Other than jumping on sports bandwagons and arguing about taco shops, nothing makes you a Southern Californian quite like sitting in nonstop traffic all the way from LA to Vegas on a Friday night. But that slow crawl up I-15 will be a thing of the past when the snazzy new Brightline West express train links Southern California to the bright lights of Las Vegas. The project is inching toward fruition, with construction slated to break ground later this spring, and hopes to save 400,000 tons of carbon each year with its zero-emission electric trains.
Brightline — a privately owned Florida train with express services linking Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach — has earmarked 38 acres of land near the Vegas Strip to build its station, which will connect via 169 miles of uninterrupted track to Victor Valley, a city previously best known as the filming location of It Came From Outer Space and the location of clean bathrooms at the In-N-Out Burger on Roy Rogers Way.
Victor Valley is about 90 miles from Los Angeles and 80 miles from Orange County. So your weekend Vegas mission won’t be as simple as hopping on a downtown train, doing a few Jäger shots, and waking up on the Strip. But it’s still an improvement over the six-hour slugfest most Angelinos endure. Once in Victor Valley, the ride will take about two hours along tracks near I-15, complete with a full bar, spacious bathrooms, and oversized leather seats.
“Brightline is changing transportation in our country by connecting heavily trafficked corridors that are too long to drive and too short to fly,” Wes Edens, the co-founder and co-chief executive officer of Brightline’s parent Fortress Investment Group, said in a statement in 2018. “We’re excited to bring Brightline’s world-class and convenient travel experience to Southern California and Las Vegas.”
Whether or not train travel from the desert to the Strip catches on remains to be seen, but if nothing else, it’ll make the ride up a lot more fun — and the Sunday ride back just a little less miserable.
A version of this article was previously published on September 18, 2018 by Matthew Meltzer, and was updated on April 26, 2021, with more information by Alex Bresler.