Las Vegas is a city built on the notion that the big bet can pay off. Or it can cost someone a bundle. When it comes to plans for high-speed trains connecting Southern California and southern Nevada, both outcomes might be true.
At least three projects are in a race to carry vacationers and commuters from the California coast to the gambling mecca. Hundreds of millions of dollars in investments and federal funds are at stake. Millions have already been spent on plans or preliminary studies.
The dream of a train dashing gamblers across the desert goes back more than 30 years, to when American cities saw France and other countries in Europe tie cities together by rail. Officials in Southern California pondered becoming the first place in the world to give magnetic levitation trains, also known as maglev, a try on a major scale.
Maglev never caught on enough to secure the multibillion-dollar investment needed, and many people are weary of hearing about it.
For 20 years, more conventional high-speed train systems have proliferated, but never in the U.S. So as Las Vegas bullet train proposals were circulated, they have been met with the same “I’ll believe it when I see it” responses.