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Less than two years after Brightline announced a “strategic partnership” with Virgin Group and rebranded its trains as Virgin Trains USA it has announced that it has severed all connection with Richard Branson's Virgin Group and will revert back to the Brightline name.
The company had entered into a branding deal with Virgin in advance of a planned initial public offering. The initial public offering was unsuccessful and the company remains private. Virgin Group will retain no equity ownership or affiliation with Brightline.
Whilst no reason was given for the divorce, Virgin Group's travel assets are currently distressed with both airlines in its portfolio - Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Australia - in administration and both UK train franchises nationalised or re-franchised by the UK government.
As part of the strategic partnership Brightline had branded its trains as Virgin Trains USA and had even renamed its Miami terminal Virgin Miami Central, with the large Virgin logo adorning the station becoming something of a Miami landmark. All Brightline trains were suspended amidst the COVID pandemic on 25-March 2020. As the virus continues to wreak havoc in Florida the company has yet to re-commence service.
Brightline, the only private intercity train in the United States, currently connects Miami and West Palm Beach via Fort Lauderdale, operating over the Florida East Coast Railway from Miami Central. The Florida East Coast Railway operates to the east of the tacks utilised by competing Amtrak and Tri-Rail services allowing Brightline to service convenient downtown stations Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. Brightline commenced operation in January 2018 operating trains between West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale. The link was extended to Miami Central Station in May 2018 and is expected to be extended to Orlando in 2021.
Trains feature two classes – Smart class offers power, free wifi and comfortable leather seating whilst Select class offers all the inclusions of Smart plus station lounge access, premium leather seating, complementary food and alcoholic beverages and complementary parking. Brightline has announced plans to extend the service to Orlando and its theme parks with infrastructure works currently underway. Following Orlando, Brightline hopes to expand west to Tampa and north to Jacksonville. Additionally, Brightline is developing a service between Victorville in Southern California and Las Vegas along a dedicated corridor.
This article first appeared on trainreview.com
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