by Michael J. Shapiro | September 18, 2018
Privately owned, intercity passenger-train system Brightline has agreed to acquire XpressWest, a high-speed rail project expected to connect Las Vegas and Southern California. The federally approved project includes 38 acres of land adjacent to the Las Vegas Strip, which will become home to a train station and a mixed-use development.
Brightline already operates passenger rail service in Florida, connecting Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, with plans to expand to Orlando and Tampa. The western project will be Brightline's first outside the Sunshine State, and only the second privately funded, intercity passenger-train service in the United States.
"Brightline is changing transportation in our country by connecting heavily trafficked corridors that are too long to drive and too short to fly," said Wes Edens, co-founder and co-CEO of Fortress Investment Group, which secures funds for Brightline. "Our experience in Florida is proving that private-sector investment has a meaningful role to play in developing transportation infrastructure. We're excited to bring Brightline's world-class and convenient travel experience to Southern California and Las Vegas."
The almost two-hour ride will offer another transportation option for the heavily traveled route between Vegas and SoCal -- a trip made more than 50 million times a year, according to studies cited by Brightline. The rail company will take over the development, construction and operation of the project, with the first Southern California station to be established in Victorville -- about 85 miles northeast of Los Angeles, on the edge of the Mojave Desert. Brightline plans to add a station in the L.A. area eventually.
The rail corridor's first phase is planned for an area adjacent to Interstate 15, with construction beginning next year and service kicking off in 2022.
"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," added California State Transportation Agency secretary Brian Annis.