All Aboard! Next Stop Las Vegas, NV

Taylor Stephan |
Virgin Trains
Rendering of proposed XpressWest high-speed rail line. Photo Credit: Review Journal

A high-speed rail from Southern California to Las Vegas, NV is on the horizon. Brightline/Virgin Trains has announced they plan on bringing high-speed rail service from Victorville, CA to Las Vegas, NV by 2023.

The high-speed rail project is known as XpressWest, and there have been many iterations over the years. Proposals ranging from express rail service from Los Angeles to Las Vegas as well as linking the route to the planned, and now canceled, California high-speed rail project have come and gone, but this proposal seems like it could be the one.

Virgin Trains, formerly known as Brightline, has secured bond funding from both California and Nevada for the XpressWest project. Specifically, California has awarded $600 million in private activity bonds while Nevada is awarding $200 million. That’s not all, these private activity bonds can be sold for up to four times their value, meaning the $600 million from California could potentially turn into $2.4 billion and the $200 million from Nevada may become $800 million. Along with the California and Nevada financing, the U. Department of Transportation has allocated $1 billion to the project, bringing the total potential financing amount to $4.2 billion.

The proposed route of XpressWest high-speed rail line. Photo Credit: Urbanize LA

The most recent proposal brings direct high-speed rail service for the 180-mile route from Victorville, CA to Las Vegas, NV in approximately 85-90 minutes. Compared to the roughly 3-4-hour drive (which I’ve don’t way too many times), I’m very intrigued. The trains would be electric and travel at nearly 200mph carrying up to 600 passengers at a time. The project would start as Victorville to Las Vegas, with a future option of expanding the line to Palmdale and Rancho Cucamonga, CA.

A project of this magnitude is something to keep an eye on. I’ve driven Interstate 15 enough times to know I’d rather be relaxing in a train cabin than dealing with other motorists. This project could certainly change the way people travel between Southern California and Las Vegas, and hopefully, reduce the number of cars on the road. Also, thousands of temporary construction jobs could potentially be created, with around 1,000 potential permanent jobs after the project is completed. Only time will tell, but maybe Southern California will finally get into the high-speed train game after all.

Heavy traffic along Interstate 15 outside Las Vegas, NV. Photo credit: Review Journal

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