Another year brings another attempt to jump start work on Brightline West, the long-proposed high-speed rail line which would run between the Apple Valley community in San Bernardino County and a stop near the Las Vegas Strip.
Forbes reports that Brightline hopes to break ground in early 2023 on the 170-mile electrified rail line, which would run on leased right-of-way adjacent to Interstate 15. With a maximum speed more than 180 miles per hour, the end-to-end trip between Las Vegas and Apple Valley is expected to take roughly 90 minutes. Trains would depart every 45 minutes, with capacity for up to 1,200 passengers.
If construction begins by 2023, the line could open for passenger service by 2026.
This is not the first time that the backers of the Brightline project have announced a groundbreaking date. Brightline West has previously announced that construction on the project would begin in 2020 and 2021, only to postpone the start of work due to lukewarm interest from investors and impacts from the global pandemic.
The updated timeline is also coupled with an ongoing study of an extension of the Las Vegas-to-Apple Valley alignment, which would see a 50-mile spur built to connect with Rancho Cucamonga. From there, passengers could transfer to existing Metrolink commuter rail service toward Downtown Los Angeles.
Local transportation officials are also exploring a 63-mile rail corridor which would also enable Brightline to connect with the nascent California High-Speed Rail system in Palmdale, allowing trains to travel directly to Los Angeles Union Station.
The plan to extend high-speed rail from Palmdale to Union Station took a small step forward last month, when state officials certified the final environmental impact report for the 14-mile Burbank-to-Los Angeles segment of the project. That decision came against the objections of the City of Burbank, who have argued that the alignment of the train could impact operations at its airport, and even its supply of drinking water.
Officials have yet to certify environmental studies for the Palmdale-to-Burbank and the Los Angeles-to-Anaheim segments of the high-speed rail system, although Metro has already initiated new projects to support its construction, such as the planned run-through tracks at Union Station and grade separating a congested intersection in Southeast Los Angeles County.