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Concept art courtesy of DesertXPress

Train to Vegas advances

Feds give permission to construct; private developer waits on $4.9B loan

VICTORVILLE • DesertXpress has cleared one more hurdle, receiving permission from the federal Surface Transportation Board to build and operate its high-speed train to Las Vegas, according to a document obtained Tuesday.

The train would transport passengers from Victorville to Las Vegas, passing through Barstow without stopping along the way.

The STB granted the project an exemption from certain approval requirements, stating in its decision that the 190-mile train line “will not significantly affect either the quality of the human environment or the conservation of energy resources.”

Private developers of the train are still waiting on word as to whether they’ll receive a $4.9 billion federal loan to fund that construction. DesertXpress officials told Victorville Mayor Ryan McEachron a decision from the Federal Railroad Administration is expected in six to nine months.

The Department of Transportation gave the project environmental clearance in July, ending a review process that had been underway since 2006.

If the FRA approves the loan, DesertXpress officials have said they hope to start construction in late 2012. That means passengers could be paying $50 each to board the luxury trains in Victorville by 2016, McEachron said, making the 190-mile trip to Las Vegas in roughly 80 minutes.

Once construction begins, forecasts indicate DesertXpress will create roughly 50,000 jobs in San Bernardino County and 32,000 jobs in Clark County, Nev.

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