What to know about the proposed LA-to-Las Vegas high-speed rail

A Brightline train is shown at a station in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Jan. 11, 2018. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File)

By Aleza Freeman

July 28, 2023

A $12 billion bullet train connecting Southern Nevada and Southern California is speeding toward an official groundbreaking by the end of the year.

Capable of reaching top speeds of over 186 mph, the train will whisk passengers 218 miles between the Los Angeles suburb of Rancho Cucamonga and a Southern Nevada station at Las Vegas Boulevard and Blue Diamond Road. In total, the trip will take about two hours and 10 minutes–twice as fast as normal driving times.

The high-speed rail project is 20 years in the making, with an initial environmental assessment for a Las Vegas-to-Apple Valley connection dating back to 2011. The Federal Railroad Administration finished its review and permitting process for the Victor Valley-to-Rancho Cucamonga stretch in July.

Brightline West, which also operates an inter-city rail route along the Florida East Coast Railway between Miami and West Palm Beach, Fla., acquired the project in 2018 and aims to open in time for the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.

The train from Miami-based Brightline West will run along Interstate 15, including stations in Hesperia and Apple Valley, within the larger Victor Valley region of California.

According to the rail company, there are nearly 50 million trips between Los Angeles and Las Vegas annually–over 85% of them by car. The fully electric, emission-free rail system will transport over 11 million one-way passengers and eliminate over 3 million cars from the road annually.

With a $10 billion economic impact on California and Nevada, it will create more than 35,000 jobs, including 10,000 union construction jobs.

While 70% of the project–or $600 million–is privately funded, Brightline West is seeking the other 30% from the federal government. The company already received $25 million from the US Department of Transportation for passenger rail stations in Hesperia and Apple Valley. It also applied for $3.75 billion from the Biden administration through the Federal-State Partnership for Intercity Passenger Rail Grant Program, authorized by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

In a letter to US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, a bipartisan group of California and Nevada lawmakers praised the rail plan for creating jobs, helping the environment, and potentially fast tracking tourism.

Meanwhile, the Utah Department of Transportation has applied for a $500,000 federal grant to study the viability of the Las Vegas to Salt Lake City passenger rail.

READ MORE: Nevada gets $416 million for high-speed internet from Biden’s infrastructure law

  • Aleza Freeman

    Aleza Freeman is a Las Vegas native and award-winning journalist with two decades of experience writing and editing lifestyle, travel, entertainment, and human interest stories in Nevada. Her work has appeared in AARP magazine, Haute Living and Nevada Magazine.

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