Virgin Is Building A Las Vegas Bullet Train To Southern California

Published on February 4, 2020

Finally, the United States is looking toward train travel to create more sustainable transportation options on some of its most major air travel and road routes. Developers have been approved to begin construction on a new Las Vegas bullet train to connect the city with Southern California.

Las Vegas, which sees millions of visitors each year from Southern California alone, is one of the first places that will get a new high speed rail system. Beginning in the second half of this year, construction on the new bullet train will conclude in 2023 and bring as many as 15,000 jobs to the area between now and then.

Virgin Trains, the company behind the bullet train, will oversee the construction on the new rail system that will connect Southern California with Las Vegas in the 2020’s. The idea behind the train is that it will take millions of vehicles off of the stretch of I-15 between the two areas, helping cut back on traffic and greenhouse emissions from weekend travel between the two places.

Vegas, which sees many of its tourists come from Southern California, sees some of the most congestion during the beginning and end of each weekend along I-15 from Los Angeles to Vegas. What should be just a couple of hours long can sometimes be an entire day of travel due to traffic, which is both inconvenient for travelers and unhealthy for the environment.

Train Travel Is Still Expensive, But Saved Time Is The Incentive

Air travel, which retails at a fraction of what train travel costs for passengers in the United States, is often a cheaper alternative than train travel in a country where outdated technology and confusing, uncomfortable, and lengthy rides are seldom preferred over taking a quick flight.

In Europe and throughout parts of Asia, an extensive rail system often makes it easier and more affordable to travel by train (especially if you’re packing a bag, where even budget airlines add up significantly in price). But in the United States, a lack of infrastructure prevents people from being able to use train travel as a viable option.

The new project, which will cost an DesertXPress Enterprises LLC an estimated $3.6 billion, though $3.2 billion will be funded by tax exempt, fixed-rate revenue bonds issued by the California Infrastructure and Economic Development Bank.

The Las Vegas bullet train will run from Victorville to Las Vegas, connecting Southern California with the Nevada city. The drawback, however, is that most of the traffic problems lie between Victorville and Los Angeles—so the creation of the rail system may only make traffic worse, while driving patrons into the often bypassed city.

Regardless, the high speed bullet train will shave off hours from the drive between the two areas. The rail will take an estimated hour and a half and run up to 180 miles per hour along the route.

Julia Sachs is a former Managing Editor at Grit Daily. She covers technology, social media and disinformation. She is based in Utah and before the pandemic she liked to travel.

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