Would you take a new rail line from SLC to Las Vegas, Boise or LA?

May 22, 2023, 4:00 PM | Updated: Jun 3, 2023, 11:34 am

The view from the 600 South TRAX train is pictured in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, June 8, 2022. Of...

The view from the 600 South TRAX train is pictured in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, June 8, 2022. Officials say the station is anticipated to open in the spring. (Laura Seitz, Deseret News)

(Laura Seitz, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — A new rail line from Salt Lake City to Las Vegas, Boise and Los Angeles may be in the works. The Utah Transit Authority is exploring the idea of creating these new lines to allow more travel options from Salt Lake. 

Jay Evensen with the Deseret News joined Dave Noriega and Debbie Dujanovic, D2, on a recent episode to discuss the possibility following a joint KSL-Deseret News editorial board meeting last week where UTA brought up the idea. 

Evensen said two things come to mind when discussing such a rail line expansion: potential ridership and cost. For example, Evensen said California passed a $9 billion bond in 2009 to build a high-speed rail between San Francisco and LA. But no tracks have been laid and the current cost has now reached about $28 billion. 

Is there a market for the new rail lines?

Evensen went on to tell Dave and Debbie that he doesn’t expect much ridership to take place from Salt Lake to Vegas if the rail was constructed. 

“Between Los Angeles and Vegas is bumper-to-bumper traffic on a Friday night, but once you leave Las Vegas it’s crickets. There’s no traffic between there [Las Vegas] and here [Utah] on a weekend. So I think there’s probably enough interest in going from LA to Las Vegas, I’m just not sure you’d get that much ridership from Salt Lake to Las Vegas,” Evensen explained. 

As for a rail line to Boise, Evensen said he can only imagine a market for such a thing if it opened a corridor to the northwest. That said, he highlights that competition with air traffic would still be present. 

“It would be a lot longer, probably more hassle and I don’t know if Americans are up for that,” he said when comparing a rail line to flying. 

He said that to potentially reach a market with the idea, the rail line would have to be high-speed. Currently, high-speed rails reach up to 150 mph, however, Evensen said that number may increase. 

“But they’re talking about eventually maybe 200-220 mph,” he said. 

Although this idea is worth looking at, the actuality of it is many years into the future. Thus far, there is no dollar amount of what it would cost to construct these rail lines.

UTA is only in the talking stage surrounding the idea. 

Listen to the full episode below. 

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Would you take a new rail line from SLC to Las Vegas, Boise or LA?