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Vegas Or Bust: Brightline To Build Rail Line Connecting SoCal To Las Vegas

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Florida-based Brightline is going to Las Vegas.

The nation’s only privately owned and managed rail system announced it is resuscitating the dormant 185-mile high-speed rail project to Las Vegas from Victorville and later Los Angeles when it acquires XpressWest.

Vegas Or Bust: Brightline To Build Rail Line Connecting SoCal To Las Vegas
Brightline President Patrick Goddard waves to riders May 19, 2018.

A Brightline spokeswoman declined to disclose the cost of the acquisition. Construction for the 150 mph bullet train could begin as early as next year and start service by 2022.

“Brightline is changing transportation in our country by connecting heavily trafficked corridors that are too long to drive and too short to fly,” Fortress Investment Group co-founder and co-CEO Wes Edens said in a news release. New York-based Fortress Investment Group owns Brightline.

The SoCal-to-Las Vegas high-speed rail project often discussed in this part of the nation, but that never materialized for one reason or another, could provide another ground alternative for Southern Californians heading to Sin City.

More than a quarter of Las Vegas’ 42 million visitors in 2017 hailed from Southern California, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.

The Interstate 15 freeway — the main freeway that links Las Vegas to Southern California — is one of the most traveled routes in the country. 

However, at times, its two or three lanes cannot handle the estimated 50 million riders traveling on that freeway that goes to Las Vegas, Arizona, Salt Lake City and Idaho. Car accidents can turn the usually four-hour ride from Los Angeles to Las Vegas into a six- or eight-hour trip.

Brightline will build a high speed rail connecting Victorville to Las Vegas

XpressWest received the rights to develop a federally approved corridor connecting Southern California and Las Vegas in 2009. Funding the project has been a challenge for XpressWest. Reports show the high-speed rail project could cost $7B to $8B to build.

A Brightline spokeswoman told Bisnow the company believes it can cut that cost in half. 

The 185-mile high-speed rail should take visitors from Victorville to Las Vegas in less than two hours.

There are no mentions of stops or stations in Barstow or Baker — two California cities along the Interstate 15 freeway.

Brightline officials said they are planning additional stations and connectivity to the California Metrolink and the state high-speed rail that is currently underway.

The first station will be built in Victorville. An address was not given.

Brightline officials said the Las Vegas Station is expected to be within the resort corridor and described it as a "major intermodal hub with access to taxis, buses, shuttles, and limousines." Brightline will acquire 38 acres adjacent to the Las Vegas strip for construction of the station and mixed-used development.

“California has a vision for a modernized rail network that is fast, clean, and convenient for travelers, and the introduction of Brightline service linking Southern California to Las Vegas will help us achieve that vision,” California State Transportation Agency Secretary Brian Annis said in a news release. “Brightline will be beneficial for our economy and our transportation system.”