TAMPA, Fla. – Brightline’s inaugural high-speed train journey from Miami to Orlando took place on Friday, prompting local Tampa Bay leaders to discuss the potential arrival of a station in the region.
“It’s a big part of our future, right? We love Tampa. Tampa’s the next big market for us. You connect Tampa to the rest of this system and suddenly 75% of the state is within close proximity to a Brightline train. We like that a lot,” Brightline CEO Mike Reininger said.
Orlando stands as Brightline’s sixth and northernmost station, yet the private rail company’s website displays a seventh station on the map: Tampa.
“We’re in concert with the mayors in Orange County, the mayor in Orlando, the mayor in Tampa, the Department of Transportation, hard at work to try to figure out the solution that allows us to get a train that’s running from Orlando all the way into downtown Tampa,” Reininger said.
“I don’t think that it’s something that is too far away. I think that it will be coming soon,” Hillsborough County commissioner Harry Cohen said. “My understanding is that the next phase of their expansion will be to Tampa to the area close to our Union Station, which is basically between Ybor City and the port district and downtown.“
Furthermore, Cohen informed FOX 13 that this week’s revelation regarding the Tampa Bay Rays’ new stadium will create opportunities for exploration.
“I think that the sense of certainty surrounding the Rays’ stadium situation actually will be helpful, because it will clarify what needs to go on around wherever the Brightline train terminates,” Cohen said.
Supporters of the train contend that it will mitigate traffic issues, asserting that a Tampa-Orlando route could play a significant role in alleviating congestion on I-4.
“It’s a major freight corridor, so people naturally would like to have alternatives. And this is a really nice alternative,” Cohen said.
A train connecting Tampa and Orlando would traverse Polk County, where local leaders informed FOX 13 that they have also engaged in discussions with Brightline’s leadership.
“Certainly can’t ignore the growth and potential of Polk County. And the exciting thing about it is that the private sectors and their Brightline processes will pick the best location, the most optimal location for a facility in Polk County,” Polk County Commissioner George Lindsey said. “And all the local governments are willing to work with them any way we can to help make that happen.”