Brightline Breaks Ground in Nevada on High-Speed Train Line

Brightline has broken ground in Nevada on its new Brightline West project, which will use trains traveling up to 200 miles per hour to cut the travel time between Las Vegas and Los Angeles in half. The company aims to launch Brightline West service in time for the 2028 Olympics.

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, along with other federal, state and local officials, joined Brightline founder Wes Edens in Las Vegas to hammer the first spike for Brightline’s latest project. The company already operates 16 passenger trains per day in each direction between Miami and Orlando. For Brightline West, California and Nevada have granted Brightline a right of way alongside Interstate 15, and in December, the U.S. Department of Transportation added to the private investment in the project with $3 billion from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

Rick Harnish, executive director of the High Speed Rail Alliance, a national nonprofit organization, also is personally attended the groundbreaking. “It’s urgent that we plan to bring these benefits to every region of our country,” Harnish said. “Just as the United States did for the Interstate Highway System, we need to establish a federal railway program that coordinates and supports the development of great train service. This means a combination of high-speed backbones, connected with regional rail networks to give people throughout the country the option to use fast, frequent, affordable trains.”

Alongside Brightline West, other American high-speed rail projects are under construction or in development. The California High Speed Rail Authority has more than 100 miles of a high-speed line under construction. California’s project will connect the Bay Area to Los Angeles, via the state’s Central Valley. Additionally, Amtrak recently partnered with Texas Central to help advance the planning and analysis for a high-speed line between Dallas and Houston. Other key projects for high-speed service are also under development in the Pacific Northwest, Georgia and North Carolina.

The High Speed Rail Alliance is especially focused on Illinois, home to the Chicago rail hub. Midwestern states do not yet have active plans to build high-speed rail, but advocates are making progress. Harnish serves on the Illinois High-Speed Railway Commission, which has begun considering options for high-speed trains between Chicago and St. Louis. In 2021, the Federal Railroad Administration’s Midwest Regional Rail Plan shared a vision for fast, frequent train service on pillar lines throughout this densely populated region of the country.

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