High-speed rail service between Tampa and Orlando gets the green light

smith and associates

Planes, trains and automobiles is more like cross-bay ferries, electric buses and high-speed rails in the Tampa Bay region. That’s because Brightline, a high-speed rail service in South Florida, received state approval to begin to negotiate for land for its Tampa-to-Orlando service along the 1-4 corridor.

The 88-mile route would feature stops in downtown Tampa, Lakeland, Polk, Celebration and Orlando. Yes, we know, that’s Tampa, not St. Pete. But the next time we get the itch to go indulge in Disney Springs or the Wizarding World, or the next time we want to go see the Orlando Magic play, we’d much prefer a 20-30 minute drive to Tampa and a breezy ride on a train rather than a multi-hour trek up 1-4.

Virgin Group invests in Brightline

The service recently announced a partnership with the Virgin Group, which would see the name of the trains change to Virgin Trains USA when it begins operation. That could come to fruition within the next 3-5 years.

For now, Brightline has 3 months to work out an agreement with the Central Florida Expressway. Once construction begins, roughly 1,600 temporary jobs, and over 600 permanent jobs could be created, according to a report by the Miami Herald.

This service could open up Tampa to loads more tourism — and St. Pete could experience residual effects from an efficient transportation option. The Burg’s burgeoning plethora of museums, foodie gems and amalgam of murals make a premiere destination to visit.

Divides Tampa to Orlando corridor into three segments

We were beyond excited to see how the free downtown loopers would make it easier to experience the best of the Burg’s downtown attractions, and now we’re excited to see how this high-speed rail service could serve to shine a bigger spotlight on this entire city.

“We will likely divide the Orlando to Tampa corridor into three geographic segments as follows,” wrote the developers in their proposal to the Florida Department of Transportation. “Orlando Airport to I-4; I-4 median Orlando to Hillsborough County line; and Hillsborough County line to downtown Tampa. This will provide three opportunities for competition and distribution of the work.”

Diminish car trips to Orlando by 2 million 

A survey conducted by the Louis Berger Group indicates that roughly 2 million car trips between Tampa and Orlando will switch to Brightline by its third year of operation.

You can see the group’s entire proposal online here. Will you ride the Brightline when it launches?

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Written by Andrew Harlan

Andrew Harlan

Andrew Harlan is the Editor of ilovetheburg.com. Follow him on Twitter @harlanyoungII and Instagram @harlanyoung. Send tips and potential stories to info@ilovetheburg.com.