High-Speed Rail

California OKs $600 Million in Bonds for Virgin Trains’ High-Speed Rail Project

As stated in an article in the Victorville Daily Press, April 14, 2020, Apple Valley Town officials announced that the California Debt Limit Allocation Committee unanimously approved the second half of $600 million in tax-exempt bonds for Virgin Train USA’s XpressWest. The bonds will be funded through the sale of private bonds later in 2020, with construction of the high-speed rail project from Apple Valley to Las Vegas scheduled to start immediately following the sale, town spokesman Orlando Acevedo said. In March 2020, the Town Council announced the close of escrow on the property purchased by Virgin Trains USA for a new train station they said will be constructed on 284 acres in north Apple Valley near Dale Evans Parkway and Interstate 15. The company, which operates the Brightline rail service in South Florida, is also awaiting word on a $200 million private activity bond allocation from Nevada that would raise an additional $800 million, according to a Forbes report. In March 2020 the U.S. Department of Transportation provisionally awarded the project $1 billion of private activity bonds, raising potential funding for the 180-mile-long project to $4.2 billion. That’s just $800 million shy of the railway’s $5 billion construction tab, Forbes said. By getting $600 million of California’s allocation for private activity bonds, the company can now leverage that four times to $2.4 billion in bonds because of federal rules extending that special boost to railroads, the Daily Press reported. Barring any obstacles, trains could begin shuttling passengers between Apple Valley and Las Vegas by 2023, Virgin Trains officials said in January 2020. The company also predicts the rail project could generate over 3,400 housing units in Victorville and Apple Valley; over 20,000 construction jobs; and the removal of 2.8 million cars off roadways annually, the Daily Press reported. The project is estimated to create nearly $3 billion in economic activity for California and generate tax revenue for the state and the town, Acevedo said. The project calls for up to 32 trains daily that will traverse the 180 miles to Sin City in approximately 90 minutes. Each train set is expected to accommodate up to 600 passengers. Ancillary services on board the trains and in the stations include the sale of passenger tickets, food and beverage, merchandise, parking and other related services, the committee report revealed.

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