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DOT announces more than $2 billion for Brightline West high-speed rail from Los Angeles to Las Vegas


The federal government is doubling down on high-speed rail with an announcement it is helping to raise $2.5 billion for Brightline West.

That comes on top of a massive $3 billion federal grant announced in December. Brightline is the nation’s only private high-speed rail company, and the infusion of cash is a substantial amount of the expected $12 billion it will cost to build high-speed rail between Las Vegas and Southern California.

An illustration of the Brighline train between Las Vegas and Los Angeles. BRIGHTLINE

The government will support the issuance of bonds on behalf of the project. Those bonds will earn interest and special tax benefits for those who purchase them. It’s a good way for local and state governments to raise money for big projects.

Service on Brightline West could start as soon as 2028, in time for Los Angeles to host the Summer Olympics. Once complete, trains on the 218-mile route will transport passengers between Southern California and Vegas at speeds as fast as 186 mph.

Billboards are already on Las Vegas Boulevard touting the new service.

Brightline West will primarily run along the Interstate 15 median, with trains capable of cutting the trip to two hours — half the time to travel by car.

The Brightline West route map between Las Vegas and Los Angeles. BRIGHTLINE

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, it will be a fully electric, zero-emission system and will become one of the greenest forms of transportation in the U.S. The DOT also says the project will create as many as 35,000 jobs.

Related: A flood of money for high-speed rail and other train improvements

“Today, the Biden-Harris administration takes the next step to fulfill the promise of high-speed rail in the American West, with $2.5 billion in private activity bond authority to lay tracks, create jobs, and connect American cities,” Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a press release. “President Biden’s historic infrastructure package gives us the opportunity to build safe, green, and accessible rail systems that will deliver benefits to the American people for generations to come.”

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The DOT previously approved a private activity bond allocation of $1 billion for Brightline West in 2020, bringing the total allocation for this project to $3.5 billion.

“As the first true high-speed rail system in America, Brightline West will serve as the blueprint for connecting cities with fast, eco-friendly passenger rail throughout the country,” Wes Edens, Brightline founder and chairman, said in a statement.

Related: Brightline to connect Los Angeles and Las Vegas

The Biden administration has announced nearly $31 billion in rail investments, the most significant investment in passenger rail since the creation of Amtrak.

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