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Rail News: High-Speed Rail

California panel OKs tax-exempt bonds for XpressWest high-speed rail project

The project calls for construction of a high-speed line that will run from Victorville, California, to Las Vegas.
Photo – Brightline


The California Debt Limit Allocation Committee yesterday approved $600 million in tax-exempt bonds for Brightline/Virgin Trains USA's XpressWest, a proposed high-speed rail route between Las Vegas and Southern California.

Internal Revenue Service guidelines allow Brightline/Virgin Trains to market up to four times the amount of the $600 million in bonding authority, for a total of $2.4 billion in tax-free, private equity bonds, the Las Vegas Review Journal reported.

The project, estimated to cost $4.8 billion, calls for a high-speed train to run from Victorville, California, to Las Vegas.

The committee's approval of the tax-exempt bonds means the project is on track to break ground by the end of this year, Brightline officials said in a tweet yesterday.

"This means thousands of construction jobs and a $6 billion impact, when our economy could use it the most," they said. "This means 3 million cars taken off the road annually and 100,000 tons of CO2 removed annually compared to road travel."

Yesterday's bond approval is the second Virgin Trains has obtained in the past few months. In March, the U.S. Department of Transportation approved $1 billion in tax-free private bonds for the project, according to the Review Journal.

Both approvals rely on the bonds being issued by Sept. 30.

Meanwhile, the company is seeking Nevada's approval for $200 million in bonds from the state's debt limit allocation, which would allow the company to market $800 million in bonds toward the project.