XpressWest, a US-based private rail developer, has signed a joint venture agreement with China Railway International USA to push forward a proposed high-speed rail link between Los Angeles and Las Vegas in the US.

China Railway International is owned by several Chinese state-owned companies, including the first and second largest contractors in the world – China State Construction & Engineering Corporation (CSCEC) and China Railway Group – and rolling stock maker CRRC. XpressWest is led by Marnell Companies, a Las Vegas-based architect and engineering consultant.

The two parties claim to have raised US$ 100 million in initial capital for the project, which they say will be used to drive regulatory approval for the scheme. They have a stated ambition to develop, finance, build and operate the so-called Southwest Rail Network and say construction could start as early as September 2016.

A statement from XpressWest said, “The project will serve as a model of international co-operation and will firmly establish a United States-based high-speed rail industry that will result in significant job creation throughout the Southwest.”

According to XpressWest, the high-speed line will offer an 80 minute non-stop journey time over the 270 miles (435 km) between Las Vegas and Los Angeles. It said the average round-trip ticket price would be US$ 89.

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