Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak’s Desert Wind’

Las Vegas Express Debut Delayed to July 2020

August 19, 2019

A company that earlier announced it would start passenger train service between Las Vegas and Southern California has backed away from a pledge to launch it in November.

Lax Vegas Express now says it is looking at a summer 2020 launch and is working with Amtrak to make it happen.

Formerly known as X-Train, the service would operate Friday through Sunday. Backers of the service has talked about the potential for package deals with Las Vegas hotels and resorts.

Michael Barron, chairman and CEO of Las Vegas Xpress said that he expects the service to operate “as an Amtrak train” by July 2020.

Amtrak last operated between Las Vegas and Los Angeles in 1997 when the Desert Wind was discontinued.

New Las Vegas Rail Service Plan Surfaces

November 26, 2018

A private company has revived an earlier idea to offer intercity rail passenger service between Southern California and Las Vegas.

Las Vegas Railway Express said it plans to acquire and rebuild Bombardier commuter rail passenger cars that it will operate between Las Vegas and San Bernardino, California, on Union Pacific and BNSF tracks.

The company had in 2013 proposed a similar service known as X Train.

The latest idea could get underway next year, the company said.

The route has been without intercity rail service since May 1997 when Amtrak discontinued is Desert Wind, which carried through cars between Chicago and Los Angeles.

The cars were conveyed between Chicago and Salt Lake City on the California Zephyr.

Michael Barron, who is leading Las Vegas Railway Express, told Trains magazine that he has yet to reach agreements with the Class 1 railroads involved as well as the Las Vegas’ Plaza Hotel and Casino where Amtrak once had a station.

If the service materializes, Barron expects to operate a weekly round trip that would leave San Bernardino around noon on Friday and return late Sunday afternoon.

Connections are expected to be available in San Bernardino with Metrolink commuter trains.

Barron told Trains that Metrolink has 56 stations and 12 million existing riders and is looking for opportunities to promote weekend traffic.

The 226-mile trip to Las Vegas is expected to take 4½ hours even though UP and Amtrak passenger trains didn’t cover that distance in less than five hours.

Double Shot of Amtrak P32-8 Locomotives

December 30, 2016


I’ve only seen a pair of Amtrak P32-8 locomotives paired together on the point of a train one time. Maybe it used to be a common occurrence, but not that I saw.

Usually, one P32-8 was paired with a P40DC or P42DC. I even once saw a consist of a P40, a P32-8 and an F40PH.

I had my camera with me when I saw these two P32s, each wearing their original livery, wheeling the Chicago to Los Angeles Desert Wind through Riverside, Illinois.

It is April 8, 1996, and during the height of the era when some Amtrak long-distance trains did not operate daily.

One of those was the California Zephyr, which had long forwarded the Desert Wind through cars out of Chicago.

But on this day the Desert Wind is operating solo. The Zephyr will be back tomorrow, but probably not a pair of P32 units working in tandem.

Last Glory for the SDP40F in the West

November 1, 2016


Based on photographs that I’ve seen, my own experience riding Amtrak, and various news reports from the early 1980s, one last blaze of glory for Amtrak’s SDP40F locomotives in the West pulling the Desert Wind between Los Angeles and Ogden, Utah.

The six-axle cowl units were part of motive power consists assigned to that train in the early 1980s. In fact, my last trip ever behind an SDP40F and the last time that I saw one in revenue service occurred on Oct. 29, 1981, when I rode the Desert Wind to Los Angeles.

By then the train had Superliner equipment so an F40PH was always the trailing unit to provide head-end power.

Shown is SDP40F No. 526 during a service stop in Las Vegas. No. 526 was part of the original order of SDP40Fs and, hence, received the Phase II livery.

All 150 SDP40F locomotives arrived from EMD in the Phase I livery and many never wore anything else.

No. 526 was built in July 1973, about a month after the first SDP40Fs went into service. It is one of just two of the first order of 40 SDP40Fs that were not traded into EMD for an F40PH locomotive.

No. 526 along with No. 511 were sold to the Santa Fe in 1985 where they became Nos. 5255 and 5251 respectively.

On this day, No. 526 could count itself a survivor and one of the longest-serving SDP40Fs in the Amtrak motive power fleet.