By Bryan Lufkin
Americans could one day soon cruise between two major cities in the western US on a mega-fast train at 150 mph, thanks to a new agreement between a private US venture and a consortium led by China Railway Group.
It’ll be called XpressWest, and it’ll link the 230 miles separating Los Angeles and Las Vegas. The train will get you there in 80 minutes, versus a four-hour car ride. Construction’s set to kick off next September, and comes on the heels of four years of negotiations. It’s China’s first high-speed rail project in the US, and Bloomberg reports that $100 million in initial capital will get the project off the ground. (Though that’ll be just a teeny drop in the bucket—the project is expected to cost upwards to $7 billion). To date, only private sector funds have covered the bill, but the project’s applied for loans with the Federal Railroad Administration.
In a press release, XpressWest and China Railway International USA said: “The Project will develop, finance, build and operate the Southwest Rail Network, with stations in Las Vegas, Nevada, Victorville, California, and Palmdale, California, and service throughout Los Angeles.” Victorville is about 85 miles northeast of LA, and Palmdale is about 60 miles north.
The cost, benefits, and logistics of setting up speed demon trains in the sprawling US have sparked huge amounts of debate. Proponents of high-speed rail say it’ll create jobs and bring American infrastructure and technology up to speed (so to speak) with those nations that already have such systems. Opponents either don’t want construction in their area, or think it’s a waste of money, or think that high-speed rail doesn’t make sense in a big, spread out country like America. Meanwhile, supporters counter that high-speed rail is designed to link metros that are both large and close, like Boston to DC—not Missoula to Tampa. Read more