A group of Chinese rail companies will build a high-speed rail line from Las Vegas to Los Angeles, allowing passengers to make the trip in 80 minutes instead of the present four-hour drive along the Interstate 15.
The consortium, to be called China Railway International USA, is made up of China Railway Group, the CRRC Corporation, China State Construction Engineering Corporation and China Railway Signal & Communication Corporation.
Its American partner is Xpress West, a company that was set up in 2011 by Las Vegas-based hotel and casino developer Marnell to create a rail link between Las Vegas and California.
If this opens up the US market for them, opportunities for future expansion will increase. And if their technology is used in the US, it will be easier for them to sell to other countries– Gary Wong, analyst at Chinese investment bank Guotai Junan
The deal was announced at a press conference today. Work is due to begin next September, and will be financed by an initial accumulated fund of $100m, although it is not yet clear who will fund the entire cost, of which estimates have varied between $5bn and $12.7bn.
The original project was to have been financed by a $6bn federal loan, but the Department of Transport suspended this indefinitely in 2013, citing "significant uncertainties still surrounding the project".
The new plan is to lay a 300km double-track railway that will run alongside the I-15. The track will be electrified, and the trains on it will reach a speed of 240km/h.
There will also be stations, which XpressWest says will be "world class, state of the art facilities".
The service is aimed at the leisure market, and Xpress West is planning to offer a range of services on the train, including "hotel check-in services, dinner and show reservations, and multiple entertainment options".
First and business-class passengers will also have "barrier-free arrivals and departures and courtesy door-to-door baggage handling".
Gary Wong, an analyst with Chinese investment bank Guotai Junan, told Reuters that the project would offer the Chinese firms little financial benefit, but would establish their position in the undeveloped US high-speed rail market.
"If this opens up the US market for them, opportunities for future expansion will increase," he said. "And if their technology is used in the US, it will be easier for them to sell to other countries."
About a quarter of all visitors to Las Vegas come from southern California. However, there is presently no rail service between the two. Amtrak opened the Desert Wind line from Los Angeles to Utah via Las Vegas in 1979, but this was closed in 1997.