Brightline West has officially commenced construction on what is said to be the first official high-speed rail system in the US, designed to connect Las Vegas to Southern California. 

A ground-breaking ceremony was held with the participation of US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Brightline founder Wes Edens, and more. 

Buttigieg said: “Partnering with state leaders and Brightline West, we’re writing a new chapter in our country’s transportation story that includes thousands of union jobs, new connections to better economic opportunity, less congestion on the roads, and less pollution in the air.” 

The project, which spans 218 miles, is set to change travel between city pairs that are too close to fly but too far to drive.  

The rail system will feature zero-emission, fully electric trains capable of reaching speeds up to 200mph.

The infrastructure project has secured $3bn in funding from US President Joe Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure bill. 

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It has also received private funding, bringing the total to $3.5bn in private activity bonds from the US Department of Transportation.  

The route, which has received full environmental clearance, will be constructed along the median of the I-15 motorway.

It will eliminate grade crossings and ensure a smooth journey for passengers. 

Specifically, Brightline West’s rail system will offer a two-hour connection between Southern California and Las Vegas. 

The development will be built and operated by union labour.  

Construction will use 700,000 concrete rail ties, 2.2 million tons (t) of ballast, and 63,000t of 100% American steel rail. 

Upon completion, the system will feature 322 miles of overhead lines to power the trains and 3.4 million square feet of retaining walls.  

The project encompasses more than 160 structures, including viaducts and bridges, and will be fully compliant with Buy America standards.  

The 200,000ft² NevVehicle Maintenance Facility, a component of the project, will be located on 238 acres in Sloan, Nevada, serving as the site for train maintenance and operations.  

An additional maintenance facility will be situated adjacent to the Apple Valley station.