Brightline to rename itself as Virgin Trains USA due to strategic partnership
A strategic partnership sees Brightline, the express intercity passenger rail system, collaborate with Virgin to establish a new rail brand.
“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.”
Brightline launched service between Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach in May 2018. Brightline currently has plans to expand to Orlando and Tampa, and pending the closing of the previously announced XpressWest acquisition and receipt of necessary federal approvals, to begin railway construction in 2019 to connect Las Vegas to Southern California.
“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,” said Sir Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin. “Brightline is at the forefront of innovation in this market and the ideal partner for Virgin to work with to alter perceptions and travelling 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.
“This partnership further validates the incredible accomplishments of our team as we challenge conventional wisdom to reinvent train travel in America,” said Patrick Goddard, President of Brightline. “Given our shared values and Virgin’s track record, this partnership will help amplify our efforts and growth potential as we seek to expand to new markets.”
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.
As part of the strategic partnership, an affiliate of Virgin Group has agreed, subject to certain closing conditions, to make a minority investment in Brightline.