Brightline On Track to Connect Las Vegas to Southern California

Brightline West Party Car Render

Skift Take

Brightline West officially broke ground on the U.S.'s first high-speed rail system connecting Las Vegas to Southern California.

Privately owned train company Brightline’s $12 billion high-speed rail project connecting Las Vegas and Southern California is underway. The Brightline West line operations are planned to start in 2028, just in time for the Summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles.

Brightline West is a 218-mile rail system that will run in the middle of the Interstate 15 Highway. The company’s vision is to connect cities that are too short to fly and too far to drive. Brightline West will be zero-emission, as its trains are fully electric and can reach speeds of 200 miles per hour.

Renderings of the interior of the trains suggest a comfortable social setting that could make for a novel way for groups to start a journey to Vegas.

“This high-speed rail system will be transformative for our region by reducing traffic congestion on the I-15. It will provide convenient access for our leisure and business travelers from our number one feeder market. We are grateful for the support of federal, state, and local leaders who helped bring this vision to fruition,” says Lisa Messina, chief sales officer of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA).

According to the LVCVA’s 2023 Las Vegas Visitor Profile Study, 32% of all visitors to Vegas come from Southern California. The same study reveals that 73% of convention visitors arrive by air, while the number is less than half (43%) for non-convention visitors.

New Chapter in Transportation

Brightline West was awarded $3 billion in funding from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill. Private funding will enable the rest of the project. The total allocation is $3.5 billion in private activity bonds from USDOT.

“People have been dreaming of high-speed rail in America for decades. Now, with billions of dollars of support made possible by President Biden’s historic infrastructure law, it’s finally happening,” says U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “Partnering with state leaders and Brightline West, we’re writing a new chapter in our country’s transportation story.”

Brightline West will run from Las Vegas to Rancho Cucamonga, with intermediate stops in Victor Valley and Hesperia. The Rancho Cucamonga station is located directly adjacent to the existing Metrolink San
Bernardino Line.

“This is a historic project and a proud moment where we break ground on America’s first high-speed rail system and lay the foundation for a new industry,” says Wes Edens, Brightline founder. “Today is long overdue, but the blueprint we’ve created with Brightline will allow us to repeat this model in other city pairs around the country.”

Brightline West will connect Southern California and Las Vegas in two hours, around half the time it takes to drive. According to the company, nearly 50 million annual trips occur between Los Angeles and Las Vegas – over 85% of them by car. Brightline West expects to serve more than 11 million one-way passengers annually.

The Las Vegas Station will be located near the Las Vegas Strip. It will be set on a 110-acre property north of Blue Diamond Road between I-15 and Las Vegas Boulevard. The site provides convenient access to the Harry Reid International Airport, the Las Vegas Convention Center, and Allegiant Stadium.

Brightline Florida 

Brightline’s first rail system in Florida connects Miami to Orlando. In September 2023, Brightline’s Orlando station opened at Orlando International Airport, connecting South Florida to Central Florida. The company has plans to expand its system with future stops in Tampa, Florida’s Space Coast in Cocoa, and the Treasure Coast in Stuart.

“Living in Central Florida, the Brightline has been a game changer in the travel space for business and leisure needs.  With two choices of service and Wifi enabled on the train, it makes your time productive and stress-free,” says Gloria Nelson, CSEP, VEMM, special events concierge, Members, Inc. “It allows you to start a program stress-free.”

Photo credit: Brightline / Brightline