Vegas to LA High-Speed Rail Project Inches Forward

Brightline West tentatively set to break ground in 2023

By Dolores Quintana

Brightline West, a proposed high speed rail project that would connect Las Vegas to the Los Angeles-area has announced a new date to break ground to build the project. 

A report from Forbes says that Brightline has set a tentative date to begin construction in 2023 on a 170 mile electrified railway line that would be built on leased land close to I-15. This high speed train would hit maximum speeds of 180 miles per hour and the entire trip would take about 90 minutes starting at the Apple Valley train station. Each train could carry 1,200 passengers and would leave every 45 minutes. Should construction begin in 2023, passenger services could begin in 2026, three years later. 

This is the third announcement of ground breaking for the project from Brightline’s developers. Previous dates were announced in 2020 and 2021 but were delayed because of the effects of the worldwide pandemic and a lack of interest from investors. 

There is a concurrent study being conducted to explore an additional spur that could be built to connect the Apple Valley to Las Vegas line to the city of Rancho Cucamonga. This would allow passengers from Los Angeles to take Metrolink commuter rail to and from Union Station in Los Angeles and make the service more convenient for Angelenos. Transportation officials are also investigating the possibility of a 63 mile connector between Brightline and the developing high speed rail project in the Antelope Valley which would allow Brightline to connect directly with Union Station.

Plans to build a high speed rail extension from the Antelope Valley to Union Station have progressed after state officials certified the last Environmental Impact Report on the 14 mile extension from Burbank to Downtown Los Angeles. The City of Burbank has objected to the extension with arguments that the positioning of the train’s track could disturb operations at Burbank Airport and affect the city’s drinking water supply. Officials have not yet certified any environmental studies on the proposed Palmdale to Burbank or Los Angeles to Anaheim high speed rail segments. However, Metro has anticipated certification and progression of these segments by putting new projects into motion to support the proposed construction.

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