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High-Speed Rail Company Buys Land for Southern Nevada Train Station

The train company planning a high-speed line connecting Las Vegas to Southern California has purchased land near the Strip for a terminal station. 

This illustration shows a Brightline train zipping through desert landscape. Construction of a high-speed train track connecting Southern California to Las Vegas could take three years. (Image: KTNV-TV)

Brightline West has secured a 110-acre lot south of McCarran International Airport near the South Premium Outlets mall. Clark County records show the $140 million land purchase closed on July 1, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Brightline Holdings CEO Michael Reininger said the Las Vegas station is “tangible evidence of our commitment and progress.”

Las Vegas officials hope a high-speed train will alleviate the Interstate 15 traffic jams. On Monday, traffic was backed up for miles in scorching desert temperatures after the July 4 weekend. 

Clark County Commissioner Michael Naft told the newspaper the interstate highway to California “is simply insufficient.” Brightline’s land purchase demonstrates the rail company’s commitment to the project, he said.

It could not come soon enough, as was evident over the July 4 weekend,” Naft said.

The proposed terminal is in Clark County, outside Las Vegas city limits.

Construction Delayed

The company earlier announced it planned to start construction on the rail line by this summer. However, construction has been delayed at least until 2022. Brightline officials said they encountered difficulties financing the $8 billion project during the coronavirus pandemic.

Among some longtime Las Vegas residents, the delays have caused concern that this might be another promised train that doesn’t materialize.

“Shelving high-speed rail plans is not exactly new here,” KSNV-TV reporter Tom Hawley said late last year. “We’ve been hearing variations going back three-and-a-half decades.”

The newest proposed rail line would run from the Southern end of the Las Vegas Strip to a main terminal 90 miles east of Los Angeles in Apple Valley. Ultimately, separate extension projects would link that terminal to Los Angeles. 

The train would be the fastest in the nation, traveling at 200 mph. The company expects 11 million passengers a year to use the service. 

Casinos Nearby

The proposed Southern Nevada terminal is west of the Strip between Warm Springs Road and Windmill Lane. 

From that location, visitors can find other forms of transportation to get to casinos and additional destinations in the Las Vegas Valley.

For instance, the proposed terminal is about 10 miles from the downtown Las Vegas casino district. That equates to about a 15-minute car ride on Interstate 15, according to Google Maps.

Allegiant Stadium, home of the NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders, is four miles away. The Raiders moved to Las Vegas from Oakland in 2020, but the team made Los Angeles its home during the 1980s and early ’90s. The Raiders still have a large Southern California fan base. Many of those fans are expected to show up for games in Las Vegas. 

The Las Vegas Convention Center is about eight miles from the proposed train terminal at the southern end of the Strip. Convention-goers are seen as vital in filling up Las Vegas hotel rooms, especially during the slow midweek days. Last year, during the height of the pandemic, some resorts closed their hotel rooms during the middle of the week because of low consumer demand.  

Larry Henry

Gaming Regulation, Crime, Politics — Larry Henry is a veteran print and broadcast journalist who spent more than 16 years in Nevada, including serving as legislative reporter for the Reno Gazette-Journal and as political editor at the Las Vegas Sun. He's also written about popular culture for the Mob Museum in Las Vegas. As a broadcast journalist, he worked as managing editor at KFSM-TV, the CBS affiliate in Arkansas, where he now lives and where casino growth is a hot topic. A Marine Corps veteran and LSU graduate, he is also an avid movie fan, especially of classic film noir from the 1940s and ’50s.

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Larry Henry