When distances between cities are great, air travel may be the only practical way to travel. When distances are short, driving or public transportation may offer alternatives. But many times, the distance between U.S. cities falls somewhere in-between these two extremes.
Brightline—the only privately owned, operated and maintained passenger railway system in the U.S.—has a bold plan to connect these cities by higher-speed passenger rail. Earlier this spring, the company submitted an unsolicited proposal to develop inter-city rail service between the Tampa Bay area and Orlando, Florida (a distance of about 85 miles), for what would be the next phase in the railway’s development.
“We think there are a lot of city pairs that have similar characteristics, kind of too long to drive, too short to fly,” said Wes Edens, head of Fortress Investment Group, one of the visionaries and financial backers of Brightline, in a recent interview with CNBC.
Charlotte and Atlanta, St. Louis and Chicago, and Houston and Dallas are among other such city pairs that come to mind, he added.
Six years in the making, Brightline launched introductory train service between Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach in southern Florida in January 2018. In May, the service was extended to Miami. Carrying both residents and visitors between these three population-dense cities, the new higher-speed train is an eco-friendly alternative to the crowded, bumper-to-bumper north-south highways.
Currently, approved plans call for Brightline service to Orlando from South Florida in the near future; construction of Phase 2 connecting Orlando will begin later this year and take approximately 30 months. Brightline’s home in Orlando will be in the new international terminal of the airport.
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