Unlike Europe and the UK, the United States is not exactly known for its network of railroads and high speed trains. That said, one company is looking to change all that with a series of projects in Florida and between SoCal and Las Vegas. Virgin Trains USA, currently operating in Florida as Brightline, is developing a rail system that will one day connect Miami, Orlando, and Tampa.
The primary Orlando terminal is expected to be at the Orlando International Airport (MCO), but there have also been plans for a stop at either the Orange County Convention Center, Walt Disney World, or both.
According to a recent report released by Virgin Trains USA and reported on by the Orlando Business Journal, progress has continued toward building that Walt Disney World terminal beyond the initial memorandum of understanding filed late last year.
Disney and Virgin Trains have proceeded to early stages of engineering and environmental assessments along with revenue and ridership estimates.
The OBJ quotes the report as saying,
“The station and related rail infrastructure would provide a direct connection between Disney, the most visited theme park destination in the world, and South Florida. With a seamless connection to our planned station at PortMiami, the busiest cruise port in the world, cruise passengers would more conveniently be able to supplement their cruise voyage with a visit to Disney theme parks. The extension of our system from the Orlando airport to the Disney station would also serve as the first phase of a potential future connection to Tampa.”
It’s still unconfirmed where the Walt Disney World station would be located or even if it will be on property. However, an earlier High Speed Railroad project in Florida had plans for a station located just off the I-4 freeway on the northeast side of Hwy-192 and to the east of ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
Although there has been some recent development in the area of backstage facilities for Walt Disney World, there is still plenty of land available and a natural connection to the Walt Disney World resort system of roads and, perhaps, even a natural location for a spur of the Disney Skyliner.
Personally, I’d love to see Disney figure out some sort of promotional partnership with Virgin that included some of their forward thinking technology, like Virgin Hyperloop One, in EPCOT. Imagine a new World of Motion pavilion with a hyperloop powered attraction that goes completely around Walt Disney World in a loop.
The first goal is to finish the connection from Miami to Orlando. Right now they’re working on extending the track from Brevard County along the 528 to MCO. When that segment is done, travel from Miami to Orlando will take about 3 hours by train. Phase two will extend the track to a station at Walt Disney World.
The trick to getting more people to travel by train in America is having functional railway systems that are efficient and present a savings of time and money over other transportation alternatives. High Speed trains are very energy efficient and increasing adoption of them will play a big part in our fight to turn back climate change.
What to know about Virgin Trains USA:
- Owned Fortress Investment Group with a minority stake from Virgin Group owned by Sir Richard Branson.
- Already operating as All Aboard Florida / Brightline in Southern Florida. Will switch over to the Virgin Trains USA brand sometime in 2020.
- A rail station in the Port of Miami was recently approved, so you’ll be able to take the train to your Disney Cruise Line adventure in the future.
- The top speed on the route between Orlando and southern Florida is expected to be 125 MPH.
Let us know in the comments how likely you would be to take a train from Tampa to Orlando or from Miami to Orlando to visit Walt Disney World?