Doesn't UP own the Antelope Valley line?
-Driving Victorville-Las Vegas is 188 miles (per Google maps). Let me round that off to 190 miles.
-Driving Palmdale-Victorville is 52 miles (per Google maps). Let me round that off to 50 miles.
-Driving Los Angeles-Palmdale is 65 miles, give or take (per Google maps).
The total distance (c. 240 miles) is the same as Miami-Orlando. Even presuming that you could get the average speed up to about 90-100 MPH on a greenfield line (I think that is a stretch), that still leaves getting over the mountains and into Los Angeles. Runtime Las Vegas-Palmdale eats up 2:24-2:40. The question is what you can manage for that last 65 miles...at 60 MPH, the time is 1:05. At 50 MPH, the time is 1:18. At 45 MPH, the time is 1:27. So at the long end of both timetables, runtime is 4:07. At the short end, 3:29. The latter is, in my view, viable; the former is just a little bit too long.
Edit: Revising and extending the analysis, I'm checking timetables:
-For Metrolink, Palmdale-Union Station runs 1:59 on "local" trains and 1:42 on the daily semi-express (which eliminates six stops and corresponds to three minutes lost per stop). This would seem to indicate 1:36 on a run that is an express operation save for Burbank, or 1:33 on a run of the route which only stopped at either Burbank or Palmdale. Of interest is that the end-to-end time Lancaster-Union Station is 2:09 and the implied time for that on a semi-express run would be 1:52.
-The stopping patterns are different (ranging from 2-4 intermediate stations), but Lancaster-Union Station was indicated as 2:32/2:48 for the same run on SP's Owl in 1957 and 2:33/2:29 for the SP's West Coast at the same time. The San Joaquin Daylight marked 2:26/2:23 in 1957 and 2:17/2:14 in 1971...so I find it fascinating that a commuter train today can out-pace what was available then.
-Route length is given as 68 miles Palmdale-Los Angeles in the timetable for the Owl (neither the West Coast nor the San Joaquin Daylight made that particular stop, and even the Owl only did it as an off-timetable flag stop).
I still think some improvements would be needed here (the total runtime floor is about four hours based on the various timetables, which is probably at the outer edge of viability for covering operating costs and interest for LA-Vegas itself)...but then again, the route as a whole (if routed in this manner) is around 310 route-miles, which is also pushing the edge of your viability envelope for "higher speed" rail in terms of distance.
Edited by Anderson, 20 September 2018 - 12:46 AM.