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XpressWest ends Vegas-L.A. high-speed rail pact with Chinese firm


XpressWest, a private company planning a high-speed rail route between Las Vegas and Los Angeles, has terminated its joint venture agreement with China Railway International USA Co. Ltd. (CRI).

A rendering of an XpressWest high-speed train
Source: XpressWest website
In September 2015, the two entities agreed to jointly develop, finance, build and operate the line known as the Southwest Rail Network. The decision to end that relationship was based primarily on "difficulties associated with timely performance," as well as CRI's challenges in obtaining the required authority to proceed with necessary development activities, XpressWest officials said in a press release.

"The team at XpressWest is optimistic CRI and its affiliates will one day succeed in establishing a viable presence in the United States rail market; however, our ambitions outpace CRI's ability to move the project forward timely and efficiently," said XpressWest Chief Executive Officer Tony Marnell. "XpressWest is undeterred by this development and remains dedicated to completing its high-speed passenger rail project."

XpressWest will now "aggressively pursue" other development partnerships and options for a more efficient and cost-effective project, Marnell added.

The federal government requires that high-speed trains be manufactured in the United States — a requirement that remains a significant challenge for XpressWest since no such trains are built in the country, Marnell said.

"This inflexible requirement has been a fundamental barrier to financing high-speed rail in our country," he added. "The real question is: Do those in Washington, D.C., have the courage and vision to proceed, or is our leadership going to force projects throughout the United States to seek financial support for infrastructure in our country from foreign governments?"

Meanwhile, the company is anticipating the completion of final environmental work necessary for the development of the line. XpressWest expects to receive environmental approvals no later than September.

In addition, XpressWest, the California High-Speed Rail Authority, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the High Desert Corridor Joint Powers Authority and San Bernardino County are planning to complete a jointly funded Southwest Rail Network ridership study by August. The study is a prerequisite for a regulatory and financing activities, XpressWest officials said.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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