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Virgin Train USA news Las Vegas to California

Virgin Trains plans to connect Las Vegas and Southern California with electric high-speed rail

Virgin Trains USA has unveiled plans to build a fully electric, high-speed train that would connect Southern California to Las Vegas by 2023.

The 170-mile (273-kilometre) high-speed line will link Las Vegas, Nevada with Victorville, California – a town about an hour-and-a-half drive northeast from Downtown Los Angeles.

Virgin Trains USA, a subsidiary of Fortress Investment Group, revealed that construction is expected to commence this year and complete in 2023 in a presentation to the Board of County Commissioners in December 2019.

The dates, however, are currently pending approval from the US Federal Railroad Administration.

News of the timeline comes a month after the state of California approved a $3.25 billion (£2.48 billion) bond request for the project, according to the Las Vegas Review Journal. The train line is expected to cost $4.8 billion (£3.66 billion).

Las Vegas and Southern California train to take 90 minutes

Virgin Trains USA, which currently operates under the name Brightline until the middle of this year, will take its name and branding from British multinational venture capital company Virgin Group, which has stakes in the venture.

If approved, its new line will be constructed along the US north-south highway Interstate 15 (I-15) that passes through much of California, and a track running east-west in Nevada.

Virgin Train USA news Las Vegas to California
The high-speed rail forms the latest project for Virgin, which has developed a similar system in Florida, called Brightline. Photograph by Patrick Hamilton, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Trains will be fully electric and will travel at 180 miles (290 kilometres) per hour and take less than 90 minutes. Virgin Trains USA said the journey will cost less than driving or flying.

The eastern end of the line is expected to terminate a mile south of the Las Vegas Strip, which is host to numerous casinos and hotels. Two stations will also be built as part of the project.

Project modelled on Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach rail

Nevada's Department of Business Director Terry Reynolds said that equipment and materials are already being secured for the scheme, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

The project is largely based on Brightline's the 70-mile (112-kilometre) system that links Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. Known as Brightline, the Florida train is diesel-electric and was completed in January 2018.

Photograph courtesy of Shutterstock unless stated otherwise.