U.S. Officials Break Ground on Los Angeles-Las Vegas High-Speed Rail 


Construction commenced this week for a groundbreaking high-speed rail line, Brightline West, designed to bridge Southern California with Las Vegas. The Brightline West system will average speeds of about 115 miles per hour and reach a top speed of around 200 mph. Billed as the first genuine high-speed rail system in the U.S. 

It is set to span a 218-mile route connecting Las Vegas to three stops in California, among them Rancho Cucamonga, approximately 40 miles east of Los Angeles.

“People have been dreaming of high-speed rail in America for decades — and now, with billions of dollars of support made possible by President Biden’s historic infrastructure law, it’s finally happening,” said Pete Buttigieg, U.S. Secretary of Transportation.

According to the company, the project is financially supported by $3 billion from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, with the remaining funds coming from private sources. It is anticipated to generate an economic impact exceeding $10 billion, whilst creating upwards of 35,000 jobs in Nevada and California throughout its construction phase.

“I believe we’ll look back and say, ‘this was the birth of an industry of high-speed rail,’” Brightline Holdings founder Wes Edens said earlier this week.

 Brightline West is targeting a 2028 operational date, coinciding with the Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. The service promises to transport passengers from Southern California to Las Vegas in approximately two hours, roughly halving the current drive time.

The Biden administration has also shown its support for Brightline with a recent green light for the issuance of $2.5 billion in tax-exempt bonds. This follows Brightline’s 2020 federal approval to issue $1 billion in comparable bonds. This allows for no further taxpayer money  allocated towards this project.

The electric-powered trains are estimated to accommodate 11 million passengers annually on a one-way basis, providing fare rates on par with those of airlines. Amenities aboard will include restrooms, Wi-Fi connectivity, catering services, and luggage check-in options.

Officials also hope the train line will relieve congestion on I-15, where drivers often sit in miles of crawling traffic while returning home to Southern California from a Las Vegas weekend. An average of more than 44,000 automobiles per day crossed the California-Nevada state line on I-15 in 2023, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority data.

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