Posts Tagged ‘passenger rail in Florida’

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 Cancels IPO Offering

February 14, 2019

Virgin Trains USA has abruptly canceled plans to make an initial public offering, opting instead for what it termed “alternative financing sources.”

Virgin had said it planned to sell 28.3 million shares of common stock, which was expected to go for between $17 and $19 per share.

The IPO was to have been launched the week of Feb. 11 and was expected to raise $510 million.

Money raised from the IPO was to be used for expand service into Orlando and Tampa.

Formerly known as Brightline, Virgin has for more than a year operated daily intercity rail passenger service between Miami and West Palm Beach, Florida.

In a statement, about the IPO cancellation, Virgin did not indicate if it would consider another IPO in the future.

Most of the stockholders of Virgin Rail are private equity funds affiliated with Fortress Investment Group.

A news media report quoted a follower of Virgin as saying that the IPO can scrubbed because the company “concluded that it could not achieve the valuation it sought in an IPO: ‘It was a combination of [investor] appetite and people saying they’d be interested if it was private.’”

Had the IPO been executed, those buying stock in Virgin would had no more than a 2 percent stack in the company.

Documents filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission show that Virgin Trains has had discussions about raising up to $2.3 billion in debt and its plans to expand are contingent on it having the funds to acquire certain land rights.

Virgin faces a June 2019 deadline to raise more than $1 billion in construction financing to avoid losing a deal with the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority, which operates Orlando International Airport.

The airport plans to provide land for a station, storage facilities and tracks. Virgin has said it will may seek an extension of that deadline.

Virgin to Make IPO

February 5, 2019

Virgin Trains USA is planning an initial public offering of 28.3 million shares of common stock.

Virgin, which operates the Brightline intercity rail service in Florida, told the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that its plans to grant its underwriters a 30-day option to purchase up to an additional 4.25 million shares at the IPO price, less underwriting discounts and commissions. The expected IPO price is between $17 and $19 per share.

The shares will be listed on the Nasdaq Global Select Market under the VTUS ticker symbol.

As part of the transaction, Virgin Trains USA is being changed to a Delaware corporation named Virgin Trains USA Inc.

Virgin marked its first anniversary of service on Jan. 13. During its first year it carried nearly 600,000 passengers on its route between Miami and West Palm Beach.

Brightline Gets OK to Seek Land Lease

December 4, 2018

Brightline has received a green light from the Florida Department of Transportation to seek a lease of land to be used for a proposed Orland-Tampa intercity rail service route.

The private passenger carrier will have 90 days to negotiate the lease with the Central Florida Expressway Authority for land adjacent to Interstate 4.

Brightline was the only company that submitted a proposal to the state to operate a rail passenger service between the two cities, which are 88 miles apart.

The right of way will be 44 feet wide footprint and would extend from Orlando International Airport through Osceola and Polk counties to downtown Tampa.

Intermediate stations would be established in Celebration and Lakeland, Florida.

The passenger carrier must also hold talks with utilities, local land owners and leaders of local communities along the route.

Amtrak’s Silver Star currently provides service between Orlando and Tampa.

Brightline Gets OK to Build to Orlando

July 11, 2018

Brightline has received further regulatory approvals to expand its intercity rail service in Florida.

The Orange County Commissioners approved an environmental permit that will allow Brightline to begin constructing a 125-mph corridor adjacent to the Beachline Expressway east of Orlando International Airport.

This 22-mile route will connect with the Florida East Coast mainline at Cocoa, Florida, located about 130 miles north of Brightline’s current northern terminus of West Palm Beach.

Brightline Executive Vice President Mike Cegelis described building next to a highway as “the path of least resistance.”

He said construction is expected to get underway later this year with revenue service launching in 2021.

The passenger carrier is eyeing using the median of Interstate 4 to link Orlando and Tampa.

That idea involves leasing the median of I-4 and either Florida routes 528 or 417.

I-4 has a broad median that could easily accommodate a rail line.

No timeline has been given for the Tampa extension. Brightline has said it is focused for now on completing its route to Orlando.

Brightline Reports Ridership, Revenue

July 7, 2018

Brightline recently reported that it earned $663,000 in fare revenue and carried 74,800 passengers between West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale, Florida, during its first three months of revenue service.

Ridership was split between 34,200 in select class and 40,600 in smart class.

None of the figures include ridership since Brightline expanded service to Miami in mid May.

Brightline has consistently declined to provide ridership and revenue data during its early months of operation, saying it was concerned that that information could be misinterpreted.

The ridership and revenue figures reported were required by Brightline’s $600 million private activity bond offering.

Brightline Wants to Expand to Tampa

June 30, 2018

Florida-based Brightline plans to submit a proposal for development of a higher-speed rail line between Orlando and Tampa, Florida.

Brightline’s interest in the service followed an announcement by the Florida Department of Transportation and the Central Florida Expressway Authority that they have started the process of considering proposals for construction and operation of a rail passenger service between the two cities.

Brightline had earlier submitted an unsolicited bid to use CFX right of way for service between Orlando and Tampa.

That prompted FDOT to open a procurement process for any private entities to provide the service.

Brightline President and Chief Operating Officer Patrick Goddard called service to Tampa a “natural extension” for the company, which now operates intercity rail service between Miami and West Palm Beach.

Brightline plans to launch service between West Palm Beach and Orlando in 2021.

Brightline Gets Extension for Bond Sale

June 2, 2018

Brightline has received U.S. Department of Transportation approval for a seven-month extension to issue more than $1 billion in tax-exempt bonds to pay for its Orlando expansion.

DOT had set a May 31 deadline, but Brightline sought the extension because it has been unable to find enough investors.

“We appreciate the leadership of the U.S. Department of Transportation in extending our private activity bond allocation,” Brightline President Patrick Goddard said in a statement. “This propels our project as we extend Brightline to Orlando, developing a transportation network that will benefit the entire state.”

Brightline now has until December 31, 2018 to sell the bonds.

In an unrelated development, Boca Raton has established a quiet zone for trains on the Florida East Coast route used by Brightline.

Similar quiet zones exist in West Palm Beach and Lake Worth where locomotive horns are not to be sounded except during emergencies.

Boca Raton officials have launched safety campaign to urge residents and motorists to obey the signs and gate-closures at grade crossings.

“You can’t outrun the train. Don’t try,” interim Mayor Scott Singer said. “That should be our mantra.”

Brightline Now Serving Miami

May 21, 2018

Brightline began service to Miami on May 19 and has reached an agreement with rideshare provider Lyft to provide transportation to and from Brightline trains.

The launch of service to Miami also coincided with the implementation of quiet zones at grade crossings in West Palm Beach.

Fares for Brightline service are $10 Smart/$15 Select to Fort Lauderdale, and $15 Smart/$25 Select to West Palm Beach.

The quiet zones also affect Florida East Coast freight trains passing through West Palm Beach. The zone extends from from downtown to the southern city limits.

A quiet zone also begins on May 21 in Lake Worth, but other cities in Palm Beach County are decided about whether to allow quiet zones.

The county spend $7 million to create the crossing modification plans for quiet zones and Brightline contributed $60 million for traffic signal coordination and crossing upgrades necessary to gain Federal Railroad Administration approval.

Brightline Begins to Miami on May 19

May 14, 2018

Brightline will begin service to Miami on May 19.

The service will initially be eight northbound and eight southbound trips to and from MiamiCentral, the new Brightline terminal in Miami.

Weekday trains will depart from MiamiCentral beginning at 7:05 a.m., leaving every two hours until 8:05 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and until 11:05 p.m. on Fridays. On weekends, trains will depart every two hours from 9:05 a.m. until 9:05 p.m. and until 11:05 p.m. on Saturdays.

Introductory fares from Miami to West Palm Beach will range from  $15 for “Smart” service to $25 for “Select” service.

Fares for travel between Miami and Fort Lauderdale will cost between $10 and $15.