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Las Vegas train: Will it ever happen?

Competing plans are afoot for rail service to the desert, but questions remain, such as where to put the western terminus; which technology will be used; and will car-crazy SoCal buy in?

June 20, 2010|By Jay Jones | Special to The Los Angeles Times

The railroad hired Seattle artist J. Craig Thorpe to create a poster conveying that theme. For Thorpe, who's been a rail fan since his rides aboard commuter trains as a kid, it was a labor of love.

"When I rode those commuter trains with my granddad, I felt a certain smugness as we blew by all the stalled traffic," he recalls. "And I thought, 'Something about this is important.'"

UNLV's Kachroo agrees with Thorpe and Amtrak: The motoring public needs to be sold on the benefits of passenger trains.

"Driving is stressful, and it takes so long," Kachroo says. "[The train] has to be a viable, attractive option, so that when people start using it, immediately they see the value."

The debate puts a new spin on an old puzzler from algebra class — the one about when the faster Train B will catch up with Train A, which is slower but has a 30-minute head start. Thinking caps on, please.

If Train A going 300 mph leaves Anaheim at the same time as Car B going 60 mph leaves Las Vegas, where will the two meet?

Answer: The train and the car will meet at the California-Nevada state line, a mere 10 minutes before the train pulls into the Sin City station, but three hours and 38 minutes before the car reaches Disneyland.

A math whiz would consider that an easy question to solve. But there's a much more difficult question: Once some sort of train service begins, will Southern Californians embrace it or keep their hands firmly on the steering wheel?

Not even a genius can answer that one.

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