LAS VEGAS (KLAS) – Las Vegans have known 110 acres of land across from the South Premium Outlets as piles of dirt for years: it’s owned by Brightline, the company proposing a high-speed railway between Las Vegas and Southern California.

It’s the anticipated location of a train station that would end a 218-mile trip from Rancho Cucamonga, which is roughly an hour’s Metrolink train ride from LA’s Union Station.

Nearly two decades of planning and failed attempts to bring the west coast its first high-speed railway has left the land empty, long preceding Brightline’s 2021 purchase of it.

The concept art for ‘Brightline West’ is enough to drive support, with visuals of the train traveling at speeds over 180 miles per hour directly in between congested cars on I-15.

Commissioner Michael Naft calls those Southern California travelers Clark County’s “most vital tourism partner.”

Naft joined other Clark County, state, and federal officials during a press conference Friday morning where the anticipated three million cars and over 400,000 tons of carbon emissions that would be eliminated from the busy stretch of freeway each year because of the project were highlighted.

But, the one hurdle is still on the tracks: funding.

Brightline West, with stations in Rancho Cucamonga and Victor Valley, hinges on a $3.75 billion federal grant the Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT) applied for in April.

Director Tracey Larkin-Thomason told 8 News Now that it is the largest federal grant the organization has ever applied for and would likely be the second-largest federal grant ever awarded.

Brightline CEO Michael Reininger emphasizes the success of the United State’s first high-speed rail, which his company operates in Florida.

Operating between Miami and West Palm Beach since 2018, a new route north to Orlando was initially scheduled to begin travel in September but is now delayed due to the “final stages of certification.”

“We think of Brightline West as version 2.0,” Reininger told 8 News Now after the conference. “We’ve already invested hundreds of millions of dollars.”

As Reininger, Larkin-Thomason and Nevada Senator Jacky Rosen emphasized their hopefulness for the approval, the grant would cover roughly a third of the $12 billion total project cost.

The NDOT director said her agency has been involved in the project since at least 2004.

However, the grant would come from the $102 billion set aside for rail development in the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill, which Reininger said was designated to compete with well-established high-speed railways in Europe and Asia.

“(The bill) was designed to use federal investments to attract private investments,” Reininger said, speaking at a podium to a small audience.

Compared to previous attempts, the project has also cleared all regulatory and environmental hurdles, according to Reininger.

Additionally, construction and railway operation union contracts have been secured, he says.

Senator Rosen announced during the press conference that she sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg to urge him to approve the NDOT grant request.

However, when the media asked what would happen to the project if this funding was secured, Rosen and Reininger did not directly answer the question and instead highlighted the hurdles overcame as reasons to be hopeful.

“This time, we have the best possible shot at making it work,” Rosen said at the podium.
Reininger adds while ticket prices have not yet been announced, they would be “comparable” to the cost of driving a car to Las Vegas from Los Angeles and the $79 to $149 prices offered for the yet-to-be-opened Orlando to South Florida.

Officials expect to hear if the grant is approved in September.

Reininger expects ground to break sometime this fall and begin operations in 2027 ahead of the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics.