Brightline urged to include I-Drive, Convention Center stops along high-speed railway to Tampa

ORLANDO, Fla. — Brightline Trains provided an update Thursday about their plans for a high-speed rail project connecting Orlando International Airport to Tampa.

There’s a push from local officials to consider the Orange County Convention Center and International Drive area in the next phase of the project.

READ: Disney, Brightline mull where to put train stop at Disney Springs, sources say

Brightline updated their plans for the Central Florida Expressway Authority at its regular board meeting Thursday.

Right now, Brightline’s preferred route would connect with SunRail’s Meadow Woods Station just West of Orlando International Airport, stop at Disney, then continue on to Tampa.

Now, records show, Brightline has held meetings with the I-Drive Area Chamber of Commerce and Universal Orlando about including the area on their route.

“The county and we as tax-payers in the county have made a huge investment in the convention center,” CFX board member Jay Madara says. “It’s a big miss if we don’t have alignment that hits the convention center.”

However, cost presents a major hurdle, as shifting the route to the I-Drive Corridor would cost an estimated $1 billion.

READ: Process to bring high-speed rail service to Central Florida is first of its kind in U.S.

Officials say they’ll have to discuss who would cover that cost, and whether it might outweigh the benefits of making the shift.

If all goes according to plan, service on the Orlando to Tampa leg- including SunRail to the airport- would begin in late 2026.

Jeff Deal

Jeff Deal, WFTV.com

I joined the Eyewitness News team as a reporter in 2006.