PALMDALE — Virgin Trains USA, the private firm that is planning high-speed rail service between Las Vegas and Victorville and eventually extending the line to Palmdale, announced plans this week for an initial public stock offering in hopes of raising some $500 million.
The company, originally Brightline, operates passenger rail service between Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach and plans to expand into Orlando and Tampa.
In November, Virgin Group announced a strategic partnership and minority investment in Brightline, which includes new branding, as Brightline becomes Virgin Trains USA this year.
Taking the company public is the next step in its evolution, as the company announced Jan. 30 an initial public offering of more than 28 million shares of stock to be traded on the Nasdaq exchange.
“This is a giant leap forward for this exciting project, bringing us closer to making this a reality. The economic development and intermodal transportation opportunities this will bring to the entire region is limitless,” Palmdale Mayor Steve Hofbauer said of the Virgin Trains USA stock offering.
“This also makes our work take on additional urgency at the city of Palmdale, with our partners on the High Desert Corridor and our other stakeholders, to complete the link to our regional transit center for access to L.A. through Metrolink, and beyond through our airport,” he said.
In September, Brightline announced it had acquired XpressWest, the high-speed rail project that has a federally approved corridor between Las Vegas and Victorville, with plans to continue the line to Palmdale, where it will connect with other transportation services.
It will take over development, construction and operation of the proposed high-speed line, which would travel on a 185-mile right-of-way along Interstate 15 in its first phase, with no at-grade or pedestrian crossings.
Construction is expected to begin this year and the company plans to begin initial service in 2022, according to a company statement.
The company said future plans are to expand into the Los Angeles area, but no specific destination is cited, only that planning for additional stations and connectivity to Metrolink and the California High-Speed Rail is underway.
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