Brightline West Kickstarts US’s First High-Speed Rail Construction in Mojave Desert

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In the heart of the Mojave Desert, the early stages of construction for what promises to be the first high-speed rail in the United States have begun. The Brightline West project, which set its first support into the ground last month, boasts potential speeds of up to a blistering 200 mph. Tracing a path along the median of the I-15 highway, it will connect the glimmering mirage of Las Vegas to Rancho Cucamonga in California.

This magnificent mechanical marvel is expected to spring to life come 2028. Once completed, it’s predicted that the sleek trains of Brightline West will flash alongside the I-15 clogged with ravening motorists, showcasing themselves as a faster and arguably more glamorous alternative to the laborious journey to Sin City.

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Following the ritualistic tapping of a symbolic spike into a mock track, U.S Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg confidently asserted that “once the first customer buys that first ticket to ride a high-speed rail on American soil, there will be no going back.”

Yet Brightline West’s ambitious journey is not without its stumbling blocks. Securing the billions needed to fully fund the $12 billion enterprise is a hurdle yet to be cleared. Furthermore, skeptics question the project’s feasibility when passengers still face a subsequent 45-minute journey to reach downtown Los Angeles, or the potential shock of a hefty $400 per round-trip fare.

Addressing these and other hard-hitting questions, Harry Teng, esteemed professor of civil and environmental engineering at UNLV and an independent commissioner of the Nevada High Speed Rail Authority, tackled these knotty questions.

Discussing the historic desire for a high-speed rail network dating back to 2005, Teng identified the previous lack of finances and ill-advised destination choice as pitfalls. The recent passing of a generous infrastructure bill combined with a revised terminus closer to major cities gives Teng confidence in the project’s new course.

He also addressed the estimated whopping budget of the project. Alongside the $3 billion bestowed by President Biden’s infrastructure bill and a $3.5 billion access to tax-exempt bonds, Teng voiced his belief that private funds raised by Brightline West founder, billionaire Wes Edens, would amply supplement these resources.

Engineering obstacles, however, do give Teng pause. Among concerns about sharp freeway curves, unpredictable desert winds, and searing summer heat that could render the rail vulnerable, Teng stressed the importance of stationing sensors to monitor weather conditions.

He dismissed worries about the train’s ability to conquer gradients, asserting that the powerful momentum of the train would readily handle those situations. Likewise, Teng played down concerns regarding the additional travel time to Los Angeles and potential low demand due to high-priced tickets relative to driving costs.

Not only does Teng firmly believe that prices could dynamically fluctuate depending on the market’s willingness to pay, he envisions a variety of flexible pricing options and demographic discounts. The possibility of themed trains offering a unique experience for its patrons could provide an additional revenue stream, helping to offset operational costs.

In his expert opinion, Teng remains confident that with strategic problem-solving approaches, Brightline West’s high-speed rail project can indeed be successful. The groundbreaking rail endeavor is on track to transform the future of long-distance travel in the United States.

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Melinda Cochrane is a poet, teacher and fiction author. She is also the editor and publisher of The Inspired Heart, a collection of international writers. Melinda also runs a publishing company, Melinda Cochrane International books for aspiring writers, based out Montreal, Quebec. Her publication credits include: The art of poetic inquiry, (Backalong Books), a novella, Desperate Freedom, (Brian Wrixon Books Canada), and 2 collections of poetry; The Man Who Stole Father’s Boat, (Backalong Books), and She’s an Island Poet, Desperate Freedom was on the bestseller's list for one week, and The Man Who Stole Father’s Boat is one of hope and encouragement for all those living in the social welfare system. She’s been published in online magazines such as, (regular writer for) ‘Life as a Human’, and Shannon Grissom’s magazine.