Now back to Florida news. During the past few years Brightline showed promise as a private passenger rail service starting in Miami, running through Broward and Palm Beach Counties, and ultimately ending in Orlando. This initiative took a great leap forward when Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin family of companies made a substantial investment in Brightline and rebranded the growing line as “Virgin Trains USA”. While plans are afoot for a wider scale expansion of its private passenger rail service in other parts of Florida and the USA, the original routes will be the north-south Miami to Orlando run.
Moving beyond the Miami to West Palm Beach toe-hold, expansion north appears now to be in fruition as Virgin Trains received a green-light for $950 million of Florida state approved private activity bond funding to construct the 170 miles of track from West Palm Beach to Orlando.2 To a hub adjacent to the Orlando International Airport, that is.3
Building a railway entails a good deal more than laying flat track in straight lines and around curves. (There are no real hills in Florida to address.) In addition to procuring enormous amounts of steel, switchers, train equipment, and fuel – and do not let forget construction and operational staff be forgotten – there are the legal rights to use private and public real property for ingress and egress easement purposes. Imagine the number and complexity of the related rights and payment agreements which must be arranged to align nearly 200 miles of a bi-directional contiguous rail route. If any piece of the puzzle cannot be procured then the entire project could fail. And it surely appears failure has not occurred.
So…This writer (who has family in the Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and Palm Beach areas – plus a law firm headquarters in Orlando) is truly excited to ride the new rail service. And, “believe me”, it will be by the higher levels of service, even the equivalent of “first class”. (As disclosed previously, that is based upon a true and life-long love of trains.)
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More reports to follow as Virgin Trains USA (literally) rolls out. Of particular interest will be (1) Virgin Trains’ risk management protocols, (2) its operational efficiencies (or perhaps the reverse), (3) its actual usage, and (4) its short, medium, and long-term expansion plans. Those factual developments provide tremendous economic and learning opportunities in the legal, accounting, and financial ecospaces. And further opportunities for overall innovation and growth into Florida’s future.
It seems time, then, to pack our collective travel bag. Hopefully very soon! (For some real fun watch this)!
And now for the big news. Florida is “officially” on the map for its pro-business development reputation. Just this week Orlando, Miami, and Tampa were listed as the #1, #3, and #5 large cities to start businesses, with Jacksonville as #12, St. Petersburg as #15, and Hialeah as #24.5 Miami, being one of the most diverse municipal areas in terms of cultures, languages, and intellectual cross-pollination is, again, accorded special attention with its #1 “win” place. 6
So, people of the world. If you are looking for a state in which to launch or grow your business…come to Florida. We are here for you, and we would love to have you with us!
1 See /national-apprenticeship-week-plus-important-brightline-train-update/, /just-another-busy-week-florida-law-business/, /news-you-can-use-updates-dec-2018/
– For more information, call Philip N. Kabler of the Gainesville, FL office of Bogin, Munns & Munns at 352.332.7688, where he practices in the areas of business, banking, real estate, and equine law. He has taught business and real estate law courses at the University of Florida Levin College of Law and Warrington College of Business Administration. And is now the President-Elect of the Eighth Judicial Circuit Bar Association.
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