Los Angeles To Las Vegas Train Tickets – An illustration provided by Brightline shows a high speed rail project train from Las Vegas to California. Photo: AP

Music, booze, gambling – the old Los Angeles-Las Vegas train had it all. Can a new high-speed project fill the void?

Los Angeles To Las Vegas Train Tickets

Los Angeles To Las Vegas Train Tickets

Proponents hope the sleek intercity service between the two U.S. cities will revolutionize public transportation in the region and reduce the amount of cars on the road.

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The last time anyone tried to run a fancy passenger train from Los Angeles to Las Vegas in the early 1970s, it was more like a cruise ship than a regular train service, a meandering ride along an old freight line with booze, gambling. and live music dubbed the Crapshooters Express. It left California on a Friday and returned its passengers – drunk, poor and not always happy – in time for work on Monday morning.

The idea certainly didn’t happen, mainly because the trip took seven and a half hours each way, almost twice as long as crossing the Mojave Desert by car and seven times as long as flying. On the train’s star-studded inaugural run, the scotch, bourbon, gin and vodka all ran out within an hour. Amtrak agreed to run service only because the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce agreed to cover any losses and then only on weekends during the winter months. Passenger numbers dropped immediately and after going through a few different iterations, the venture collapsed.

Now, though, the idea is being revived, not as an exercise in decadence and depravity, but as a sleek, high-speed intercity service with the potential to revolutionize public transportation in the United States.

Many ambitious US high-speed rail projects have come and gone over the past 15 years. The most ambitious of all — a bullet train that aims to shuttle passengers from San Francisco to Los Angeles in less than three hours — is stuck in a seemingly endless limbo. Public and private sector experts agree, however, that the LA-Las Vegas project holds a different kind of promise and could be operational as early as 2027, according to current estimates.

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Unlike the California high-speed project, this one is not government-run but a private-public partnership led by Florida-based company Brightline, which already runs a successful passenger line from Miami to Palm Beach, soon to be expanded. Orlando. The ambition is to build an all-electric train that can reach a maximum speed of 186 mph and make the trip from Las Vegas to the Los Angeles area in a little more than two hours.

Site for a proposed station for a high-speed rail line to Las Vegas on the outskirts of Victorville, California. Photo: Reid Saxon/AP

The route will initially run from Las Vegas to the suburbs of the LA commuter rail network. The company has indicated that it wants to keep the cheapest one-way ticket at around $100, making it competitive with the cost of air travel.

Los Angeles To Las Vegas Train Tickets

So far at least, the line has avoided large-scale rail projects and their tendency to overspend their budgets. Brightline didn’t have to worry too much about buying land or obtaining right-of-way permits, as Las Vegas developer Tony Marnell obtained the right to build a track through the middle of the desert highway I-15 connecting Sin City with Southern California. years before selling the project to Brightline in 2018.

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This route does not require expensive bridges or viaducts and environmental approvals are relatively straightforward because the rail bed does not cause as much damage as the highway already does.

Perhaps most surprisingly, Brightline has proven adept at winning political support for its plans and is now in line for a $3.75 billion federal grant through Joe Biden’s signature infrastructure bill that will allow construction to begin this summer. (The rest of the estimated $12bn budget will be raised by Brightline’s parent company, a major private equity fund called Fortress Investment Group.)

In the past few weeks, the company has signed an agreement with labor unions in Nevada and California, promising to use their members to hire an estimated 10,000 construction workers. It lined up a bipartisan group of members of Congress from both states to write letters to the Biden administration in support of their plan.

Vehicles drive through farmland and part of the California High Speed ​​Rail Authority San Joaquin River Viaduct construction project in August 2021. Photo: Patrick T Fallon/AFP/Getty Images

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A lesser-known company might have run into a wall of resistance from California politicians anxious to direct as much funding as possible to their own high-speed line, which has been in the works since voters approved a ballot initiative to fund it in 2008. However, the opposite has happened.

Fiona Ma, the California state treasurer, was once one of the most vocal supporters of the Los Angeles to San Francisco line but was convinced five years ago after hearing Brightline’s proposal, pointing out the Las Vegas line and the private ownership behind it. A more promising future.

Any high-speed rail network, Ma said in an interview, “should not be run by the government”. She lamented the wasted time and money that has stalled California’s high-speed rail project. And she pointed to the problems of some regional commuter lines in California as another example of public agencies struggling to run clean, safe, profitable service. “Government is not in the business of being efficient, that’s the bottom line,” he added.

Los Angeles To Las Vegas Train Tickets

Ma grew up loving trains – she grew up on Long Island and couldn’t imagine traveling to New York City any other way. When she traveled to Florida to see BrightLine operations firsthand, she was blown away not only by the ease of riding its line along the Atlantic coast but also by the attractiveness of the stations and the way they inspired other investors to develop them. surrounding land. “Oh my God, we have to have this system,” she remembers thinking. “They were doing everything right and revitalizing the neighborhoods where these train stations were.”

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Fiona Ma, California State Treasurer, grew up loving trains: ‘Driving is getting harder and air fares are getting more expensive … I believe in trains.’ Photo: Bloomberg/Getty Images

Ma has taken some heat for being so closely associated with a private company. Internal documents obtained by Bloomberg News show his staff worked closely with Brightline when the company applied for California state funding, and that a Brightline employee with Capitol Hill experience helped edit lobbying letters sent to members of Congress on Ma’s behalf. But for her this is not a sign of political partisanship – this is a high-stakes battle for the country’s future, and collaboration, she insists, is a normal part of any public-private partnership. (Brightline, for its part, since it is a government-licensed enterprise, engaging with elected officials was not only desirable but necessary.) The ultimate goal, Ma added, was to get cars off congested roads, combating the climate crisis. and create the conditions for healthy job growth and community development. But the window for doing so was narrow, with minimal room for further error.

In 2021, as the infrastructure bill moved through Congress, Ma wrote to lawmakers in Washington that it was not enough to simply throw billions of dollars at high-speed rail projects, as the Obama administration had invested $11. bn, doesn’t have a mile of completed track to show for it.

“Repeated attempts to spend billions without operating any new lines after another decade will be the death of high-speed rail in America,” he warned. “There is no way the public will continue to support such an agenda.”

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Such public impatience has been particularly evident among Republicans, who see Rail as the embodiment of everything they hate about big government. There are exceptions — Brightline’s home state, Florida, is run by Republicans and many GOP members (13 in the House, 19 in the Senate) threw their support behind the infrastructure bill — but Ma is well aware that the time for effective action is now. Now the White House is occupied by someone named Amtrak Joe.

A repeat attempt to spend billions without operating any new lines after another decade will be the death of high-speed rail in America.

A similar sense of urgency drives Brightline, not for partisan political reasons but because it sees a unique business opportunity and believes the United States cannot compete globally if it does not embrace rail. “China has 26,000 miles of high-speed rail. We have zero,” is a mantra often repeated by company employees and billionaire co-founder of Fortress Investments, Wes Edens.

Los Angeles To Las Vegas Train Tickets

A significant downside was that the line stopped in the hardscrabble desert of Victorville, about 90 miles from downtown Los Angeles, as Brightline inherited it. Over the past five years, however, Brightline has managed to plan an additional 49 miles on the LA Metrolink commuter rail system to Rancho Cucamonga, a suburban community, and it hopes to be able to build more.

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