Saturday, May 4, 2019 / by Tyler Anderson
Sir Richard Branson, founder of The Virgin Group, is bringing Virgin Trains to Tampa. Branson told reporters, “I’m absolutely certain that Tampa will be getting Virgin Trains in the very near future.” The current plan is a little vague, but shows the trains running from Tampa to Orlando along the I-4 corridor.
Virgin Trains is expecting this project to come in at almost half of the cost that the government projected. It expects to spend $1.7 billion in private money versus the government plan that had estimates up to $3.5 billion. One stark difference is that the previous government plan for the high-speed rail called for train speeds up to 168mph.
Virgin's trains top out at 120mph. That still qualifies as 'high speed' by the state's definition, and can deliver passengers from Tampa to Orlando in less than one hour. Virgin Trains currently operates between Miami and West Palm Beach. Fares should start around $15 one way, with discounted rates for frequent riders. Trains will run on the hour through most of the day and every 30 minutes during rush hour.
This sounds pretty great, but until there is a more formal plan and timetable, it’s hard to say if or when passenger trains will be pulling into Tampa.