The Nevada High-Speed Rail Authority has approved XpressWest, which wants to build a 185-mile high-speed rail line between Victorville and Las Vegas, as a franchisee.
The decision does not include any funding, as Steve Hill, director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, pointed out to CBS Sacramento.
The train, which has an estimated cost of $8 billion, would cut the normal travel time between the two cities in half, from roughly two and a half hours to 80 minutes, and cost under $100 per ride. Once the line is constructed, XpressWest plans to extend the line to Palmdale, so it can fuse with metro lines and the California High-Speed Rail line that is intended to connect Palmdale to the Central Valley.
Supporters of the Victorville-Las Vegas line argue that 25% of traffic Interstate 15 would choose the rail line, possibly cutting gas usage by 8.5 million gallons each year.
In 2013, XpressWest was rebuffed by the government on a $5.5 billion loan, ostensibly because the project didn’t use enough American-made products, though most bullet trains are made overseas. But in September, China Railway International said it would invest in the project, offering an initial $100 million payment. The Los Angeles Times reported that Yang Zhongmin, chairman of China Railway International, said, “As China’s first high-speed railway project in the United States, the project will be a landmark in overseas investment for the Chinese railway sector and serve as a model of international cooperation,”
In March 2013, Paul Ryan, then-Chairman of the House Budget Committee, and Jeff Sessions, ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, who opposed the rail line, wrote a letter asking the U.S. Department of Transportation to suspend final determinations on funding for the proposed rail line until an analysis from the Government Accountability Office was completed.