The project would be only the second privately-funded intercity passenger rail project in the United States after Brightline itself. The terms of the acquisition have not been disclosed.
Proposals for passenger rails link from California to Las Vegas go back decades. Most recently the Las Vegas Railway Express, or X Train, a 2010 start-up that had received state approval, issued stock and purchased passenger coaches before being discontinued in 2016.
“Brightline is changing transportation in our country by connecting heavily-trafficked corridors that are too long to drive and too short to fly,” says Mr Wes Edens, co-founder and co-chief executive of Fortress Investment Group, parent of Brightline. “Our experience in Florida is proving that private-sector investment has a meaningful role to play in developing transportation infrastructure. We’re excited to bring Brightline’s world-class and convenient travel experience to Southern California and Las Vegas.”
The XpressWest deal will potentially enable Brightline to link one of the most travelled routes in the United States, connecting more than 22 million people living in Southern California with Las Vegas, one of the most visited cities in the country. According to Brightline, ridership studies indicate more than 50 million trips are between Las Vegas and southern California annually, but passengers are limited to a choice between air or the highway. Brightline expects to offer a rail journey time of less than two hours.
As a result of the acquisition, Brightline will take over the development, construction and operation of the project and work with federal and local transport officials to connect Las Vegas with Victorville, California, which will ultimately become an interchange with the California high-speed rail network.
The 298km line will be built on an alignment within and adjacent to Interstate 15. Construction is expected to begin in 2019 and Brightline is planning to begin launch services as early as 2022.