The privately funded Brightline company opened the first phase of their new higher-speed inter-city express passenger train service during the week of January 8, 2018. Initially the service will run the short distance from West Palm Beach to Fort Lauderdale and then in few months time it will be extended to the new downtown MiamiCentral station just north of the Miami-Dade County Courthouse.
In Miami the service will run on elevated tracks and connect with the existing Tri-Rail commuter service.
Introductory ticket prices are $10 between Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach in the “smart” carriages and $15 in the “select” carriages. It will be a further $10 and $15 respectively to reach Miami. Children aged 12 and under are half price.
Ultimately Brightline will introduce additional ticket options including 10-packs, weekend, weekly, monthly, annual and corporate ticket packages.
Whilst prices are nearly twice the price of the Tri-Rail service, journey times are half and there are no intermediate stops.
To start with Brightline will offer ten round trips on weekdays, nine at weekends between 6 a.m. and 11 p.m. The aim is to reach 16 trips per day offering an hourly service.
The second phase will extend the service to the newly constructed South Intermodal Center railway station at Orlando International Airport (MCO) via Cocoa. There are also plans to bring Central Florida’s SunRail service to MCO.
The service between Miami and Cocoa will use upgraded Florida East Coast Railway tracks. The journey from Cocoa to Orlando will require a newly constructed rail system alongside the BeachLine Expressway roadway.
Between Miami and West Palm Beach top speed will be around 79 mph, 110 mph to Cocoa and 125 mph between Cocoa and Orlando.
Brightline Journey Times
Journey time from Miami to Fort Lauderdale is expected to be around 30 minutes, from Fort Lauderdale to West Palm Beach another 30 minutes.
The 235 mile journey from Miami to MCO will be around three hours compared to a one hour flight time or around three and a half to four hours by road with no traffic. The existing Amtrak Silver Star and Silver Meteor services take around seven and a half hours and five and three quarter hours respectively to cover roughly the same distance.
The Brightline service will offer reserved seating, power and USB outlets, free wireless internet, gourmet food and drinks. It is expected to attract both local commuters in the Miami area and long distance travellers between Central and South Florida.
The five train sets built by Siemens USA in California feature bright yellow engines pulling silver coaches highlighted with five colours; red, orange, green, blue and pink.
Each train set has two types of coaches:
- Smart coaches seating between 58 and 66 in 19 inch wide seats
- Select coaches have extra wide 21 inch leather seats seating 49 including single seats, access to Premium Guest Lounges, complimentary food, drinks and parking
All coaches have pair or quad seats with or without tables, drop-down task trays, large windows aligned with the seats, luggage towers for large carry-on bags, overhead luggage racks plus under-seat storage for smaller personal item and the last Smart coach has a checked baggage compartment.
Each train set typically consists of two engines (one at each end) plus four carriages holding around 240 passengers.
A further five train sets may be ordered if the high-speed service is extended to Tampa and/or Jacksonville.
In 2015, All Aboard Florida announced that the new privately owned train service would be called Brightline. They were originally expected to open the first phase in mid 2017 and connect with Orlando by the end of 2017 but the first phase has been delayed until early 2018 with the second phase to Orlando slipping probably into 2019 or beyond.