ORLANDO, Fla. — Construction kicked off Tuesday on the Orlando International Airport expansion of Virgin Trains USA's high-speed rail service.

  • Work kicks off for Orlando airport portion of Virgin Trains expansion
  • Virgin Trains USA, formerly Brightline, currently operates in South Florida
  • Private, high-speed rail service is expanding from West Palm to Orlando

The private train service will eventually connect Orlando with South Florida, where it currently operates.

Phase 2 of the expansion by Virgin Trains USA — formerly known as Brightline — will take place over four zones between Orlando and West Palm Beach, the company said in a news release.

Zones 1 and 2, which kicked off Tuesday, include the airport and a Virgin Trains maintenance facility just south of OIA.

Zone 1 is located about a mile south of OIA and is spread over about 70 acres, while Zone 2 is a 3.5-mile section in the middle of OIA, according to Virgin Trains USA. Hubbard Construction, based in Central Florida, and Wharton-Smith Inc., based in Sanford, are overseeing work in Zones 1 and 2.

The start of work is "imminent" for Zones 3 and 4. Zone 3 comprises about 35 miles of rail that will follow the Beachline Expressway between Orlando International Airport and Cocoa, according to the news release. Zone 4 work includes upgrading 129 miles of existing track to allow for service up to 110 mph and laying 100 miles of new track.

Virgin Trains USA is a private high-speed rail service that currently runs between Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach. The expanded service to Orlando is expected to begin in 2022, with plans also to expand to Tampa.