Two high-speed rail projects connecting a few of the busiest cities in the US are to get $6.1bn in government funding. The Brightline West high-speed rail system will connect Los Angeles and Las Vegas, and Los Angeles with San Francisco. 

Both the Brightline West plan connecting Southern California to Las Vegas and the California High-Speed Rail project between Los Angeles and San Francisco will receive a total of $3bn and $3.07bn each.

The funding stems from the bipartisan Infrastructure Law under the Biden administration's Federal-State Partnership Program.

According to Reuters, the financial support is anticipated to pave the way for a formal project announcement for the Brightline West initiative, expected by December 8. Simultaneously, the funding will contribute to the advancement of a scaled-down iteration of the California High-Speed Rail project, addressing longstanding funding challenges that have persisted for several years. 

Completion in 2028 

The $10bn Las Vegas to Southern California project will have main stations in Rancho Cucamonga, Apple Valley, and Las Vegas, along with a passenger stop in Hesperia. The Las Vegas to Los Angeles project is targeting completion before the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics.

Apart from the $3bn allocated, the remaining project cost will be covered by tax-exempt private activity bond allocations from both states and private capital.

The proposed 350km high-speed network will connect Las Vegas and Southern California using technology capable of cruising at 321km/h. This means that the travel time between the cities will be slightly more than an hour. In comparison, a car trip takes more than four hours. 

The project connecting Los Angeles to San Francisco seeks to transport passengers from San Francisco to the Los Angeles basin, achieving speeds surpassing 320km/h in less than three hours. The commencement of initial service is anticipated as early as 2030.

The complete project spanning from San Francisco to Los Angeles is projected to have a cost ranging from $88bn to $128bn.

Additional locations under consideration for high-speed trains include a proposed 240-mile route in Texas connecting Dallas and Houston. As a component of the 2021 $1tn infrastructure bill, Congress authorised $66bn for the nation's rail infrastructure. Within this allocation, Amtrak was granted $22bn, while an additional $36bn was earmarked for competitive grants.

Create 35,000 construction jobs

The Southern California project's spending is expected to provide a much-needed boost to the economy, including the creation of nearly 35,000 construction jobs and about 10,000 permanent jobs.

According to Brightline, the fully electric, emission-free system will be one of the most environmentally friendly modes of transportation in the United States, eliminating three million cars and 400,000 tonnes of CO2 each year. 

In addition, redirecting people from auto and air travel to Brightline West's high-speed rail system saves more than 700 million vehicle miles per year and the equivalent of 16,000 short-haul flights per year. 

“This historic high-speed rail project will be a game changer for Nevada’s tourism economy and transportation. It’ll bring more visitors to our state, reduce traffic on the I-15, create thousands of good paying jobs, and decrease carbon emissions, all while relying on local union labour,” said Jacky Rosen, senator for Nevada, in a statement

In March, Brightline confirmed an agreement with the High-Speed Rail Labor Coalition, comprising 13 unions representing more than 160,000 railroad workers in the US, to proceed with the $12bn project. 

Brightline is America's only private provider of modern, environmentally friendly intercity passenger rail service. In Florida, it currently serves Miami, Aventura, Fort Lauderdale, Boca Raton, and West Palm Beach, with its Orlando station set to open in 2023.