Calif.-Vegas party train could hit tracks in 2013

Associated Press Modified: November 23, 2012 at 3:03 am •  Published: November 23, 2012
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LAS VEGAS (AP) — As if a weekend in Las Vegas isn't wild enough for Southern Californians, a Nevada entrepreneur is about to add five more hours of party to either end.

After striking an agreement with Union Pacific Railroad last week, the Las Vegas Railway Express is one step closer to bringing to life the X Train, a luxurious "party train" complete with big screen TVs, recliners and two ultra lounges.

"The whole idea is when you get on a train, you feel like you're in Las Vegas," said Michael Barron, president and CEO of the $100 million venture that hopes to launch its maiden voyage on New Year's Eve 2013. "It's essentially a nightclub on wheels."

Tourists can't get from Southern California to Las Vegas by rail alone, and Barron's company isn't the first to try and fix that. The much-talked-about XpressWest project proposes a high-speed train connecting Sin City to the region from which it draws 25 percent of its tourists.

But it's a multi-billion-dollar proposal that would require setting new tracks, and it's often panned as a "train to nowhere" because the first phase would start in relatively obscure Victorville, about 100 miles outside of Los Angeles.

The X Train proposal calls for an Amtrak crew aboard a 576-passenger train that runs at standard speeds on traditional tracks.

It would start in Fullerton, Calif. — already home to an Amtrak station and part of Southern California's Metrolink commuter train network — and end in downtown Las Vegas.

A conditional agreement with Union Pacific, approved Nov. 16, will allow the company to use a rail line that's currently limited to freight trains and hasn't served passengers since Amtrak discontinued its Desert Wind service in 1997 due to low ridership.

Tickets for the adults-only train would cost $99 each way and include a meal and beverage, with plenty more alcohol available for purchase. To keep ticket prices low, the company would try to make money booking Las Vegas hotels and entertainment for passengers.

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