Posts Tagged ‘Los Angeles-Las Vegas corridor’

ExpressWest Reaches MOU With Metrolink, Calif. Agency to Study Expansion of Las Vegas Service

September 2, 2020

A memorandum of understanding has been reached between developers of the Brightline/XpressWest project and the boards of Metrolink and the San Bernardino County Transportation Authority on a study of a high-speed rail line between Las Vegas and the Los Angeles region.

XpressWest has proposed using an existing Metrolink route for 50 miles from a western terminus at Victorville, California.

Use of Metrolink tracks would create service from Las Vegas to the Los Angeles suburbs of Rancho Cucamonga and Palmdale.

“This is a forward-looking partnership that will allow us to explore the possibility to enhance the rider experience and attract new riders,” said Metrolink Chief Executive Officer Stephanie Wiggins.

The SBCTA’s board last July approved an MOU with Brightline/XpressWest to expand the high-speed rail service to Apple Valley, using the right of way through the Cajon Pass along Interstate 15 and eventually connecting with the Metrolink station in Rancho Cucamonga.

SBCTA and XpressWest are expected to collaborate on design and right-of-way issues, SBCTA officials said in a news release.

“The MOU allows us to work with XpressWest in looking outside the box in considering the possibility of a privately built and managed rail system through the Cajon Pass between Apple Valley and Rancho Cucamonga,” said SBCTA Executive Director Ray Wolfe.

Nevada County Advances Plans for Las Vegas Route

July 23, 2020

The commissioners of Clark Clark, Nevada, have approved the findings of the Nevada Department of Business and Industry related to the financing of the project being proposed by DesertXpress Enterprises.

The latter, which is has proposed building a high-speed rail line between Las Vegas and Southern California, is a division of Virgin Trains USA.

The action by the commissioners will advance financing of the project.

Virgin last year applied to the Nevada Department of Business and Industry for the right to sell $200 million worth of private activity bonds. With the commission’s approval, the rail company can now leverage as much as $1.2 billion for the project.

“We have been working to achieve high-speed rail between Clark County and Southern California for decades and today’s approval marks a significant milestone in that long process,” Commissioner Michael Naft said in statement.

Virgin Gets Extension on Vegas Route Bond Sale

July 3, 2020

The Virgin Trains USA has received a five month extension for its efforts to sell bonds to finance development of a route to Las Vegas.

Virgin subsidiary Desert Xpress Enterprises is seeking to sell $3.25 billion in private activity bonds to help fund the high-speed rail line between Las Vegas and Southern California.

The Bond Buyer reported that the California Infrastructure and Economic Bank approved the extension, which Desert Xpress sought because of market turmoil caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Virgin used similar financing to pay for the extension of its Brightline service to Orlando, which is now under construction.

In a related development, the California Department of Transportation will allow Virgin to build on state-owned right-of-way along Interstate 15 east of Apple Valle near Victorville.

Approximately 135 miles of the planned 170-mile high speed route will be in California.

In a news release, Caltrans Director Toks Omishakin called the agreement “a major milestone.

California, Texas Rail Development

April 2, 2020

The San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission is soliciting public comment on its proposed Valley Rail Sacramento Extension project.

Plans are to expand Amtrak’s San Joaquins and Altamont Corridor

Express services to the greater Sacramento area through the construction of six rail stations and track improvements along the Union Pacific Railroad’s Sacramento Subdivision.

The expansion would two new San Joaquin roundtrips operating on the Sacramento, Fresno and BNSF Railway Stockton subdivisions, as well as an extension of existing ACE service to the proposed Natomas-Sacramento Airport Station.

Work on the UP would involve construction of new stations in Lodi, south Sacramento, Sacramento City College, Midtown Sacramento, Old North Sacramento, and Natomas/Sacramento Airport.

Three public meetings are tentatively set for April and May while written comments are being accepted via email and mail until May 15.

In other developments, XpressWest said it has taken steps to secure private debt funding for its $4.8 billion plan to build a 170-mile high-speed, electric rail line from Southern California to Las Vegas.

The service would be operated by Virgin Trains USA, which operates the Florida intercity rail service Brightline.

XpressWest officials said if the funding is secured, rail line construction could begin later this year with service launching in 2023.

Texas Central said this week its $20 billion high-speed rail project between Dallas and Houston  is now “shovel ready.”

Officials said construction will begin once global financial markets have stabilized and the federal approvals process is complete.

“Our immediate next step is to continue working with our partner organizations and federal and state agencies, led by the Federal Railroad Administration, to finalize our permits,” said Texas Central CEO Carlos Aguilar. “The current schedule we have from the federal government anticipates that will happen by July 31.”

Aguilar acknowledged there is a chance the project will not proceed on schedule.

“This is one of those moments where we have to acknowledge how small our world really is,” Aguilar said.

“Our engineering partner is in Italy; our operation partner is in Spain; and our technology provider is in Japan. Our financial partners are in those countries, as well as here in the United States.”

He said the COVID-19 pandemic has complicated things in those countries.

Texas Central said it anticipates its project will create more than 17,000 jobs during construction and have a multi-billion-dollar economic impact across the United States.

In the short term, though, it has laid off nearly 30 employees.

Virgin’s Las Vegas Station Plans Revealed

February 22, 2020

Virgin Trains USA has submitted plans for its Las Vegas station.

Documents submitted to the Clark County Commissioners office indicate the Las Vegas terminal will be built on 110 acres on South Las Vegas Boulevard across from the South Premium Outlets.

The 273,300 square-foot station would be a 15 minute drive from the Las Vegas strip. Plans also call for a parking garage adjacent to the station.

Virgin has proposed establishing a high-speed rail service between Las Vegas and Southern California that would eventually serve Los Angeles.

The documents submitted for Virgin indicated that construction of the route is expected to begin later this year with service getting underway in 2023.

The Las Vegas terminal will contain a departure lobby, space for retail businesses and a baggage claim area.

Construction of Vegas Route to Begin in California

December 14, 2019

Work on building a intercity rail passenger route between Las Vegas and Southern California is expected to begin in California.

Officials with Virgin Trains USA have indicated that construction in Nevada is not expected to begin until 2021.

“They’ll probably start in about five different areas when construction starts,” said Virgin Trains’ business strategy vice president Tina Quigley. “Those five areas will probably be in California,”

Quigley said that only 35 miles of the 170-mile route will be located in Nevada.

Virgin is eyeing a 2023 date to begin the service, but several key steps still need to be taken.

These include receiving a formal record of decision from the Federal Railroad Administration and getting approval from Nevada authorities of a package of bonds worth more than $1 billion.

The latter needs to be finished by January or February in order for Virgin to stay on schedule.

Virgin Gets OK to Sell Bonds for Las Vegas Route

November 6, 2019

Virgin Trains USA received approval last week to issue $3.25 billion in development bonds to be used to pay for its Desert Xpress high-speed rail service between Las Vegas and Southern California.

The California Infrastructure and Economic Development Bank approved what observers said is the largest bond request in history of the state’s public sector development bank.

The development bank noted the project will create nearly 16,000 construction jobs and 400 permanent jobs once the trains are in operation.

The line will initially terminate in Victorville, California, although Virgin has said it wants to eventually extend service into Los Angeles.

The bond sales are expected to begin in the first quarter of 2020 with operations projected to start in 2023.

Virgin Eyes Mid 2020 Groundbreaking on Vegas Route

October 26, 2019

Virgin Trains USA indicated in a recent presentation to the Clark County Board of Commissioners in Las Vegas that groundbreaking for construction of its proposed Las Veglas-Southern California service will occur in mid 2020.

Virgin is seeking support from Nevada public officials for tax-exempt, private activity bonds that will be used to fund the project.

Similar funding was used to start and expand service in Florida.

In its Nevada presentation, Virgin indicated that it is moving faster than others have in the past to get revenue trains in service by late 2023 between Las Vegas and Victorville, California.

In time, Virgin said it will expand service Victorville to downtown Los Angeles.

Virgin Wants to Sell Bonds for Las Vegas Route

July 30, 2019

Virgin Trains USA is seeking approval of state authorities in California and Nevada to sell up to $3.6 billion in tax-exempt bonds for a proposed high-speed rail line linking Las Vegas and Southern California.

Virgin has submitted an application to California’s Debt Limit Allocation Committee to borrow $2.4 billion in unrated private activity bonds. The agency is expected to review the application in September.

The rail operator has also sought approval from Nevada authorities to sell $1.2 billion in bonds in that state.

It used bond sales to raise $1.75 billion to expand its existing intercity rail service in Florida, which currently operates between Miami and West Palm Beach that Virgin plans to extend to Orlando.

In the West, Virgin plans to initially operate between Las Vegas and Victorville, California, which is located 80 miles east of downtown Los Angeles.


Firm Says It’s Started Work on LA-Vegas Service

June 7, 2019

A company planning to institute rail passenger service between Los Angeles and Las Vegas said this week that it has begin work on the project.

United Rail said it will operate its Las Vegas Xpress service as a common carrier.

It acquired the X Wine Railroad from Las Vegas Xpress Incorporated for $500,000. That service began in January 2017 between Los Angeles and the wine region of Santa Barbara and Los Olivos, California.

“The Las Vegas Xpress will be a part of a new passenger operations division at United Rail,” said Chief Executive Officer Michael Barron in a statement. “Las Vegas Xpress joins the X Wine Railroad wine train excursion, which was acquired in March of this year and our Polar Bear Express excursion trains.”