Brightline will buy the rights to build a high-speed railroad between Southern California and Las Vegas, a major milestone for the company which to this point has operated only in Florida.
The West Coast project is to include a mix of rail service and retail development, including a station and mixed-use development on 38 acres on the Las Vegas Strip, Brightline said in a news release Tuesday.
Initial service would run between Vegas and Victorville, California, with future expansion into the Los Angeles area, the Fortress Investment Group-owned company said.
Brightline plans to launch its West Coast service in 2022 and could begin work as soon as next year. The first phase would be built in a 185-mile right-of-way within and adjacent to Interstate 15, according to the company.
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Brightline agreed to purchase the rights to the federally-approved corridor from XpressWest, a developer that in 2012 promised to build a West Coast passenger rail network but failed to deliver after experiencing funding shortfalls.
The company would not reveal the purchase price or other details of its agreement with XpressWest.
In Florida, the Miami-to-Orlando project is expected to cost more than $3.1 billion, of which $1.9 billion already has been spent, Brightline President Patrick Goddard said last month.
Brightline has long set its sights beyond Miami-to-Orlando service.
In January, as Brightline prepared to launch its first train in South Florida, Fortress Investment Group Co-Founder Wes Edens said the company already was actively exploring expansion to other states.
Brightline’s intercity system could be replicated in states with similar demographics, including Georgia, Texas and California, according to Edens.
“Our vision doesn’t stop here,” he said in an interview. “Our goal is to look at other corridors with similar characteristics — too long to drive, too short to fly.”
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On Tuesday, Edens said Brightline already is transforming the country’s traditional passenger-rail model.
“Brightline is changing transportation in our country,” Edens said in the release. “Our experience in Florida is proving that private-sector investment has a meaningful role to play in developing transportation infrastructure.”
Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval also expressed support for the project, describing Brightline’s work in South Florida as a “proven model.”
“The introduction of high-speed rail between Las Vegas to Southern California will bring significant economic and environmental benefits to our state and support increased tourism,” Sandoval said in the news release. “Brightline has built a proven model for privately funded high-speed rail service in Florida, and we are excited to welcome them to Nevada.”
Brightline began South Florida passenger service — among Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach — earlier this year and is to begin full Miami-to-Orlando service in 2021. In June, Brightline announced plans to expand to Tampa.
Track improvement and construction on the project’s second phase, between West Palm and Orlando International Airport, could begin within months, according to Brightline.
The orange Brightline train is seen traveling through Boynton Beach on Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018. Brightline trains can reach speeds of up to 79 mph south of West Palm Beach and up to 110 mph through the Treasure and Space coasts.
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