• Virgin (XpressWest/DesertXpress) Las Vegas - Victorville - Los Angeles

  • This is a forum for all operations, both current and planned, of Virgin Rail USA formerly known as Brightline, and Virgin Worldwide Rail operations, past and present.
    Websites: Current Brightline
    Virgin USA
    Virgin UK
This is a forum for all operations, both current and planned, of Virgin Rail USA formerly known as Brightline, and Virgin Worldwide Rail operations, past and present.
Websites: Current Brightline
Virgin USA
Virgin UK

Moderator: CRail

  by njt/mnrrbuff
The Mojave Desert is not an area where you want your car to break down. Once you get past Victorville when you are heading east on the 15 or Historic Rt. 66, you are in no mans land. Barstow probably has services but make sure that they are honest as Barstow isn't the best city for anything bad to happen. Once you leave Barstow heading northeast, there are probably no services for a very long distance.

Back to the proposed train service to Vegas-it would be better if the train started out in Downtown LA since it is more of a hub for other train routes and Amcal Bus routes. Of course, a whole new right of way would have to be built through Cajon Pass. There is no way that the train will be time competitive with the automobile or even the bus if it runs on the existing transcon over Cajon Pass. Hours of time will be added to the trip. Virgin trains is supposed to be an intercity operation, not a commuter operation. Many people using the train would probably be coming from the Greater LA area. Having Virgin(US) start out in Victorville would be like saying let's have Amtrak heading to Boston start out in New Haven, making Amtrak passengers who live in NYC to drive to New Haven.
  by gokeefe
I took a look at the map and recalling mg own trip on this route gave it some thought ...

Victorville is really not a bad idea at all. The station would funnel all of the demand Greater Los Angeles into a single stop and would greatly reduce the infrastructure investment necessary for multiple stations in LA and also the operational challenges of the Cajon Pass.

Additionally a single stop in Las Vegas somewhere behind the strip would probably work just fine. Even as far out west as the Rio is likely "close enough". It wouldn't be "great" or "perfect" but I'm not entirely sure the market would care as long as there's plenty of space for limo parking.

As rail startup proposals go this is a pretty strong proposition that would allow the service to get off the ground.
  by Ridgefielder
njt/mnrrbuff wrote: Of course, a whole new right of way would have to be built through Cajon Pass. There is no way that the train will be time competitive with the automobile or even the bus if it runs on the existing transcon over Cajon Pass. Hours of time will be added to the trip.
In the 1996 timetable the Desert Wind was scheduled at 1hr5mins westbound and 1hr3mins eastbound between San Bernardino and Victorville on the Transcon. The Southwest Chief today schedules 1hr13mins westbound and 1hr8mins eastbound. We're not talking about adding that much time to the trip. Particularly since after Victorville you're going to be on a new ROW through the high desert and can presumably run like a bat out of hell.
  by electricron
By bus or car on I-15, it is 41miles and at 60 mph it can be completed in 41 minutes.
At 70 mph, it can be done in 35 minutes. You should be able to drive between Victorville and San Bernadino in half the time a train will take over the existing rail corridor. Half!
  by Ridgefielder
Well, sure. And it's 14 miles from my office to my home. At 60mph I could drive it in 14 minutes. Problem is my office is on 42nd St. in Manhattan, I live in Westchester, and the chances of my being able to do 60mph across 42nd, up the FDR, over the Willis Ave. bridge and up the Major Deegan are... low. Now it's been a long time since I've been in Southern California and driven over the Cajon but seeing as I-15 is the only major road crossing of the San Gabriels for 60 miles in either direction I'm willing to bet it can get crowded.

Besides, the point of running the train over the Cajon wouldn't be to get to San Bernardino; it would be to go through San Berdoo to LA proper.
  by Jeff Smith
Failure to secure tax-exempt bonding: https://www.newcivilengineer.com/latest ... 24.article" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
A $4bn (£3.6bn) high-speed rail line between Las Vegas and Southern California has been delayed after the project backers failed to secure tax exemptions.

The project, which is being undertaken by the American wing of Virgin Trains, could suffer a two-year delay to the start of construction as a result of the financial blow.

The Las Vegas Review Journal reported that discussions lasting a month between the US government and Virgin Trains failed to secure a deal.

Representatives of Virgin Trains had been seeking to strike a similar deal on exemptions from sales and property taxes that were granted for the construction of its Orlando to Miami high speed line.
  by Jeff Smith
More: https://www.reviewjournal.com/business/ ... s-1676106/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

It appears it had more to do with local and state exemptions?
Virgin Trains USA was ready to break ground on a $4 billion high-speed rail project between Las Vegas and Southern California as early as next year, but those plans were docked after it failed to secure tax abatements this legislative session.

Bob O’Malley, Virgin Trains’ vice president of government affairs, said Thursday that after being in Carson City for over a month, the abatements the company was seeking didn’t come to fruition.

Not getting those abatements will likely push the start of planned construction back at least two years, he added.

“If we had been able to do something this session, we were ready to start construction in 2020,” O’Malley said.
O’Malley reiterated that Virgin Trains was not seeking tax credits or state grants for the planned 185-mile dual-track project, which would run along the Interstate 15 corridor, as it would be financed entirely by private investment.
  by gokeefe
"Abatements" ... They probably wanted the right of way or the stations to be exempt from property taxes. That is the case in most places but apparently not Nevada.
  by Jeff Smith
https://www.vvdailypress.com/news/20190 ... ng-by-2023
VICTORVILLE — High Desert residents eager for high-speed rail travel between here and Las Vegas will have to wait a bit longer.

Completion dates of a proposed railway with a stations in Victorville and near Las Vegas Boulevard is likely to be pushed back about a year. Initial estimates called for the railway to be done by 2022.

Officials with the company behind the rail project, Virgin Trains USA, now indicate the railway should be finished by 2023. Virgin Trains USA, the nation’s only privately owned passenger train railroad, began rail service between Fort Lauderdale and Miami in Florida earlier this year.
Virgin Trains USA officials would not specify how much the project will cost, but the company has said it expects to cut XpressWest’s previous estimates of $8 billion in half.

Officials added that with the high-speed rail project, the company intends to not just cut the price of travel between Southern California and Las Vegas, but also take cars off the road, improve the environment, and add jobs to the economy.
  by Jeff Smith
Speaking of alternative financing: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles ... muni-bonds
The company behind the nation’s first privately-owned intercity passenger railway in more than a century is seeking approval from California and Nevada to raise as much as $3.6 billion in tax-exempt bonds for a high-speed train linking southern California to Las Vegas.

Virgin Trains USA Inc. is accelerating plans for a line connecting the Nevada gambling mecca to Victorville, a desert city 85 miles (137 kilometers) northeast of Los Angeles, after buying a company in March that had done the preliminary work for the project. In September, a California state agency could sign off on Virgin Trains’ application that would result in it being able to borrow as much as $2.4 billion in unrated private activity bonds for the project. A Nevada agency in November will consider a similar request to let the company leverage as much as $1.2 billion in such debt.

The government agencies wouldn’t be responsible for the bond payments but they would allow the Florida company access to cheaper capital for the $4.8 billion project. In April, Virgin Trains sold the biggest offering of unrated municipal securities in at least five years-- $1.75 billion -- to help fund the expansion of its currently unprofitable Florida system to tourist-rich Orlando from Miami.
Drivers to Las Vegas from California can suffer multi-hour delays because of traffic and road conditions. Officials for years have pitched the idea of a fast transit connection. Virgin Trains plans to lay down tracks in the middle of the separated freeway lanes along Interstate 15 from Victorville near the Mojave Desert in San Bernardino County. The company expects the majority of riders will come from Los Angeles County, according to its application to California’s Debt Limit Allocation Committee.

The company plans to acquire land for stations and rail facilities before getting reimbursed via the bonds issued in similar maturities to its Florida offering, which was for 5-, 7-, and 10-year terms, according to the California application.
  by nctrains
The Virgin Trains USA CEO Patrick Goddard was on a Modern Customer Podcast. There wasn't much new news in the piece, but one interesting note is that they expect the Las Vegas to Victorville line to run trains between 150 to 180 mph. That seems to make sense given the 75 minute travel time over the planned 185 mile line (148 mph average) that has swirled around news articles recently. I may be wrong, but I recall that they originally were planning 125 mph diesel service so this would be a pretty big strategy change. Interestingly, I have not heard cost estimates be any higher as a result of this change, however.

A 75 minute travel time may actually be very competitive. Flights from LAX to Las Vegas is around 80 minutes (and that's not including security). A quick Google search showed that all the areas within the Inland Empire appear to be closer to Victorville than they are to LAX...and that's without rush hour traffic. I believe the predecessor, Xpress West, frequently mentioned that most traffic coming through that I-15 corridor stemmed from the Inland Empire and not necessarily Los Angeles. I'm still skeptical that this is a viable business model, but I'm certainly rooting for them and hope that they can make this work!
  by mtuandrew
It’s not the speed, it’s the originating station that worries me. Lots of miles between Victorville and the Basin for a luxury coach to cover.
Last edited by CRail on Mon Sep 09, 2019 9:14 pm, edited 1 time in total. Reason: Unnecessary quote removed.
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