High speed train could bring millions to Vegas

Proponents of a high-tech 300 mph train said Tuesday it could bring an additional 2.3 million tourists to Las Vegas every year and pump $1.4 billion into the Southern Nevada economy.

Bruce Aguilara of the California-Nevada Superspeed Train Commission told a legislative committee studying mass transportation needs in Nevada his group is hoping Congress will decide theirs is the best project in the nation to test new magnetic levitation technology.

So-called mag-lev trains don't ride on rails or even touch their track. They float above a metal track suspended and driven at high speed by magnetic energy. Congress is expected to approve up to $1 billion for a demonstration project in the U.S. Aguillara said their plans envision a 269-mile track from Anaheim to Las Vegas along Interstate 15.

If completed, he said, it would whisk tourists to Las Vegas from Southern California in just 86 minutes.

The entire project would cost up to $12 billion, but Aguillara and Neil Cummings of American Magline Group said it would actually be able to turn a healthy profit.

The initial $1 billion would pay for a 40-mile first segment from Las Vegas to Primm along the Southern Nevada border. Cummings said plans also call for another demonstration project at the other end of the route to connect Anaheim with Ontario, Calif.

He said those two segments would both be profitable by themselves, with Las Vegas to Primm generating an estimated $50 million a year and Anaheim to Ontario about $100 million.

Running as many as a dozen trains at a time, he said it could move as many as 10,600 passengers an hour in each direction - as many as an eight-lane freeway or 12 Boeing 747s an hour landing in Las Vegas.

He said a study by the University of Nevada, Las Vegas predicts the train would add $1.44 billion a year to Clark County's economy and bring in $122 million in additional tax revenues. During construction, it would provide up to 9,000 jobs and, once completed, some 300 permanent jobs.

Aguillara said the other two proposed demonstration projects are between Baltimore and Washington, D.C., and in the Pittsburgh area. While those urban areas have significant political pull, he and Cummings said the Las Vegas project is much further along in its design and would be easier and much cheaper per mile to build than projects in those urban areas.

Contact Geoff Dornan at nevadaappeal@sbcglobal.net or at 687-8750.


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