Work starts on bullet train rail line from Sin City to the City of Angels

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

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

LAS VEGAS — A $12 billion high-speed rail line between Las Vegas and the Los Angeles area has begun construction, officials said Monday, as millions of ticket buyers are expected to ride to on board trains by 2028.

“People have dreamed of high-speed rail in America for decades,” US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a statement released at a ceremony at the future site of a terminal that will be built just south of the Las Vegas Strip.

Buttigieg predicted the project would bring “thousands of union jobs, new connections to better economic opportunities, less congestion on the roads and less pollution in the air.”

Brightline West, whose sister company already operates a fast train between Miami and Orlando, Florida, aims to lay 351 kilometers of new track between Las Vegas and another new facility in Rancho Cucamonga, California. Almost the entire distance is to be built in the middle of Interstate 15, with a stop in the Victorville area of ​​San Bernardino County.

Brightline Holdings founder and chairman Wes Edens called the moment “the founding of a new industry.”

“This is a historic project and a proud moment,” Edens said in the release. “Today is long overdue. »

Brightline aims to connect other U.S. cities that are too close together for air travel to make sense and too far apart for people to drive the distance.

Company CEO Mike Reininger said the goal is to have the trains running in time for the 2028 Los Angeles Summer Olympics.

Brightline received $6.5 billion in support from the Biden administration, including a $3 billion grant from federal infrastructure funds and approval for the sale of an additional $2.5 billion of tax-exempt bonds. The company won federal approval in 2020 to sell $1 billion in similar bonds.

The project is billed as the country’s first true high-speed rail line, designed to reach speeds of 186 mph (300 km/h), comparable to Japan’s Shinkansen bullet trains.

The route between Vegas and Los Angeles is largely open space, with no practical alternative to I-15. Brightline’s Southern California terminal will be located on a commuter rail link to downtown Los Angeles.

The project outline says electric trains will cut the four-hour trip across the Mojave Desert to just over two hours. Forecasts call for 11 million one-way passengers per year, or around 30,000 per day, with fares well below the costs of air travel. The trains will offer rest rooms, Wi-Fi, food and drink sales and the ability to check baggage.

Las Vegas is a popular driving destination for Southern Californians. Officials hope the train line will ease congestion on I-15, where drivers often sit in miles of crawling traffic as they return home from a weekend in Las Vegas.

The Las Vegas region, which is now approaching 3 million inhabitants, attracts more than 40 million visitors per year. Passenger traffic at the city’s Harry Reid International Airport set a record 57.6 million in 2023. On average, more than 44,000 automobiles per day crossed the California-Nevada border on the I-15 in 2023, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. data.

Florida-based Brightline Holdings launched the Miami-Orlando line in 2018 with trains reaching speeds of up to 125 mph (200 km/h). It expanded its service to Orlando International Airport last September. It offers 16 round trips per day, with one-way tickets for the 235-mile (378-kilometer) distance costing about $80.

Other fast trains in the United States include Amtrak’s Acela, which can reach 150 mph while sharing tracks with freight and commuter service between Boston and Washington, DC.

Passenger trains to Las Vegas ended in 1997, when Amtrak discontinued its service called Desert Wind. The idea of ​​a high-speed train to Los Angeles dates back to at least 2005 under various names, including DesertXpress.

Brightline West acquired rights to the project in 2019, gathered right-of-way and environmental approvals and entered into labor agreements.

Ideas to connect other U.S. cities with high-speed passenger trains have been floated in recent years, including between Dallas and Houston; Atlanta to Charlotte, North Carolina; and Chicago to St. Louis. Most faced delays.

In California, voters approved a proposed 500-mile rail line from Los Angeles to San Francisco in 2008, but the project has been hampered by rising costs and route conflicts. A 2022 business plan from the California High-Speed ​​Rail Authority predicted the cost would more than triple to $105 billion.

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Sara Adm

Aimant les mots, Sara Smith a commencé à écrire dès son plus jeune âge. En tant qu'éditeur en chef de son journal scolaire, il met en valeur ses compétences en racontant des récits impactants. Smith a ensuite étudié le journalisme à l'université Columbia, où il est diplômé en tête de sa classe. Après avoir étudié au New York Times, Sara décroche un poste de journaliste de nouvelles. Depuis dix ans, il a couvert des événements majeurs tels que les élections présidentielles et les catastrophes naturelles. Il a été acclamé pour sa capacité à créer des récits captivants qui capturent l'expérience humaine.
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