The Orange Brightline train is traveling through Boynton Beach on Thursday, January 18, 2018. Brightline trains can reach speeds of up to 79 miles per hour south of West Palm Beach and up to 110 miles per hour through the coasts of the Treasure and the Space
LEAH VOSS / TCPALM
Brightline will be renamed Virgin Trains USA as part of a new partnership with the Virgin Group of Richard Branson, the railroad announced Friday morning.
Virgin – the parent company of Virgin Atlantic airlines and more than 60 media brands, entertainment and hospitality – will become a minority investor in South Florida's passenger railroad, according to Brightline.
But the powerful new affiliation does not come without costs.
Brightline is building its brand since 2015, and was about to take its colorful logo to the whole country with Planned expansion for California and Las Vegas. The railroad will leave three years of intense brand efforts in exchange for the internationally known name of Virgin.
The Virgin association also has economic benefits, and could bring the necessary $ 4 billion cash infusion to the railroad, which began service between Fort Lauderdale, Miami and West Palm Beach earlier this year and plans to start Miami's full service Orlando in 2021.
Brightline is currently trying to finance the construction between West Palm Beach and Orlando International Airport, the second phase of the project.
The company has pursued a variety of funding options for the second phase, and now faces a period of December 31 to sell $ 1.15 million of tax exempt bonds.
Non-audited financial statements reveal that Brightline fought in the first half of the year, losing $ 28.2 million in the first quarter of this year and $ 28.3 million in the second quarter. The railroad started the West Palm-to-Fort Lauderdale service in January and expanded to Miami in May.
The existing high-speed railroad of Virgin Group in the United Kingdom, also called Virgin Trains, had its own financial struggles and faced criticisms at the beginning of the year for accepting a government rescue.
More: Brightline clears the first obstacle in the expansion of Orlando to Tampa: without competition
Virgin and Brightline officials on Friday expressed their enthusiasm for the new association.
"Brightline is at the forefront of innovation in this market and the ideal partner to work with Virgin to alter perceptions and travel habits in the United States," Branson wrote in a blog post on the Virgin website.
Edens said yesterday that working with Virgin is "another leap forward" for Brightline.
"Virgin has created a respected and trusted brand in travel and hospitality," Edens said in a press release. "With our focus shared in the customer experience, driven by a culture of innovation and interruption, we are well positioned to build our success".
The new association is the latest in series of the main developments that the company announced this year.
In June, Brightline revealed that it would seek an expansion from Tampa to Orlando through the right of state ownership.
Then, in September, Brightline announced plans to buy the rights to build a high-speed railroad between Southern California and Las Vegas. The service has to be launched in 2022 and, finally, it could expand to the Los Angeles area, according to Brightline.
The current Brightline management team will continue to oversee daily operations, engineering, business development and strategy, the company said on Friday.
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