Brightline announces time frame for train service launch

All Aboard Florida’s Brightline will launch introductory passenger rail service between West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale the week of Jan. 8, Brightline officials said this week.

Federal officials said Friday that Brightline has met all the requirements and is an operating railroad, and it’s up to the company when it starts passenger service.


“Brightline continues to make progress toward operational readiness by training our teammates and testing our equipment,” Brightline said in a statement.

The company has not yet announced its schedule or ticket prices.

Brightline’s first phase will also include service to Miami. The private company has said it plans to begin construction of its second phase connecting West Palm Beach and Orlando in 2018.

Brightline leaders had expected to launch the South Florida route before the end of this year. Trains without passengers have been running along FEC tracks for a few weeks in what the rail line has called simulated service.

“Our goal is to launch the safest system and deliver an exceptional guest experience,” a company spokesperson said.

Brightline plans to run as many as 32 trains a day between Miami and Orlando on the Florida East Coast Railway tracks. 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.

Federal Railroad Administration spokeswoman Desiree French said Friday that the agency does not issue operating permits to railroads, but does provide safety oversight through other means.

“All plans and necessary documentation have been submitted by All Aboard Florida throughout the construction and testing phases of the project and, as appropriate, approved by FRA. AAF is currently an operating railroad and so long as AAF complies with federal rail safety requirements, it can continue to run trains. Any final decision on when to launch passenger service will be made by the railroad,” French said in an email.

Opposition from residents along the route has centered on noise and safety.

State Sen. Debbie Mayfield, R-Melbourne, last week sent a letter to Gov. Rick Scott expressing her concerns about the future of rail safety in Florida and asking him to support Senate Bill 572, High-Speed Passenger Rail Safety Act. She also asked the governor to have the Florida Department of Transportation use its regulatory authority over public railroad-highway grade crossings to reduce hazards.

Mayfield referred to the Dec. 18 derailment of the Amtrak Casades train in Washington state, where three people died and more than 70 people were injured.

“I strongly believe we must learn from the Amtrak Cascades tragedy to ensure a similar accident does not occur in the State of Florida,” Mayfield wrote.

A Brightline spokesperson said in a statement, “Positive train control, in addition to many other safety features, is paramount to Brightline’s infrastructure program. Brightline will fully comply with all federal regulations and have PTC operational when the system operates through the Treasure Coast. Patchwork state legislation is not needed to force compliance, as uniform federal regulations are already in place to ensure safety standards are met. It continues to be disappointing that the tragic accident in Washington is being used to further the goals of those who oppose privately funded passenger rail.”

FDOT spokesman Tom Yu said, “Safety is FDOT’s top priority and is at the forefront of all transportation projects in our state. We continue to work with state legislators, local officials, organizations and citizens to improve our state’s transportation infrastructure. We are in the process of reviewing Senator Mayfield’s letter and accompanying legislation. We appreciate her perspective and input as we continue to improve our transportation network for all Floridians and visitors.”

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in

HOA may be able to charge owners for each vehicle parked in community

First this week, an update on condominium term limits. You may recall that, in 2017, the Legislature amended the Condominium Act to provide that directors serving two-year terms could not serve more than four consecutive two-year terms unless elected by a supermajority of the membership. The big question at the time was whether prior board service...
Florida Crystals unit buys 30 acres for housing west of Lake Worth
Florida Crystals unit buys 30 acres for housing west of Lake Worth

The housing arm of sugar stalwart Florida Crystals has purchased 30 acres of land near Lake Worth Road and Florida’s Turnpike for its latest project, company officials said. The plan: To build 370 proposed “high-end” apartments, including 70 “workforce housing” units and a pre-school, officials said. “We plan to...
Hello epidemic: Robocalls in 561 area code blast to record levels
Hello epidemic: Robocalls in 561 area code blast to record levels

No, it’s not your imagination. An epidemic of robocalls — automated calls dominated by scams and spam — is blazing into record territory in the 561 area code. With more than a quarter of the year left, robocalls in Palm Beach County’s area code this year have already blown past totals for all of 2017, an analysis shows. That&rsquo...
Palm Beach County jobless rate dips, job growth remains tepid
Palm Beach County jobless rate dips, job growth remains tepid

Palm Beach County’s jobless rate fell to 3.9 percent in August, but job growth continued to lag the rest of the state. Palm Beach County unemployment fell from 4 percent in July and 4.4 percent in August 2017, Florida’s labor department said Friday.  However, the falling unemployment rate was accompanied by a shrinking number of workers...
New arts center for Boca Raton? Here is the plan
New arts center for Boca Raton? Here is the plan

Art is a draw. Residents and businesses in West Palm Beach know this from the success of the Kravis Center and the $100 million expansion of the Norton Museum of Art. Both cultural venues are cited as factors for the city’s population growth and corporate expansion. RELATED: $200M Uptown Boca Raton to feature shopping, movie theater, apartments...
More Stories