Some fascinating transportation concepts were heard on Wednesday by representatives of the Nevada High-Speed Rail Authority.
The four concepts presented during the two-hour testimony included a solar and wind powered suspended monorail system, an electric car capable of driving on both conventional streets and a guideway, and a mysterious Ukrainian investor’s egg-shaped personal transportation pod.
Coming as no surprise, Las Vegas-based XpressWests’s, formerly known as DesertXpress, conventional high-speed rail project was the only submission to meet all of the five-member board’s criteria and was approved unanimously. The high-speed passenger railroad would transport passengers between Southern California and Las Vegas via Victorville and Palmdale, California and will serve as the state’s high-speed rail system franchisee. The selection, almost a decade in the making, was courtesy of Senate Bill 457 (pdf), which in addition to establishing the authority specified the type of technology necessary for the system and was closely matched by XpressWest, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Much like the original proposal for XpressWest, 185 miles of dual tracks absent of grade crossings between Las Vegas and Victorville in the area along the Interstate 15 right-of-way comprise phase one. Phase two would intersect existing commuter rail service extending the track west from Victorville to Palmdale. That commuter rail would eventually upgrade to high-speed rail upon completion of the California High-Speed Rail System. The last phase would link XpressWest’s fully electric, standard-gauge trains directly to the California line. Commuters would pay approximately $100 for a round-trip fare on the trains that during peak hours would run every 20 minutes. Construction of a station would be off of I-15 in Las Vegas.
According to EpressWest’s CEO Andrew Mack, environmental permit decision records for phase one have been completed and approval for the Caltrans drafted final environmental impact statement is expected in April, which translates to construction possibly beginning in the fall and competed within five years.
Financing through a joint venture XpressWest has with newly formed China Railway International USA will be in addition to the $50 million the Las Vegas-based company already has invested. Construction will start with an initial capitalization of $100 million in private investment, with other financing resources available to the partnership.
The board of the Nevada High-Speed Authority will be updated by XpressWests’s progress when they meet again in six months.