The drive from Los Angeles to Las Vegas is one of those legendary road trips, made famous for me by Hunter S. Thompson and my own college road trip with my girlfriends. I was so excited when I could actually quote (and I paraphrase), “We were somewhere around Barstow when the drugs set in.” But — ahem — I digress.
That trip might become even more legendary, as the site of a 300 mph speed train that would whisk tourists from Disneyland to Vegas — i.e., from one amusement park to the next. What would be the nation’s first magnetically levitating train needs approval from Congress to get off the drawing board, and now it has competition. A less exciting, slower train, the DesertXpress, wouldn’t so much “whisk” passengers as it would sort of roll them at 125 mph out of Victorville, CA (1.5 hours north of L.A.). Amtrak already tried running a train between the two cities, and it closed the route down in 1997 due to low ridership.
Even though the diesel-electric DesertXpress isn’t as flashy as the MagLev, it has millions of dollars in private funding and is gaining ground as the MagLev stumbles through financial roadblocks.
With 10 million Californians making the 250-mile drive between the two cities, it might be time for Amtrak to get back in the game.