As Co-Founder and Co-Ceo of Fortress Investment Group, Wes Edens has an eye for value and opportunity. His latest project is not in the modern world of tech. It is a throwback to an earlier period in America’s development. Mr. Edens has purchased a railroad.
Brightline is the name of the new company. Its initial rail line will link the cities of South Florida, first Fort Lauderdale to Miami and ultimately extending the line to Orlando by 2021. Mr. Edens’ new railroad completes the vision of Henry Flagler, the founder of the Florida East Coast Railway. Flagler planned to connect the cities along Florida’s east coast by rail. Now, that is about to happen thanks to Mr. Edens.
South Florida is a heavily traveled part of the United States. The problem is that considerable distances separate the cities in the region. Characterized as “too far to drive, yet too short to fly,” the dilemma represents opportunities for future Brightline projects. Wes Edens has identified several other regional corridors with similar limitations. Namely, these are:
- Dallas to Houston
- Atlanta to Charlotte
- St. Louis to Chicago
These are all viable city pairs, which Mr. Edens is confident will lead Brightline to build more railroads in other regions in the future. The US has by far the best freight railroad system in the world, yet ironically passenger rail has been woefully neglected.
Wes Edens believes that Brightline’s privately financed model is the solution. Projects like the Miami to Orlando railway are commercially viable. The Miami rail center, for instance, is intended to develop into a commercial and residential hub for the City of Miami. Cities along the line eventually will experience similar growth as a result of the increased economic activity.
Wes Edens brings his experience in the world of finance to the challenges of his new business. He has articulated a straightforward approach to address the regional transportation challenge. Brightline sounds like a bright idea whose time has arrived.