The Real Deal Miami

Passenger-train operator files to go public under its new name, Virgin Trains USA

Formerly known as Brightline, Virgin Trains USA simultaneously announced its new name and filed an S-1 form with the Securities and Exchange Commission to become a publicly traded company
November 17, 2018 02:00PM

Richard Branson aboard train operated by Virgin Trains USA, formerly known as Brightline (Credit: Virgin Group | Tampa Bay Times)

The private passenger-train operator formerly known as Brightline disclosed plans to become a publicly traded company on Friday – the same day it announced a name change linked to a decision by Richard Branson’s Virgin Group to become a minority investor in the company.

Virgin Trains USA, the new name of the passenger-train operator, filed an S-1 form with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to go public.

“Our goal is to build railroad systems in North America that connect major metropolitan areas with significant traffic and congestion. We believe that the economics of passenger rail service offer a highly compelling investment opportunity,” the company said in its S-1 filing.

Outside Florida, the company formerly known as Brightline plans to operate on routes that include Los Angeles to San Diego, Dallas to Houston, and Atlanta to Charlotte, North Carolina, as well as its recently acquired route between Las Vegas and Southern California.

According to the S-1 filing, Virgin Trains expects that its passenger-train service in Florida “will stabilize by the fourth quarter of 2023 or the first quarter of 2024” after a two-year “ramp up period.”

The company disclosed that it operated at a loss of $87 million in the first nine months of 2018. At the end of September, Virgin Trains had about $49 million in cash and more than $600 million in debt.

Virgin Trains now operates in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach and eventually will extend its Florida passenger rail service to Orlando and Tampa.

Virgin Trains said in its filing with the SEC that it expects 6.6 million riders a year to pay the company a $73 fare to travel by train between Miami and Orlando.

“Based on our expected fares for an individual traveler, we expect that a trip on our trains between Miami and Orlando will be approximately 25 percent less expensive than driving and approximately 30 percent less expensive than flying. We expect to carry approximately 6.6 million passengers annually,” according to the S-1 filing.

Virgin Trains also said in the filing that it is “an emerging growth company,” which means it “may take advantage of certain reduced disclosure and other requirements that are otherwise applicable generally to public companies.” [Miami Herald]Mike Seemuth