All Aboard Florida’s Brightline will use a blend of biodiesel fuel produced by Florida Power & Light at a Riviera Beach plant to power its fleet of passenger trains.
The rail company has inked a two-year deal with FPL to supply its five trains with the cleaner-burning fuel. Under the contract, FPL will produce 2 million gallons of biodiesel a year for Brightline’s fleet.
Biodiesel fuel is a cleaner-burning alternative produced from renewable sources like corn, soybeans and used cooking oil.
Tom Rutkowski, Brightline’s Chief Mechanical Officer, called the collaboration a “major milestone” for the company, adding that the deal is a “perfect partnership of smart energy powering smart trains.”
FPL started using biodiesel to power its own fleet nearly 20 years ago. The alternative is now the primary source of fuel for more than 1,750 vehicles in the company’s fleet, said Sam Forrest, FPL’s Vice President of Energy Marketing and Trading.
About three years ago, FPL signed its first contract to blend biodiesel for an outside group.
With the Brightline contract, FPL will produce roughly 6 million gallons of biodiesel a year for its own fleet and other outside partners. The company also has a contract to provide biodiesel for Palm Beach County’s Solid Waste Authority.
“At FPL we have long been committed to energy independence as well as environmental stewardship,” Forrest said.
Each of Brightline’s locomotives can hold up to 2,200 gallons of fuel. The trains are expected to use about 2 gallons of fuel per mile, which means the 67-mile one-way trip from Miami to West Palm Beach consumes 134 gallons of biodiesel, the company said.
Brightline is expected to begin service later this summer. A grand opening is expected to be held in the fall.
Once operational, Brightline’s trains will shuttle passengers between West Palm Beach and Miami in about an hour. Ticket prices have not been announced.
Eventually, Brightline plans to expand service north to Orlando.
Construction on the West Palm Beach-to-Orlando leg has not yet begun. Brightline officials have said the project will take at least two years from the time work starts.
In preparation for its summer launch, Brightline officials held a train safety workshop on Saturday for police officers, firefighters and other emergency workers from Broward and Palm Beach counties.
More than 35 first responders attended the workshop, which was held at Brightline’s rail repair yard in West Palm Beach, the company said.
During the four-hour workshop, Brightline’s emergency management team provided training, an equipment and facility tour, and an overview of its safety and security plans, the company said.
Brightline in April launched a safety campaign designed to warn students and those living near the Florida East Coast Railway corridor about the dangers of walking along train tracks.
The company has asked cities along the route to help promote the campaign, part of a national program called Operation Lifesaver, which is designed to reduce collisions, fatalities and injuries at highway-rail crossings and prevent trespassing on or near railroad tracks.