Virgin Trains USA Breaks Ground on Central Florida Expansion
Virgin Trains USA, formerly Brightline, broke ground on Monday, June 24, 2019, for the nation’s largest privately funded infrastructure project to expand its passenger rail service to Orlando – connecting the region to South Florida.
The event, held at the new South Terminal at Orlando International Airport, is part of the company’s Phase 2 expansion into Central Florida. The terminal will also serve as a transportation hub, with Virgin Trains developing 170 miles of new track into the completed state-of-the-art intermodal facility. Expansion between Orlando and South Florida represents a total private investment of $4 billion.
“A rail connection between Florida’s major cities has been a long-time vision, and Virgin Trains is making it a reality,” said Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings as he addressed the crowd. “A higher-speed rail connection between Miami and Orlando will be a valuable asset to Central Florida’s tourism industry and help create a super region with South Florida.”
Virgin Trains’ strategic expansion into Central Florida comes as travel to the Sunshine State is at an all-time high. Orlando International Airport welcomed a record-breaking 47 million passengers last year. Additionally, Visit Orlando reported more than 75 million annual visitors, solidifying Orlando’s lead position as America’s most-visited destination.
“Officially launching construction to Orlando marks a huge milestone for Virgin Trains and the realization of our vision to reinvent passenger rail in America,” said Virgin Trains President Patrick Goddard. “Connecting Orlando and Miami, two of our nation’s greatest cities, will provide tremendous economic and environmental benefits that will be an asset to Florida for generations.”
With service to Orlando expected to begin in 2022, Virgin Trains projects more than six million annual riders in Florida and a $6.4 billion economic impact to the state. The project between South and Central Florida will generate more than 10,000 jobs and more than $650 million in federal, state and local tax revenue over an eight-year period.
Photo Caption: [L to R]: Domingo Sanchez, Greater Orlando Aviation Authority Chairman; Patrick Goddard, Virgin Trains USA President; Jerry Demings, Orange County Mayor; Wes Edens, Fortress Investments Co-CEO; Congresswoman Val Demings; Buddy Dyer, Orlando Mayor; Quintin Kendall, FRA deputy administrator; and Congressman Dan Webster