My Bio and This Blog's Purpose

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Addendum: Southern California to Vegas routes

After spending the last two months looking over Virgin's possible effort to develop an HSR corridor between Los Angeles and Las Vegas, it's time to expand on what such a move could do for the area and how some of the other competitors could be affected.

The best way for Sir Branson and Virgin Trains to produce a viable corridor is by building a pair of tracks parallel to the existing Union Pacific tracks. Then, the British carrier should build new HSR stations right next to the existing and restored Amtrak stations between the two endpoints. The stations will provide different types of services for a diverse set of travelers. Another thing that could set Virgin apart from its counterparts would be the fact that it would stop in every city that the Southwest Chief serves. However, there should be local and limited stop routes as well. While the locals would obviously stop everywhere, the limited service would only have one or two stops between L.A. and Vegas.

The impact to other speedy competitors is where Virgin would apply its western segment. If it opts to utilize the current Amtrak route between L.A. and Vegas or a segment that serves Ontario, the other guys might have peaceful coexistence with Branson & Company. On the other hand, if Virgin decides to use the Palmdale route, then the DesertXpress is sunk because riders would no longer have the need to use a train that originates/terminates over 100 miles northeast of L.A. or its suburbs.

Currently, Amtrak only proposes restoring the Desert Wind between Salt Lake City and Los Angeles. What if there is such a push for any kind of restoration of overnight service along the nearly 800-mile-line that it becomes unstoppable? Well, it could go one of two ways. The first option is Amtrak following up on that proposal with an actual train that would connect with the California Zephyr. If Boardman can't get the train going, then, a standalone train to Seattle would do the duty. Here's the kicker, a public-private partnership would be implemented where someone like a rail consortium or even Virgin would operate the train and UP would be compensated. There would be a separate right of way for the intercity train along parts of the line between Los Angeles and Portland.

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