It does appear that, for passenger rail advocates, today there is real reason for optimism.
First, it does appear that Brightline is on the road to success in Florida. About fifty of those attending the Fall meeting of the Rail Passengers Association rode up to West Palm Beach and back on a Brightline train and I heard nothing but raves—for the equipment and for the service and for the facilities.
Then, a week or so ago, came word that Brightline had acquitted the rights to provide rail service from Los Angeles to Las Vegas.
And today comes the news that Richard Branson has joined with Brightline and the new entity will become Virgin Trains USA.
Branson seems to have this stuff figured out. He’s already deep into the airline business, of course, but he also runs higher speed trains in the UK, linking London with Edinburgh, Liverpool, Manchester, Holyhead, Shrewsbury and Birmingham.
The clincher arrived this morning, however. It was in the form of a gift certificate good for a couple of serious drinks in an Amtrak lounge car. It came from a reader who had questioned my optimism for Brightline’s prospects of success. What a classy bunch you guys are!