Commercial Gaming

Las Vegas to SoCal High-Speed Train Details Released, Project Targeting 2024 Completion

Brightline West has released details on the scope of the multibillion-dollar undertaking. The high-speed train infrastructure project is planned for Las Vegas to Southern California.

Instead of sitting in traffic on I-15, Brightline West would move rail passengers between Las Vegas and California at speeds up to 200 mph. (Image: Las Vegas Review-Journal)

Last month, Brightline announced it would raise $3.2 billion in capital through the issuance of bonds backed by California and Nevada. The 260-mile rail system is designed to take cars off the road and offer eco-friendly travel between the country’s gaming capital and Los Angeles. The project is expected to cost $8 billion.

Brightline says it hopes to break ground on the railway’s first segment before the end of the year. The company plans to commence operations in the first half of 2024. The first segment will run from Victorville, Calif., to Las Vegas.

Additional expansion segments include Victorville to Rancho Cucamonga in San Bernardino County, and from there to Los Angeles Union Station.

Those who are in support of the massive build shouldn’t get their hopes up too high. The high-speed train was first conceptualized back in 2005 and has remained in flux ever since.

Advocates say the train will bring more visitors to Las Vegas from Southern California, the casino hub’s primary drawing market. The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) says 18 percent of all Sin City visitors in 2019 arrived from Southern California. People visiting from SoCal gamble more than other feeder markets, and also spend at higher rates.

Funding Needed for Project First

Brightline is a privately held company that currently operates inner-city rail routes in Miami and West Palm Beach, Fla.

Brightline was previously partnered with billionaire Richard Branson’s Virgin Group and was to call the Las Vegas to SoCal line Virgin Trains USA. That arrangement was derailed in August, Brightline saying it had terminated the Virgin licensing agreement. Branson’s empire has been hit hard by COVID-19. His Virgin Atlantic airlines filed for bankruptcy in August.

Brightline is receiving $2.4 billion in private-bond allocations from California and $800 million from Nevada. If the bonds are not sold by December 1, the project will again be put on hold. Brightline is the only private passenger rail service in the US.

Billionaire Wes Edens, whose Fortress Investment Group owns Brightline, says Brightline West would be an economic catalyst for Southern Nevada and California.

“It’s 30,000-plus construction jobs, $6 billion in economic impact, and over $800 million in federal state and local tax revenues,” Edens told Forbes. “Those are gigantic numbers, and at the end you end up with this generational asset, just like the Hoover Dam, that is going to serve this part of the world for many generations to come.”

Transportation Overhaul

The future of travel to and in Las Vegas is changing. Along with the potential of arriving in Sin City via the high-speed trail in the coming years, moving about the city is being modernized.

The LVCVA is in the process of acquiring the bankrupt Las Vegas Monorail for $24 million. If the deal is completed, the LVCVA would be able to remove a noncompete clause the Las Vegas Monorail Company holds on transportation systems on the east side of the Strip.

The LVCVA is investing heavily in underground tunnels. Billionaire Elon Musk’s Boring Company is the developer behind the below-ground infrastructure. The tourism board wants the Boring network to link McCarran International to the Strip and north to downtown Las Vegas.

Devin O'Connor

Gaming Legislation, Politics, Casino Business, Entertainment----Devin O’Connor’s passion for politics and background in the world of pop culture television give him insight into the gaming industry backstories that often drive news these days. After graduating from Penn State University with a theater arts degree, he worked at MTV Networks/Viacom from 2005 to 2010 as a writer and producer, where his credits included Total Request Live, New Year's Eve specials, and a special featuring poker superstar Daniel Negreanu. He later moved on to the HGTV/DIY Network, where he created, wrote, and produced three series specials: That's So House Hunters, That's So 80s, and That's So 90s. Devin came on board with Casino.org in 2014. He lives in Pennsylvania, and is an avid marathoner, having completed 15 races to date. Email: devin.oconnor@casino.org

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  • Their are trains already going from L.A. to the Palm Dale/ Lancaster areas in the high desert.
    Why not connect from there to the new proposed "Apple Valley" high speed train site instead of Rancho to the high desert?
    They spent tens of millions widening both sides of the Cajon Pass with five lanes each way. All that accomplished was more lanes of traffic! One little fender bender and your stuck for hours in the pass...no bueno!!!

  • There’s a lot more tweakers in LA and this is the part of the trip going to or from Vegas where freeway traffic should be wide-open but it’s notI agree traffic up and down the pass is a big big problem if that can be addressed should be a win-win

  • Elan Musk
    I'm sure he looked into the train thing until he got sidetracked on Mars. I do really like the movie "The Martian". Yep.

  • Why would anyone drive from LA to Victorville to get on a train? At that point you're halfway to Vegas. The parking lot in Victorville will be a smorgasbord for all the local tweakers.

  • And how will that help traffic exactly? The traffic to and from apple valley where this ends will be the same as now plus you will have to rent a car.

  • What happened to all the monies that Harry Reid had appropriated for the rail from So Cal to Las Vegas? He had the money and he picked/awarded the contract to build to the Marnell's who were giant supporters of harry.

  • Believe it when the first hole is dug, I am very doubtful based upon history of US high speed rail plans. Like in Texas its supposed to be a go, but "will it happen" I would not bet on it. The Vegas project needs funding and Covid19 has killed that hope off?

  • Frank Scott, a client of mine, started working on a speed train in ‘82! He was obsessed with it. I remember the model in his office. A director on the Union Plaza board, he also owned Channel 21. He died of Alzheimer’s, never realizing his dream. A visionary, this is HIS legacy!!!

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Devin O'Connor