Virgin Trains stages Orlando groundbreaking ceremony

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Virgin Trains USA President Patrick Goddard speaks at Monday's ceremony to mark construction of the Virgin Trains route from West Palm Beach to Orlando, Fla. Construction is already under way on four fronts.
RJ Hill Photo & Video/courtesy Virgin Trains USA

ORLANDO, Fla. — Virgin Trains USA formally ushered in the “red spike era” Monday with a public groundbreaking event at its Orlando International Airport terminal.

That Virgin’s signature color is beginning to supplant Brightline’s familiar yellow branding is no surprise, but the company is definitely intent on playing the Virgin card as it begins construction to bring rails to Orlando from the trains’ current northern terminus of West Palm Beach.

Construction has already begun on four different phases of the project [see “Virgin Trains USA announces contractors, construction details for Orlando expansion,” Trains News Wire, May 22, 2019], but today’s event gave company officials, federal politicians, and civic leaders an opportunity to weigh in on its importance.

Wes Edens, Virgin Trains Chairman and co-founder of the Fortress Investment Group that got the ball rolling in 2012, says he expects the venture “will be the first of many passenger lines in the U.S. that follow this model for connecting city pairs that are too close to fly and too far to drive.”

Earlier, Edens told cable channel CNBC, “Tax-exempt financing is the key to (building) infrastructure from a private investment standpoint,” a clear indication he expects to continue to utilize private activity bonds for future Virgin endeavors. “There are many billions, even trillions,  of dollars of investment capital in the private sector that [people are] willing to invest in infrastructure projects,” Edens says, adding, “It took us a long time to get organized [but] we’re 100% financed, which is why we’re having this wonderful event here.”

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings, and U.S. Reps Darren Soto and Val Demings also participated in the event.  

Trains News Wire will continue to monitor the progress of Virgin Trains USA’s expansion.      

— Updated at 5:45 p.m. on June 24 to correct caption information. 

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