The construction of a private high-speed highway, which should connect Southern California and Las Vegas, is scheduled to begin in the middle of next year. Commissioning of the line is scheduled by Virgin Trains USA (formerly Brightline) operator at the end of 2023.
According to the American Las Vegas Review-Journal, Bob O’Malley, vice president of corporate development at Virgin Trains USA, said this to the Clark County State Commission. He noted that the design of the highway was 30% complete.
The timing depends on the approval by the Nevada authorities of the issue of tax-free private bonds to finance the construction of the project. In September, the state of California approved the issue of such securities in the amount of $ 300 million.
An important aspect of Virgin Trains USA’s business plan is the development of retail and office space at the station, and the company plans to implement this in Las Vegas. “We did it in Florida and apply the same model here,” said Bob O’Malley.
According to earlier reports by Gudok.ru, the operator agreed on a contract to acquire rights to implement the federally approved XpressWest project, which envisages the construction of a Las Vegas-Victorville line with a length of almost 300 km.
This project began in 2005 with the intention of creating an alternative to car travel and air travel between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. After six years of preparatory procedures in October 2011, the private enterprise XpressWest officially received the authority to build and operate the railway, as well as the right to credit financing.
Then the company looked for partners and issued preliminary agreements with the Chinese company China Railway International on the creation of a joint venture and the start of construction in September 2016, but in June of the same year it canceled the deal due to that she couldn’t find a way to overcome the federal government’s demand for high-speed trains in the United States. Then the initial investment in the project was estimated at $ 100 million.
The highway without crossings with a length of 185 miles (297.73 km) is expected to be laid in the desert parallel to the existing highway. The maximum speed of trains on it will be 150 miles per hour (241.4 km / h), they will cover the route in less than two hours and leave at intervals of 20 to 45 minutes. Subsequently, the railway is planned to be extended to Los Angeles.
Virgin Trains USA is now the only private intercity passenger rail operator in the United States. Using Siemens trains, the company serves the Miami – Fort Lauderdale – West Palm Beach route, which it expands to Orlando with plans to further extend it to Tampa. To this end, in April, the operator, through a bond issue, raised $ 1.75 billion from 67 private investors.
The creation of a line to Orlando includes the construction of new 40-mile (64.37 km) tracks and the modernization of the existing 129-mile (207.61 km) line. Work is expected to be completed in 2022.
Recall that in January 2015, the construction of the country’s first high-speed railway between Los Angeles and San Francisco began in the United States. It was hoped to be completed by 2033. But in March 2018, the project administration announced problems and an increase in its value by $ 13.1 billion – up to $ 77.3 billion.
As a result, in February of this year, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced during the first appeal to the state that the project would be phased out for rising costs. Now it is planned to complete only the 110-mile (177-km) section under construction, worth $ 12.2 billion, linking the cities of Merced and Bakersfield in the California Valley.