Virgin Trains USA and the San Bernardino County Transportation Authority entered into a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to undertake a study into extending the 270km line along Interstate 15 through the Cajon Pass into Rancho Cucamonga, which is situated around 55km southwest of Victorville and 65km east of central Los Angeles.
“We appreciate San Bernardino County’s support for our high-speed rail project and this unique opportunity to explore added connectivity within the I-15 corridor,” Virgin Trains USA spokesman, Mr Ben Porritt, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “A future extension to Los Angeles through Palmdale and Rancho Cucamonga will provide Southern California residents full access to our high-speed rail service to Las Vegas. Greater connectivity and mobility brings with it economic opportunities, jobs and positive environmental benefits.”
Alternative plans, which Virgin Trains says are still viable, would see the line turn west from Victorville to connect to Palmdale, about 65km north of Los Angeles.
The line to Rancho Cucamonga could connect to a proposed transit hub, which would include metro services and a new 4.5km underground people-mover proposed by Mr Elon Musk’s The Boring Co that would connect to Ontario International Airport.
“It made sense for us on the XpressWest side to be part of those conversations now as opposed to in the future,” says XpressWest chief strategy officer, Mr Husein Cumber. “Nothing could be more beneficial, from a mobility standpoint, to have Metrolink in conversations about The Boring Co and conversations about us extending south into Rancho Cucamonga all happening at the same time, so you would have one transit mobility hub.”
DesertXPress has also received approval from the California Infrastructure and Economic Bank for a five-month extension to sell $US 3.25bn in private activity bonds for the project. The company requested the extension from July 18 to December 18, citing market turmoil caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Virgin Trains USA announced in August 2019 it was seeking approval from the states of California and Nevada to raise as much as $US 3.6bn in tax-exempt bonds for the line. California approved the allocation of $US 600m in tax-exempt bonds in April, while the company is still waiting on Nevada’s decision on $US 200m in bonds from the state’s debt limit allocation.
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