Private US rail operator Brightline has opened its Orlando-Miami Florida line to passenger services.

Officials from across Florida joined with Brightline executives in Orlando to celebrate the arrival of the first service.

The company hoped to open the new line in time for Labor Day at the start of September, but certification and crew training delays meant the firm had to offer refunds to those who had bought tickets for the inaugural journey.

The new service covers 235 miles between Miami and Orlando and will take between 3 and 3.5 hours depending on stops per service, according to the firm.

Brightline said the construction phase of the project generated 10,000 jobs and approximately $6bn in economic impact for the state of Florida.

Construction teams worked more than seven million hours over the course of four years to complete the project, Brightline claimed.

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The line was fully built in June 2023, but testing and certification took longer than expected.

Wes Edens, co-founder of Fortress Investment Group, owner of Brightline, lauded the progress the line represented.

Edens said: “Over the last century, America has perfected the automobile and pioneered space exploration, but we’ve barely budged in terms of passenger rail. Today is an historic event for Brightline and the state of Florida that represents a decade of hard work and determination. This moment also marks the beginning of a new industry and outlines a blueprint for expanding high-speed rail in America.“

Former state Governor, and now Senator for Florida Rick Scott (Republican) pushed the importance of privatised passenger rail.

Scott said: “As Governor of Florida, I was proud to work with Brightline to deliver reliable rail in our state without putting Florida taxpayers on the hook. Today’s grand opening of Brightline’s new Orlando station shows that Florida was right to embrace private rail partners and is great news for Florida families, businesses and the over one hundred million tourists who visit our state each year.”