A rendering of a Brightline West train running between Las Vegas and Los Angeles. Credit: Brightline West.

L.A. to Las Vegas High-Speed Train Project Delayed

Last updated:

As an independent news outlet, we enjoy the privilege of covering issues that bigger outlets won’t. At Los Angeleno, we write about people, places and idiosyncrasies with local impact and beyond. Your support is vital for us to continue doing so.

With your help, we can continue to write the first draft of history in Los Angeles. Check out our membership options and join today!

We’ve been hearing about a high-speed electric train that would whisk passengers between Las Vegas and Los Angeles for years. Now we know a little more about it, including that it is delayed indefinitely.

In previous incarnations, Brightline West, formerly known as XPressWest, had partnered with Virgin Trains USA, but Richard Branson fell off as an investor this summer. Parent company Brightline Holdings currently operates in Florida, ferrying commuters between Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. However, they’ve shut down service due to COVID-19 since March 25.

Should the L.A.-Las Vegas line ever materialize, it would transport up to 600 passengers per train every 45 minutes. The trains could also be “coupled,” bringing the total number of passengers to 1,200. The route will lie within the I-15 right-of-way, mostly in the meridian, with trains zipping along at 200 mph. Angelenos could depart from Union Station and arrive in Las Vegas in three hours, with stops in Victor Valley and Rancho Cucamonga. Amenities would include free Wi-Fi and food and beverage service. It’s not clear how much a ticket would cost, though the company says prices would be equivalent to the cost of gas and parking — which can vary a lot based on what you drive and where you park it.

Construction has been delayed over financial issues, according to Bloomberg, as Brightline was unable to generate enough investor interest in a $2.4 billion bond offering. For the time being, California will reallocate the funds it had committed to the rail project toward housing.

“We will first apply the $600 million to the housing deficit … and then the remainder will go towards non housing projects,” California Treasurer Fiona Ma told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Still, a Brightline spokesperson told Bloomberg the project will continue, while Ma said she hopes it will move forward in the future. After all, 2020 hasn’t been the ideal year to think about travel, so perhaps investors will be more excited after the pandemic is over. The project is expected to take three years to complete — whenever it starts.

Los Angeleno