Many people enjoy taking a weekend trip with friends and family to the Las Vegas area. Soon, they will be able to travel from Victorville to Las Vegas in 90 minutes without the additional burden of parking a vehicle for several days, or the traffic concerns of the return drive back to Southern California on the I-15 with all the other weekend travelers.
On October 23, the California Infrastructure and Economic Development Bank approved $3.25 billion in bonds to begin building a fully electric high-speed train between Victor Valley and Las Vegas.
Private institutional investors will acquire bonds that will create the funds to support this enterprise which will be implemented by Virgin Trains USA.
Bob O’Malley, vice president of corporate development for Virgin Trains USA, stated that they have a similar system already in operation in Florida and they plan to replicate that success here in California.
“Our privately-funded high-speed rail connection between Las Vegas and Southern California will generate tremendous public benefit by creating thousands of jobs, reducing traffic congestion on the I-15 by replacing 4.5 million car trips, and improving air quality by removing 300,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually,” said O’Malley.
Having a stress-free way to get to an exciting vacation spot with so many sources of entertainment will increase the opportunity for more people to travel to this destination.
“The project is estimated to inject $2.13 billion into California’s economy including $275 million in federal, state and local tax revenue,” said O’Malley when speaking at the High Desert Opportunity Summit in October.
The benefits of an electric high-speed train are both economic and ecologic. The train will take passengers from Victor Valley to Las Vegas in roughly 90 minutes at speeds greater than 150 miles per hour thus eliminating approximately 4.5 million cars from driving the 811 million miles on the I-15 annually. This reduction in greenhouse gas emissions is a positive step toward improving air quality in San Bernardino County.
There are future plans to expand the rail west to the Palmdale region in order to connect with other passenger rail systems in the Southern California area.
“This is a monumental day for the High Desert,” San Bernardino County First District Supervisor Robert A. Lovingood said. “This high-speed rail project across the First District will provide an economic engine that this area has never seen before, from construction and tourism to support services.”
The Virgin high-speed electric train, known as the DesertXpress, will bring many growth opportunities to the San Bernardino County area including thousands of jobs to the Victorville area, as well as 1,200 new housing units.
“With the DesertXpress by Virgin Trains USA slated to begin construction in 2020, it is expected to bring over 10,000 jobs to the area,” said Sue Moore, of Moore Digital Marketing located in Hesperia. “Once the train is in operation (sometime in 2023), about 500 permanent jobs will be created. It is an exciting time for the Victor Valley, with opportunities for our residents, our business community and new development.”