Vegas to LA railway construction to start this year..?

California has approved a $600 million private activity bond allocation for construction of the $5 billion Virgin Trains-Brightline railway that within four years could be taking passengers from Las Vegas to a Los Angeles suburb at speeds of up to 200 miles an hour.

Approved unanimously in Sacramento on Tuesday by a committee overseen by California Treasurer Fiona Ma, Virgin Trains-Brightline can sell up to four times the allocation amount, raising as much as $2.4 billion for the project. The company, which operates the Brightline rail service in South Florida, is also awaiting word on a $200 million private activity bond allocation from Nevada that would raise an additional $800 million. The U.S. Department of Transportation last month provisionally awarded the project $1 billion of private activity bonds, raising potential funding for the 180-mile-long project to $4.2 billion. That’s just $800 million shy of the railway’s $5 billion construction tab. 

“West Coast, we’re coming for you,” Brightline tweeted. “Today, we were officially approved for tax-exempt bonds for our privately funded rail line between Las Vegas and Southern California. This means on track to break ground by end of this year.”

Construction on the line is expected to take about three years.

The all-electric California-Las Vegas train would tentatively run every 45 minutes from 6 a.m. to midnight, carrying up to 500 people at a time. The trip would take about 90 minutes.

The Clark County Commission has already approved permits for a train station near the South Premium Outlets mall at Las Vegas Boulevard and Warm Springs Road. The two-story station would house a passenger terminal, shops and restaurants.

However, in recent weeks, the Virgin group has faced major difficulties due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Virgin Australia (Australia’s second largest airline, behind Qantas) has fallen into administration and Richard Branson, the founder of the Virgin empire, has said he will mortgage his private Caribbean island to raise money to help the group as he pleaded with the UK government to step in and save his Virgin Atlantic airline from collapse. We will wait to see if Virgin’s problems have any impact on the Vegas to LA railway project.

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Construction, Futurity News, North America, Rail, USA