Skip to content

Full speed ahead: Work on Las Vegas to Los Angeles high-speed rail expected to begin this year

April 21, 2021
4 min read
Full speed ahead: Work on Las Vegas to Los Angeles high-speed rail expected to begin this year
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Connecting Los Angeles and Las Vegas via high-speed rail has been talked about for years. But it looks like this is the year when that idea may finally get on track.

According to Brightline West CEO Mike Reininger, groundbreaking on the tracks for the 170-mile route between Vegas and Victorville, California is on schedule to begin later this year. He did not give a specific target date, however, for when actual work would get underway. Once passengers get to Victorville, Brightline says they would connect via MetroLink and take a train that would take them to LA's Union Station.

The All Aboard Florida Brightline express train is displayed in West Palm Beach, Florida in Jan. 2017. (Photo by Scott McIntyre/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

You may know Brightline from its train service in Florida. Brightline train currently serves Miami – Ft. Lauderdale – West Palm Beach, and is expanding to Disney World and to the Orlando International Airport (MCO).

Sign up to receive the daily TPG newsletter for more travel news!

“The world changed as a result of the pandemic, but we continued to work wherever we possibly could towards advancing the ball,” Reininger said in an interview with the Reno-Gazette Journal. "The project remains a very high priority for us."

(Screenshot courtesy Brightline)

The Vegas to LA route would feature what the company calls "high-speed, zero-emission" electric trains that could reach speeds of up to 200 miles per hour. Brightline says the trip would be approximately three hours. That compares favorably to driving in a car. A road trip between the two cities typically takes at least four hours, sometimes more if you get stuck in traffic on the I-15.

Of course, even if the trains run on electricity, that electricity will be created with some emissions. Brightline has done carbon offsets for its trains before, and they could work with state officials to get green electricity. Time will tell.

Related: Why trains are great for travelers who want to reduce their carbon footprint

Flying is much faster, of course, and there are many flight options between the two cities. But Brightline is betting that avoiding the hassle of going to and from LAX and the traffic it involves will make its train service appealing to customers.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

The Los Angeles-Las Vegas corridor is incredibly popular. Approximately 50 million one-way trips are made each year between the two cities. Brightline estimates 85% of them are by car or bus. The company sees a great opportunity there, and so does Amtrak. It announced plans to expand service and add rail routes to new cities after President Biden announced his $2.25 trillion infrastructure bill that included $80 billion to shore up America's railroad tracks. Amtrak hinted that a train running between LA and Vegas was in the works. The railroad service hasn't had service in the desert mecca for years.

Not everyone is sold on the idea that there is gold to be found along the Vegas to LA rail route. Randal O’Toole, a Cato Institute senior fellow specializing in land use and transportation issues, told NBC News that, “These routes are so heavily covered by airlines, buses and freeways that a passenger train is not going to attract many customers."

The biggest hurdle Brightline, the only privately-owned passenger railroad, faces in making its high-speed rail a reality is financing. The company told the Nevada High-Speed Rail Authority that the pandemic had hurt the company's efforts to raise money to fund the project. Last year, financing for the $8 billion privately financed XpressWest project was halted by the economic woes brought on by the pandemic. Since then, the stock market's recovery has given company executives hope that things are back on track.

Featured image by Bloomberg via Getty Images
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Top offers from our partners

How we chose these cards

Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
See all best card offers

TPG featured card

Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review
Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site

Rewards

3 - 4X points
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
3XEarn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.

Intro offer

60,000 bonus points
Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

Annual Fee

$250

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent/Good
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
3XEarn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

    60,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $250
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees