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Brightline Releases Environmental Documents for High-Speed Rail from Victorville to Las Vegas

Back in January, the lead investor for the privately funded $8 billion Brightline West high-speed rail proposal that would connect Las Vegas to Southern California declared the project "at the one yard line." Late last month, Brightline released its draft federal environmental document needed before construction and announced approval of the sale of land in Ranch Cucamonga for the construction of the station at the California terminus.

The interested public can weigh in Brightline's plans at hearings on Saturday, November 12, and Tuesday November 15.

If it was at the one yard line in January, today the ball is maybe just inches from the goal line. After the final environmental documents are approved, construction could start in 2026. Brightline West already has approvals for construction of a 170-mile portion of the line from Victor Valley, California, into Las Vegas, where a terminus is planned about two miles south of the Strip in Downtown Las Vegas. Operations could begin as soon as 2030. Full funding for the project has not been identified, with Brightline planning to seek both federal and private dollars once the environmental documents are approved.

With Rancho Cucamonga already home to a Metrolink Station that connects to downtown L.A. Union Station, with a little coodination people should be able to travel between L.A. and Las Vegas in roughly three and a half hours: Two hours and twenty minutes on the high-speed rail line, just over an hour on Metrolink with some flex time for a transfer. Driving between the two cities takes six hours by car or bus (or longer when the freeways are clogged, which is not uncommon). Brightline predicts they will bring in 11 million passengers through Rancho Cucamonga with this transit hub.

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Brightline West high-speed trains are expected to reach top speeds around 180 miles per hour. Brightline plans to run 23 trains daily during the first year of operations. The rail will be powered by overhead electric lines, the industry standard for high-speed rail.

Brightline is already running relatively high speed (top speed 110 mph) trains in Florida connecting Central Florida and South Florida. Taking a "phased approach" to bringing service online, Brightline Florida trains began operating in 2018 and will be completing Phase II to Orlando Airport, in the next several months.

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