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VIDEO VAULT | Las Vegas tries to get a high-speed train to California off the ground

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Back in the 1980s, several local and federal officials proposed connecting Las Vegas and Southern California with a high-speed train.{ }

For the past year, Las Vegans have been hearing that the XpressWest train between Las Vegas and Victorville operated by Brightline would break ground by the of 2020. Last month, that idea was put on hold due to poor bond sales during the pandemic.

Shelving high-speed rail plans is not exactly new here. There have been variations going back three and a half decades.

Annotations are provided for an original story which News 3's Donna Cline reported on Dec. 23, 1985.

"You're looking at a super speed train(1), similar to one that as early as 1992(2) could connect Las Vegas with cities in Southern California," Cline(3) told viewers. "While Las Vegas is the first city in the country to receive more than one-million federal dollars to study bringing such a train here, Nevada Congressman Harry Reid(4) hopes the idea catches on nationwide, as the ground transportation of the future."

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"We have scheduled on January 9th in the city of Las Vegas a congressional hearing that will be chaired by George Brown from California," Reid told the assembled press corps.

"To convince Congress and Transportation Secretary Elizabeth Dole to support such a project, the city of Las Vegas needs to hear favorable results from a $1.25 million study," continued Cline. "Mayor Bill Briare(5) is already convinced that economically and environmentally, Las Vegas needs a super-speed train."

"We will probably know for sure within the next four months whether or not this transportation system of the future can be built," said Briare(6).

"The city of Las Vegas began studying the feasibility of a high-speed train project five years ago out of this office," said Cline from a room with the placard "Super Speed Train Development"(7).

"On January 9th, city officials will take their findings before a house subcommittee right here at City Hall. But with national problems like balanced budgets and defense spending, it would seem Nevada has a lot of convincing to do to gain support for a high-speed train project."

Before the pandemic and its economic fallout, both Nevada and California had been giving full support to tax-exempt bonds for the train to Victorville, with the thought that future extensions will boost ridership.

It has parallels to the concept behind the Las Vegas Monorail, which was never extended and is now in its second bankruptcy, The high-speed train, now dubbed “Brightline West," would be more than 10 times the cost.

VIDEO VAULT | All aboard the original Las Vegas monorail

Will the Brightline West ever be completed -- or even break ground? Time will tell, once economic conditions improve.

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(1) Video showed the French Railway System SNCF (Société Nationale des Chemins de fer Français).

(2) The current proposal would provide high-speed rail from Las Vegas to Los Angeles - with a transfer in Palmdale - in 2029 under the most optimistic scenario.

(3) Reporter Donna Cline worked at Channel 3 in the mid-1980s, and while there won the "Miss Wheelchair USA" competition. She passed away in 1999.

(4) Harry Reid was elected to the House of Representatives in 1982 and the U.S. Senate in 1986, where he eventually rose to the rank of Senate Majority Leader. He is now retired but still keeps active in Nevada politics.

(5) Bill Briare served as mayor of Las Vegas from 1975 to 1987. He passed away in 2006.

(6) Briare and Reid became stalwart supporters of a MagLev (Magnetically Levitated) train to Anaheim until Reid switched tracks for the XPressWest to Victorville in 2009.

(7) SuperSpeed Train Development gave way to the California-Nevada Super Speed Train Commission, and was later replaced by the Nevada High-Speed Rail Authority.

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