Brightline, America’s first new major private intercity passenger railroad in over a century, has announced a new strategic partnership and trademark licensing agreement with the Virgin Group. Brightline will be renamed Virgin Trains USA this month and transition to Virgin Trains USA branding in 2019.
Brightline launched services between Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach in May 2018 and currently has plans to expand to Orlando and Tampa. Pending approvals, it will begin railway construction next year to connect Las Vegas to Southern California. Virgin Group will make a minority investment in Brightline, which will be managed and operated by Brightline’s executive team and affiliates of Fortress Investment Group.
“Our private sector-led effort to reinvent passenger rail service in America is taking another leap forward with the addition of the Virgin team,” said Wes Edens, chairman of Brightline and co-founder of Fortress Investment Group. “Virgin has built a respected and trusted brand in travel and hospitality. With our shared focus on customer experience, powered by a culture of innovation and disruption, we are well positioned to build on our success.”
Richard Branson added: “We have had a lot of fun and success creating innovative transport businesses that shake up markets and establish loyal followings. We transformed domestic air travel with Virgin America. Tens of millions of Americans travel on the railways every day, and we have tried for over a decade to find an opportunity to provide them with that same excellent service experience. 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.”
The partnership could help to provide access to millions of customers with the potential for increased ridership from other Virgin branded travel and hospitality businesses, including Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Hotels and Virgin Voyages.
Virgin Group has significant experience operating in the UK rail sector, including its ongoing investment in Virgin Trains, a high speed intercity passenger rail system which it has run for 21 years. Last year passengers took more than 38 million trips on the UK’s West Coast Main Line.
Head over to Richard’s blog to read more about Virgin Trains USA.