profiles Vegas train backer

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forbes recently profiled billionaire Wes Edens, a key backer of Brightline USA’s plan to build a high-speed rail line from Apple Valley to Las Vegas. Edens sees a service modeled on the Paris-to-London Eurostar and is so confident the plan will work that he’s put more than $100 million of his own money into it, according to Forbes. If things go right, his trains could haul nearly 20 million passengers in 2026, generate annual revenue of $1.6 billion and operating profit of almost $1 billion a year. 

If all goes as planned, by 2023 the train will be whisking passengers from Las Vegas to a far-flung Los Angeles suburb in 85 minutes at speeds of up to 200 miles an hour. The $5 billion desert train also snagged private-activity financing from the federal government worth $1 billion and is awaiting a bond allocation from Nevada. 

“His ideas are so big,” says friend and Los Angeles Lakers owner Jeanie Buss, a co-owner of Edens’ Cincoro tequila brand. “We need thinkers like that in this country, people who see possibility and opportunity, because we’ve kind of lost that as a country.” His public-private financing model is also exactly how big-ticket infrastructure will get built, says former HUD secretary and San Antonio mayor Henry Cisneros, who chairs a firm that specializes in securing funds for such projects.