Finance

Three Tracks to Vegas

The federal stimulus package provides $8 billion for high-speed rail--and a lot of tough questions. As states fight for this pot of money, they'll have to...
by | April 30, 2009

The federal stimulus package provides $8 billion for high-speed rail--and a lot of tough questions. As states fight for this pot of money, they'll have to decide just what sort of passenger rail makes sense. Should states make incremental improvements to existing tracks or use advanced technologies for far faster trains? Should rail routes stop in the heart of big cities, where the most riders live, or should tracks end in the exurbs in order to reduce land acquisition costs? Three proposed rail routes from Southern California to Las Vegas underscore the choices.

--Josh Goodman

Conventional Rail

With upgrades and improvements to existing tracks, the trip from downtown L.A. to Las Vegas would take 5 hours and 30 minutes.

Top speed: 90 mph

Cost per mile: $3.4-$10.8 million

Desert Xpress

High-speed trains like those in Europe and Asia could make the trip on a dedicated right-of-way in 84 minutes. One downside: The drive to the station in Victorville--80 miles northeast of Los Angeles.

Top speed: 150 mph

Cost per mile: $19.5 million

California-Nevada Super Speed Train

Hovering "Maglev" trains propelled by powerful magnets would take just 80 minutes from convenient Anaheim. But speed is costly.

Top speed: 300 mph

Cost per mile: $44.9 million

Josh Goodman
Josh Goodman  |  Former Staff Writer
mailbox@governing.com  | 

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