Caltrans and XpressWest Complete Lease Agreement for High-Speed Passenger Rail between Las Vegas and Southern California
High-Speed Rail Project Will Be Built in the Median of Interstate 15
SAN BERNARDINO, CA – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) on authority from the California State Transportation Agency has entered into a lease agreement allowing XpressWest, a Brightline Company, to use existing State-owned right-of-way along Interstate 15 (I-15) for high-speed passenger rail service between the Town of Apple Valley (near Victorville) and Las Vegas.
The 170-mile long trip between the Victor Valley Region to Las Vegas will be built within the median of the I-15. Modern, electric and zero emission trains will reach top speeds of 200 miles per hour, whisking passengers between destinations in 85 minutes. Approximately 135 miles of the system will be in California. The project will be privately financed and is expected to break ground by the end of 2020. Economic impact reports indicate that the project will create over 30,000 new jobs and six billion in economic impact.
“This is a major milestone in connecting two world-class destinations – Southern California and Las Vegas – with high-speed passenger rail service,” said Caltrans Director Toks Omishakin. “The XpressWest trains will provide a convenient alternative to driving to and from Las Vegas while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”
“At every stage of this project we have received tremendous support from California, which recognizes the need for car-free, emission-free transportation options,” said Sarah Watterson, chief development officer for XpressWest. “This agreement is a big step toward our ultimate goal of reinventing passenger rail in America and gets us closer to generating critical jobs for the region.”
Every year there are 50 million trips made between Las Vegas and the Southern California region – 85% by car or bus. Ridership estimates show that at full operations, XpressWest will carry 10 million passengers each year.
This lease agreement follows a 15-day Notice of Intent process that took place in May. The process allowed for public comment on the project before the lease agreement was signed. All comments received were supportive of the project and the positive impact it will have for the High Desert communities and Southern California.
This project will be Brightline’s first corridor outside Florida and the second privately funded express intercity passenger service in the nation. Brightline announced the acquisition of Xpresswest in 2018 and closed in early 2019.