A long-discussed high-speed rail project linking Southern California and Las Vegas will be built by a U.S.-China joint venture, Chinese officials said Thursday, though many details about the agreement remained hazy.
Announcement of cooperation on the XpressWest project adjacent to the 15 Freeway comes days ahead of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s state visit to the United States. Financial terms of the agreement, and the cost of the project, were not immediately clear.
XpressWest, a private venture formerly called DesertXpress, has been under discussion since at least 2007. Chinese officials described the project as a 230-mile train linking Las Vegas and Los Angeles, though XpressWest’s website says the route is planned as 185 miles from Vegas to Victorville, 85 miles northeast of downtown L.A.
XpressWest agreed this month to form a joint venture with China Railway International USA Co. to build and operate the railway, Shu Guozeng, deputy head of the government’s Office of the Central Leading Group for Financial and Economic Affairs, said at a news conference Thursday, according to the state-run Xinhua News Agency. Shu claimed the project could begin construction as early as September 2016.
Representatives of XpressWest did not immediately return requests for comment.
Multiple proposals for a Vegas-to-L.A. train have been discussed over the years, with none coming to fruition because of funding difficulties and other setbacks.
China has built the most extensive high-speed railway network in the world.
It has about 10,000 miles of high-speed rail in operation, and Chinese train makers and railroad builders are eager to expand overseas now that China’s network is somewhat built-out and the country’s domestic economy is slowing.
China Railway International was established this summer by a Chinese consortium led by national railway operator China Railway, the financial publication Caixin reported. Bloomberg News cited a statement from Shu saying the Las Vegas project would “be supported by $100 million in initial capital,” though from which entities was unclear.