Virgin Trains, formerly known as Brightline, officially opened on Monday the project to bring its private high-speed rail service that starts in Miami to Orlando and thus unite the two most important cities in Florida.
The works to extend to Orlando a project that has a private investment of 4,000 million dollars began on May 21 with the tasks of cleaning the land and is expected to conclude in 2022, when the city of the theme parks and the the cruises will be linked by Virgin trains.
The ceremony held on Monday in Orlando was led by Virgin Trains’ board chairman and co-founder of Fortress Investment Group, Wes Edens, and Virgin Trains president Patrick Goddard.
“Today marks a great achievement on the road to reinventing the rail service for passengers in the United States and clearly demonstrates the leadership role played by the private sector in the revitalization of our nation’s infrastructure,” Edens said.
“Connecting Orlando with Miami, two of the most prominent cities in the United States, will provide tremendous economic and environmental benefits that will be of great benefit for generations to Florida,” said Goddard.
Also attending the inauguration were congressmen Val Demings and Darren Soto; the mayor of Orlando, Buddy Dyer; the mayor of Orange County, Jerry Demings; the president of the council of the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority, Domingo Sánchez, and the assistant administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration, Quintin Kendall.
All attendees visited the Virgin Trains station site at the intermodal terminal of the Orlando International Airport.
According to a statement, Virgin Trains expects six million passengers per year and 6.4 billion in direct economic impact to Florida when the line is underway.
The project will generate more than 10,000 jobs and more than 650 million dollars in federal, state and local tax revenues over a period of eight years, he added.
The strategic expansion of Virgin Trains to Orlando, the most visited city in the nation, occurs when trips to the Sunshine State are at their highest point.
The Orlando International Airport broke a record by welcoming 47 million passengers last year and, according to Visit Florida, a regional tourism promotion agency, the state received more than 126 million outside visitors in that same year.
Construction firms Hubbard Construction Company, Wharton-Smith Inc., The Middlesex Corporation, Granite and HSR Constructors are selected to build the 170 miles (273.5 kilometers) of rail between West Palm Beach and Orlando.
Phase 1 of the project, which runs from Miami to West Palm Beach, distant about 72 miles (about 100 kilometers), is already operational since 2018.
On April 19, Virgin Trains USA announced that it had secured financing to begin the construction of the stretch that connects the cities of West Palm Beach and Orlando.
The firm closed the sale of 1,750 million dollars in bonds.
In November 2018, the British group reached a “strategic alliance” with Brightline, the company that after many delays and problems brought the line between Miami and Palm Beach, cities of southeast Florida, into service.