LOS ANGELES — Getting to Las Vegas from Los Angeles has always been problematic. Flying is fast but expensive. Driving is cheap but slow. In just a few years, however, there will be another option: a train that will whisk visitors across California and into Nevada in half as long as it takes by car.
- Rail operator Brightline West recently announced 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, east of the city of LA, to Las Vegas along Interstate 15.
- The 218-mile trip will take about 85 minutes on a train with a cruising speed of 200 miles per hour.
“Americans want high-speed rail, and Brightline West and the High-Speed Rail Labor Coalition will deliver,” according to a statement from the coalition, which includes 13 rail worker unions representing 160,000 freight, regional, commuter, and passenger railroad workers in the U.S.
City of Las Vegas Streamliner
Brightline would not be the first dedicated rail service between Southern California and Las Vegas. The City of Las Vegas was a streamlined passenger train operated by the Union Pacific Railroad between Las Vegas, Nevada, and Los Angeles, California.
- It operated from 1956 to 1968.
- It was one of several trains to operate with the experimental General Motors Aerotrain, although this experiment was short-lived.
- On September 15, 1956, the UP replaced the Aerotrain with conventional streamlined equipment which included chair cars, buffet dining car and a full lounge car.
California’s High Speed Rail Fiasco Has Cost Tax-Payers over $110 Billion Dollar
Under the leadership of Democrat Governors Jerry Brown and Gavin Newsom the bullet train between Los Angeles and San Francisco was to be America’s first experiment with high-speed rail. It became a multi-billion-dollar nightmare.
- Political compromises including pay for play charges, kick backs and typical American goverment corruption along with total incompetency created a project so expensive that almost no one knows how it can be built as originally envisioned.
Brightline will create 35,000 jobs
Construction on the $10 billion project will create 35,000 jobs and is expected to begin later this year. Brightline West expects operations will begin in 2027.
“As the most shovel-ready high-speed rail project in the United States, we are one step closer to leveling the playing field against transit and infrastructure projects around the world, and we are proud to be using America’s most skilled workers to get there,” Brightline Holdings Chief Executive Mike Reininger said in a statement.
- 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. In addition, the deal enables CalTrans to oversee the 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.
Video Review Proposed Brightline – Los Angeles to Las Vegas Service
- “That gets the project into the LA region,” Brightline West spokesperson Ben Porritt explained, “So if you’re traveling from Las Vegas to Rancho, you could hop off our train and walk right into a Metrolink train to get anywhere you wanted within the SoCal region.”
Brightline Las Vegas service Stations
Metrolink’s Rancho Cucamonga station is on the San Bernardino line between Los Angeles Union Station and Redlands. According to Metrolink spokesperson Karen Baker, Brightline West will have a dedicated platform.
“This is exciting because their service could bring a whole new market to Metrolink,” Baker said.
The Southern California commuter rail system is working with Brightline to determine how travelers will get between the two platforms and what fare will be charged “to ensure it’s a seamless experience for anyone using both systems,” she said.
U.S. Government backs Brightline
Brightline has received $1 billion in private activity bonds from the U.S. Department of Transportation to help fund the project. Brightline West has also applied for a portion of $7.2 billion in U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Railroad Administration grants for high-speed intercity passenger rail.
This month, the Federal Railroad Administration is expected to post its environmental assessment of the project and the permits that go with it, securing Brightline West’s right of way and allowing the project to proceed.
Brightline is Privately Owned
The only privately owned and operated intercity passenger railroad in the United States, Brightline currently operates along a 70-mile stretch of South Florida, connecting Miami with West Palm Beach. Later this year, it will extend its services another 170 miles to Orlando.
Brightline’s train connecting the LA area and Las Vegas will be its first on the West Coast since the City of Las Vegas Union Pacific Streamliner. According to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, LA is the top market of origin for Las Vegas visitors. Before the pandemic, in 2019, 1.6 million Angelenos visited “Sin City.”