The company recently begun shuttling passengers along its route in a continued effort to train its customer service staff, a Brightline spokesperson said Sunday. The training exercises are expected to continue Monday and Tuesday. They are not open to the public.
The company on Saturday held a private training event for friends and family, where passengers were able to ride the train between West Palm Beach and Ft. Lauderdale.
Jim Kovalsky, of the Florida East Coast Railway Society, has taken two round-trip rides on Brightline’s trains — the first on Saturday and the second on Sunday.
“It is wonderful,” he said of the service. “It is unlike anything else that I know of in this country. It is fast. It is smooth.”
Kovalsky, a longtime Brightline supporter, said Sunday’s return trip to West Palm Beach from Ft. Lauderdale took 31 minutes.
“Try to drive from downtown Ft. Lauderdale to downtown West Palm Beach in just 31 minutes,” he said. “I think it is going to change the way rail service is seen in this country.”
Brightline said late last month that it would begin introductory service between its West Palm Beach and Ft. Lauderdale stations during the week of Jan. 8. The precise start date, train schedules and ticket prices have not been announced.
Brightline in December began simulated service on the Florida East Coast Railway tracks, running as many as 10 round-trip trains a day along the route. But those trains were not carrying passengers.
Brightline’s first phase will also include service to Miami. Trains are expected to start shuttling passengers to the company’s MiamiCentral later this year.
The private company has said it plans to begin construction of its second phase connecting West Palm Beach and Orlando in 2018. That work will likely take at least two years to complete, officials with the rail venture have said.
Eventually, Brightline plans to run as many as 32 trains a day between Miami and Orlando. The company’s trains are expected to reach speeds of up to 79 mph between Miami and West Palm Beach, 110 mph between West Palm Beach and Cocoa; and 125 mph between Cocoa and Orlando.
Freight trains on the FEC line operate at speeds of between 35 mph and 40 mph, although the trains are capable of moving up to 60 mph, officials have said.