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This Week at Amtrak; April 27, 2010
A weekly digest of events, opinions, and forecasts from
United Rail Passenger Alliance, Inc.
America’s foremost passenger rail policy institute
1526 University Boulevard, West, PMB 203 • Jacksonville, Florida 32217-2006 USA
Telephone 904-636-7739, Electronic Mail email@example.com • http://www.unitedrail.org
Volume 7, Number 13
Founded over three decades ago in 1976, URPA is a nationally known policy institute which focuses on solutions and plans for passenger rail systems in North America. Headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida, URPA has professional associates in Minnesota, California, Arizona, New Mexico, the District of Columbia, Texas, New York, and other cities. For more detailed information, along with a variety of position papers and other documents, visit the URPA web site at http://www.unitedrail.org.
URPA is not a membership organization, and does not accept funding from any outside sources.
1) Thank you, Bill Lindley for allowing me to “borrow” This Week at Amtrak for this special edition. This is Bruce Richardson, and I have a special announcement to make.
2) I’ve been waiting for over a year to write this column, and I’m immensely excited about what I have to tell you. Today, April 27, 2010, a new, privately funded and privately operated intercity passenger train is being announced, slated to begin operations during the Christmas season of 2011.
The name of the train is “Z-Train,” and it will operate six days a week on a regular schedule between Los Angeles Union Station and Las Vegas, Nevada, with an intermediate stop in Ontario, California.
Initially, the train will be 14 cars long, made up of a combination of bi-levels and dome cars.
3) Some of you reading this may think this is old news; that you heard about the Las Vegas train 10 days ago.
That was the X Train of Las Vegas Railway Express; this is the Z-Train.
It’s a bit of a sordid story about how two trains came about.
Z-Train has been in continuous, active development since 2007. When I was first contacted about Z-Train in March 2009, before I could have more than a cursory telephone conversation with Romm Doulton, the Las Vegas entrepreneur of D2 Holdings who created Z-Train, I had to sign a lengthy and complicated non-compete, non-disclosure legal document. Everyone even marginally involved with the project has signed the identical document for the protection of the project.
Earlier, in 2008, before I became involved with the project, a local gentleman in Las Vegas was briefly part of the development team. He invited a second gentleman to learn about the development group; both of these people signed the same non-compete, non-disclosure document. Neither gentleman was related to the project very long; in fact, the second gentleman only had a cursory involvement as part of Z-Train’s development team.
So, they went away.
But, it appears they took with them all of the team’s proprietary plans and documents which had been created up to that point in 2008.
Since then, plans for Z-Train have matured and changed dramatically, as is often in the case of projects like this, as new people with new or better ideas join development teams.
In July 2009, in my United Rail Passenger Alliance e-mail box, I received an invitation from the X Train people to review their project and give them any advice I may want to offer.
I immediately contacted Z-Train, since by then I had developed a full relationship with them, and alerted the development team about a rival project.
Instantly, the Z-Train team knew what was going on; it seemed their own, privately held materials were being used by someone else and represented as their own property, instead of the sole property of the Z-Train developers.
A cease and desist demand was made by Z-Train to X Train.
Nothing happened, and in the past 30 days various press releases have been popping up about X Train, all amazingly similar to Z-Train ideas, plans, and materials from 2008. Well, with two big exceptions. The Z-Train developers know it is impossible to have onboard, legal gambling, yet X Train says it will have gaming onboard. And, X Train says it will offer a $99 roundtrip fare, which is pretty close to impossible to do if you’re going to be financially viable.
4) There had been no plans to fully announce Z-Train until every detail was fully developed and every business relationship established.
But, then came X Train; a decision had to be made to protect the interests of Z-Train, so a public announcement – even though a bit early probably by about a month – would be made.
That’s what we’re doing today; Z-Train is seeing the first light of day in TWA.
All that out of the way; you would probably like some details about Z-Train. Here is some information for you from the Z-Train fact sheet which is part of the detail being sent to the news media today.
• Z-Train is expected to begin operations for the Christmas season in 2011.
• Plans are for the train to be pulled by Amtrak locomotives, and Amtrak will also provide train and engine crews, as well as all equipment maintenance at its Los Angeles maintenance base.
• Onboard services crews will be direct Z-Train employees.
• The route encompasses trackage rights to be provided by Metrolink in Southern California, Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway, and primarily Union Pacific Railroad.
• Los Angeles Union Station, owned by Catellus Development Corporation will be the Southern California terminal, and a new Z-Train station will be built in Las Vegas adjacent to the famous Las Vegas Strip, the heart of the hotels, resorts, and casinos in Las Vegas.
• Trip time is planned for five hours in each direction, with a single intermediate station stop in Ontario, California. The train will be turned and cleaned in Las Vegas for a same-day return to Los Angeles, where maintenance will be performed overnight.
• Z-Train will be America’s only regularly scheduled, non-government subsidized intercity passenger service between two major metropolitan areas, where anyone can purchase a ticket for transportation; operating full roundtrips six days a week.
• The train will operate Wednesdays through Mondays, with Tuesdays planned as a full maintenance day.
• Z-Train has been developed to meet the rigid requirements of host railroads and federal transportation statutes, including any necessary construction of additional railroad passing sidings or other necessary upgrades to host passenger trains. Every facet of Z-Train has been created to work in harmony with pending agreements with host railroads and operating crew and motive power providers.
Equipment and Onboard Experience
• Z-Train is beyond just traveling from one city to another; it’s a transportation, dining, pampering and entertainment experience designed to rekindle the great American slogan, “getting there is half the fun!”.
• Z-Train is the only passenger rail project which will run directly from downtown Los Angeles/Los Angeles Union Station to the heart of the Las Vegas Strip and Z-Train’s proposed, newly-built passenger train station, and is the only passenger rail project which will directly connect to all other passenger rail routes in Southern California.
• All Z-Train passenger railcars will be rebuilt and redesigned equipment from America’s most prominent passenger railcar builders, designed originally for some of America’s most luxurious passenger trains. The upgrades and modifications made by Z-Train will meet every need and desire of modern travelers from new technologies to comfortable, plush seating.
• Z-Train offers four levels of accommodations and services, all aimed at up-market travelers, especially international travelers from the lucrative Asian market.
• Food and beverage and onboard pampering and entertainment will be areas of major emphasis, with dining and lounge cars to meet every expectation and requirement for all age groups.
• Almost half of the passenger space is devoted to coach passengers, although coach passengers will have amenities and services available to them not normally found elsewhere.
• Additional classes of service are club, business, and first class premium cars, all of which have their own discrete, expanded levels of service.
• The most distinctive level of service will occur in private dome cars, each not holding more than 25 passengers per car. This unparalleled level of luxury will rival any private jet experience, appealing to the most discriminating passengers.
• Four separate dining cars run the choices from high end gourmet to an all-organic, healthy living dining car choice to a dedicated sports car, complete with micro brewery and comfort food buffet.
• Onboard services are unique, with a company of repertory players providing live entertainment, a murder on a train mystery, fortune tellers, fashions shows provided by one of the most distinctive fashion retailers, art gallery offerings, spa services, and book signings by best selling authors.
• Created by professional railroaders in the best traditions of the passenger railroad industry, combining successful historical values with today’s passenger and operating environment.
• Z-Train has been developed by a professional team working since 2007 to provide an exciting passenger rail experience between Los Angeles/Southern California and Las Vegas. Weeks, months, and years have been spent in deep research of every aspect of the market, jobs growth, and economic development for Z-Train to be an economic engine for tourism and in support of Las Vegas. Government officials on every level have been consulted, in addition to professional railroaders, hospitality and gaming industry luminaries, and marketing experts. Every facet of Z-Train has been developed with one overall goal in mind: to provide America’s unrivaled premier intercity passenger train experience.
Z-Train Limited, LLC and D2 Holdings
• D2 Holdings is headquartered in Henderson, Nevada and controlled by Romm and Elaine Doulton and James K. Clark. D2 is a well-established company with a wide variety of interests. For further information, consult www.d2holdings.net. D2 provided the company umbrella for the Z-Train development team to come together and create the project before it was formally incorporated.
• Z-Train Limited, LLC is a Nevada corporation, headquartered in Henderson, Nevada (A Las Vegas suburb).
• Romm Doulton, creator of Z-Train, currently serves as the company’s Chairman, President, and CEO while a search process is being completed to find other individuals to hold those offices. Mr. Doulton will continue to serve as a Chief Executive Officer of the company, but the other positions will be filled by individuals with a strong financial and railroad industry background.
• Z-Train has been developed using sound, conservative financial principles.
• Over $500,000 worth of time, materials, and funds spent have been put into the creation and development of Z-Train.
• Everyone associated with the development of Z-Train has been a senior executive in their respective fields.
• Z-Train as a company has been designed as an organization which will have a number of strategic alliances with corporate partners for cross marketing and branding purposes.
Marketing and Development
• Z-Train will be marketed on three levels: regional, national, and international.
• Regional marketing will reach Southern California, providing a travel choice beyond private automobiles, busses, and air travel to bring new visitors to Las Vegas.
• National marketing will promote both Z-Train and partner casinos and resorts and the city of Las Vegas.
• International marketing, aimed heavily at the lucrative Asian market, will provide a familiar travel choice to the 4.4 million Asian visitors who arrive in Los Angeles, of which 32% currently travel onward to Las Vegas via bus and airplane. Asians are currently the single most profitable demographic for visitors to Las Vegas, followed by Southern Californians.
5) That’s pretty much everything in a summary; if you want more information, you can visit Z-Train’s web site as it is being developed at www.z-trainltd.com or to find out more about the creators of Z-Train, visit www.d2holdings.net for a fascinating background on Romm and Elaine Doulton, Z-Train’s parents.
6) And, yes, this native of the Commonwealth of Virginia, and 42 year resident of Florida, who has never lived more than 100 miles (and, currently less than 20 miles) from the Atlantic Ocean is about to relocate to Las Vegas and Southern California to be a part of Z-Train as the Chief Special Projects Officer, where dreaming of the future is encouraged, and all sorts of interesting projects about present and future passenger trains await. A permanent move west will not be happening for a while, but there will be lots of airplane time between Jacksonville, Florida and Las Vegas and Los Angeles.
There will be some wonderful people from Amtrak and elsewhere working and helping create Z-Train, and it’s exciting to be a part of the re-invention of the modern intercity passenger train.
7) Make you plans now to ride Z-Train in 2012; you will be glad you did.
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J. Bruce Richardson
United Rail Passenger Alliance, Inc.
1526 University Boulevard, West, PMB 203
Jacksonville, Florida 32217-2006 USA