Chinese Bullet Train to Come to American Southwest

America's third planned high-speed rail line received good news on Sept. 17, by entering an agreement with China Railway Group to receive $100 million to start building the 230-mile line from Victorville, Calif. to Las Vegas.

September 20, 2015, 1:00 PM PDT

By Irvin Dawid

Welc_me to Fabulous Las Vegas

pocheco / Flickr

"A consortium led by China Railway Group (CREC) has come to terms with America's XpressWest Enterprises LLC to jointly build and operate a high-speed rail link running between Los Angeles and Las Vegas," writes Andrew Tarantola for Engadget.

Credit: XpressWest

The project has already cleared its environmental impact study, obtained all of the necessary DoT licensing and right-of-way approvals, and is ready to begin building as soon as next September.

"The project comes after four years of negotiations and will be supported by $100 million in initial capital, according to Bloomberg News. Indeed, Planetizen's last post on the project, then called DesertXpress [PDF], was almost four years ago after it "received clearance from the federal Surface Transportation Board."

The privately funded, 230 mile route stretches from Victorville [Population: 121,096 (2013)] in San Bernardino County, Calif. to Las Vegas, Nev. The train would run at 150 mph, "primarily adjacent to Interstate 15, the only freeway between Las Vegas, Nev., and Los Angeles," according to the earlier Planetizen post.

Credit: XpressWest Southwest Network Map

From that earlier post: "While completely separate from the state High-Speed Rail Authority, DesertXpress [now XpressWest] is counting on the construction of the HSRA line to provide a high speed rail connection to the Victorville vicinity from Los Angeles, ideally from the Palmdale station, 50 miles from Victorville - though the HSR Authority prefers a route that would eliminate that station."

The agreement comes in advance the first official state visit to the U.S. by Chinese President Xi Jinping on Sept. 25.

"As the domestic Chinese market has become saturated with high-speed rail projects, many of its largest railway companies have begun vying for international contracts," writes Tarantola.

As Yang Zhongmin, deputy chief engineer with China Railway Group, pointed out at a recent press conference, "This is the first high-speed railway project where China and the U.S. will have systematic cooperation. It shows the advancement of China-made high-speed railways." 

A Planetizen post last year reported that China Railway Construction Corp. (CRCC), a different group, had bid on a high-speed rail project in Mexico. That contract was canceled.

Older Planetizen posts under "related" (below) show that the predecessor to the privately-funded DesertXpress was a maglev line backed with $45 million in federal funds, running from Anaheim, Calif. to Las Vegas.

Other high-speed rail lines in United States:

The two other high-speed rail lines in the planning and/or construction phase in the U.S. are the California high-speed rail line from San Francisco to Los Angeles line administered by the California High-Speed Rail Authority and Texas Central Railway's Houston to Dallas line.

Acela is an existing high-speed train that runs from Washington, D.C. to Boston, though it needs lot of upgrading to attain a uniform 150 mph speed. All Aboard Florida will travel from Miami to Orlando at a speed of 125 mph using diesel locomotives.

Thursday, September 17, 2015 in Engadget

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