Officials representing Florida’s high-speed rail system, Brightline, announced Friday the company had entered a new strategic partnership with billionaire Richard Branson and his Virgin Group.
According to the Sun Sentinel, the deal will call for the colorful Brightline trains to be renamed Virgin Trains USA this month, with all trains, stations, the rail line’s official website and signage making the transition to the new moniker in 2019.
While the Virgin Group is becoming a minority investor in Brightline, the rail company will still be managed and operated by the current executive team and members of the Fortress Investment Group.
“We have had a lot of fun and success creating innovative transport businesses that shake up markets and establish loyal followings,” Branson told the Sun Sentinel. “Brightline is at the forefront of innovation in this market, and the ideal partner for Virgin to work with to alter perceptions and traveling habits across the United States.”
Brightline currently operates trains that serve Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, and plans call for an expansion into the Orlando and Tampa markets, with the potential for future growth along the Treasure Coast and into Jacksonville.
In addition, Brightline recently announced plans to build a similar rail system connecting Las Vegas and Southern California.
“This partnership further validates the incredible accomplishments of our team as we challenge conventional wisdom to reinvent train travel in America,” Brightline president Patrick Goddard told the Sun Sentinel. “Given our shared values and Virgin’s track record, this partnership will help amplify our efforts and growth potential as we seek to expand to new markets.”
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