Train service on the horizon for Las Vegas – Los Angeles

It has been more than 15 years since passenger rail traffic rolled through Las Vegas. If the Las Vegas Railway Express company is successful that drought will end in late 2013 as they introduce a luxury train service from Fullerton, California to Sin City. The company expects that the ride will take about 5 hours and hopes to price tickets in the $99 range each way. The service will operate with specially configured rail cars featuring bars, big screen TVs and recliner seats. Unlike the other proposed train service linking the two cities the "X Train" will run at regular speeds, avoiding the need to build new tracks which proposed high speed service would require. The service will run partially on Amtrak rail lines and partially on rails operated by Union Pacific. The 576-seat train will be crewed by Amtrak employees but the rest of the operation will be privately maintained and funded.

Hopefully this service is more successful than the short-lived "Aces" operation between Atlantic City and New York City. That service was pretty awful and didn’t last long. The part where this service is actually going to terminate 30-45 minutes south east of LA proper in Fullerton certainly isn’t a good start to the situation.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


  1. Haha. ACES. That thing was a joke for almost the same reasons. That train did not use long-dormant rail lines down the Jersey Shore and almost had to go to Philadelphia first, so it could then pause and switch locomotives. This idea will fail in much the same fashion. The only shot it has for continued viability is twofold: they need rights into LA proper, and there is a group of supporters out there who want to bring gaming to the train. Such would require, if I recall correctly, Constitutional amendments in both NV and CA.

  2. Could they declare the train a roaming Indian reservation and install slot machines? I suggest the “Nomadic Band of Iron Horse Indians”.

  3. Not only do a ton of airlines fly it but they do so for $29-$49 each way. So to spend 2x as much for a longer trip seems rediculous.

  4. Maybe they picked Fullerton so that they can provide free parking. Parking is expensive near LA Union Station. Maybe their demographic is more from Orange County?
    $99 does seem expensive compared to plane fares.

  5. The cheap airfare argument is a tough one. BUT, rail would be nice; the strangest place I’ve ever been in a dead-stop traffic jam was headed south of Vegas on I-15 on a Sunday night as the LA crew headed home from a party weekend.

  6. Five hours on a train vs 1 on a plane and twice as much money. Let me get back to you.

  7. I’d take the train. Train rides across country can be great experiences, and 5 hours isn’t that long by the time you’ve taken into account mucking about at LAX and LAS airports.

    One of my most enjoyable train rides was between San Fran and Sacremento – just amazing. Although you guys really need to work on the “centre to centre” concept of rail travel.

    Why would there need to be legislative change to get the train to go from the centre of LA to Vegas? (Or is that only to have slots on the train?)

  8. @Nick: That was to have slots on the train.

    No legal changes required to have the train access LA Union Station, just contracts with the appropriate authorities that own the tracks and facilities at or leading into the station.

    “Center-to-center” can be hard to do in the U.S. if the rail infrastructure isn’t already there. We’re not building too many new tracks these days, not to mention stations. That said, many of the older, historical stations (a good chunk still used by Amtrak even these days) are in city centers. That’s the case in many places, like San Diego, Los Angeles, Portland, Seattle, Chicago, Boston, New York, and Washington, DC, just to name a few.

    That said, if and when the new California high-speed rail project ever gets completed, it will link downtown L.A. with downtown San Francisco. The downside is that (especially in L.A.) really a minority of people are actually traveling from downtown to downtown, because our cities are so spread out. In fact, I know Los Angeles residents who have gone years without going downtown–there really isn’t much to do there unless you work there, and even then, the percentage of people in the L.A. area who actually work downtown is small because L.A. is so huge.

    As for this: I’m glad to see some sort of rail service back to Vegas, although I wish it were the old Desert Wind with service through Vegas up to Salt Lake. I have to wonder, though, how they got this pushed through: IIRC, the stumbling block preventing Amtrak from resurrecting the Desert Wind was UP’s refusal to allow them to use their tracks through the Mojave Desert, citing congestion (requiring Amtrak to fund the construction of passing sidings and/or double track) combined with some environmental flip-out about some endangered species of tortoise. Maybe this new company was willing to pay UP a bit more than Amtrak was…

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