructure is a necessary criteria for being true high speed rail. Germany took the approach of just upgrading a lot of lines for ICE service. If the sustained speed is fast enough, I don't think anyone could deny that's true high speed rail. That goes for the Acela too.

German High Speed trains run on two sorts of track.
Neubaustrecke are new lines. At least one of these was built to re-orient the system to reflect the new republic after the absorption of East Germany. In West Germany the main emphasis had been on north-south lines - Hamburg to Munchen. Now Hamburg to Berlin is the most important line.

Aufbaustrecke took existing lines and upgraded them. In the US the Acela route might be considered Aufbau.
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Re: DesertXpress - 150mph self powered trains

Postby kato » Sat Feb 18, 2012 6:16 am

george matthews wrote:In West Germany the main emphasis had been on north-south lines - Hamburg to Munchen. Now Hamburg to Berlin is the most important line.

The most important rail route in Germany is still the about 350-mile long Rhine-Ruhr - Frankfurt - Stuttgart - Munich route, consisting of parts in various states of upgrading (Cologne - Frankfurt : 186 mph NBS, Frankfurt - Mannheim : planned 186 mph NBS, Mannheim - Stuttgart : 143 mph NBS, Stuttgart - Ulm : building 155 mph NBS, Ulm - Augsburg : 124 mph ABS, Augsburg - Munich : 143 mph ABS). This route connects territory inhabited by ~40 million people living within one hour travel distance to its stations, and the passenger numbers mirror that.

Lines connecting Berlin to West German cities like Hamburg are only important in a political sense. For comparison the Frankfurt - Cologne stretch on the above route has three times the average daily passenger numbers of Berlin - Hamburg (in ICE services only for either; Frankfurt - Cologne additionally has IC services taking slower routes, which see additional passenger numbers).

Btw, it's Ausbau-, not Aufbaustrecke.
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Re: DesertXpress - 150mph self powered trains

Postby Jeff Smith » Wed Feb 29, 2012 3:32 pm

Opinion: http://www.lvrj.com/opinion/hold-on-to- ... 39213.html

Four years ago, sponsors of the DesertXpress high-speed train between Las Vegas and Victorville, Calif., proposed to build the project with $3.5 billion raised entirely from private sources.

Fast forward four years, and the current proposal is for the federal government -- already borrowing 40 cents of every dollar it spends -- to pick up most of the cost of a project designed to bring Los Angeles tourists (who would have to drive as far as Victorville, then park) the 188 remaining miles to Las Vegas.

...

To make all this pencil out as viable, DesertXpress sponsors have to assume about two-thirds of all current Southern California visitors to Las Vegas -- both those who drive and those who fly -- would switch to taking the train, paying $110 for a round-trip ticket.

Furthermore, DesertXpress estimates it can build its line for about $35 million per mile. The job can be done for less than the $55 million to $133 million per mile which the World Bank considers normal, promoters explain, because the new train would use government-owned right-of-way along Interstate 15, further avoiding steep climbs and sharp turns.
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Re: DesertXpress - 150mph self powered trains

Postby gprimr1 » Wed Mar 14, 2012 8:51 pm

I like the idea of DesertXpress; but I really the more that I think about it, unless they can figure out how to get a few slots on the Cajon pass, I don't think it'll amount to much.

I feel like if I've already driven from LA to Victorville, why not just keep going?
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Re: DesertXpress - 150mph self powered trains

Postby lpetrich » Wed Mar 14, 2012 10:57 pm

Because long drives can be exhausting. I don't know if anyone has tried to estimate different people's tolerance for driving different distances. How far they are willing to drive before they want a long rest.
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Re: DesertXpress - 150mph self powered trains

Postby CComMack » Thu Mar 15, 2012 2:01 pm

Not all LA-LV drives are created equal. From http://www.vegas.com/traveltips/ladrivetips.html
VEGAS.com wrote:If you're coming to Vegas on a holiday weekend, be prepared for the longest road trip of your life. It is not uncommon for the trip to Vegas to take as long as seven hours and the trip back to take as long as 11 hours. That's not a typo. That's an 11-hour trip. It took one guy we know 12 hours to get from the Stratosphere to UCLA on New Year's Day.


And this from a website that's presumably trying to convince you to do just this. And as lpetrich said, tolerance varies. Five hours, which is what they claim the drive is without traffic, is at the outside of what I'd be willing to put up with, and I'm young and fairly healthy. Also, as they note, the one even vaguely plausible alternate route (I10-US95-I215) adds about 100 miles to the trip.
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Re: DesertXpress - 150mph self powered trains

Postby Paulus Magnus » Thu Mar 15, 2012 2:36 pm

If they're not willing to do the drive, I really doubt they're going to want to drive two hours out of their way just to hop onto a train that costs as much as airfare for a flight close to home.
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Re: DesertXpress - 150mph self powered trains

Postby The EGE » Thu Mar 15, 2012 3:14 pm

But that's maybe the key - "hop on a train". You park, walk over to a station, and walk onto your train. Avoiding tedious and sometimes humiliating security screening is often a factor for riding NEC trains over flying, and it certainly could be here too.
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Re: DesertXpress - 150mph self powered trains

Postby Hawaiitiki » Sun Mar 25, 2012 8:20 pm

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/46849661/ns/us_news-life/

Decent article painting a reasonably positive view of the project giving a pretty high likelihood of it actually getting built. While the West Coast might not have any high-speedish rail that the Northeast posseses but the West Coast is leaps and bounds ahead of anyother New HSR contruction in the USA(unless you count the constant tension project between Trenton & New Brunswick). Everywhere else, its still just a pipe dream. I just think this Vegas project getting built could be the start of something great. Californians just need to understand what they're missing out on and I know they'll buy into HSR in greater numbers.
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Re: DesertXpress - 150mph self powered trains

Postby Jeff Smith » Mon Mar 26, 2012 9:34 am

^So Obama is picking winners again? And politically connected ones at that (please remember to provide a brief, fair-use quote as per forum policy):

VICTORVILLE, Calif. — On a dusty, rock-strewn expanse at the edge of the Mojave Desert, a company linked to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid wants to build a bullet train that would rocket tourists from the middle of nowhere to the gambling palaces of Las Vegas.

Privately held DesertXpress is on the verge of landing a $4.9 billion loan from the Obama administration to build the 150 mph train, which could be a lifeline for a region devastated by the housing crash or a crap shoot for taxpayers weary of Washington spending.


and:

"It's insanity," says Thomas Finkbiner of the Intermodal Transportation Institute at the University of Denver. "People won't drive to a train to go someplace. If you are going to drive, why not drive all the way and leave when you want?"

Construction cost projections have soared to as much as $6.5 billion, not including interest on the loan. Some fear taxpayer subsidies are inevitable.

Reid and other supporters point to research that shows 80,000 new jobs, but FRA documents show virtually all those would be temporary — no more than 722 would be permanent.
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Re: DesertXpress - 150mph self powered trains

Postby mtuandrew » Mon Mar 26, 2012 12:48 pm

Well, if Obama provides them a $4.9 billion loan, once DesertXpress fails they'll go into government hands. It's sneaky, but may very well provide a cheaper-than-government way to construct a high speed rail link the administration has long wanted to create.
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Re: DesertXpress - 150mph self powered trains

Postby Jeff Smith » Mon Mar 26, 2012 2:58 pm

that unfortunately drops you off in the middle of nowhere. This is a good corridor, and perhaps this is a good idea, but not if it gets you only halfway. And as a recipient of government funds, they'd have to pay the prevailing rate (I forget what rule that is; it's an NLRB rule meant to protect union wages).
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Re: DesertXpress - 150mph self powered trains

Postby electricron » Mon Apr 02, 2012 11:38 am

Jeff Smith wrote:that unfortunately drops you off in the middle of nowhere. This is a good corridor, and perhaps this is a good idea, but not if it gets you only halfway. And as a recipient of government funds, they'd have to pay the prevailing rate (I forget what rule that is; it's an NLRB rule meant to protect union wages).

At least it gets you all the way into Las Vegas. Does the publicly financed California High Speed Rail proposal get you all the way into Los Angeles and San Francisco?
Of course not, because the original proposal is just step 1 of a multi-step process. Once CHSR connects downtown Los Angeles to Palmdale, then we should see step 2 for DesertXpress connecting Palmdale to Victorville. Once both trains reach Palmdale, then DesertXpress is connected all the way to downtown Los Angeles. Possibly connected via transfers to San Francisco, San Jose, Sacramento, and San Diego too.

Why is it so hard for some to see the multiple steps required to build any system now-a-days?

And with all the controversy over publicly financing CHSR totally within the State of California, can you imagine the political impossibility to publicly finance a HSR line to a city outside the state? Or from the opposite point of view, Nevada citizens publicly financing a HSR line mostly in California. Without a well financed national passenger train authority tasked with the authority to build HSR lines across state lines, these interstate HSR lines are going to required private financing just to get built.
Acela exists only because its corridor was privately funded long before Amtrak was born. Whether these new interstate HSR lines survive financially is another matter. Amtrak has wanted to service Las Vegas forever, I'm pretty sure they will jump at the chance to pick up the pieces of a financially ruined DesertXpress.
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Re: DesertXpress - 150mph self powered trains

Postby Jeff Smith » Mon May 21, 2012 8:20 am

They're doing a bit of PR: http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-0 ... chief-says

The U.S. high-speed rail line that’s closest to construction deserves a $5.5 billion federal loan that shouldn’t be held up by backlash from Solyndra LLC’s bankruptcy, DesertXpress Enterprises LLC executives said.

Closely held DesertXpress is proposing a 190-mile link between Victorville, California, and Las Vegas with trains reaching 150 miles per hour.

It can break ground within months if the U.S. Transportation Department approves its loan application made in 2010, Andrew Mack, chief operating officer of DesertXpress, said in an interview in Washington yesterday.

...

Agency Administrator Joseph Szabo, in an interview in November, called the merits of DesertXpress’s application “relatively strong.”

...

The proposed railroad’s Victorville terminus is about 85 miles northeast of downtown Los Angeles by car. The company plans to build 15,000 parking spaces to accommodate commuters who would prefer to ride the last 80 minutes of a casino trip by rail rather than risk hours more stuck in traffic, Mack said.
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