Brightline is working with Metrolink on possible route options.

Brightline is working with Metrolink on possible route options.

Plans for a $5 billion high-speed rail line to connect Southern California to downtown Las Vegas have taken several steps forward in recent weeks.

Miami-based Brightline Trains earlier this month received $200 million in private activity bonds from the Nevada State Board of Finance to help fund its planned 170-mile high-speed rail line between downtown Las Vegas and Victorville, which has a target completion date of 2023.

That follows a $600 million bond award from California announced in April.

The awards allow the company to sell up to an additional $3.2 billion in tax-exempt bonds.

The high-speed train developer has also made progress on two fronts to extend the route’s western terminus at Victorville to downtown Los Angeles.

Brightline entered into an agreement with the San Bernardino County Transportation Authority last month to explore adding a 50-mile spur through the Cajon Pass to the Inland Empire city of Rancho Cucamonga. From there it would connect to an existing Metrolink station that in turn would take passengers through to Union Station in downtown.

Brightline spokesman Ben Porritt said the company will likely present its plans for the spur within 60 days to the San Bernardino County Transportation Authority.

Brightline is also considering building a spur to a Metrolink station in Palmdale, then using Metrolink’s tracks to take the high-speed train to Union Station.

On Aug. 21, Metrolink’s board was set to consider authorizing Chief Executive Stephanie Wiggins to negotiate agreements allowing Brightline to share Metrolink stations at Rancho Cucamonga or Palmdale and use Metrolink tracks from either station to connect to Union Station.

Either connection would give Angelenos their first opportunity to take high-speed ground-based transit to Las Vegas.

Brightline operates the only privately funded high-speed rail line in the U.S., connecting Florida’s West Palm Beach to Miami.

For the Las Vegas to Southern California project, Brightline created a subsidiary, DesertXpress Enterprises, doing business as Xpress West.

Much of the core route from Las Vegas to Victorville would be built within the median of Interstate 15, which is now the main vehicular route between Southern California and Las Vegas.

Trains would take roughly 85 minutes to traverse the Victorville route at speeds of up to 200 miles per hour.

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