Brightline Terminates Partnership with Virgin Trains USA in South Florida

Brightline high speed train (then still known as Virgin Trains USA) traveling south towards Miami, as seen on March 14, 2020 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA. Photo and Caption: Jillian Cain Photography/

The COVID-19 pandemic has reared its ugly head once again. This time Virgin Trains USA has been impacted severely. So much so that it has seen a historic partnership being terminated by train company Brightline. Brightline has confirmed they have ended their partnership with Virgin Trains USA in South Florida,

Brightline had been operating as Virgin Trains USA, and was expected to complete the rebranding by this summer. The rail service, which operated from downtown Miami to West Palm Beach, with an expansion to Orlando under construction, said it will change its name back to Brightline Trains LLC. Brightline stopped service on its trains on March 25, amid the pandemic.

The company had layoffs, as well, but, in its bond documents, said it is stable and has “access to ample operating liquidity to withstand a protracted slowdown in the travel market.” In June, Brightline issued a $48.5 million term loan to help pay for project costs, fees and expenses. 

Aside from this, a financial report issued on Friday, August 7th suggested a station may open at Walt Disney World soon after service arrives at Orlando International Airport. The upscale, higher-speed train began operating in South Florida in early 2018 and, while operations are suspended now because of the pandemic, is scheduled to start service to Orlando’s airport in 2022. In March, the company said that the suspension of service has not affected construction of its planned Orlando rail line. The rail service is also planning to make additional stops in Aventura and Boca Raton.

“We will no longer use the Virgin brand following our parent’s termination of its licensing agreement with Virgin Enterprises Limited (together with its affiliates, “Virgin”),” the Brightline bond report states. “Virgin has no remaining affiliation with us, or parent or its affiliate.”

Brightline officials confirmed the monthly bond report’s contents but declined to elaborate. Brightline says Virgin has “disputed the validity of the termination notice.” Virgin Group has struggled amid the pandemic. Earlier this week, Virgin Atlantic Airways filed for bankruptcy protection in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York, as part of a $1.5 billion restructuring plan, the Wall Street Journal reported.

In late May, it was reported that Virgin Trains was proposing a major expansion of the commuter rail service, funded mostly by Miami-Dade County. Virgin Trains USA was seeking $350 million from the county to build up to five train platforms between downtown Miami and Aventura, as well as related infrastructure that would be required, according to a county memo. 

The proposed stations would have been in Wynwood/Midtown, the Miami Design District, Upper Eastside/El Portal, North Miami and Florida International University/Biscayne Boulevard corridor.