A long-dormant high-speed rail project meant to connect Las Vegas and Southern California has a new owner

source
Brightline

  • A private, Florida-based transportation company said it plans to acquire a long-dormant high-speed rail project designed to connect Las Vegas to Southern California.
  • Brightline Trains plans to take up the XpressWest project in hopes of bringing an electric-powered train to the West Coast.
  • The company currently operates high-speed trains in Florida, connecting Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach.

A private, Florida-based transportation company said it plans to acquire a long-dormant high-speed rail project designed to connect Las Vegas to Southern California.

Brightline Trains plans to take up the XpressWest project, in hopes of developing an electric-powered train service for the West Coast, The Wall Street Journal reported. Brightline already operates high-speed trains in Florida, connecting Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach.

It was not immediately clear how much Brightline paid for the rights to the XpressWest project. It had already received many of the state and federal approvals it needed to get underway. The project is expected to run 185 miles along Interstate 15, the main artery between Southern California and Las Vegas.

Initially, the train will run from the Las Vegas Strip to the California desert city of Victorville, which sits about 85 miles northeast of Los Angeles.

XpressWest, which was originally conceived in 2005 by famed Las Vegas Strip contractor Tony Marnell, stalled due to a lack of funding. Brightline officials addressed that in a press release on Tuesday:

“Estimates have shown the XpressWest project to cost $7 billion, but Brightline officials believe they can cut that in half.” Ben Porritt, a company spokesperson, told Business Insider on Tuesday.

Experts have expressed doubt about whether the high-speed train project is financially viable. Some pointed to a bullet train project meant to connect Los Angeles and San Francisco – the costs of which have ballooned to $60 billion, according to the latest estimates.

But Brightline officials highlighted a study conducted by the High Desert Corridor Joint Powers Authority, an agency that supports the project. Its study claims as high-speed train could generate about $1 billion in annual revenue by 2035.

Brightline is expected to start building the rail line in 2019, and power it up by 2022.