ORLANDO, Fla. — Spectrum News got a behind-the-scenes look at the highly anticipated Virgin Trains high-speed rail connection between Orlando and West Palm Beach.
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Here's what we learned about the progress on the project so far:
1. What’s the construction timeline?
Rails will start to go in the ground for this multi-billion dollar project in January 2020.
The train’s maintenance center building will begin construction on Valentine’s Day 2020. That building is where the trains will be maintained, washed, and stored. It will be a 138,000 sq. foot facility that will cost $70 million to build.
When it is completed, 160 people will be employed there.
2. How many bridges will be constructed?
The 170-mile stretch for this project will have 55 bridges when completed. Each bridge takes 12-30 months to construct and costs anywhere between one and $35 million.
3. How much “man power” is being used?
With a 2022 target completion date, trains are anticipated to be brought to the Maintenance Center in January 2021.
When this project is completed, it will have used 600 million man hours. The project began in May 2019.
In the next few months the project will have about 1,000 people working on the rails. The steel they are using for the rails is American and comes from American Steel based out of Fort Wayne, Indiana.
4. Will there be further expansion?
Here's what Virgin Trains USA CEO & President Patrick Goddard said on expanding the project to Tampa:
“Obviously our goal is to maximize mobility for the Central and South Florida communities. We are looking at stations. We are in a dialogue with the Treasure Coast, we are in a dialogue with the Space Coast. We would like to see stations every 50 to 60 miles. I think that’s feasible and reasonable to have a express train service so we will continue to pursue to update those as we make progress.”
5. How about expanding to Disney?
Here's what Goddard said on potentially expanding west to Disney:
“We have an on-going dialogue with the folks of Walt Disney World and with other theme parks. Our goal is to improve mobility. In order to go any farther west than the Orlando International Airport, however, we secure a lease with both the CFX and FDOT. We are in the course of having those discussions concurrent with that we are having discussions with the theme park areas to look how we can site a station out there and improve convenience for people either coming from South Florida or arriving in to the Orlando airport."