Las Vegas Railway Express (X-Train)

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Las Vegas Railway Express (X-Train)

Postby goodnightjohnwayne » Wed Apr 14, 2010 11:42 am

http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2010/apr/14/its-not-fast-train-could-hit-rails-sooner/


It’s not as fast, but this train could hit the rails sooner

By Richard N. Velotta (contact)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010 |

As two companies compete to be the first to provide high-speed rail service between Las Vegas and Southern California in the not too distant future, a third is saying it will have a train click-clacking along next year. Las Vegas Railway Express will provide conventional passenger rail service to and from Los Angeles on existing tracks, its executives say.

They’ve been studying the prospect since early 2009 and are now in the strategic planning stage for an inaugural run by mid-2011, more than three years ahead of when the planned DesertXpress high-speed rail system would make its first trip between Victorville, Calif., and Las Vegas.

Michael Barron, chairman and CEO of the company, which is calling its project the “X Train,” envisions having a party atmosphere on wheels when the train takes passengers from Los Angeles’ Union Station to an as-yet-undetermined station location in Las Vegas in about 5 1/2 hours.

“It’s here now, existing technology that won’t take billions of dollars or even hundreds of millions of dollars to develop,” Barron says. “We’re acquiring standard train sets and bi-level commuter passenger cars, and then we’re getting some special cars that we’ll trick up to become a gaming car or a sports and entertainment car.”

While the rival DesertXpress operators have emphasized that they want their customers to begin the Las Vegas experience when they climb aboard their 150 mph train by offering luggage check-in straight to the hotel, the developers of the X Train say the Las Vegas party will start as the train rolls out of the station, with a sports bar lounge in one of the cars and rooms and show tickets available for purchase onboard.

Barron says his company is looking at some scheduling models. The idea is to initially run one round-trip a day, five days a week, Thursday through Monday.

One proposal is to leave Union Station in Los Angeles about 11:30 a.m., stop to pick up passengers in Fullerton at noon and continue nonstop to Las Vegas, where the train would arrive about 5 p.m.

The return trip would leave Las Vegas about 7 p.m., getting back to Los Angeles about midnight.

Within five years of the startup, executives hope to run 40 trains a week. The price of a round-trip ticket, Barron says, would be $99 — comparable to the average ticket price contemplated by the developers of DesertXpress.

So how would the X Train compete against something as swift as the DesertXpress or a maglev train? Barron’s simple answer: It won’t.

“We’re not going to compete against them,” he says. “This is an excursion type deal. DesertXpress will be very, very costly to build with a brand-new right of way. We plan to make the trip on the existing track between L.A. and Las Vegas, and our experience will be considerably different from theirs.”

A partnership between Amtrak West and Talgo Inc., a Washington state-based subsidiary of Patentes Talgo of Madrid, floated an idea similar to the X Train concept in the late 1990s. Talgo and Amtrak West proposed a European-style train capable of traveling 80 mph on the existing Union Pacific track between Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

Amtrak was looking for something new to replace the Desert Wind, the one-time daily passenger train service between Los Angeles and Salt Lake City that was trimmed to three trips a week before being shut down May 10, 1997.

There were numerous complaints about the Desert Wind, which was slowed by freight traffic on the Union Pacific-controlled rail line. At times, the 5 1/2-hour trip took eight hours because of freight priority delays.

Talgo ran a successful tourism-based train in the Pacific Northwest between Seattle and Vancouver, British Columbia. The company developed a Las Vegas-themed train car, and Amtrak West approached casino companies about subsidizing the service in the early going.

The Amtrak-Talgo partnership proposed building several miles of parallel track along a steep grade in California to help offset the freight train delays. It was a costly proposition that included the expense of developing an environmental assessment on the land where the parallel track was planned.

Amtrak showed off the train during the Governor’s Tourism Conference in Las Vegas in 1999. Sen. Harry Reid, then a member of the Senate Transportation Appropriations subcommittee, helped get $5 million for the route.

But Amtrak couldn’t get the funding necessary to develop the route, and the project was shelved, leaving Las Vegas with a track but no passenger train service.

A key difference between the Amtrak-Talgo model and X Train plan, Barron says, is that the company has negotiated to pay extra for rail access that would give the passenger train priority on the track.

“The plan we have offered has been well received, and we would pay a premium to run ahead of all their (Union Pacific) freight,” he says.

Because it’s a work in progress, Barron says there are several details about the plan that he couldn’t elaborate on. One key detail is the location of the Las Vegas station.

Barron said the company is investigating several sites, and he hopes an announcement on the location would be made within a month.

Would its location influence what happens with the DesertXpress, which also doesn’t have a Las Vegas station location finalized? Four alternative sites are listed in DesertXpress’s environmental assessment, all off Interstate 15, with two near Flamingo Road, one near Russell Road and one near downtown.

But even after the X Train announces its station site, a lot of unanswered questions will remain.

Can the X Train generate enough riders who don’t care that the trip would take longer for them than to drive in their own cars? Will the X Train owners be able to maintain their priority relationship with Union Pacific?

And how does the American Magline Group’s maglev project fit in the equation? The existing Union Pacific line could be along the right of way sought by the maglev project between Las Vegas and Primm. Is there room for both?

What would happen to the X Train once high-speed rail comes on line? Would riders migrate to the faster alternative or would DesertXpress’ Victorville terminus keep the X Train in the game?

None of that will be sorted out until later down the line.



The gallery cars in question probably would be former Metra gallery cars, with new long distance seating. The cars are available, easy to renovate and have plenty of life left. Considering that some of the original C&NW were built with long distance seating and dining facilities, it isn't much of stretch renovate former commuter gallery cars into equipment suitable for a comfortable L.A. to Vegas run.

Overall, this business model might be far more sustainable than DesertXpress, especially if there are substantial onboard food, beverage and gambling revenues.

There are far more potential patrons for a $99 L.A. to Vegas roundtrip ticket than $400 to 600 for a round trip HSR ticket from Victorville to Vegas. I believe the fare projections from Vegas X Train, but I don't believe DesertXpress' fare projection for a second and I honestly believe that a one way HSR ticket from Victorville to Vegas would have to be between $200 to 300 just to break even, and even that is assuming unreasonably high ridership levels. I also don't see much potential for DesertXpress to subsidize ticket prices on the basis of beverage and gaming profits.
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Re: DesertXpress - 150mph self powered trains

Postby Chafford1 » Sat Apr 17, 2010 11:54 am

X train seems to be getting up a considerable head of steam:

http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2010/apr/17/x-train-smart-short-term-solution/



X Train a smart short-term solution
Robert L. Candiotti, Las Vegas (Las Vegas Sun)
Saturday, April 17, 2010 | 2:04 a.m.

The Wednesday article in the Las Vegas Sun by Rick Velotta about the Las Vegas Railway Express, “It’s not as fast, but this train could hit the rails sooner,” was a surprise. In the midst of the long-term contention between developers of a Nevada-California maglev and the proposed DesertXPress train between Las Vegas and Victorville, all of a sudden here is publicity about this plush and pulsating train that can start up as early as 2011.

What impresses me even more than the fact that Las Vegas Railway Express will operate on existing tracks is that the train will originate and terminate at Los Angeles’ Union Station. Unlike isolated Victorville, Union Station is connected by Amtrak trains, light rail, motor coaches and bus transportation going pretty much all the time in every direction. Plus, the station is at the central business district of Los Angeles. Also, Union Station remains beautiful. Built in 1939, it is still referred to as the “Last of the Great Railway Stations.”

Reading the story in the Sun, I was once again reminded of the statement of Robert Lang of the Brookings Institution that Las Vegas is a world city due to its connectivity to other cities. Even though Las Vegas Railway Express’ X Train would run far slower than the 150 mph DesertXPress, the X Train would greatly benefit from the extensive connectivity provided at Union Station.

Michael Barron, chairman and CEO of Las Vegas Railway Express, calls the X Train a party train, but I can imagine the X Train quickly evolving into a businessperson’s transportation choice, as well.

I see the Nevada-California maglev as being needed in the long run, but it seems like the X Train could become both popular and profitable in the near future.


And a more sceptical view from the California High Speed Rail website:

Third LA-Vegas Train Proposal Emerges
Apr 14th, 2010 | Posted by Robert Cruickshank

As if the battle between DesertXpress and maglev wasn’t creating enough passenger rail activity on the Southern California to Las Vegas corridor, there’s now a third passenger rail proposal for the corridor emerging. The X Train would provide conventional passenger rail service along existing tracks from LA Union Station to downtown Las Vegas, reviving the old Desert Wind train that Amtrak operated from 1979 to 1997. As reported in the Las Vegas Sun:

Michael Barron, chairman and CEO of the company, which is calling its project the “X Train,” envisions having a party atmosphere on wheels when the train takes passengers from Los Angeles’ Union Station to an as-yet-undetermined station location in Las Vegas in about 5 1/2 hours.

“It’s here now, existing technology that won’t take billions of dollars or even hundreds of millions of dollars to develop,” Barron says. “We’re acquiring standard train sets and bi-level commuter passenger cars, and then we’re getting some special cars that we’ll trick up to become a gaming car or a sports and entertainment car.”

While the rival DesertXpress operators have emphasized that they want their customers to begin the Las Vegas experience when they climb aboard their 150 mph train by offering luggage check-in straight to the hotel, the developers of the X Train say the Las Vegas party will start as the train rolls out of the station, with a sports bar lounge in one of the cars and rooms and show tickets available for purchase onboard.

Barron says his company is looking at some scheduling models. The idea is to initially run one round-trip a day, five days a week, Thursday through Monday.


It’s an interesting idea, but this does raise some questions. What happens when DesertXpress gets up and running? How will the X Train stay in operation and retain riders?

“We’re not going to compete against them,” he says. “This is an excursion type deal. DesertXpress will be very, very costly to build with a brand-new right of way. We plan to make the trip on the existing track between L.A. and Las Vegas, and our experience will be considerably different from theirs.”

I’m not sure about that. The speed difference between DesertXpress and X Train (what’s up with all the X’s, by the way?) is going to be significant, even with a drive to Victorville. Not everyone will want to get the party started when they roll out of Union Station, though I’m sure enough folks will to keep at least a few trains running.

The X Train will need to retain a significant number of riders, though, if they’re going to keep their operating model afloat:

A key difference between the Amtrak-Talgo model and X Train plan, Barron says, is that the company has negotiated to pay extra for rail access that would give the passenger train priority on the track.

“The plan we have offered has been well received, and we would pay a premium to run ahead of all their (Union Pacific) freight,” he says.

Financial incentives have also been used successfully on the Capitol Corridor, but that carries a lot of regular commuters. If X Train is the only passenger rail option between LA and Vegas, it might be able to make it work. But once DesertXpress opens, X Train is going to likely struggle to maintain this level of ridership.

Neither X Train nor DesertXpress plans to make use of government funding, but perhaps that’s not such a great thing. It would be a shame if two different passenger rail options both went forward on this route, which seems to me to only be able to sustain one service. Having two different passenger trains could mean neither one is able to achieve financial viability.

We’ll see what happens with the X Train plan, and how it impacts DesertXpress high speed rail plans, in the coming months
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Re: Las Vegas Railway Express

Postby Jeff Smith » Mon Oct 15, 2012 2:44 pm

First two posts split from XPressWest. This one seems likelier and quicker.

http://www.lvrj.com/business/company-pl ... 81901.html

Las Vegas Railway Express promoters started laying out the concept of using existing tracks between Las Vegas and Los Angeles for Amtrak-style service in March 2009. But recently they have unleashed a flurry of announcements related to what they say will be the start of service by the end of 2013.

What the company calls the X Train would run five days a week between a new terminal in downtown Las Vegas and Fullerton, Calif., near Disneyland. The trip would take about five hours to cover roughly 300 miles. The one-way fare would be $99, including food, drinks and a party atmosphere.

Since July, the company has announced new executive appointments and the purchase of 10 railcars from an unspecified source at an unlisted price. On Sept. 18, the company said it had raised $2.3 million through stock sales that began in May. This is still a small fraction of the $35 million the company has said it needs to launch the X Train, but the news caught the eye of penny stock investors. The company's shares suddenly jumped to 21 cents each in early August, after staying below 10 cents for most of a year. On Friday, the stock was 16 cents a share, a price it has hovered near for the past two months.

...

Of more consequence are the relations with the trio of railroads that set the foundation of the X Train, including track-use rights that must be granted by owners of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway and the Union Pacific Railroad, plus operations that would be handled by Amtrak.

"All the route logistics and scheduling with ourselves and Amtrak and the railroads are being worked out as a collaborative agreement," Barron said.

With both Union Pacific and Burlington Northern Santa Fe, most of the work had been accomplished and would lead to in-person meetings with company executives in the next few weeks, Barron said.


Hopefully, not just a ploy to get the stock to jump.
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Re: Las Vegas Railway Express

Postby goodnightjohnwayne » Tue Oct 16, 2012 6:26 pm

You'd expect some volatility for a stock with such a small market capitalization. Start-up costs of $35 million are plausible and downright obtainable in terms of private sector funding. I like the use of existing station facilities at the Plaza in Las Vegas and Fullerton, CA. It all makes sense. Personally, I could think of a couple of sources of existing rolling stock, sound and suitable for a quick renovation, and I'd assume leased motive power, so the timescales make sense as well. It makes sense and doesn't require billion and billions in taxpayer funding.
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Re: Las Vegas Railway Express

Postby JayBee » Fri Oct 19, 2012 2:58 pm

I think X-trains business model is flawed, first I think they are too high on their average speed, if they can achieve 50 mph they will be doing good, and at 300 miles per direction that means 6 hours each way, or two Amtrak crews to complete a round trip. Six hours in a commuter type seating environment isn't going to be very attractive.
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Re: Las Vegas Railway Express

Postby amtrakowitz » Sat Oct 20, 2012 11:28 am

I don't see a 60-mph average speed either, even with no intermediate stops. And while Fullerton is a great deal closer to LA than Victorville, it still isn't LAUS and you're going to need to make that transfer to Metrolink.
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Re: XpressWest (former DesertXpress), Vegas - Victorville

Postby lpetrich » Fri Nov 16, 2012 4:57 am

Las Vegas Railway Express, Inc - Luxury Rail Service Between Southern California & Las Vegas - its site got updated. Expected start of service: late 2013. The page shows a picture of some recent passenger locomotive painted in X-Train colors.

It links to a recent news story about it: Las Vegas Railway Express, Inc. -- "X" Train Acquires Additional Passenger Train Cars
The company now has 12 of them, enough for one trainset; it will continue purchasing railcars until it can make two trainsets. The article had a picture of one of them - it looks like a commuter railcar with an X-Train paint job.

The article states that the railcars will be extensively renovated. That will be a necessity to make the interiors look like anything that The X Train Experience pictures.

Expected fare each way: $99

Proposed schedule:
LA to LV
Thursday, Friday:
LA: Noon - LV: 5 pm

LV to LA
Sunday:
LV: 1 pm - LA: 6 pm
LV: 5 pm - LA: 10 pm

The Route of the X Train
Fullerton, CA - Cajon Pass - Victorville - Barstow - Crucero Canyon - Kelso - Cima - Downtown LV

So the X-Train management had to make deals with both BNSF and UP.

The Las Vegas Station looks rather lavish and ambitious.
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Re: XpressWest (former DesertXpress), Vegas - Victorville

Postby afiggatt » Fri Nov 16, 2012 11:29 am

lpetrich wrote:Las Vegas Railway Express, Inc - Luxury Rail Service Between Southern California & Las Vegas - its site got updated. Expected start of service: late 2013. The page shows a picture of some recent passenger locomotive painted in X-Train colors.

The X-Train is a separate service from the Xpress West HSR proposal. If they manage to start it, the X-Train will be a low volume several days a week service for weekend trips from LA to Vegas over existing tracks. Quite a different deal than Xpress West, even if they are both seeking to run trains to Vegas. There is a thread for the X-Train under Las Vegas Railway Express for updates on the X-Train plans.
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Re: Las Vegas Railway Express

Postby Jeff Smith » Fri Nov 16, 2012 1:50 pm

Fixed it; I have to admit, the multiple proposals out west sure screw me up. I added add'l description to the title.
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Re: Las Vegas Railway Express (X-Train)

Postby mtuandrew » Fri Nov 16, 2012 10:55 pm

The most recent Don Phillips article in Trains mentioned ex-Chicago gallery cars. That looks about right according to the renderings on the X-Train site, and would mark the return of gallery cars to regional service.
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Re: Las Vegas Railway Express (X-Train)

Postby Jeff Smith » Tue Nov 20, 2012 2:17 pm

http://www.marketwire.com/press-release ... 728339.htm

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwire - Nov 20, 2012) - Las Vegas Railway Express, Inc. (OTCQB: XTRN) announced the signing of a conditional agreement to provide luxury passenger train service between Las Vegas, Nevada and Los Angeles, California over Union Pacific Railroad (NYSE: UNP) lines. This agreement is contingent upon LVRE fulfilling a variety of conditions in a specified time.

Known as the "X Train," the service is currently scheduled for commencement in late 2013. Las Vegas Railway Express has signed a MOU with The Plaza Hotel & Casino on the Vegas strip for 3,100 square feet of space to be used for terminal operations with an additional 1,900 square feet for food preparation. (http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/ ... ex10-4.htm)

In recent years, luxury train travel has made a reemergence, Amtrak began offering luxury rides on three of its trains, while several well-known European lines, Venice Simplon-Orient-Express and the Danube Express have been seeing increased ridership as many travelers turn to rail as an alternate means to air travel.

Other active railroad stocks are Providence & Worchester Railroad Company (NASDAQ: PWX) and CSX Corp (NYSE: CSX)

This report is for information purposes only, and is neither a solicitation to buy nor an offer to sell securities. Information, opinions and analysis contained herein are based on sources deemed to be reliable and are subject to change without notice. A third party has hired and paid IO Circuit one thousand two hundred and ninety five dollars for the publication and circulation of this news release. Accordingly, certain information included herein may be forward-looking within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. However, no representation, expressed or implied, is made as to the accuracy, completeness or correctness. In light of the above, we accept no liability for any losses arising from an investor's reliance on or use of this report. We do not and have not had any ownership interest in said third party of any kind.
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Re: Las Vegas Railway Express (X-Train)

Postby electricron » Tue Nov 20, 2012 8:32 pm

They have rented space in the Plaza Hotel in Vegas, so that hotel will be their base of operations.

http://www.marketwire.com/press-release/x-train-service-to-run-on-union-pacific-lines-in-late-2013-1728339.htm
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Re: Las Vegas Railway Express (X-Train)

Postby Patrick Boylan » Fri Nov 23, 2012 5:51 am

If it's in yahoo news it must be true
http://news.yahoo.com/calif-vegas-party ... nance.html
Calif.-Vegas party train could hit tracks in 2013
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Re: Las Vegas Railway Express (X-Train)

Postby CComMack » Fri Nov 23, 2012 9:33 pm

Nitpicking the press release: The Plaza is not on the Strip. It's in Downtown Las Vegas, at the foot of Fremont Street. (A location that may be known to some posters here as the former site of the UP passenger station.)
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Re: Las Vegas Railway Express (X-Train)

Postby Bob Roberts » Sat Nov 24, 2012 9:28 am

I do understand the merits of reusing the old station, and I am also a big proponent of downtown stations. That said, I am a little confused about the Plaza Hotel terminal. Google maps does not suggest that any station infrastructure remains (I certainly may have missed it). If they are going to need to develop a greenfield site why not at Flamingo rd or Twain ave so pax get delivered to the center of the strip -- surely that will be destination for the majority of pax on this train.

Am I overlooking infrastructure or are the downtown hotels providing some incentives?
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