A First Look at the New High-Speed Train That Will Connect Los Angeles and Las Vegas

Brightline West has officially broken ground on its ambitious high-speed rail project that will connect Los Angeles and Las Vegas in two hours. Here’s a look at the station designs, rail map, and project timeline.

A rendering of the interior of the forthcoming Las Vegas Brightline train station with a central bar and bench seating around

A rendering of the forthcoming Las Vegas Brightline train station

Courtesy of Brightline West

A 40-year-old fantasy moved one step closer to reality on Monday when the private company Brightline West drove the first spikes into the ground for a $12-billion bullet train that will connect a suburb of Los Angeles to Las Vegas.

The railway project, dubbed Brightline West, will transport passengers the 218 miles between Rancho Cucamonga and Sin City in two hours, which is half (or one-third, depending on traffic) of the time it currently takes by car. The zero-emission, fully electric trains will be able to reach speeds of up to 200 mph and will travel mostly along the center median of Interstate Highway 15 (aka I-15).

According to Brightline founder Wes Edens, a round-trip fare will cost about $400 per person.

“This is a historic project and a proud moment where we lay the foundation for a new industry,” he said at a groundbreaking event in Las Vegas on April 22. “Today is long overdue.”

Edens added that the current goal is to have trains operating in time for the Summer Olympics in Los Angeles in 2028.

A map of the Brightline West rail route between Rancho Cucamonga and Las Vegas

The Brightline West train between Rancho Cucamonga and Las Vegas will connect to Los Angeles via Metrolink rail, according to a map provided by Brightline.

Courtesy of Brightline West

Brightline West was recently awarded $3 billion through President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill. The project also has received an additional $2.5 billion in private activity bonds from the U.S. Department of Transportation. The rest of the initiative—roughly another $5.5 billion—will be privately funded.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg participated in Monday’s groundbreaking ceremony, where he signaled that he was enthusiastic about the potential for high-speed rail in the United States.

“People have been dreaming of high-speed rail in America for decades, and now . . . it’s finally happening,” Buttigieg told the crowd. He added, “We’re writing a new chapter in our country’s transportation story that includes thousands of union jobs, new connections to better economic opportunity, less congestion on the roads, and less pollution in the air.”

In addition to stimulating economic growth, the train could be a boon for travel to Las Vegas.

A rendering of the bar car on the forthcoming Brightline West train, with long padded benches along the walls, millennial pink lighting, and an oval coffee table

A rendering of the bar car on the forthcoming Brightline West train.

Courtesy of Brightline West

For this reason, leaders in Las Vegas were excited by the news; for decades politicians and tourism officials in the Nevada city have been openly dreaming of a way to better connect Las Vegas and Los Angeles and eliminate the drive often snarled by traffic.

“This high-speed rail system will be transformative for our region, reducing traffic congestion on the I-15 and providing access from our No. 1 feeder market,” Steve Hill, president and CEO of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, told AFAR.

Sean McBurney, regional president at Caesars Entertainment, which owns Caesars, Paris, Nobu Hotel, and the Cromwell, among other Vegas hotels, noted that one-third of the company’s visitors come from Southern California and that this tourism is “critically important.”

“As both areas continue to grow, transportation infrastructure must grow [as well],” he said. “High-speed rail in the I-15 corridor will add a much-needed round-trip transportation option to help ease traffic congestion and make it easier and more convenient than ever for visitors to enjoy Las Vegas and beyond.”

Travelers, however, had mixed reactions to the news. On the one hand, the idea of high-speed rail travel between major Western cities certainly brings a sense of innovation and intrigue. On the other hand, skeptics raised questions about cost and the hassle of getting from Los Angeles proper to Rancho Cucamonga to pick up the train.

Brightline Rancho Cucamonga station exterior rendering

An exterior rendering of the planned Rancho Cucamonga Brightline West station, with a Metrolink rail connection to downtown Los Angeles.

Courtesy of Brightline West

Though Rancho Cucamonga will connect to downtown Los Angeles via Metrolink regional rail, the suburb is 47 miles from downtown L.A.

Perez Hilton, a longtime celebrity influencer who recently moved to Las Vegas from Los Angeles, was concerned about the cost and logistics of the forthcoming high-speed train.

“It’s incredibly disappointing that tickets are going to be around $400—that makes zero sense to me, and it doesn’t even take you all the way to Los Angeles,” Hilton told AFAR. “Go all the way to Los Angeles and lower ticket prices. Otherwise, it’s cheaper to drive or take a bus or even take a flight. It should not be cheaper to take a flight.”

As of now, the Brightline West system is expected to have stops in Las Vegas, Victor Valley (California), Hesperia (California), and Rancho Cucamonga.

The Las Vegas Station will be located near the Las Vegas Strip, on a 110-acre property north of Blue Diamond Road between I-15 and Las Vegas Boulevard. The site will provide access to Harry Reid International Airport, the Las Vegas Convention Center, and Allegiant Stadium. The station will be approximately 80,000 square feet plus parking.

Rendering of the exterior of the Brightline West Las Vegas train station

The Brightline West Las Vegas station will be located near the Strip.

Grimshaw Architects

In Rancho Cucamonga, the Brightline West station will be located on a five-acre property near Ontario International Airport. It will be co-located with existing multimodal transportation options, including California Metrolink for seamless connectivity to downtown Los Angeles and other locations in Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino, and Riverside counties.

The Victor Valley station will be in the city of Apple Valley; both that and the Hesperia station are located in the Inland Empire between Rancho Cucamonga and Barstow and will provide local rail service for residents in these High Desert communities.

Once complete, the L.A.-to-Vegas train route will be Brightline’s second major rail endeavor; the company’s first rail system in Florida connects Miami to Orlando and began initial service between its South Florida stations in 2018. In September 2023, Brightline’s Orlando station opened at Orlando International Airport, connecting South Florida to Central Florida.

Matt Villano is a writer and editor based in Healdsburg, California. To learn more about him, visit whalehead.com.
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