Exploring Florida is about to get easier.
From cruise ships to airlines to space travel, pioneer Sir Richard Branson is known for taking an interest in innovative projects that propel travel — and the travel experience — ever further into new frontiers. Now, the business magnate has set his sights on Brightline, a future-forward train system that commenced service in Florida earlier this year.
Brightline launched in January 2018 as the first privately funded, multi-city passenger railroad to debut in America in over a century. Brightline’s ultra-modern high-speed trains — reminiscent of something you’d see in Japan — currently serve South Florida, with stations in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach. Already in the works are plans to expand the route to Orlando and Tampa in the coming years, and Brightline also recently announced its intention to acquire XpressWest and construct a railway between Las Vegas and the Los Angeles area.
All of these plans are still on the table — only now, Brightline will go by a different name. In a newly established partnership with Richard Branson, Brightline will leverage the expertise of the billionaire’s Virgin Group conglomerate and reintroduce itself as Virgin Trains USA. The rename will be official this month, with the transition to Virgin Trains USA branding set for 2019.
“We have had a lot of fun and success creating innovative transport businesses that shake up markets and establish loyal followings,” says Branson. “Brightline is at the forefront of innovation in [the railway] market, and [is] the ideal partner for Virgin to work with to alter perceptions and traveling habits across the United States.”
Upon completion of the next phase of work, Brightline-turned-Virgin Trains USA will convey passengers at speeds up to 125 miles per hour between downtown Miami and the Orlando International Airport. Quicker, cheaper, and more fuel efficient than flying or driving, the trip linking Florida’s two most popular tourist destinations is expected to take around three hours. Following the Miami-Orlando route, a leg will extend from Orlando to Tampa, with a proposed stop at Walt Disney World along the way.
The Virgin Trains USA system is positioned to provide hassle-free travel between the major hotspots of Florida, and all in mere hours. In addition to time saved, other perks of going by train in Florida include elevated amenities on roomy train cars: think WiFi, food and beverage service, large bathrooms, and even cold scented hand towels to refresh passengers riding Select, the train’s business-class equivalent.