Brightline Thread (East and West)

The Las Vegas groundbreaking ceremony of Brightline West is happening Monday morning, Aprill 22.

FOX5 confirmed with a Brightline representative that Secretary Pete Buttigieg will make remarks celebrating the groundbreaking. Brightline founder and chairman Wes Edens and federal, state and local officials from California and Nevada also plan to be at the event.

The ceremony will be held at the future Brightline West stations site for the high-speed rail connecting Southern California and Nevada. The stations is set to be located near Warm Springs and Las Vegas Boulevard.

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SunRail airport connection to Orlando attractions, Brightline Tampa route has $4 billion price tag - Trains

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Siemens has been chosen to build Brightline West trains

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Expected. I assume CAHSR will be going with the same trainsets.

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I hope so. 10-20 years from now, there should be plenty of ROW-sharing between these networks, so interoperability should be a priority.

Edit: I’ve just been reminded that CAHSR and Brightline signed an interoperability agreement. So even if they don’t use identical trainsets, they should work on shared ROWs.

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By the time interoperability is a concern both Brightline and CAHSR will be on their second or third rolling-stock order.

So incompatibility in the short-to-medium term (up to the year 2065 or even 2070) shouldn’t be an issue.

You think it’ll take that long for Brightline to build a branch connecting to CAHSR at Palmdale? I know they haven’t identified funding for that branch yet but the High Desert Corridor is almost impossibly flat and uncomplicated compared to their first phase.

If Brightline wants a one-seat ride between LV and DTLA/Orange County, it makes much more sense to go that way than via the San Gabriel Valley, which has no suitable ROW. If they wanted to, they could easily have the High Desert connector built by the time CAHSR builds its massive Palmade to Burbank tunnel.

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I thought you were referring to CAHSR extension to DTLA or Brightline extension west from Cucamonga Junction. Neither of those will be built until well into the second half of the 21st century, if they happen during this century at all. We need a few more generations of myopic political leadership to cycle in and out of office, along with structural changes in California law and society, before construction of rail through urban areas can commence. It is quiet possible that the first governor of California to ride high-speed rail into downtown Los Angeles hasn’t graduated kindergarten yet.

As far as a High Desert branch, I have no idea. Are there realistic plans to build a Bakersfield-Palmdale sector in our lifetime?

The EIR/EIS for Bakersfield to Palmdale has been certified and approved. I don’t know where that leaves the timeline for construction, but I don’t think it’s multiple decades away.

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Following on from our convo above:

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You would still have to change trains twice but it makes sense.

Ideally to get between Brightline and CAHSR one would only need to change trains once, either at Palmdale or Victorville Junction (but not both). This plan would require either Brightline or CAHSR to interline via the High Desert Corridor. I guess the alternative is for Palmdale-Victorville to operate as a dinky shuttle - I hope that’s not the plan.

Ideally ideally, they would find a way to interline Brightline/CAHSR the whole way to DTLA. This is what I meant when I mentioned interoperability above. By using the same 220mph trainsets across both systems, it should be quite doable to run Brightline as just one of the high speed services out of LA.

Passengers shouldn’t really think about what company they’re buying a ticket from, just LA to Las Vegas, LA to San Francisco, LA to Sacramento, LA to San Diego (and eventually presumably LA to Phoenix/Tuscon).

Should I be concerned that the High Desert Corridor is being planned by the Los Angeles Metro, an agency that is skilled at running buses and subways but that appears to have no experience with intercity or regional trains?

LA to Vancouver!

It’s a nice dream but I think our realistic best case buildout for HSR in the West has two systems: one in the southwest (CA, NV, AZ) and one in the northwest (OR, WA, BC).

Reason being: the region in between Sacramento and Eugene, OR is super mountainous, with no city centers to serve for hundreds of miles. Even at the theoretical maximum speed of 220mph — which would require a 250 mile long tunnel or viaduct between Redding and Eugene, conservatively costing several hundred billion dollars — with no stops in between, an LA to Vancouver trip would take close to 6 hours. With those kind of constraints, HSR won’t ever be competitive with air travel.

But the closer-together city pairs with (mostly) flatter terrain between them make tons of sense for HSR. I was actually noodling in Metro MapMaker based on the above convo about interlining CAHSR and Brightline. Here’s what I think the best-case scenario for the two systems could look like:

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Brightline might be sponsoring a new commuter rail service (that will likely be operated by Tri-Rail).

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