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Rail company takes step to link Las Vegas with Los Angeles

Brightline West’s planned high-speed rail service between Las Vegas and Southern California took a step Thursday toward linking with Los Angeles.

The private rail company said it signed a memorandum of understanding with various California transportation entities regarding its planned use of 48 miles in Interstate 15 right-of-way through the Cajon Pass, between the Victor Valley and Rancho Cucamonga.

Once the line is constructed, riders will be able to travel from Las Vegas to a Victor Valley station and then through to Rancho Cucamonga. From there passengers could transfer to the Metrolink to ride into Los Angeles.

“This memorandum of understanding marks a critical milestone in our goal to connect the Los Angeles metropolitan area with the iconic entertainment destination of Las Vegas,” said Mike Reininger, CEO of Brightline Holdings, in a statement. “This system will provide an optimal travel solution between Southern California and Las Vegas, and opens up the reality of emission-free, hospitality-focused high-speed rail service to millions of people traveling between these destinations every year.”

The planned Las Vegas station is set to go on a plot of land on Las Vegas Boulevard between Blue Diamond Road and Warm Springs, across from the South Premium Outlets mall. Artist renderings of that station have yet to be released.

Brightline plans to use zero-emission electric train sets that can reach speeds up to 180 miles per hour. Guests can expect an onboard concierge service, meal and drink service and free WiFi among the amenities. Brightline West expects to support more than 11 million one-way trips annually.

The trip between Las Vegas and Rancho Cucamonga is expected to take two hours, while the connection into L.A. bumps the total trip time to three hours, Brightline said.

Ground breaking dates for any portion of the system or stations have yet to be released. Brightline planned to break ground on the $8 billion project in late 2020, but that fizzled once the company pulled a bond offering that was set to fund a portion of the line amid unstable market conditions brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

Brightline’s Rancho Cucamonga station is planned to be constructed in the recently announced Cucamonga Station in the HART District. It will be a full-service transit station that will include the existing Metrolink and a planned underground tunnel to connect to Ontario International Airport.

The multimodal hub provides access to Union Station in downtown Los Angeles and other destinations throughout Southern California.

“Along with planned underground loop service to Ontario International Airport, the upcoming Redlands Passenger Rail Service and the West Valley Connector bus rapid transit system, high-speed rail to and from Las Vegas is shaping up to be a game changer for our region,” Curt Hagman, chairman of the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors, said in a statement. “These projects will provide convenient connections to destinations throughout Southern California and beyond, and provide sustainable transit options for one of the fastest-growing population and economic centers in the country.”

Contact Mick Akers at makers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2920. Follow @mickakers on Twitter

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