Biden Administration Announces $6 Billion in Funding for High-Speed Rail Projects in the US West

The Biden administration announced this week that it would give $6.1 billion for two high-speed electric rail projects in the US West. California and Nevada will receive funding for long-anticipated rail routes, marking a renewed commitment to high-speed rail as a sustainable mode of transportation.

The federal government will allocate $3 billion for a privately owned high-speed rail connection between Las Vegas and the Los Angeles area, and an additional $3.1 billion for an initial segment of California’s publicly funded high-speed rail project, aiming to link Los Angeles and San Francisco.

While the funding represents a tiny amount relative to the total project cost — the project cost has ballooned to over $120 billion — it signifies the administration’s push towards embracing high-speed rail, a widely adopted mode of transit elsewhere in the world. Brian Kelly, CEO of the California High-Speed Rail Authority said on Fortune that the allocation is a “great leap forward.”

The California project, initially proposed in 2008, aims to create a 500-mile route between Los Angeles and San Francisco with speeds of up to 220 mph. The current focus is on a 119-mile stretch connecting Merced, Fresno, and Bakersfield, with the newly allocated $3.1 billion earmarked for this segment.

The federal funding comes as a relief, addressing a significant funding gap for the Central Valley route. Kelly emphasized that additional support from both federal and state governments would be sought in the future. The project only has $25 billion in identified funding.

The second project, a high-speed rail link between Las Vegas and Los Angeles, has been discussed for decades. With all necessary approvals secured, including right-of-way and environmental clearances, and labor agreements in place, the project is poised to commence. While no start date has been announced, there are hopes that electric-powered trains could be operational by the time Los Angeles hosts the Summer Olympics in 2028.

Nevada US Senator Jacky Rosen highlighted the potential benefits, stating that the high-speed rail connection would create jobs, boost tourism, and alleviate traffic congestion between Las Vegas and Southern California. The initiative is expected to be modeled after Florida-based Brightline’s successful intercity passenger railroad, offering speeds of up to 125 mph.

Information for this story was found via Fortune, Reuters, the sources and companies mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to the organizations discussed. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

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