Virgin Trains USA, formerly Brightline, says it has arranged for $1.75 billion in private activity bonds (PAB) to help fund the company’s expansion to Orlando. It is one of the largest PAB transactions to date. Morgan Stanley was the underwriter for the transaction that was purchased by 67 different investors.
With the closing of the sale, Virgin Trains USA has the necessary funds to begin construction for service to Orlando, including 170 miles of new track to an intermodal facility located in the new South Terminal at the Orlando International Airport.
Construction will begin imminently and is expected to be complete in 2022. The statement did not disclose the project’s general contractor.
The rail construction between West Palm Beach and Orlando is expected to have a significant economic impact in the State of Florida, including the creation of more than 10,000 jobs and is anticipated to generate more than $650 million in federal, state and local tax revenue. The project is 100 percent privately financed and represents a total investment of $4 billion.
“Today is affirmation that our vision for passenger rail holds great promise and highlights a tremendous appetite in the private markets for large-scale transportation and infrastructure projects,” said Wes Edens, co-founder and co-chief executive officer of Fortress Investment Group and chairman of Virgin Trains USA. “Connecting Miami and Orlando makes tremendous business sense, but even more, it provides a public benefit to the State of Florida including thousands of jobs that will keep the state economically competitive for decades.”
“We have already seen first hand the economic benefits our project has delivered in South Florida from revitalizing downtown Miami to spurring growth in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach.” said Patrick Goddard, Virgin Trains USA president. “This private investment will create a critical infrastructure corridor that is essential to the state’s continued growth and high quality of life. We are revolutionizing train travel and realizing a decades long vision of operating express passenger rail in the State of Florida.”