Vegas-California bullet train project gets $3 billion federal grant

A high-speed train project that would connect Los Angeles to Las Vegas just won a massive $3 billion grant from the Biden Administration.

Brightline West aims to start construction in the upcoming year, with the goal of having trains between Las Vegas and Rancho Cucamonga running by summer 2028, just in time for the Olympics.

The grant funding was announced Tuesday by Nevada senators Jacky Rosen and Catherine Cortez Mastro, who have supported the project's impacts on the state, such as decreased carbon emissions and increased tourism revenue.

"For decades, NV has heard about the benefits of high-speed rail," said Sen. Jacky Rosen on X, formerly Twitter. "Today, after months of pushing, I’ve secured critical funding to make this a REALITY."


"Connecting Las Vegas and Southern California by high-speed rail will create tens of thousands of good-paying union jobs, boost our Southern Nevada tourism economy, and finally help us cut down on I-15 traffic," said Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto.

Cortez Masto said the project could eliminate about 3 million cars from the 15 Freeway every year, while creating about 35,000 "good-paying union jobs."

Biden is expected to officially announce the grant funding for the bullet train later this week during a visit to Nevada, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

In a statement to Forbes, Wes Edens, the founder and chairman of Brightline, called the grant "a historic moment that will serve as a foundation for a new industry, and a remarkable project that will serve as the blueprint for how we can repeat this model throughout the country." 

Photo courtesy Brightline West

According to Brightline, the expected travel time between Las Vegas and Los Angeles is approximately 2.5 hours. The zero-emission electric trains could carry 500 passengers at speeds of nearly 200 mph.

Approximately 50 million one-way trips are made annually between these two destinations with 85% of them by car or bus, the company said. At full operations, Brightline expects to attract approximately 12 million one-way trips each year. 

Amenities for travelers include free onboard WiFi, ADA accessibility from station to train, a wide selection of food and drinks, checked luggage, and hotel check-in services.

Construction was originally set to begin in 2020, but was halted when the company postponed a planned $2.4 billion bond sale to finance initial tracks and stations for the $8 billion project. The company blamed the delay on market instability because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Amtrak passenger service to Las Vegas ended in 1997 with the demise of a train called the Desert Wind. The concept of building a bullet train through the Mojave Desert dates back to at least 2005 under various names.

Other places where high-speed trains have been proposed include the 500-mile system linking Los Angeles and San Francisco.

The Rancho Cucamonga station will connect to Metrolink’s regional rail network, which includes stations in Los Angeles, Riverside, Orange, San Diego, and Ventura counties.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.