Rail operator Brightline, planning to eventually link Orlando and Tampa via its intercity trains, has made progress with its plans for expanding service in the state while facing some roadblocks.
The South Florida-based company, which plans to have new stations throughout Central Florida, will now push back the completion of its line between Miami and Orlando to early next year.
Brightline, backed by Fortress Investment Group, anticipates the majority of the line will be completed in the first quarter of 2023, according to information services company Skift, which covers the traveling industry.
The delay takes place as Brightline is continuing to work on its 129-mile stretch between West Palm Beach and Cocoa Beach.
“We have made tremendous progress, completing more than 80% of construction through the pandemic and subsequent supply chain challenges. We’re on track to complete the system at the beginning of 2023,” a Brightline spokesman told the St. Pete Catalyst in an emailed statement.
It was also reported that Brightline sold $770 million of unrated tax-free debt with large premiums as it is raising cash capital.
In regards to a future Tampa line, Brightline had finalized agreements with the state on a Tampa-to-Orlando connection by running along the Interstate I-4 envelope. Earlier this year, Brightline announced it would be able to use a $15.875 million grant toward the Tampa-to-Orlando connection.
The connection will include a stop at the Orlando International Airport and an undisclosed Tampa terminus, which is said to become operational by 2028.
Brightline spokeswoman Christine Kefauver previously said the trains may connect into Ybor, as many business leaders have suspected.
“The last thing we want to do is disrupt communities,” she said during a Hillsborough Transportation Planning Organization meeting in March. “The city has been great to work with on height limitations and making sure we take that modern station [designs we have] and incorporate it into the flavor of Ybor’s aesthetic.”
A stop was planned at Walt Disney World’s Disney Springs entertainment complex in Orlando; however, Disney said it was pulling out of moving forward on a Brightline station due to changes in its route configuration.