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Brightline acquires Vegas-California passenger-rail route

Initially, the service would connect Las Vegas and Victorville, California.
Photo – Brightline


Brightline, the passenger-rail service operating in southeastern Florida, has agreed to acquire XpressWest, a proposed high-speed rail project with rights to develop a federally approved corridor between Southern California and Las Vegas.

The acquisition would mark Brightline's first project outside Florida, where the private company operates passenger trains between Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. Brightline has plans to expand service to Orlando International Airport in 2021 and, potentially, to Tampa.

"Brightline is changing transportation in our country by connecting heavily trafficked corridors that are too long to drive and too short to fly," said Wes Edens, co-founder and co-chief executive officer of Fortress Investment Group, which owns All Aboard Florida, Brightline's parent. "Our experience in Florida is proving that private-sector investment has a meaningful role to play in developing transportation infrastructure."

Financial details of the acquisition were not disclosed.

As a result of the XpressWest acquisition, Brightline will take over the development, construction and operation of the project. Initially, the service would connect Las Vegas and Victorville, California; future plans call for an extension to Los Angeles, according to a Brightline press release.

The corridor's first phase is expected to be built on right of way within and adjacent to Interstate 15, traversing 185 miles with no grade or pedestrian crossings. Construction is expected to begin next year. Brightline officials anticipate beginning service in 2022.

"Brightline's model is setting a new standard for train travel in America," said Brightline President Patrick Goddard. "We look forward to working with the region's stakeholders to make this vision a reality."

As part of the project, Brightline is acquiring 38 acres adjacent to the Las Vegas strip for construction of the Las Vegas rail station and mixed-use development.

The first California station is expected to be located in Victorville. Planning is underway for additional stations, as well as for potential connections to Metrolink and California's future high-speed rail line between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

"California has a vision for a modernized rail network that is fast, clean and convenient for travelers, and the introduction of Brightline service linking Southern California to Las Vegas will help us achieve that vision," said California State Transportation Agency Secretary Brian Annis. "Brightline will be beneficial for our economy and our transportation system."

The corridor in Southern California and Las Vegas is expected to generate major regional economic benefits, including construction and permanent job opportunities and local and state tax revenue, Brightline officials said.

In addition to the Florida and Las Vegas-to-California operations, Brightline continues to explore intercity rail opportunities across North America, company officials added.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 9/19/2018