Chinese firm plans L.A.-to-Vegas train

xpress-west-1 trainFor bemused Californians, there’s another bullet train in town, thanks to the Chinese government.

More specifically, credit — $100 million worth — goes to China Railway International USA, a venture spearheaded by Beijing’s national railroad, China Railway. The consortium has ponied up funds for XpressWest, “the transportation arm of Marnell Companies, a gaming resort development firm,” as the Sacramento Business Journal noted.

Formerly known as DesertXpress, the company has labored to send a high-speed track toward Las Vegas since “at least 2007,” reported the Los Angeles Times.

According to Chinese officials cited by the Times, passengers would travel “a 230-mile route with an additional stop in Palmdale and eventual service throughout the Los Angeles area using some of the same track that would be used by the publicly backed California high-speed rail project.” Past plans envisioned a run of 185 miles alongside I-15.

The logic behind the idea drew from some straightforward numbers. “About one-quarter of Las Vegas’s 41 million visitors in 2014 came from Southern California, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, many via a several hour highway drive,” Quartz noted. Vegas has been without a passenger train since Amtrak shut down its Desert Wind line in 1997.

Logistical doubts

This  train, which would share track with California’s state-funded high-speed rail, has run into its own version of a problem plaguing that track: reaching Los Angeles proper. “The project has the approval to cover about 190 miles from Las Vegas to the California desert city of Victorville, about 100-mile drive northeast of Los Angeles. It hasn’t broken ground. The project still needs government permission to connect with Southern California’s population centers,” Fox News reported.

“The project currently lacks permission to connect with the state of California’s planned high-speed rail project at a station to be built in Palmdale, 50 miles west of Victorville. A mountain range and about 50 more miles separate Palmdale from downtown Los Angeles.”

Skeptics quickly emerged with unflattering questions about the logistical constraints that could be imposed by the train’s pathway and travel times. “Anybody in L.A. keen to drive to Victorville to pay $89 to take an 80 minute ride to Vegas on a high-speed train?” tweeted Bloomberg View’s Adam Minter.

Adding to the speculation, estimates emerged that the train would require far in excess of the $100 million the Chinese have so far made available. “China’s CRRC Corp’s unit along with its peers from China will implement the rail corridor project at an estimated cost of $5 billion,” the Venture Capital Post noted.

Marshaling support

As yet, American officeholders have remained cagey. Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval said he hadn’t learned any details about the plans. “But in 2009,” according to the Las Vegas Review Journal, “the XpressWest project drew a key supporter: U.S. Sen Harry Reid, D-Nevada. ‘Senator Reid has been a cheerleader on this project for many years,’ Reid spokeswoman Kristen Orthman said Thursday. ‘He’s glad to see this progress and remains committed to assisting as needed.'”

And the Chinese government appears to have a firm interest in seeing the project to completion. Beijing created CRRC with the specific purpose of throwing the country’s considerable industrial weight around in foreign territories. “The merger of China’s two largest state-owned rail equipment makers has created an industry behemoth, second only to General Electric in size, that will be competing aggressively for projects across Africa, Southeast Asia, and Latin America,” Quartz observed. “China, once a major importer of rail technology, wants to be a world leader in high-speed rail, with projects that span the globe, focusing especially on emerging markets.”

But growth in the U.S. has also been marked as a priority. An employee of the conglomerate told Caixin online that the company “views China Railway International USA an important part of its plan to expand abroad.”

13 comments

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  1. Richard Rider
    Richard Rider 27 September, 2015, 07:47

    Good idea! Some OTHER fools putting up THEIR money (perhaps some of it stolen from Chinese taxpayers, but who cares?) to build a subsidy-free HSR train to Vegas.

    I’m all in! Wait . . . .

    One aspect is quite troubling. The plan depends on using the proposed CA HSR rail system for part of its run. The LAST thing we need is another flimsy excuse to build that boondoggle.

    On the other hand, if we can sucker the gullible Chinese into building their project and then renege on the CA HSR construction, the worst scenario is that they provide jobs to build a useless rail line out to the desert (not to Las Vegas), with it left to rust and rot as an incomplete project. It’s a great make-work project — the equivalent of digging useless holes in the ground to employ people.

    Dumb idea, but let the Red Chinese do it. Karma.

    Reply this comment
    • ConservativeActivist
      ConservativeActivist 28 September, 2015, 10:37

      The Chinese built a bridge in northern California with Chinese labor. There is nothing to make me believe that this HSR project would put Americans to work.

      Reply this comment
  2. spurwing Plover
    spurwing Plover 27 September, 2015, 08:01

    Another pork train this one proposed by the chi-coms and most likely with get Obama the Finks stamp of aprooval

    Reply this comment
  3. Hank de Carbonel
    Hank de Carbonel 27 September, 2015, 09:15

    The China money is virtual, not actual, like their thriving economy. A good opportunity to see what we will give away in exchange for a dreamy future. Also a method to retrieve stranded ZEV motorists. The only thing high speed will be the approval.

    Reply this comment
    • Rex the Wonder Dog!
      Rex the Wonder Dog! 28 September, 2015, 09:32

      LOL…We are never going to win in any “deal” with China, or any other nation, when our “leaders” allow our country to be raped and pillaged financially. We are now a second tier country, and China is going to pass us, soon, as the worlds largest economy.

      Reply this comment
  4. Dude
    Dude 27 September, 2015, 10:59

    Makes a whole lot more sense than Moonbeam’s pseudo high speed train that travels north/south, when the vast majority of Californians commute east/west. Duh.

    Reply this comment
  5. Richard Rider
    Richard Rider 27 September, 2015, 14:23

    The good news is that it’s bad politics today to subsidize the Red Chinese. Hence no DC or CA funding will be forthcoming for the project.

    Now, if Senator Feinstein’s hubby proposed this high risk, zero return project, then DC/Obama ET AL would likely kick in taxpayer money.

    Reply this comment
    • Rex the Wonder Dog!
      Rex the Wonder Dog! 28 September, 2015, 09:33

      Blum has been grifting off of DiFi’s largess for decades, he was doing it back 25 years ago with super sweetheart deals from the RTC to CB Commercial, his real estate firm….

      Reply this comment
      • bob
        bob 28 September, 2015, 09:47

        How true. WiFi and Blum are nothing more than first class grifters who have been taking taxpayers to the cleaners for decades. But there is nothing unique about this as the District of Criminals is a cesspool of corruption.

        I bet 90% of the sheeple who vote for WiFi don’t even know who Blum is.

        Reply this comment
  6. Jay
    Jay 27 September, 2015, 17:12

    More pie-in-the-sky. Statistics from the Las Vegas visitor bureau show that most vistiors to Vegas come by plane — roughly 4,000,00 per month. The visitors driving from So. Cal. number around 40,000 per month compared to about 80,000 on all major highways. So if this proposed train “only” cost $100,000,000, at a fare of say $90 each way, it would take over half a million passengers to break even. By car, assume that most folks don’t drive alone, but even if they did, that would mean break-even would occur in about 14 months. Is that realistic? Fuel costs for a round trip to Vegas from LA is about $75. I don’t think you could pry more than about 10% of the visitors from their cars. Of couse, some would abandon air travel if rail was available so lets assume that 20,000 visitors per month would ride the train. In that scenario, pay -back for the capital cost (at $90 each way) is 28 years. And remember, I haven’t even considered operating costs. Or the likelyhood of cost overruns. Or the potential for derailment when the San Andreas fault slips as a high-speed train is going through. Aw, let them talk. Maybe someone else will propose a couple of zip-lines, one from and the other to Vegas. Use a mile-high tower at the send-off at each end.

    Reply this comment
  7. Spurwing Plover
    Spurwing Plover 28 September, 2015, 13:43

    And knowing these chi-coms they’ll build it right through private property and have small towns wiped out

    Reply this comment
  8. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 28 September, 2015, 19:10

    You Graboids will beworking tourist concessions along the route?

    Reply this comment
  9. Bill
    Bill 28 September, 2015, 19:52

    Why not have the Chicoms invest in the Socialist Soviet Republic of California? Afterall, we did hand the state over to one party rule via the open primary right?

    Reply this comment

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