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US firm scraps plan for China to build LA-Vegas rail line

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A private US company said on Thursday it had cancelled a deal with a Chinese rail consortium that was to build a high-speed rail line linking Los Angeles to Las Vegas.

[LOS ANGELES] A private US company said on Thursday it had cancelled a deal with a Chinese rail consortium that was to build a high-speed rail line linking Los Angeles to Las Vegas.

Las Vegas-based XpressWest said the deal with China Railway International was called off primarily because of "difficulties associated with timely performance and CRI's challenges in obtaining required authority to proceed with required development activities." XPressWest said its biggest challenge in implementing the project, which was announced nine months ago, was a federal government requirement that high-speed trains must be built in the United States.

"As everyone knows, there are no high-speed trains manufactured in the United States," the company said in a statement. "This inflexible requirement has been a fundamental barrier to financing high-speed rail in our country.

"For the past 10 years, we have patiently waited for policy makers to recognize high-speed rail in the United States is a new enterprise and that allowing trains from countries with decades of safe high-speed rail experience is needed to connect the Southwest region and start this new industry."

XPressWest said it would now pursue other partnerships to bring the project to fruition, but did not elaborate.

The deal with CRI was announced in September, just days ahead of President Xi Jinping's visit to the United States.

The two sides said at the time that CRI would provide US$100 million in initial capital, but few other details about the project were given.

The United States has lagged far behind China, Japan and Europe in high-speed rail development.

China has blazed ahead, building 17,000km of railway in the 12 years since it began constructing bullet trains.

AFP