A freshly launched project website has unveiled new information regarding Brightline West, the proposed high-speed rail line which would connect Las Vegas with Southern California.

The first segment of the project calls for the construction of 170 miles of electrified rail from a station near the Las Vegas Strip and the unincorporated Apple Valley community in San Bernardino County.  The route would make use of leased right-of-way running parallel to and within the median of Interstate 15.

The project includes approximately 34 miles of track located within the State of Nevada, which would break ground in three phases between the fourth quarter of 2020 and the second quarter of 2021.

Construction is expected to begin concurrently three separate sections of the project between the state line and Apple Valley.  The 135-mile corridor would largely run at-grade, with the exception of viaducts and other structures needed to avoid obstacles or grade crossings.

Trains on Brightline West are expected to run at speeds of up to 200 miles hour, allowing for an end-to-end ride between Las Vegas and Apple Valley to occur in approximately 90 minutes.  Trains would depart every 45 minutes, with capacity for between 600 and 1,200 passengers.

The project's backers - who have previously built a rail line connecting Miami and other cities in Florida - expect to attract over 11 million annual trips.  This would represent a 22 percent market share of road travel between Southern California and Las Vegas, according to the project website.

Pending the sale of private activity bonds to investors, construction of the $5-billion rail line is expected to take approximately three years. 

While the project's backers had hoped to break ground before the end of 2020 and begin operations in 2024, lukewarm interest in the $2.4-billion bond offering for Brightline West has led to a postponement, according to Bloomberg.

While the initial phase of Brightline West would only take service as far west as Apple Valley, two possible extension of the system are currently in the planning stages.

The original plan, which would be built in coordination with Metro, calls for the construction of new tracks between Apple Valley and the City of Palmdale, which would allow Brightline to interline with the future California High-Speed Rail system toward a terminus at Los Angeles Union Station.

A more recent proposal, which is being planned in coordination with San Bernardino County, calls for the construction of a 50-mile spur through the Cajon Pass, allowing Brightline to terminate at an existing Metrolink commuter rail station in Rancho Cucamonga.  A project map shows the route eventually continuing west to Union Station, creating a 260-mile system.