The private company hoping to start construction on a high-speed train from Southern California to Las Vegas this summer is delaying the project at least until 2022. The Southern Nevada station would be near the casinos on the Las Vegas Strip.
Brightline West is proposing to build a 200-mph train from the Apple Valley-Victorville area in California to Las Vegas. The all-electric train would be the fastest in the nation. The trip would take about three hours.
Earlier this year, Brightline officials said they planned to begin construction during the second quarter of this year. That means construction was to start by next week.
However, Brightline spokesman Ben Porritt now says the company has “shifted” its timeline. He told the Las Vegas Review-Journal a plan to link downtown Los Angeles to the Victorville area has been delayed by the coronavirus pandemic. The proposed Victorville-Apple Valley main station is in San Bernardino County, about 90 miles east of Los Angeles.
Porritt said the train company is waiting until next year to seek the private activity bonds it needs from Nevada and California to build the above-ground line. About 135 miles of the 170-mile track would follow Interstate 15, according to the Brightline website.
Brightline previously sent a letter to the Nevada High-Speed Rail Authority outlining the difficulties in financing the $8 billion project during a pandemic.
China ‘Going to Eat Our Lunch’
US Rep. Dina Titus (D) is trying to help Brightline get federal funds for the rail service. She has sponsored an amendment to a House bill that would allow private companies such as Brightline to receive federal grants, according to The Hill website.
Titus told The Hill the Brightline project would “demonstrate that high-speed rail can work in this country.”
“High-speed rail connecting Las Vegas to Southern California would reduce traffic, decrease air pollution, and boost Southern Nevada’s economy,” the Las Vegas congresswoman said.
In promoting his $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan, President Joe Biden (D) has warned that China is surging ahead of the US in high-speed rail service. China is investing billions of dollars in transportation and other infrastructure needs, the president said.
“They have a major, major new initiative on rail, and they already have rail that goes 225 miles an hour with ease,” Biden said. “They’re going to, you know, if we don’t get moving, they’re going to eat our lunch.”
Failed Train Plans
The Brightline proposal is the most recent among several plans over the years to construct a high-speed train from Southern California to Las Vegas.
In a “Video Vault” segment broadcast on KSNV-TV in Las Vegas, veteran reporter Tom Hawley said high-speed rail plans are “not exactly new here.”
We’ve been hearing variations going back three-and-a-half decades,” Hawley said.
A reader commenting on a previous Casino.org story about the Brightline proposal urged the company to get going on the project.
“This has been talked about so long I could (have) walked to Vegas from the Inland Empire and back five times in that span,” said a reader identified as CJ. “Stop the talk and get it together.”
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