Passenger rail company behind Orlando-South Florida train plans to launch an IPO

A passenger rail company that is connecting South Florida with Orlando is planning a public offering of common stock that the company is valuing at more than $500 million.

Virgin Trains USA Inc. said Wednesday it was offering more than 28 million shares of common stock priced at between $17 and $19 a share. The shares will be listed on the Nasdaq exchange.

The company formerly known as Brightline launched service between Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach last May. It plans to expand into Orlando and Tampa.

The company also plans to construct a rail system connecting Las Vegas and Southern California.

The company estimates that 6.6 million passengers annually will use the train service between South Florida and Orlando once it is built out, and another 2.9 million passengers annually will use it between Orlando and Tampa.

Brightline partnered last year with Richard Branson's Virgin Group. Brightline took the Virgin name and Virgin took a minority interest in the company.

After the offering, Virgin Trains USA will continue to be majority-owned indirectly by funds managed by an affiliate of global investment manager Fortress, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Last year, then-Gov. Rick Scott disclosed that he and his wife had invested in a fund run by Fortress. Scott, who was elected to the U.S. Senate last November, killed a major publicly-financed high speed rail project in his first year in office as governor.