An employee holding British flags waves as Richard Branson, of Virgin Group, left, departs on a Brightline train bound for Miami, Thursday, April 4, 2019, in West Palm Beach, Fla. The state's Brightline passenger trains are being renamed Virgin Trains USA after Branson invested in the new fast-rail project that is scheduled to connect Miami with Orlando. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Miami gives Branson celebrity welcome for train renaming

April 04, 2019 - 6:34 pm

MIAMI (AP) — British billionaire Richard Branson drew an enthusiastic crowd in Miami for the public rollout of his Virgin Group's partnership with Florida's privately owned, higher-speed passenger rail service.

Virgin's partnership with what was then Brightline was announced in November, but Brightline's downtown Miami station became "Virgin MiamiCentral" on Wednesday.

Brightline is now Virgin Trains USA, and is expected to rebrand its trains and Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach stations by year's end. Aside from plans to expand to Orlando by 2022, Virgin Trains USA also has aspirations outside Florida, eyeing service between Southern California and Las Vegas.

For Brightline, the rebranding gives it instant name recognition.

For Virgin, the partnership gives it a toehold in the U.S. train market and gives its British customers a potentially seamless Florida holiday.

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