Attempts to contact Mark IV Construction’s attorney, Kenneth M. Rozich of Jacobs & Rozich LLC, were unsuccessful.

DesertXpress will follow the Interstate 15 alignment between Victorville, Calif. and Las Vegas, using existing right-of-way either along the median or roadside, and will build two passenger stations, a maintenance-storage-operation facility and three electrical substations. The project’s overhead catenary electric powered trains will travel up to 150 mph, using off-the-shelf steel wheel technology.

DesertXpress is supposed to divert 3 million automobile trips annually, about 22% of total traffic, from a 186-mile stretch of I-15 that has lacked passenger train service for 14 years. Amtrak shuttered its 18-year-old Desert Wind route in 1997 due to low ridership. Traffic between Victorville and Vegas is estimated to reach 75,000 vehicles a day in 2015, the EIS says, eventually increasing by 25% in 2025. The line potentially could be extended 50 miles west to Palmdale where a station is planned for the future state-wide California High Speed Train system.

DesertXpress will initially consist of 14 to 16 Bombardier Zefiro trains, each carrying 675 passengers. A one-way trip would last 1.24 hours and cost $50. Construction is expected to take three to four years, and create 35,000 jobs, project backers say.

In 2009, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) swung support from a proposed maglev line to DesertXpress because it wasn’t “seeking any federal funding,” among other reasons. The project’s price tag, however, has since ballooned by 33.3%, prompting the DesertXpress’ private development consortium to apply for $4.9-billion in Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing. If approved, the federal loan would be more than four times the amount the program has loaned to 28 railroad projects since 2002