Anaheim Linked to Magnetic Train Plan : Las Vegas Officials Cite Tourism Potential of $2-Billion Proposal

Times Urban Affairs Writer

Las Vegas officials, promoting plans for a high-speed, magnetically powered train, are considering an Anaheim station for the unfunded, $2-billion rail line.

“We think it has a lot of potential for drawing tourists from other parts of the country to our area and Southern California,” said Richard Welch, development director for the Las Vegas Department of Economic and Urban Development.

A study is due next month, Welch said, that will detail the effect an Anaheim station--possibly at Anaheim Stadium--would have on ridership figures. Those figures, compiled last year, assumed the line would end near Ontario Airport.

Last September, armed with findings from a $1.25-million study, Las Vegas officials claimed that the 200-to-300-mile-per-hour train is both technologically and economically feasible.


The legislatures in California and Nevada are considering bills that would create a bi-state commission to develop the rail link. It is estimated that it would generate 3.35 million passenger trips in 1995, based on a projected $65 round-trip fare.

Under consideration is use of a West German magnetically levitated train, which floats one to four inches above a guideway and is propelled by magnetic flow.

Ontario and San Bernardino officials have balked at the idea, arguing that the economic benefits from the project would flow disproportionately to Las Vegas, while their communities might be disrupted by construction and suffer losses in tourist revenue.

However, Orange County officials are taking a wait-and-see approach.


Anaheim Councilman Irv Pickler, a member of the county Transportation Commission, said that he sees nothing wrong with Anaheim Stadium as a site for a major new train facility and recalled that the stadium has land set aside for rail service.

However, he echoed other city and county officials who said the Las Vegas plans are still too vague to comment on.

“It sounds OK to me,” Pickler said. “It could be very interesting. . . . But we don’t know enough about it.”

Several city and county officials attended a briefing by Las Vegas officials last December at the Anaheim Convention Center. However, Anaheim was not under consideration to the extent that it is now, according to Welch.


He said the city has asked the Washington, D.C.-based Barton-Aschman consulting firm to expand on earlier data that showed an Anaheim station might be feasible. The new ridership figures are expected “within 30 days,” he said.

Welch said preliminary research indicated that an Anaheim-Ontario link would be used by some commuters who want to avoid Orange County’s traffic jams, and could be routed through Chino and Santa Ana Canyon along the Riverside Freeway and the Santa Ana River.

The entire project still has no financing. Las Vegas officials hope that West German, French or Japanese industrial giants will invest heavily in the project in hopes of building and operating the train service.