It’s been a decade since private railroad company XpressWest promised Californians and Nevadans a zippy interstate system that would hook up Los Angeles and Las Vegas. So long that many understandably began to lose faith; after all, several previous attempts to improve the connections between the Mountain West and Southern California failed. But finally, after four years of negotiations, a deal has been set up.
XpressWest has announced it is joining forces with China Railway International to make this high-speed passenger rail system come to fruition. Called the Southwest Rail Network, the 370-kilometer-long (230 miles) track will have numerous stops in LA and Las Vegas, and a few in-between. The bullet train will cruise along at speeds of up to 240 kilometers per hour (150 mph), slashing a would-be four-hour drive to a more palatable 80-minute journey.
The project is supported by an injection of $100 million (£65 million) in initial capital, but of course that won’t go particularly far: The whole thing is estimated to cost close to $7 billion (£4.5 billion), sourced from a combination of private capital and a hefty federal loan. Still, it’s an improvement on the figure slapped on to a proposed Maglev system to achieve the same goal, onwards of $12 billion (£7.8 billion). That financial burn, combined with the fact that it would be difficult to blend such a system with those planned for further on down the line, has meant this idea has essentially been scrapped.
Now that hands have been shaken, XpressWest has to make its way through a to-do list of regulatory and commercial activities, but the company hopes to begin implementation within 100 days. Construction will commence slightly later on down the line, although it could start as early as this time next year. An environmental impact assessment has already been completed.
Although there have, of course, been opponents to this high-speed rail system, alongside slashing the journey time between these two major cities, the project also brings numerous other benefits, like the creation of jobs and a reduction in carbon emissions. By decreasing the number of road trips, XpressWest believes a 40% reduction in air pollution in the I-15 corridor could plausibly be achieved in the long-term. Hmm. We shall see.