A proposal has been brought forward that could finally settle the ongoing disputes regarding Brightline‘s extension from Orlando International Airport to The Walt Disney World Resort.
According to local Orlando reporter Greg Fox (@GregFoxWESH),
“The Sunrail Board meeting just revealed that a proposal for the “Sunshine Corridor” could deliver a Brightline train route from @MCO to I-Drive and @UniversalORL then to @WaltDisneyWorld and Tampa.”
#Sunrail #Brightline The Sunrail Board meeting just revealed that a proposal for the “Sunshine Corridor” could deliver a Brightline train route from @MCO to I-Drive and @UniversalORL then to @WaltDisneyWorld and Tampa. @WESH pic.twitter.com/bospkaZKh5
— Greg Fox (@GregFoxWESH) May 5, 2022
While the private higher-speed rail line (formerly known as Virgin Trains USA) has yet to begin passenger service on its first extension from its original Southeast Florida corridor based in Miami to MCO, development of the highly-anticipated further extension to Disney World Property has struggled to progress against local backlash based on a spectrum of concerns from ecological to economic. It is also unclear at this time if Tallahassee’s planned termination of Disney’s Reedy Creek Improvement District would affect Brightline’s plan as it stands now.
Related: Disney by Train: Eurostar, TGV Set Standard for Brightline Disney World Service
However, there appears to be cooperation in the works as Orlando’s public commuter rail service comes forward with an announcement that could jumpstart local and higher-speed rail travel in Orange County.
According to the Orlando Sentinel,
A presentation Thursday called the “first salvo” by Orlando’s mayor shows Brightline, SunRail and Universal working toward building passenger-rail tracks from Orlando’s airport to a station near the Orange County Convention Center and then to south International Drive.
Dubbed the “Sunshine Corridor,” the tracks and station would cost roughly $1 billion, though no design has been done for a cost estimate, and are envisioned for hourly Brightline trains and quarter-hour SunRail service.
Discussion surrounding the “Sunshine Corridor” began a month ago between city and county leaders attempting to find a solution that could require Brightline to share the rails with SunRail–with Brightline picking up the tab.
According to initial coverage by the Orlando Sentinel,
Under a vision emerging from those meetings, Brightline would lease rights to use that east-west SunRail corridor and would build its own tracks from Disney to Tampa.
Expecting to cover construction costs through private financing, Brightline had contended that the most affordable route by far would be from the airport along State Road 417 to Disney. Universal Studios and I-Drive merchants mounted fierce opposition to that proposed corridor, insisting the route should also serve I-Drive and the convention center.
But this new report suggests that additional stations for I-Drive and Universal Orlando Resort are now in the works as Universal and I-Drive businesses partner to pledge “$125 million for rail and station construction, 13 acres for a station site, a guaranteed $13 million in annual ticket sales and $2 million annually for maintenance.” A significant rebuttal to Brightline’s cost-based reasoning for initially choosing to bypass I-Drive.
Brightline is still expected to build a Disney World-exclusive station and cover most of the construction costs despite the partnership with SunRail.
Once completed, Brightline will be able to provide quality, affordable, family-friendly passenger rail service to all Disney World and Universal Guests who use Orlando International Airport as their port of entry into the Sunshine State. Granting SunRail access to the routes as well could also help decrease the local congestion on the Disney-bound highways. Brightline is also looking to extend to which will give looking to add a Disney Cruise to their far easier access.
It is still unclear at this time when exactly Brightline’s service from the Orlando airport to Miami will begin, let alone when groundbreaking will begin on the long-awaited Disney World Station. In the meantime, we at Disney Fanatic will continue to monitor the story and will update our readers on Disney Parks news as more developments come to light.