View from the UK: How America’s first high-speed railway – and Virgin Trains – is transforming Florida

By Simon Veness, The Telegraph; June 26, 2019

Sir Richard Branson may have been absent, but he and his Virgin Trains company were the toast of Florida this week as America’s first high-speed rail project took its most important step, initiating construction of the 170-mile Orlando to West Palm Beach route.

The $4billion project endured several false starts before the opening last year of a 70-mile stretch, operated by Brightline, between West Palm Beach and Miami. It uses existing track and had to battle funding and legal challenges just to launch on a limited basis. The speeds are also rather stately, at just 79mph. Now, thanks to Virgin investment and trademark licensing, Brightline has rebranded as Virgin Trains USA, and the key Orlando leg of the rail system will take shape in the next three years, signalling “the reinvention of passenger rail in the US,” according to company president Patrick Goddard. And, thanks to the laying of 170 miles of new track, trains will run far more quickly – up to 125mph.

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