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Author Topic: LA to Las Vegas
yukon11
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http://www.reviewjournal.com/news/las-vegas/titus-seeks-support-revive-amtrak-vegas

I guess old Harry Reid might be throwing in the towel as I don't think the Desert Xpress will ever got off the ground, if it isn't already defunct. I don't see the financial backing for HSR.

As LA to Las Vegas is less than 750 miles, I assume it would take financial support from both Calif. and Nev. if they go with a conventional train, as suggested by Rep. Titus. How about a new Amtrak route from LA to Las Vegas to Salt Lake City (over 750 miles)? Probably won't happen unless they scrap the SW Chief. A Southwest flight from LA to Vegas apparently isn't very expensive.

Richard

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Geoff Mayo
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FIVE YEARS to restore service on existing infrastructure? !?! Words fail me.

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Geoff M.

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PullmanCo
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From www.streamlinerschedules.com


2 30A Ar 1964 Las Vegas, NV (PT) C Dp 11 20P
2 40A Dp Ar 11 10P
7 45A Ar 2230 San Bernardino, CA C Dp 6 08P
7 50A Dp Ar 6 03P
8 10A 2240 Riverside, CA C 5 43P
9 10A 2292 East Los Angeles, CA C 4 50P
9 30A Ar 2299 Los Angeles, CA (Union Stn.) (PT) C Dp 4 30P

335 miles
7 hours
47.85 mph vector of advance (1956)

For this train to make a difference, IMHO, it would need to:
1) Decrease its time on the road to 5.5 hours (61 mph vector of advance)
2) Have a minimum of 520 salable seats (that would be 10 52 pax LD coaches)
3) Have at least two lounge cars (1 car per 260 pax).
4) Have at least 5 trainsets for 5 turns per day (2600 pax per day at full load).

Just from LAX, and just SWA, they generate 11 flights per day, at ~120 seats per flight. That's 1320 seats per day. Add in Burbank and Orange County, and add in the other airlines. There has to be a significant reason for people to divert from air to rail.

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The City of Saint Louis (UP, 1967) is still my standard for passenger operations

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PullmanCo
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Geoff, the Overland Route over Cajon (shared BNSF) is one busy line. It's moving huge tonnages of containers from the Port of Los Angeles to points East.

Having watched the Heartland Flyer extension debacle here, $750M is not unrealistic. By the time you do the environmental studies, re work grade crossings for passenger running, ad infinitum, yeah, I can see it.

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The City of Saint Louis (UP, 1967) is still my standard for passenger operations

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Geoff Mayo
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quote:
Originally posted by PullmanCo:
Geoff, the Overland Route over Cajon (shared BNSF) is one busy line. It's moving huge tonnages of containers from the Port of Los Angeles to points East.

With respect, and from living locally and thus being able to listen to the publicly broadcast interlocking data, I can assure you there is plenty of capacity. You may know that BNSF built a 3rd main track through the pass a few years ago which, at the time, BNSF announced would increase throughput from 100 trains a day to 150 trains a day. Virtually in the same breath they told Amtrak and Metrolink that there was no capacity (paraphrasing). It is not unusual to see the Southwest Chief being given green signals from San Bernadino to Victorville 30 miles / an hour ahead, and without delaying any freights at the same time. There are not anywhere near 150 trains a day over that route.

quote:
Originally posted by PullmanCo:
Having watched the Heartland Flyer extension debacle here, $750M is not unrealistic. By the time you do the environmental studies, re work grade crossings for passenger running, ad infinitum, yeah, I can see it.

Environmental - done ad nauseum by the previous contenders.

Grade crossings - seriously? Don't forget this was a former passenger route. Railroads don't downgrade crossings for fun. I'll bet that 95% of the crossings still have the correct strike-in times for passenger trains - if even there is a differential from freight.

But spending $750m? Yeah, I can certainly see THAT! [Big Grin]

(Actually, I wonder if PTC would be the stumbling block here, if the Barstow-LV segment didn't otherwise require it)

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PullmanCo
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As an aside:

Just SWA, all three LA Airports: BUR, LAX, SNA:
30 flights to LAS per day.

Using the older number of 120 seats, that's 3600 seats per day.

Even with generous times to the airport and at the airport, the 5.5 hours in transit is a minimum speed!! That's the point where rail starts competing with air, considering airport time.

So: Are Amtrak, CA, and NV willing to pony up 50 coaches, 10 lounges, and 7 locomotives (2 spares)? Can Amtrak negotiate time on the line with Union Pacific? If yes, this might go. If any of those are no, this is a dream.

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PullmanCo
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It does not surprise me BNSF told that to Amtrak. See also Amtrak's insistence on the historic trackage in kansas, and BNSF not intending to pay for it.

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The City of Saint Louis (UP, 1967) is still my standard for passenger operations

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Geoff Mayo
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I'm told that 5.5 hours on the freeway from LA to Vegas is not unusual on a Friday afternoon/evening! But yes, the rest of the time 4 hours is probably quite achievable. I would imagine a 4-5 hour run time on the rails would be appealing to many. However, your schedule above shows 7 hours. Hmm.

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Geoff M.

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PullmanCo
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quote:
Originally posted by PullmanCo:


For this train to make a difference, IMHO, it would need to:
1) Decrease its time on the road to 5.5 hours (61 mph vector of advance)

Yes, in 1956, it was a 7 hour run. I believe 5.5 hours is the rock bottom minimum for a run to be competitive now.
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Geoff Mayo
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Agreed. With cafe/bar especially important.

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Geoff M.

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smitty195
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It's so funny. When this whole "Desert-Xpress" idea was stupid and would never get off the ground. I used to belong to a pay website for trains (you guys know which one, I won't mention the name because I don't want to give him free advertising), and when the idea was first floated a few years back, I said that it wouldn't work and I listed the reasons why. I was basically tarred and feathered and was told how wrong I was and "you will see!". I'd like to go back there now and say, "See, I told you so!".

I never want a business to fail, but this whole thing was basically fraudulent from the beginning. That's my take on it

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smitty195
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My first sentence above doesn't really make grammatical sense, but you get the point. [Smile]
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DonNadeau
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The timings (the City of Los Angeles in streamlinerschedules.com) worry me. They were those of a Los Angeles - Chicago train, whose main function was not to serve Las Vegas.

How can Amtrak use one consist without making passengers take extra time off work? Departing late afternoon and returning midmorning simply not attractive.

Considering that Vegas becomes nearly empty mid week, I'd consider not having a daily turn and instead head north in the evening (let's say at 6:30 p.m.) and have returns timed to arrive in L.A. several hours prior to normal work times. This would not apply to timings on Saturday and Sundays or holiday Mondays.

There is considerable potential for this route especially if the train supplies a Vegas atmosphere. Driving the I-15 is no fun at busy times nor is getting out of LA late in the day.

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@DonNadeau

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Gilbert B Norman
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I would think we all agree around here that "Angels-Meadows" service with "plain old trains", i.e. Surfliner equipment and well stocked properly staffed Snack Bars (last call WW would be at Summit), would be an overnight success. With strategically placed intermediate stops at both ends, I think the patronage would come from those who'd otherwise use autos or simply not otherwise gone. The "grip" of frequent flyer points is probably too great to break on those addicted to air transport.

But I would contend that even if a publicly funded additional track were to be constructed over the entire route (such as there is for the Salt Lake City Frontrunner), there would still be objections from both BNSF and UP. After all, that is simply more people down at trackside than otherwise - and people = exposure.

It is too bad that a route with considerable traffic potential must go unserved, but it has now been eighteen years since there was passenger train service, and to all other than those who follow passenger railroading affairs, that is ancient history.

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DonNadeau
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Union Pacific runs east of the Strip but still adjacent to some casinos such as the popular Rio (Penn & Teller). One of these might chip in for a platform and a waiting room (with slots, or course) in its existing building.

For four so so roundtrips a week, double tracking entire UP portion of route seems hard to justify. Would not be surprised, though, if asked for it. As Geoff mentioned, the former BNSF bottleneck now has ample capacity. [UP controls just Yermo (east of Barstow) to Las Vegas)].

What could break the "grip" of airline miles (1,000 for many airlines roundtrip for this short route) is ever increasing airline prices.

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yukon11
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quote:
Originally posted by DonNadeau:
Union Pacific runs east of the Strip but still adjacent to some casinos such as the popular Rio (Penn & Teller). One of these might chip in for a platform and a waiting room (with slots, or course) in its existing building.

For four so so roundtrips a week, double tracking entire UP portion of route seems hard to justify. Would not be surprised, though, if asked for it. As Geoff mentioned, the former BNSF bottleneck now has ample capacity. [UP controls just Yermo (east of Barstow) to Las Vegas)].

What could break the "grip" of airline miles (1,000 for many airlines roundtrip for this short route) is ever increasing airline prices.

************************************
Do you happen to know, Don, if the old UP depot building is still in tact? I thought I read, a while back, that it is now some sort of visitor information center.

What about the old Amtrak depot that served the Desert Wind? I believe it was in the back portion of the Plaza Hotel.

Maybe they could revive the (UP) "City of Las Vegas" (1956-1968). It had a couple of interesting cars; a lunch counter dinette and a pub buffet lounge car.

Richard

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Gilbert B Norman
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No need for such, Richard; just plain old trains will do just fine. The Millennial Generation is more concerned about their Wi-Fi then any specialty cars.

As I've noted around here, I'm disappointed that Marriott has chosen to reconfigure their Courtyard brand to the Millennial taste, but that is what has been done. Sorry but such is not my taste, and likely not yours as well (just think J Willard, before you changed the brand theme, I would have gladly stayed at your Fredericksburg outlet last month @ $145 night. Instead I stayed at your Town Place property @ $88 a night - and closer to my friends residing near Fort A.P. Hill).

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DonNadeau
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HI Richard,

Update: I missed this at the bottom of the page before replying earlier:

quote:
The Las Vegas station was located at 1 S. Main St. The building was demolished in 1970, the Union Plaza Hotel was then constructed at that location. Union Pacific passenger trains continued to stop, behind the hotel, until 1971. Amtrak trains served Las Vegas at that stop, from 1979 to 1993.
Thank you!

Earlier reply:

Haven't been in back of the Plaza. Heard that it has become a real dump. Haven't been in that part of town for years. Note, though, on this Google Map that both the Plaza and adjacent Greyhound station directly adjoin the UP main. Either one could become a ticketing point and waiting room. Haven't taken it but believe the Amtrak Thruway leaves from Greyhound.

https://goo.gl/maps/t3559 (slow to load)

Hi Mr. Norman,

Millennials, as far as I can tell, want to party as much as any generation. Providing a suitable atmosphere for that is important. I believe the ultimate potential of a train like this will depend on Millennials.

Moreover, they're not into formal sit-down dining a la Amtrak. Let them graze in an upscale environment with an informal menu that does not include the crap served in an Amtrak snack bar or set meal hours.

Sadly, our preference for relaxed fine dining is not usually theirs. A shame.

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PullmanCo
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Don,

In 1956, Las Vegas was served by:

UP 103-104, COLA
UP 9-10, CoStL
http://www.chicagorailfan.com/stbclas.html

In addition, there are movements this website did not document.

Of course, in 1956, Las Vegas was being pushed by UP, amongst others, as a growth opportunity.

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DonNadeau
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Had not been aware of http://www.chicagorailfan.com. Thank you. Interesting!

Am guessing the "Pacific Limited" was combined later into the CoStL. Would love to see a schedule for it.

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PullmanCo
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SP Pacific Limited brochure, for download:

http://streamlinermemories.info/UP/PacificLimited.pdf

Here is a link to the 1937 UP System public timetable. From what I can see, Trains 23-24, the Pacific Limited, were the early version of UP's "City of Everywhere." There was a branch running from Chicago, the was a branch running from St Louis. They linked up in ?Cheyenne?

The train appeared to separate in Ogden, a run going to Oakland on the SP, and a run going to LA on the UP.

Nope, nothing to Portland

http://streamlinermemories.info/UP/UP9-37TT.pdf

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The City of Saint Louis (UP, 1967) is still my standard for passenger operations

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Gilbert B Norman
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I learned of this development at another site; what else is new. Time for the consultants to chow down at the feeding trough

http://lasvegassun.com/news/2015/apr/27/amtrak-route-los-angeles-back-track

Judging from some reader comments, The Sun must have a circulation base from somewhere in Outter Space.

Finally, considering the material that originated this topic, "what goes around, comes around". Evidently Rep. Titus (D-NV1) was re-elected.

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Vincent206
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I thought about including LA to LV as "Option E" in the poll on the likelihood of service ever being started in the Must Read Article thread. My response would have been 0% during the next 10 years, but eventually I think this corridor will happen. Representative Titus seems to be taking a very level headed approach to implementing this initiative. However, in the long run, LA to LV will need to have its own high speed right of way to be $ucce$$ful. The up-front costs will be higher, but trying to share a right of way with UP won't provide the frequency and speed that the market will demand to be self-sustaining. Once the CAHSR system is in operation (75% chance) and there is a high speed rail line into downtown LA, then it should be possible to move forward with a public-private partnership that would be less of a drain on public money than a state subsidized Amtrak train operating a couple of trips every day on UP right of way.
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Gilbert B Norman
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I doubt if there is any question whatever that Angels to Meadows service, even if simply five a day using existing equipment and on a six hour schedule would be an overnight success. Both the BNSF and UP know that as well and recognize that "OK let 'em have one a day", the sponsors will soon be knocking at the door for more.

But even a sponsor was sufficiently funded to allow an additional track to be laid over the entire route, including Cajon, there would still be liability concerns and could well take an extreme measure that the sponsors will be liable for any tort occurring on the route - even including a UP freight taking out a vehicle at a grade X-ing.

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yukon11
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In the Las Vegas Sun article, I wonder what Rep. Titus means by the statement that the Desert Wind was "set up to fail". If so, could it also fail now? I do like the idea of a conventional high speed train. The "X Train", at least to me, would mean a lot of drunken and rowdy passengers on-board.

Regarding the comments, I like the idea of an auto train. Better yet, continue the train on to Salt Lake City to provide a passenger train arrival at a decent hour.

Richard

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