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Sat September 25 2021

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US high-speed rail project changes hands

18 Sep 18 There has been a change in ownership of a project to develop a high-speed rail project linking Southern California and Las Vegas.

Express intercity passenger rail operator Brightline has agreed to acquire XpressWest, which has rights to develop the federally approved high-speed corridor from California to Las Vegas.

Brightline currently operates passenger rail services in Florida between Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, and is expanding to Orlando, with plans to further expand into Tampa. The project will be Brightline's first corridor outside Florida and only the second privately funded express intercity passenger service in the US, following its Florida corridor.

“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. “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 introduction of high-speed rail between Las Vegas to Southern California will bring significant economic and environmental benefits to our state and support increased tourism,” said Nevada governor Brian Sandoval.  “Brightline has built a proven model for privately funded high-speed rail service in Florida and we are excited to welcome them to Nevada.”

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According to ridership studies, travellers make more than 50 million annual trips between Las Vegas and Southern California. Brightline expects to offer option for making the trip by rail in less than two hours.

As a result of the XpressWest acquisition, Brightline will take over the development, construction and operation of the project and work with federal and local transportation officials to connect Las Vegas with Victorville, California, with future plans to expand into the Los Angeles area.

The first phase of the corridor is expected to be built on a right of way within and adjacent to Interstate 15, traversing 185 miles with no at-grade or pedestrian crossings. Construction is expected to begin next year and Brightline is planning to start its initial service in 2022.

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