California Las Vegas Train

FAST TRACK — The company that could bring a high-speed rail connection between Las Vegas and Palmdale, Virgin Trains USA, announced this week it is going public with an initial public stock offering intended to raise some $500 million.

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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