A new high-speed train that can whisk travelers between Los Angeles and Las Vegas will receive $3 billion in federal funding, the Biden administration announced Tuesday.
The Brightline West train connecting the two cities is expected to take half as much time as a trip by car and be completed in 2028.
Lawmakers from the two adjacent states that will be home to the project have been lobbying the U.S. Department of Transportation to support the new rail service. When complete, the 218-mile trip will take about two hours on a train that will have a cruising speed of 200 miles per hour.
“As far back as 2001, I’ve been advocating to bring a true high-speed rail system to Southern Nevada, and I am thrilled that this funding will allow Brightline West and the Nevada Department of Transportation to do just that,” Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., said in a statement, adding that the service will set “an unprecedented example for the possibilities of high-speed rail in our country.”
The funding is provided through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and will cover about a quarter of the cost of the $12 billion project. Brightline West has already received $1 billion in private activity bonds from the U.S. Department of Transportation.
The only privately owned and operated intercity passenger railroad in the United States, Brightline currently operates along a 70-mile strength of South Florida that connects Miami and West Palm Beach. Earlier this year, it extended its service another 170 miles to Orlando.
Brightline’s train connecting the LA area to Las Vegas will be its first on the West Coast. LA is the top market of origin for Las Vegas visitors, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, but getting between the two cities has always been problematic. Flying is fast but expensive. Driving is cheaper but slow.
Rail operator Brightline West announced earlier this year that it had struck a deal with the High-Speed Rail Labor Coalition to begin work on the nation’s first high-speed rail project. The all-electric train will connect a station in Apple Valley, 90 miles east of the city of LA, to Las Vegas along Interstate 15. The train is expected to create more than 35,000 jobs, generate over $10 billion in economic activity and reduce 400,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually.
“Americans want high-speed rail, and Brightline West and the High-Speed Rail Labor Coalition will deliver,” the coalition said in a statement Tuesday. “Brightline West will be the most elegant travel by rail experience you can have in America, and it will be the catalyst for America’s renaissance of travel by high-speed rail.”
Construction on the Nevada portion of the rail line is expected to begin next summer.
In 2020, Brightline signed a right-of-way agreement that allows it to build the 135-mile California portion of the corridor in the middle of Interstate 15. The agreement enables the California Department of Transportation to oversee construction and maintenance of the rail line that will begin in Apple Valley at a train station to be constructed off Interstate 15’s Dale Evans Parkway exit.
Because Apple Valley isn’t exactly LA, Brightline will build an extension of the line to a Metrolink station in Rancho Cucamonga. Both stops will allow Brightline’s Las Vegas train to connect to the greater LA area’s more robust transportation network.