46°F
weather icon Overcast

Virgin Trains updates timeline for Las Vegas-to-Southern Cal train

While construction on the long-talked about high-speed train between Las Vegas and Southern California is slated to begin next year, work probably won’t start in Nevada until the following year.

Virgin Trains USA could break ground in the second half of 2020 on the 170-mile route between Southern Nevada and the Victor Valley area of Southern California, according to Ben Porritt, Virgin Trains spokesman.

Tina Quigley, vice president of business strategy for Virgin Trains, said work on the project will begin in California, where the bulk of the rail line will be located.

“They’ll probably start in about five different areas when construction starts,” Quigley said. “Those five areas will probably be in California.”

With just 35 miles of the route running through Southern Nevada, Nevada-related construction is likely to begin the following year, Quigley said.

“It wouldn’t be until early-t0-mid 2021 that the Vegas station and the work in Vegas would start,” she said.

The project is expected to be completed in 2023.

The projected $4.8 billion project can’t begin construction work until the “record of decision” is received by the Federal Railroad Administration, according to state Department of Business Director Terry Reynolds.

“They (Virgin Trains) expect to receive their record of decision from the U.S. Federal Railroad Administration in August,” Reynolds said.

Virgin plans to secure equipment and materials for the project ahead of time to be ready to begin construction soon as that occurs, Reynolds said.

Track route

With plans still being finalized, early designs call for the majority of the tracks to run between the northbound and southbound lanes of Interstate 15 through southern California. That route would shift to the east side of I-15 once the track reaches the Nevada border.

The track will continue to run on the east side of I-15 until it reaches the planned Las Vegas station, to be located on Las Vegas Boulevard between Blue Diamond and Warm Springs roads, Quigley said.

The tracks will either go under or over highway interchanges, Quigley said, thereby limiting chances for vehicle or pedestrian interactions.

“There are no conflicts or intersections that involve automobiles,” she said. “In this project there is no opportunity for automobile incursion because there are no intersections with roadways. There will never be a conflict or an intersection with cars.”

That’s been an issue in South Florida where Virgin Trains and Brightline operate a rail line that runs through densely populated areas between Miami and West Palm Beach, with multiple intersections along the route. The line was found to be the most dangerous rail line in the U.S. with over 40 people killed by their trains since 2017, according to an Associated Press analysis of Federal Railroad Administration data.

None of the deaths were caused by crew error or faulty equipment, according to law enforcement and federal reports, AP’s story revealed. The majority were suicides, with others involving motorists, pedestrians or bicyclists who didn’t accurately judge the trains’ speed and ignored bells, gates or other warnings.

Funding

All the plans are contingent on bond approval Virgin is seeking from both Nevada and California.

That includes $950 million in total private activity bonds in Nevada, including $200 million in bonds from the state’s debt limit allocation — which would allow Virgin to market $800 million in bonds — and $150 million through the U.S. Department of Transportation’s bond program.

Reynolds said the matter could be up for approval as early as the January Department of Business meeting, but more likely will come up at the February meeting.

Though he declined to speculate on what the board’s decision would be, Reynolds said the Virgin team was meeting all the requirements the board has set.

If the bonds are approved during either the January or February meetings, Virgin’s projected construction time line would stay on track, Porritt said.

California approved a $3.25 billion bond request last month to support the project.

Contact Mick Akers at makers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2920. Follow @mickakers on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Business Videos
Raiders Sell and lease back Headquarters Latest
RJ Reporter Eli Segall talks about the numbers behind the sale and lease back and why businesses make these types of land grabs.
Details on MSG Sphere crawler crane - VIDEO
The world’s fourth-largest crawler crane has arrived to begin work on the MSG Sphere at The Venetian. (Renee Summerour/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Massive crane arrives at MSG Sphere site for upcoming heavy lifts - VIDEO
The 869-ton, 580-foot-high DEMAG CC-8800, the world’s fourth-largest crawler crane, has arrived in Las Vegas to begin work on the MSG Sphere project. (Madison Square Garden and Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas' housing market cools down - VIDEO
In early 2019 Las Vegas home prices were rising at the fastest rate in the nation. But Las Vegas ended 2019 with some of the slowest-rising prices in the nation. In December, Southern Nevada prices were up 2.6% year-over-year in December, compared to 3.8% nationwide, according to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller index . Phoenix saw a a 6.5% price gain. Charlotte, North Carolina, saw a 5.3% price gain. Tampa, Florida saw a 5.2% price gain. Prices rose just 1% in Chicago and New York. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MGM Resorts last Las Vegas operator standing in Osaka bid - VIDEO
Japan is getting ready to issue three highly coveted gaming licenses. The country’s gaming market is estimated to be worth more than $25 billion a year once resorts open in 2025. If the estimates stand up, Japan would become the second-largest gaming market in the world behind Chinese gaming enclave Macau. MGM and at least eight other companies had been vying for the Japanese licenses. In 2019 Las Vegas Sands Corp. and Wynn Resorts Ltd. turned their attention to other areas. Caesars Entertainment Corp. dropped out of the race altogether. MGM teamed up with Japanese financial services group Orix for its bid for a gaming license. MGM/Orix group was the only one to participate in the RFP process. "We think MGM is in a very good position in Osaka at this point" - Union Gaming analyst John DeCree (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Plans for luxury hotel on south Las Vegas Strip - VIDEO
Review-Journal real estate reporter Eli Segall speaks with Renee Summerour about a California developer's plan to help revamp the south Las Vegas Strip. (Renee Summerour/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Two years until “I Do” - VIDEOY
Las Vegas locals Sam Cruz and Jeff Gaglione discuss their engagement, in their future wedding venue at Emerald at Queensridge in Las Vegas, on Monday, Feb. 3, 2020. (Elizabeth Page Brumley/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @elipagephoto
Chairman, CEO of MGM Resorts Jim Murren stepping down - VIDEO
MGM Resorts International CEO Jim Murren will be stepping down as chairman and CEO. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Wynn Las Vegas opens new convention center space - VIDEO
On Feb. 10, 2020, Wynn Las Vegas opened its new convention center expansion that more than doubled its sellable space. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Local tattoo shop tattoos MAGIC attendees - VIDEO
Club Tattoo is giving away tattoos to the people who attend the biannual fashion convention throughout its three days at Mandalay Bay Convention Center. (Ellen Schmidt/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New report shows January home sales jump - VIDEO
Las Vegas’ housing market had another big jump in sales from year-ago levels as prices stayed relatively flat, a new report shows. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Creed perfume store part of growing Las Vegas Strip luxury retail - VIDEO
Andrea DeCarlo, general manager at Creed at the Forum Shops at Caesars on the Las Vegas Strip, talks about her luxury perfume store Monday, Jan. 27, 2020. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Newest tech gadgets at store in Forum Shops at Caesars - VIDEO
A new store at Forum Shops at Caesars, b8ta, encourages shoppers to play with the hottest tech gadgets. (Elizabeth Brumley/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Preview Las Vegas 2020 - VIDEO
Steve Hill, president and CEO of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, hints at new branding slogan for Las Vegas, which will no longer be “What happens here, stays here.” The new slogan will be unveiled Jan. 26 during the Grammy Awards. (Renee Summerour/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Boring Company could provide a solution to parking problems - VIDEO
LVCVA President and CEO Steve Hill believes a potential solution for parking problems is the Boring Company’s $52.5 million people-mover -- a system that could eventually be expanded citywide connecting resorts and even McCarran International Airport to the Convention Center.
The Blackstone Group has partnered with MGM Resorts to acquire more properties - VIDEO
A few months after the Blackstone Group bought the Bellagio for more than $4 billion, it has partnered with MGM Resorts on a deal to acquire two other Las Vegas Strip properties. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES Young Innovator Award winner explains ReDawn - VIDEO
Sofia Ongele explains ReDawn, which uses a Chatbot named Dawn to help users find resources after a sexual assault. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES 2020: MedWand ties for title of Last Gadget Standing - VIDEO
Dr. Samir Qamar of Las Vegas presents MedWand, a medical device that allows physicians to examine patients remotely anywhere in the world, at CES 2020. (Elizabeth Page Brumley /Las Vegas Review-Journal) @elipagephoto
CES Flying Taxis
Bell Nexus EX4 and Hyundai SA-1 flying taxi prototypes from CES 2020. (Mick Akers/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES 2020 attendees rides in autonomous BMWs - VIDEO
BMW is pitching its reconfigured i3 Urban Suite, which holds a single passenger on a lounge-style seat, as the possible future of chauffeured rides at CES 2020. (Mick Akers/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES 2020: Small appliances unveiled in Las Vegas - VIDEO
The small appliances on show at Sands Expo at CES 2020 in Las Vegas include a Keurig cocktail maker, autonomous cooking system, nitrogen coffee ampules and more. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES 2020: The scooter that will remind you of Wall-E - VIDEO
Segway unveiled the egg-shaped S-Pod Scooter at CES 2020 that’s a seated version of their original scooter that can reach 24mph. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES 2020: Before the floor opens at Sands Expo on Day One - VIDEO
CES 2020 opened its doors at 10 a.m. Tuesday, welcoming more than 170,000 attendees to the annual electronics show. (Elizabeth Brumley/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES 2020: A suitcase that follows you, video games to heal you at Pepcom's Digital Experience - VIDEO
Get a glance at Pepcom’s Digital Experience! a showcase of products that will be at this week’s CES convention. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES 2020: Impossible Foods Inc. Debuts Impossible Pork - VIDEO
At a pre-CES news conference at Mandalay Bay’s Kumi restaurant Monday night, a company representative announced that the participants were the “first people in the world” to try the new plant-based product, which it provided as samples in the form of Impossible Pork banh mi, char siu buns, dan dan noodles, pork katsu, pork shumai and sweet-sour-and-numbing meatballs.
CES 2020: Impossible Foods debuts Impossible Pork in Las Vegas - VIDEO
Before a packed press conference at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Impossible Foods executives introduced Impossible Pork, its newest product. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES 2020: The Future of Transportation - VIDEO
Many automotive companies at CES unveil their plans for the future of transportation including safer driverless cars, safety features and a partnership between Uber and Hyundai. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES 2020: What you've missed so far - VIDEO
Catch up on the tech and events presented at CES 2020. (James Schaeffer/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES 2020: Samsung debuts 8k TV, MicroLED TV - VIDEO
2020 is set to be a major year for 8k screens, according to Samsung executives. (James Schaeffer/Las Vegas Review Journal)
Las Vegas resorts welcome dogs to stay
Las Vegas properties are welcoming dogs more than ever. MGM Resorts International announced a new dog-friendly program across all of its Las Vegas properties in December. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
THE LATEST