High-speed trains to connect Las Vegas and Southern California in two hours
Las Vegas and Southern California will be connected in just two hours by high-speed trains: that is the plan of Brightline, the company which has built a new rail link in Florida.
The Miami-based firm has bought another enterprise, XpressWest, which has existing rights to build a high-speed rail corridor between Southern California and Las Vegas.
Brightline believes services will begin on its second privately funded line in 2022. It is buying 38 acres of land adjacent to the Las Vegas “Strip” to build the terminus, which it promises will be “a major intermodal hub with access to taxis, buses, shuttles and limousines”.
The distance between Las Vegas and Los Angeles is about 270 miles, roughly the same as London to Newcastle – and described as “too long to drive, too short to fly”.
But repeated efforts to establish a modern rail link have foundered. Between 1979 and 1997, the route was served by the Desert Wind train, operated by Amtrak – the federal train operator.
Initially, Brightline will run between Las Vegas and the small city of Victorville, a distance of 185 miles. It will simply parallel the existing I-15 freeway.
The firm says it has “future plans to expand into the Los Angeles area,” which could involve linking up with a new high-speed line from San Francisco.
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Patrick Goddard, president of Brightline, said: “Today’s announcement is an important milestone for our company as we reimagine transportation between these major metropolitan areas.”
Nevada’s governor, Brian Sandoval, said: “The introduction of high-speed rail between Las Vegas to Southern California will bring significant economic and environmental benefits to our state and support increased tourism.”
“High-speed rail” is a relative term in the US, where most long-distance train journeys are slower than by car. The average speed is likely to be less than 100mph.
Amtrak still shows a connection from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, but to the one in New Mexico rather than Nevada.