Brightline and Virgin Group will form a strategic partnership to continue to grow America's first privately funded intercity passenger train in over 100 years.
Brightline will leverage the Virgin brand and marketing expertise for existing and future developments, establishing "Virgin Trains USA." Brightline will rename itself Virgin Trains USA this month and transition to Virgin Trains USA branding in 2019.
Virgin Group will make a minority investment in Brightline, which will be managed and operated by Brightline's executive team and affiliates of Fortress Investment Group.
Brightline currently operates passenger rail service in Florida between Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, with plans to expand into Orlando and Tampa. The company recently announced plans to construct an intercity passenger rail system to connect Las Vegas to Southern California.
Today Brightline, America's first new major private intercity passenger railroad in over a century, announced a new strategic partnership and trademark licensing agreement with the Virgin Group, one of the world's most recognizable brands in travel and hospitality. The partnership will allow Brightline to leverage Virgin's industry-leading expertise and customer experience to establish a powerful new brand, "Virgin Trains USA".
Brightline launched service between Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach in May, 2018. Brightline currently has plans to expand to Orlando and Tampa, and pending the closing of the previously announced XpressWest acquisition and receipt of necessary federal approvals, to begin railway construction next year to connect Las Vegas to Southern California.
"Our private sector-led effort to reinvent passenger rail service in America is taking another leap forward with the addition of the Virgin team," said Wes Edens, chairman of Brightline and co-founder of Fortress Investment Group. "Virgin has built a respected and trusted brand in travel and hospitality. With our shared focus on customer experience, powered by a culture of innovation and disruption, we are well positioned to build on our success."
Virgin Group has more than 60 companies focused on its core consumer sectors of travel and leisure, telecoms and media, music and entertainment, financial services and health and wellness.
"We have had a lot of fun and success creating innovative transport businesses that shake up markets and establish loyal followings. We transformed domestic air travel with Virgin America. Tens of millions of Americans travel on the railways every day, and we have tried for over a decade to find an opportunity to provide them with that same excellent service experience," said Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin. "Brightline is at the forefront of innovation in this market, and the ideal partner for Virgin to work with to alter perceptions and traveling habits across the United States."
"This partnership further validates the incredible accomplishments of our team as we challenge conventional wisdom to reinvent train travel in America," said Patrick Goddard, president of Brightline. "Given our shared values and Virgin's track record, this partnership will help amplify our efforts and growth potential as we seek to expand to new markets."
The partnership could help to provide access to millions of customers with the potential for increased ridership from other Virgin branded travel and hospitality businesses, including Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Hotels and Virgin Voyages.
Virgin Group has significant experience operating in the UK rail sector, including its ongoing investment in Virgin Trains, a high speed intercity passenger rail system which it has run for 21 years. Last year passengers took more than 38 million trips on the UK's West Coast Main Line.
As part of the strategic partnership, an affiliate of Virgin Group has agreed, subject to certain closing conditions, to make a minority investment in Brightline. Funds managed by an affiliate of Fortress Investment Group LLC will retain majority ownership of Brightline. Brightline's current management team will oversee daily operations, engineering, business development and strategy. Brightline will rename itself Virgin Trains USA this month and transition to Virgin Trains USA branding in 2019.
The information in this press release is for informational purposes only and shall not constitute, or form a part of, an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to buy any securities.
About Brightline: Launched in 2018, Brightline is the only privately owned and operated intercity passenger rail service in the United States. Providing fast, efficient, hospitality driven transportation featuring the latest in customer-friendly amenities, Brightline currently operates in Florida between Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, with plans to expand into Orlando and Tampa. The company recently announced that it intends to begin construction next year on a new express service connecting Las Vegas to Southern California.
About Virgin Group: Virgin is a leading international investment group and one of the world's most recognized and respected brands. Conceived in 1970 by Sir Richard Branson, the Virgin Group has gone on to grow successful businesses in sectors including mobile telephony, travel and transportation, financial services, leisure and entertainment and health and wellness.
Certain statements in this press release may constitute "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements are generally identified by the use of words such as "outlook," "believes," "expects," "potential," "continues," "may," "will," "should," "could," "seeks," "approximately," "predicts," "intends," "plans," "estimates," "anticipates," "target," "projects," "contemplates" or the negative version of those words or other comparable words. Statements concerning plans to build a passenger rail system, anticipated timelines, costs and benefits are all forward-looking statements. Any forward-looking statements contained in this press release are based upon Brightline's limited historical performance and on Brightline's current plans, estimates and expectations in light of information currently available to Brightline. The inclusion of any forward-looking information should not be regarded as a representation by Brightline or Virgin Group that the future plans, estimates or expectations contemplated by Brightline or Virgin Group will be achieved. Forward-looking statements are not historical facts, but instead represent only Brightline's and Virgin Group's beliefs as of the date of this press release regarding future events, many of which, by their nature, are inherently uncertain and outside of Brightline's or Virgin Group's control. There are, or will be, important factors that could cause actual events to differ from these forward-looking statements, and any such differences could cause Brightline's actual results to differ materially from the results expressed or implied by these forward-looking statements. Such factors include but are not limited to the following: (1) inability to successfully consummate Virgin Group's minority investment in Brightline; (2) inability to successfully rebrand from Brightline to Virgin Trains USA; (3) inability to successfully expand Brightline's operations; (4) inability to successfully develop or operate in the corridor between Southern California and Las Vegas; (5) failure to obtain and maintain required approvals and permits from governmental, regulatory and non-governmental agencies; (6) Brightline's limited operating history; (7) risks, costs and liabilities associated with environmental and other government regulations, including any future changes in such regulation; (8) Brightline's ability to obtain additional funding in order to complete construction of its rail system; (9) any future cost overruns and delays relating to construction of Brightline's rail system, as well as difficulties in obtaining requisite approval or sufficient financing to pay for such costs and delays; (10) adverse macroeconomic and business conditions in Florida, Nevada, Southern California or any other areas into which Brightline may expand; and (11) risks that the rebranding may involve unexpected or greater costs or liabilities than anticipated. Furthermore, new risks and uncertainties arise from time to time, some of which may be beyond Brightline's and Virgin Group's control, and it is not possible for Brightline or Virgin Group to predict those events or how they may affect Brightline or Virgin Group. Except as may be required by law, each of Brightline and Virgin Group does not undertake any obligation to publicly update any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future developments or otherwise.