Posts Tagged ‘Brightline’

Virgin Carried 1 Millionth Passenger

July 26, 2019

Virgin Trains USA said it reached the 1 million passengers mark this past June.

The service formerly known as Brightline, operates between Miami and West Palm Beach, Florida, with an intermediate stop in Fort Lauderdale.

The service began between West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale in January 2018 and was extended to Miami in May 2018.

“This milestone shows the demand for new ways to travel and the need for greater connectivity in South Florida and other areas of the country,” said Virgin Trains President Patrick Goddard in a statement. “While we’re still in the adoption phase, our inaugural year showed great promise and tremendous opportunity to reinvent passenger rail in America.”

Virgin Eyes Adding 3 More Stations in Florida

July 17, 2019

Virgin Trains USA is considering adding as many as three new stations to its route between Miami and West Palm Beach, Florida.

The carrier formally known as Brightline said that additional stops will slow its trains but boost ridership.

The carrier has not named the cities it is considering, but among those thought to be in contention are Hollywood, Boca Raton, Pompano Beach and a site in Martin County.

Officials in Hollywood said they recently met with Virgin officials about creating a station downtown.

Hollywood is already served by Tri-Rail commuter trains to Miami, but Virgin trains are likely to be faster and cost more to ride.

Boca Raton officials said they hope to meet with Virgin officials soon about establishing a station there.

For the first quarter of 2019, Virgin said it carried of 244,178 passengers and netted revenue of $5.8 million.

It has set a goal of 2.1 million passengers and between $50 million and $100 million in revenues in 2019.

Virgin Holds Groundbreaking on Orlando Extension

June 29, 2019

A groundbreaking ceremony was held this week by Virgin Trains USA to kick off construction of an extension of its route in Florida from West Palm Beach to Orlando.

Virgin, formerly known as Brightline, is building 170 miles of new track to Orlando International Airport.

Construction actually began, though, a month ago and has been divided into four zones.

In a news release, Virgin said the project will require 225 million pounds of U.S. steel, 490,000 ties, and 2.35 million tons of granite and limestone for ballast.

The groundbreaking ceremony was held in Orlando, which a terminal has already been established at the airport.

Virgin said the extension to Orlando is an investment of $4 billion. The carrier currently offers intercity passenger service between Miami and West Palm Beach.

Virgin Chooses Contractors for Orlando Extension

May 25, 2019

Virgin Trains USA has selected contractors to build its extension in Florida from West Palm Beach to Orlando International Airport.

The company formerly known as Brightline has divided the work into four zones covering the 168 mile route.

The zones include a maintenance facility, right of way work at the airport, 35 miles of a sealed corridor east of the airport extending to the Florida East Coast mainline, and upgrading 129 miles of FEC mainline to allow 79 mph running for passenger trains.

In a news release, Virgin said that work on the sealed corridor and upgrading FEC tracks is imminent.

“For a project of this scope and magnitude, a world-class construction team has been assembled to undertake this tremendous assignment and we congratulate them on helping us make history,” Virgin Trains USA President Patrick Goddard said in a statement.

FECI Sells Part of Miami Central Station

May 19, 2019

Ridership that has fallen short of expectations has led Florida East Coast Industries to sell a portion of its MiamiCentral station complex.

FECI is the parent company of the former Brightline intercity rail system, which earlier this year was rebranded as Virgin Trains USA

News reports say FECI has sold for $160 million two office towers and more than 150,000 square feet of commercial space, ground-floor retail and parking to the Shorenstein Company of San Francisco.

Shorenstein is a real estate investment firm that is one of the largest landlords in San Francisco.

FECI will continue to operate the train station and rail service at MiamiCentral.

One report indicated that FECI sought the deal as a way to recoup losses from missing ridership goals.

Virgin Rolls Out New Look in Miami

April 9, 2019

Virgin Trains USA showed off last week its plans to rebrand the former Brightline service in Florida during a ceremony at its rail station in Miami.

Officials said the service will be rebranded in stages throughout the year starting with giving the Miami station a makeover.

The most visible result of that was to change Brightline yellow to Virgin red.

Virgin executives also wore red tee shirts with streaks of yellow, hinting at a new look for the trains that operate between Miami and West Palm Beach, Florida.

Among the VIPs in attendance were Virgin Group founder Richard Branson, Virgin Trains USA President Patrick Goddard, South Florida Regional Transportation Authority Chair Esteban Bovo Jr. and Miami Mayor Francis Suarez.

They spoke of how the Miami Central station will connect passengers using Metrorail, Metromover, Brightline and in the future Tri-Rail.

“Virgin MiamiCentral is the only destination that connects Miami-Dade County through its various transit systems, and with the combination of Brightline and Tri-Rail, connects the entire southeast region,” Goddard said. “Mobility continues to be key as our region and population grow — and we are meeting the demand.”

Branson said he foresees Virgin someday providing connecting service with cruise ships docking at the Port of Miami, which is already served by the Florida East Coast Railway.

Virgin Sells Bonds to Finance Expansion

April 7, 2019

Virgin Trains USA sold $1.75 billion in private bonds last week and a trade publication said Virgin might have received up to $4 billion in orders for its bonds.

The Bond Buyer quoted a Morgan Stanley executive as saying, “the feedback that we received was, ‘Wow, this is a whole new level of train transportation.’”

In a statement, Virgin said is received what it termed “an overwhelming positive response from qualified investors who recognize our early success and the long-term potential for our business.”

Virgin plans to use the proceeds from the bond sale to finance an extension of service from West Palm Beach to Orlando and, later, Tampa.

The former Brightline now operates between Miami and West Palm Beach.

Virgin to Show Plans for Miami Station’s New Look

April 3, 2019

Virgin Trains USA plans to conduct an invitation only meeting on Thursday in Miami to give a preview of how the station will look after it becomes Virgin MiamiCentral.

Attending the event will be Virgin Group founder Richard Branson. Virgin earlier took control of the former Brightline intercity rail service in South Florida.

On Friday, Virgin officials will be attending a hearing in Orlando on its bid to issuie $950 million in private activity bonds to fund expansion to Orlando and Tampa.

The hearing will be conducted by the Florida Development Finance Corporation board of directors.

The authority and the U.S. Department of Transportation have already approved the sale of $1.75 billion in bonds but opponents of the expansion are expected to be present at the hearing.

Much of the opposition has come from Indiana River County, Florida.

Twenty-seven people have signed up to speak at the hearing including those who support the bond sale.

Hearing Set on Virgin Trains Bond Sale

March 30, 2019

A Florida agency will hold a public hearing on April 5 to consider the plans of Virgin Trains USA to sell $1.5 billion in bonds that will be used to finance expansion to Tampa and Orlando.

The Florida Finance Corporation Board of Directors will consider arguments for and against the bond sale during a meeting in Orlando at the Hyatt Regency Hotel at the Orlando International Airport.

Opponents of the bond issue, most of them resident of Indian River County, are expected to speak against the sale.

That county, which lies on Virgin’s proposed route to Orlando, has long opposed expanding the formerly known Brightline service.

After public comments, the board is expected to vote on the bond sale.

Calif. Selling Bonds for High-Speed Rail

March 27, 2019

The State of California plans to sell $842.8 million in general obligation bonds to benefit the state’s high-speed rail project.

The project, which earlier this year was scaled back by Gov. Gavin Newsom, would receive $600 million from the bond sale to be used to built 170-miles of high-speed rail in the Central Valley. Work on that segment is already underway.

The bond sale comes in the wake of efforts by the federal government to cancel a grant to the project and to claw back money the project has already received.

In an unrelated move, Virgin Trains USA is also planning a $1.5 billion bond sale to raise money for its planned extension to Orlando, Florida, and to retire nearly $600 million in debt.

Virgin, formerly known as Brightline, currently operates between Miami and West Palm Beach, Florida.