Construction begins this year on $10 billion high-speed rail from Los Angeles to Las Vegas

Mar 8 2023, 1:46 am

The project to link the Los Angeles region and Las Vegas with a high-speed passenger rail service reached a major milestone late last month.

Brightline West reached an agreement with several rail unions for the operations and maintenance of the service, which is a key step in enabling the project to proceed.

Construction on the US$10-billion private project is now expected to begin later in 2023 for an opening in 2027, making it the first high-speed rail system in the United States, and built just in time for the Los Angeles 2028 Summer Olympic Games.

“As the most shovel-ready high-speed rail project in the United States, we are one step closer to levelling the playing field against transit and infrastructure projects around the world, and we are proud to be using America’s most skilled workers to get there,” said Mike Reininger, CEO of Brightline Holdings, in a statement.

Brightline West will run next to Interstate 15 between Las Vegas and Southern California, with a total route distance of 351 km (218 miles) and travel speeds of up to 322 km/hr (200 mph).

The eastern terminus station in Las Vegas will be conveniently located near The Strip, on a vacant 110-acre site immediately adjacent to Las Vegas Premium Outlets South Mall.

Within the Los Angeles region, there will be stations at Hesperia, Apple Valley, and Rancho Cucamonga, which will be the western terminus station and allows passengers to connect with Metrolink’s regional commuter rail services.

brightline west los angeles las vegas map

Route and station map of the high-speed rail train running between Los Angeles and Las Vegas, with the yellow and orange track lines representing future extensions beyond 2027. (Brightline West)

brightline west las vegas station high speed rail

Location of the Las Vegas terminus station for Brightline West. (Google Maps)

Rancho Cucamonga Metrolink commuter rail station

The location of Metrolink’s Rancho Cucamonga commuter rail station, which is the interim terminus for Brightline West. (Google Maps)

The end-to-end travel time between Rancho Cucamonga and Las Vegas will be about 2 hours 15 minutes, which is two times faster than driving, and comparable to air travel when the time for arriving early and waiting at airports is factored in.

The system will use zero-emission, all-electric trains, and its environmental impact when operational will be equivalent to removing three million vehicles from the road.

In the future, beyond 2027, there could be a looping extension within the Los Angeles region, with stations in San Bernardino, downtown Los Angeles, and Palmdale.

The future Palmdale station will connect with the planned future California High-Speed Rail service, which is a separate service and entity from Brightline West. The California High-Speed Rail project has experienced significant delays and cost overruns.

In 2018, Brightline launched its initial intercity service between Miami and West Palm Beach, a route of 113 km (70 miles). Later in 2023, the route will be further extended by 247 km (170 miles) northwards to reach Orlando International Airport, providing a new way to reach Walt Disney World Resort and Universal Orlando Resort. But this will not be a high-speed rail service, with travel speeds of up to 201 km/hr (125 mph) and a travel time of about three hours between Miami and Orlando.

To be considered a high-speed rail service, trains must reach a speed of at least 250 km/hr (155 mph) for at least a portion of the route.

Another high-speed rail project in the United States is Texas Central, which is planning a 390 km (240 mile) service between Houston and Dallas/Fort Worth.

Within the Pacific Northwest, the state governments of Washington and Oregon and the provincial government of British Columbia are in the very early stages of planning a potential high-speed rail service linking Vancouver, Seattle, and Portland.

brightline florida high speed rail

Brightline train in Florida. (Brightline)

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