All Aboard to Orlando: Virgin Trains Breaks New Ground in Florida
On Monday, Virgin Trains broke ground on the next phase of its rail project in Florida. If all goes to plan, the network will reach Disney World in Orlando by 2022.
Last year, Richard Branson acquired a stake in Brightline, the existing passenger train that serves Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. He is working on rebranding it it as Virgin Trains and promised to extend the route to Orlando and Tampa.
When the extension opens, travel time between Miami and Orlando should be about three hours, according to the South Florida Sun Sentinel. That's around half an hour faster than driving, assuming there's no traffic.
The Associated Press reported the extension to Orlando will involve building about 170 miles of new track between South Florida and Orlando International Airport, and will cost around $4 billion. A station serving Disney World had been announced in April, pending funding and permit approval.
Virgin Trains is also constructing a rail line between Las Vegas and southern California.
This story was updated to reflect that the current Brightline network and planned Virgin Trains expansion do not meet the technical definition of high speed rail.