In March, the Nevada Rail Coalition sent a letter to Amtrak, the Federal Railroad Administration, and their partners thanking them for taking on the Amtrak Daily Long-Distance Service Study. We also provided them with recommendations for the restoration of the Desert Wind route and improvements to the California Zephyr route.
The Desert Wind, an Amtrak line that used to connect Denver to Los Angeles through Salt Lake City and Las Vegas, was discontinued in 1997. Las Vegas’s population has grown from 392,074 in 1997 to 2.839 million in 2022 – that’s a 724% increase. Las Vegas is also completely unserved by passenger rail. Restoration of the Desert Wind would provide key access to long-distance rail transportation for a growing, diverse population in Las Vegas.
It would also serve rural towns in Nevada, Utah, and Colorado. The FRA’s own research shows there is significant existing demand for services to and between rural communities in the intermountain west.
The daily California Zephyr route is designed to be a long-distance route, but it also provides critical transportation access to residents of small towns in northern Nevada that are underserved, if served at all, by public transportation. After Greyhound discontinued parallel services in 2018, Amtrak became the only public transport option connecting Elko, Winnemucca, and Reno.
In our letter, we requested the addition of two California Zephyr stops in Wendover and Lovelock, a shift to twice daily service, and commitment to the improvements outlined in Nevada’s State Rail Plan (Chapter 2, page 11). Although it is outside the scope of the study, we also asked the FRA/Amtrak to work with the relevant agencies to expedite the extension of California’s existing Capitol Corridor passenger train service to Reno.
Find out more and read our letter here.