Last Thursday I moderated a Round Table Discussion on financing our rail ambitions with a number of candidates for office here in Arkansas. I mentioned, briefly, our plan to make Arkansas the hub of a number of regional rail routes. We have a vision to link NWA to LR and to Kansas City MO. Or link LR to Memphis to Dallas.
I’ve suggested we call this regional rail system Travel Rail ICE.
One model for how to manage Travel Rail ICE is Brightline. Here is a 10 minute video featuring Patrick Goddard, President of Brightline Trains. Watch every second. He addresses first mile – last mile. He talks about his background in the hospitality industry.
About 4 minutes into the video Mr. Goddard drops a major revelation. That the Brightline station they are in has 800 residential lease units which are 50% filled. And there are retails spaces that are also 50% leased. When Brightline is shut down due to the pandemic and while they install Positive Train Controls.
Real estate is key to how Brightline will operate. They are looking at population density AND retail density so they can plan how to maximize their retail exposure to make a profit on the trains.
Brightline markets itself as an asset to the state of Florida. It is also attracting business and tourism to the state. “Brightline is the spine that runs through 20 to 30 million people living in Florida.”
A spine running through the state. Much like the A&M Railroad runs through the spine of NWA. Think about that.
While we will sell Travel Rail as environmentally responsible to citizens, we will sell Travel Rail as an asset our elected officials. And just as important as a travel and hospitality service to our riders.
Here is the video.