During a press conference last month to announce that his multifaceted Virgin brand would be taking over a U.S. train line in Florida, British billionaire Richard Branson pointedly criticized the current state of rail service in this country.
“People in America have not had the good fortune to experience good train travel for a while,” he told reporters.
Branson’s company announcement that it’s collaborating with the Brightline, a privately funded effort to create a higher-speed rail service between some of Florida’s biggest cities, gives energy to flagging efforts to develop better rail options in the U.S. With Virgin’s new stake in the company—the exact amount hasn’t been disclosed—Brightline becomes Virgin Trains. The company will be rebranded throughout its existing network, which stretches from Miami to West Palm Beach, cutting the two-hour journey by car to just an hour by train. Permission was also granted to expand the service to Orlando, and eventually, the two companies hope, they’ll be able to add a link to Tampa as well.
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