ORLANDO, Fla. - High-speed rail service from Miami to Orlando is no longer an idea, as the route is now being cleared Orange County.
The $4 billion projects include 170 miles of track that will accommodate trains traveling upwards of 125 miles per hour during a three-hour trip between Central Florida and South Florida.
“There’s been talk for decades about connecting Central Florida and South Florida by rail, what you’re seeing here today, it’s actually happening,” said Patrick Goddard, President and CEO of Virgin Trains USA.
Six months into construction, Virgin Trains took representatives from the media on a tour of construction zones. The first stop on the tour was about a mile south of the Orlando International Airport, where work is being done on the train maintenance facility.
“It’s where our trains are going to come in, get washed, get maintained, we have a whole operation here that will employ about 160 people,” said Goddard.
Stop two on the tour was right along the State Road 528 (Beachline Expressway), where one of many bridges is being built along the railway. The bridges are being built simultaneously by a number of teams, responsible for several bridges each.
“We’re building 55 bridges in this project, on the entire 170 miles corridor. Each bridge takes anywhere from twelve to 30 months,” said Michael Cegelis, Executive Vice President of Infrastructure, Virgin Trains USA.
The final stop on the tour was the Virgin Trains station at the airport. Passengers will access the station at OIA’s Intermodal Facility, go through a security check and wait in a lounge, before heading down the escalators to the platform to board the train to South Florida.
“It’s really the reinvention of train travel in America, where we’re connecting two cities that are too short to fly and too long to drive,” said Goddard,
Virgin tells FOX 35 News it is in active discussions with leaders along the Space Coast to add a stop there. Trains are expected to begin running by the end of 2022, with one-way tickets starting at $60.
The project is expected to bring 3,000 new, permanent jobs to Central Florida.