"This is the most critical and final step in the extension of Brightline’s service to Orlando. We look forward to launching service to Miami and starting construction north to Orlando in the first quarter of 2018."
The next stage of Florida’s latest passenger rail network, Brightline, has been approved for construction before the line that it will eventually be connected to has even begun carrying passengers.
Brightline is the southern state’s privately-funded rail network that will soon connect Miami with West Palm Beach. It was originally due to be open to the public in Autumn 2017, but after a series of delays delivery was pushed back to the end of this year. Brightline later announced that the service will now be delivered in the first quarter of 2018.
The second phase that will link South Florida with Orlando was last week passed by The Federal Railroad Administration, the Department of Transportation body that enforces rail safety regulations and signs off such deals. The positive decision has now removed the last barrier of regulation that prevented the second phase from being built, a process that could happen at the beginning of 2018, meaning that – if all goes to plan – it could overlap with the soon-to-be opened Miami-West Palm Beach line.
Announcing the latest news, the CEO of Brightline, Dave Howard, said that the train operator was excited to move forward with phase two. “This is the most critical and final step in the extension of Brightline’s service to Orlando. We look forward to launching service to Miami and starting construction north to Orlando in the first quarter of 2018,” said Howard.
The new Siemens trains, which were delivered in May this year, will travel along the Florida East Coast Railway between Miami and Cocoa at speeds of up to 79mph, while the newly-built 40-mile section of track that connects Cocoa with Orlando will allow speeds of up to 125mph. The entire journey from West Palm Beach to Miami will take 60 minutes.
To service the trains, Brightline will soon complete the construction of a 70-acre maintenance yard that will be built close to a purpose-built transport hub at Orlando International Airport at one end of the line.
Summarising the rail project’s progress, Howard added: “This was a great year for us as we completed construction on two of our major stations and rail infrastructure, successfully presold tickets and corporate packages to individuals and businesses throughout the region and priced $600 million in Private Activity Bonds to fund Phase 1.”
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