While British billionaire Richard Branson is perhaps best known for his ambitious plans for filling the skies with supersonic jets, he recently made headlines by making an investment in a more traditional form of transportation, railroads. Branson is lending the name of his company, Virgin, to the railroads in the United States run by Fortess Investment Group. The new company name will be Virgin Trains USA.
An ambitious plan
Currently, Fortress Investment group operates railroads in Florida, and their operation is going extremely well. Their vision is to take their railway service nationwide, which is a hugely significant development since it will be a private-sector railroad system in a country where government-subsidized Amtrak has long been the dominant intercity railroad company.
Even though millions of Americans ride on intercity trains each year, currently Amtrak is virtually their only option. Amtrak came into existence when the Federal Government consolidated existing railroads from private companies, and the planned Fortress Investment Group system will be the first privately-funded, intercity railway system built in over a century.
With Branson’s backing, Fortress Investment Group plans to first extend their Florida service to Orlando and Tampa and, pending Federal approval, next to Las Vegas and Southern California. Wes Edens, chairman and co-founder of Fortress Investment Group, plans to ultimately add lines to Charlotte, St.Louis, Dallas and other major cities. Read the article about Fortress at The Wall Street Journal.
A winning formula
As far as the new company goes, Fortress Investment Group will operate and manage the railroads while Virgin will have a stake in the company of a few percentage points in return for its investment. Richard Branson said that he is thrilled with the new plan. He noted that he has struck similar deals with other United States firms, and his company Virgin America, which operates on a similar model to the planned railroad system, has been extremely successful.
Mark Hutchinson is the founder of WildArk. His childhood consisted of riding horses, mustering sheep, and fly fishing in Australia. After he graduated high school he drove all over Africa. By the time he reached 22 he had the inspiration to create a company he called UNTAMED. This eventually became a training and ecotourism business called Avana. In 2013 Mr. Hutchinson sold the business to a public company and they failed. He reconnected with his passion for wildlife in 2015 and became involved with WildArk with his focus on the preservation of the ecosystems of the world. Learn more: https://ideamensch.com/mark-hutchinson/
Mark Hutchinson spent his childhood in Victoria, Queensland, and New South Wales. When he was eight his father permanently relocated them to Sydney. The outback has always held an allure for Mr. Hutchinson. It was during his time in the North Territory that the idea of a wilderness company first occurred to him. He enrolled at the University in Sydney and earned a Bachelor’s degree in economics. His schooling combined with his experience gave him the confidence he needed to build his dream business. Learn more: http://www.canberratimes.com.au/good-weekend/save-the-elephants-how-we-turned-a-corner-on-the-ivory-trade-20170516-gw5so2.html
Mark Hutchinson’s vision for UNTAMED was to help people explore the glory of mother nature. His passion was hosting the individuals who had seen every luxury the world had to offer but had lost their connection with nature. He was consistently amazed at how regular city residents, billionaires, and people who actually spent their childhoods in the bush reacted to nature. Learn more: http://wildark.com/blog/mark-hutchinson-for-the-wild/
The entire life of Mark Hutchinson has been spent engulfed within the bush. As a wilderness advocate he has been passionate in his beliefs. He possesses an entrepreneurial spirit and his love of adventure has enabled him to provide an educational experience regarding the wild to the world. He strives to protect the planet so it can be enjoyed by the generations of the future.
The time Mark Hutchinson spent in Northern Australia as a jackaroo and his adventures driving through Africa were responsible for the creation of UNTAMED. He met EcoTraining’s Anton Lategan during this period in time and they became partners. They offered training to help the local guides and eco-conscious travelers in Australia’s outback.