23 Apr, 24

America’s First High-Speed Rail Construction Begins


America’s first high-speed rail project has broken ground, connecting Los Angeles and Las Vegas. The 218-mile track will traverse the Mojave desert and is expected to be completed within four years. Led by rail construction firm Brightline, the infrastructure project will feature all-electric, zero-emission trains capable of reaching speeds of up to 200 mph. The journey from Las Vegas to Rancho Cucamonga will take approximately 2 hours and 10 minutes, twice as fast as the normal drive time. The project received $3 billion in federal funding from the Biden administration.


The Biden administration, through Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, highlighted the positive impacts of the high-speed rail project. It is expected to reduce approximately 400,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually, boost tourism, and generate 35,000 well-paying jobs. Brightline’s Founder and Chairman, Wes Edens, expressed excitement about the project, stating that it will serve as a blueprint for future high-speed rail systems in the United States. The connection between Las Vegas and Southern California is anticipated to bring significant public benefits, including job creation and enhanced economic competitiveness in the region. Brightline already operates a successful railway system in Florida, connecting Miami and Orlando. Gizmodo has reached out to Brightline for further details on the new project.


While many countries around the world have successfully modernized their rail systems, the United States has lagged behind in this regard. Europe boasts a comprehensive and efficient train network, while Japan’s bullet trains are a symbol of national pride. China, in just two decades, has established the fastest trains and a highly effective high-speed rail network. In contrast, the U.S. has struggled to develop modernized rail travel despite years of discussions about its potential benefits for Americans.


Hopefully, the new high-speed rail project connecting Los Angeles and Las Vegas will avoid the challenges faced by California’s long-delayed effort to establish a high-speed rail service between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Despite being approved by state voters in 2008, the California project has made limited progress, completing less than a quarter of the proposed rail line. Moreover, it currently faces a significant funding gap amounting to billions of dollars. In March, project leaders informed California lawmakers that an additional $100 billion and several more years would be required to complete the originally envisioned full rail line.