Richard Branson celebrates Brightline's rebranding as Virgin Trains USA

Branson says company now has funds to build track all the way to Disney World

By Todd Tongen - Anchor/Reporter

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - It's official. Brightline as we know it is no more. 

The high speed railway service has been rebranded as Virgin Trains USA. 

South Florida began seeing the first of Brightline's rebranding Thursday as Virgin Group founder Richard Branson's minority stake in the company takes a foothold. 

The billionaire businessman and philanthropist was greeted like a rock star by local politicians and community leaders.

No doubt, the Miami to Orlando high-speed rail project is daring but also daunting.

"It's a wonderful day today. There hasn't been a private railway network in America for 100 years," Branson said. "We have got the funding now to build the track the whole way to Orlando and into Disneyland."

Of course, Branson meant Disney World, and it is that leg that company investors hope spikes ridership. 

In 2018, they had over 579,000 passengers, but that's about half of what they projected. 

In February and March, the numbers continued to go up but just changing from Brightline's yellow logo to Virgin's iconic red brand doesn't mean the company will be in the red.

It continues to lose money. 

In the last quarter alone, the company posted a loss of over $30 million. 

On ridership, Branson took a page from Tinkerbell's handbook.

"We will bring in a bit of the Virgin magic and hopefully sprinkle some magic dust over it to make it even better," Branson said. 

With handlers holding bumbershoots in the rain over the knight of the realm, Branson boarded a train and hopped on for a smooth ride.


 

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