The Florida Department of Transportation approved Brightline to start negotiations on a concession contract to build a train that will link Miami with Orlando in the next three years.
The cost of the 380-kilometer journey is estimated at US $ 3.1 billion and the estimated demand is five million passengers per year. The formations will circulate at a speed of between 130 and 200 kilometers per hour to link the two cities in a three-hour time. The trains are built in California by the company Siemens USA.
The project took a renewed momentum when Virgin announced its partnership with
Brightline. The company, owned by British billionaire Richard Branson, also plans to build a terminal in the Port of Miami in 2019 for its Virgin Voyages cruise division, which has announced that its ships will make a stopover in Cuba starting in 2020.
In its public statement to investors, at the bottom of a long list of documents, a map shows Brightline’s current stations in red and its future stations in pink. The route includes a railroad to Tampa with a stop at Disney in the middle.
According to the regulations in force in Florida, the prior approval of the Department of Transportation is necessary to initiate any type of negotiations. With this step already finalized, the call to investors to solve this important undertaking begins now.
Brightline already operates a rail service between Miami and West Palm Beach, and its ambition from the beginning was to extend to Orlando, something that will happen in 2021 if the entire process is completed in a timely manner.
Florida Governor Rick Scott had rejected federal funds for the high-speed train on Interstate 4 in 2011. But this summer he agreed that the state consider the proposals of any interested company without using taxpayer dollars. Brightline’s business model combines city-to-city rail service with high-level real estate development.
In Miami, he selected the Overtown area near the center of the city for his MiamiCentral project. It consists of two office towers and two of apartments, 13 thousand square meters of businesses and restaurants and a train station. Financing for its development was supported by two thirds of private capital, and one third of private activity bonds.
In May, Brightline began operating a rail service with limited stops between downtown Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. The trains are new, quiet, with spacious seats and WiFi, and move at a speed that is twice as fast as traffic on Interstate 95. The company says the service generates money because, unlike the commuter train, It has fewer stops and less need for personnel and equipment.
The Brightline station in Miami also includes connections to Miami-Dade Metrorail and its free electric Metromover line. The variety of non-car mobility options helped developers attract Ernst & Young to one of its office towers.
It only remains to know if Disney will accept a railway station within its territory or will have to build it in the vicinity. The only precedent is in the ’80s, when Disney did not support the plans of a Maglev train to connect the Orlando International Airport with its theme parks.