The Desert Wind, in Las Vegas
|Service type||Inter-city rail|
|Locale||Western United States|
|First service||October 28, 1979|
|Last service||May 10, 1997|
|End||Los Angeles, California|
|Distance travelled||2,397 miles (3,858 km)|
|Average journey time||48 hours 30 minutes|
|Service frequency||Three days per week|
|Observation facilities||Sightseer lounge|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm)|
The Desert Wind, from 1979 to 1997, was a passenger train route operated by Amtrak. It initially ran from Los Angeles, California to Ogden, Utah via Salt Lake City and Las Vegas, Nevada. It later was truncated to Salt Lake City when Amtrak's San Francisco Zephyr was rerouted from the Overland Route to the Denver and Rio Grande Western and renamed California Zephyr in 1983. At that time, cars from the Desert Wind and Pioneer (Portland, Oregon to Salt Lake City via Boise, Idaho) were added to the eastbound California Zephyr at Salt Lake City. The California Zephyr runs between Emeryville, California (near San Francisco) and Chicago, Illinois through Salt Lake City.
The Desert Wind began on October 28, 1979, amid widespread cutbacks in Amtrak's national network. The original Desert Wind was a day train with Amfleet equipment. The northbound train left Los Angeles mid-day and arrived in Ogden the following morning to connect with the eastbound San Francisco Zephyr. The southbound departed Ogden in the middle of the night after the arrival of the westbound San Francisco Zephyr from Chicago and arrived in Los Angeles in late afternoon. The 811-mile (1,305 km) journey took eighteen hours.
Beginning in 1980 the Desert Wind exchanged a Chicago-Los Angeles through coach with the San Francisco Zephyr; this service expanded in 1982 to include a sleeping car. The Desert Wind's eastern terminus moved to Salt Lake City after the re-named and re-routed California Zephyr began using the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad main line in 1983. Later the Desert Wind and the Pioneer would operate together with the California Zephyr from Chicago to Salt Lake City, where the trains separated.:142-144
The Desert Wind largely duplicated the route of the former City of Los Angeles operated by Chicago and North Western Railway and Union Pacific Railroad until May 1, 1971, when Amtrak took over passenger rail operations in the United States. The Desert Wind was discontinued on May 12, 1997, due to low ridership, conflict with freight trains, and budget cuts and replaced with Los Angeles-Las Vegas Thruway Motorcoach service. At that time the train schedule running time between Los Angeles and Las Vegas was 7 hours and 15 minutes, but many times the trains operated over one hour late.
Proposed Restoration 
Appearances in popular culture 
- The Desert Wind is mentioned in the song "Bone Against Steel" on the album of the same name by the rock band .38 Special.
- Michael Palin rides the Desert Wind in his Michael Palin: Around the World in 80 Days.
- The Desert Wind is the train that Raymond boards at the end of the film Rain Man.
- Desert Wind is described (though not mentioned by name) in Bob Seger's song "Long Twin Silver Line" from the album Against the Wind.
See also 
- Blumenthal, Ralph (January 18, 1980). "You can still ride the rails for scenery, fun". Anchorage Daily News. Retrieved September 11, 2010.
- Amtrak (October 28, 1979). "National Train Timetables". Retrieved September 11, 2010.
- Sanders, Craig (2006). Amtrak in the Heartland. Indiana University Press. ISBN 0-253-34705-X.
- Las Vegas to Los Angeles Rail Corridor Improvement Feasibility Study p1+173 Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada, June 2007. Retrieved December 12, 2011.
- "Amtrak Trains Under the Microscope in 2010", Trains, July 20, 2010.
- Tommy Batts (1997). Last Run of Amtrak's Desert Wind. Trainweb.