LAS VEGAS — Las Vegas is one step closer to having a high-speed train between the Las Vegas Strip and California.
On Tuesday, city and economic leaders at the Nevada Economic Development Conference talked about the railroad service that would connect more than 22 million people.
Talks of a rail service date back to the late '90s, but Virgin Trains USA says it's now ready to move forward because their current routes in Florida have been a success and they have a model to follow.
"We're looking to start construction in 2020," says Bob O’Malley, the vice president for Virgin Trains USA.
O’Malley says the train tracks near the Strip may seem quiet for now but Virgin Trains USA will put them to good use next year. He says engineers have designed 30% of the project and that it's using Florida's project as a model.
"It'll be a three-year build," O'Malley says. "We're excited about connecting those two markets."
The trip from Las Vegas to Victorville, California, will be about 75 minutes.
"(It) operates privately funded high-speed rail between cities that are too close to fly, too far to drive," O’Malley says.
The first phase of the corridor is expected to be built along Interstate 15. It will travel a distance of 185 miles nonstop, at speeds up to 150 miles per hour.
"If you drive to Southern California on a Friday afternoon or a Sunday afternoon, you'll want an alternative. We think we can be an alternative," O’Malley says.
Tina Quigley, CEO of the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada, tells KTNV "the timing couldn't be better" especially since Las Vegas growing.
"It is in a dedicated lane," Quigley says. "It's not competing with any other railroad projects."
Since the high-speed rail will be near the Strip, Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority President Steve Hill says it will make it easier for visitors to access Allegiant Stadium. It is committed to at least 46 major events once the construction complete.
"There's real alignment in what the community needs from that stadium and what The Raiders need from that stadium," Hill says.
Hill also says the Vegas Golden Knights, Las Vegas Aces and other minor league teams could also have a positive impact.
"It's a convenient and sustainable way for both residents and our visitors," he says.
The rail line is currently trying to find the money to pay the price tag of more than $4 billion.
"We're currently on financing it and intend to finance it the same way we did in Florida," O'Malley says.