The Republican Club of Indian River County will host Rusty Roberts, Vice President of Government Affairs at Virgin Trains USA – formerly Brightline Trains – at its next monthly meeting on Thursday, June 6th at the Grand Harbor Golf & Beach Club in Vero Beach, according to club president Frank Sosta. Attorney Paul Westcott will moderate and present an opposing point of view.
Virgin Trains USA, formerly Brightline, is an express inter-city rail system in Florida, United States. The company is a subsidiary of Florida East Coast Industries (FECI), where it initially operated under the name, “All Aboard Florida.”
It is currently owned and operated by Fortress Investment Group, with Virgin Group providing branding rights and acting as a minority investor. Virgin Trains USA is currently the United States’ only privately owned and operated intercity passenger railroad.
Virgin Trains USA’s service runs between Miami and West Palm Beach with a single intermediate stop in Fort Lauderdale. The Fort Lauderdale–West Palm Beach segment opened on January 13, 2018, followed by Fort Lauderdale–Miami on May 19.
Virgin Trains recently secured funding to extend the route to Orlando from West Palm Beach. The extension will consist of 40 miles of new track allowing for speeds of 125MPH. It will also include upgrading 129 miles of existing track to allow for passenger trains to operate at 110MPH. When completed in 2022, it will be the only modern high-speed passenger rail operated privately in the United States.
In November 2018, Brightline announced its name would be changed to Virgin Trains USA, coinciding with the Virgin Rail Group taking a minority shareholding in the concession, with Fortress continuing to hold controlling interest. It was formally rebranded on April 4, 2019.
Virgin Train officials have indicated that rail construction between West Palm Beach and Orlando is expected to create 10,000 new jobs while generating more than $650 million in federal, state and local tax revenue.
“Our vision for passenger rail holds great promise and highlights a tremendous appetite in the private markets for large-scale transportation and infrastructure projects,” said Wes Edens, co-founder and co-chief executive officer of Fortress Investment Group and chairman of Virgin Trains USA. “Connecting Miami and Orlando makes tremendous business sense, but even more, it provides a public benefit to the State of Florida including thousands of jobs that will keep the state economically competitive for decades.”
The project is 100% privately financed, company officials stated, and represents a total investment of $4 billion.
Hosted by the Republican Club of Indian River, a full dinner will be served at the Grand Harbor Golf & Beach Club in Vero Beach. Doors open at 5 p.m. for a cocktail hour – meeting starts promptly at 6:00. Mandatory RSVP is required – tickets start at $35.00.