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America's First 'Long Overdue' High Speed Train

Builders have officially broken ground on a new $12 billion train line that will speed travellers between Las Vegas and Los Angeles in just under two hours by the end of the decade.


Artist's impression of a Brightline train
Credit: Brightline

The new train, which is considered the first 'high-speed' rail in the United States, is set to halve the travel time for the journey, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions that would otherwise be emitted from cars and planes. Brightline, the firm responsible for the project, received $3 billion in support from the federal government as part of the 2021 bipartisan Infrastructure law.


Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, who was one of several Biden Administration officials on site for the groundbreaking ceremony on Monday, described the moment as a “major milestone in building the future of American rail.” The ceremony symbolically took place on Earth Day.


Brightline expects to carry 10 million passengers per year andplans to have its trains depart every 40 minutes and, when service commences, the train will travel at 186 mph, making it the fastest train in the US - transporting passengers across the 218 mile trip between Sin City and a suburb of the City of Angels in just over 2 hours. That same trip would take about four hours by car (assuming no traffic delays).


For context, Brightline’s most recently completed train connecting parts of Florida is estimated to top out around 130 mph. The speed of the LA to Vegas service is comparable to Japan’s famous bullet trains, but still falls far short of the speed achieved by the world fastest passenger train in Shanghai, which can reach a speed of 280 mph.


Meanwhile, across the pond, the Spanish high-speed rail network is the longest network in Europe with 2,464 miles (with train speeds over 200 mph on some lines) and the second longest in the world, after China's. France also has a large network of high-speed rail lines, comprising 1,740 miles of tracks (with train speeds of up to 199 mph).


No wonder Brightline founder Wes Edens said on Monday: “Today is long overdue, but the blueprint we’ve created with Brightline will allow us to repeat this model in other city pairs around the country.”

 

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