Brightline will begin testing high speed trains along the Florida coast this week, earlier than expected.
Brightline is the only privately owned and operated intercity railroad in the United States, running from Miami to West Palm Beach. Opened in 2012, they are close to opening an extension that will reach Orlando International Airport next year, and hope to keep expanding after that.
It takes an hour to get from Miami to WPB on a Brightline train, traveling at 80mph, a little faster than driving in easy traffic. But locals will tell you the traffic there is rarely easy, and the train is a huge convenience.
Brightline intends to begin testing speeds of 110 mph through Martin and St. Lucie counties, about 11 miles of track with nine railroad crossings. Next year, after the expansion to Orlando opens, they hope to reach 125mph, making them the fastest railroad in North America. At 80, they’re already faster than most Amtrak stretches.
During testing, the crossing points will be manned by law enforcement to make sure the new gates all perform properly and no one is surprised by a train blazing through their drive home. Testing will occur from 7 am to 4 pm,
“If the gates are down and they go around them, if they’re lucky, they’ll get a citation,” acting Assistant Port St. Lucie Chief of Police Carmine Izzo said. “The other consequence could be a lot worse. They’re taking a huge risk by driving around the gates.”
Brightline has all of Florida in its sights, wanting to become an integrated commuter and passenger transit rail for the whole state. It’s too bad their contract with Disney World fell through to build a station at Disney Springs, the Mouse would have been a powerful business ally.
Photo: Jillian Cain Photography / Shutterstock