Brightline is beginning the new year with a critical step toward the completion of its intercity rail system connecting Miami and Orlando. Starting this week, the week of January 17, Brightline will begin running its trains between West Palm Beach and Cocoa, giving locomotive engineers and train conductors an opportunity to learn the tracks and territory along a 130 mile stretch of the corridor. The trains will NOT be carrying passengers.
Qualifying trains will operate one round trip a day and are expected to continue daily through 2022. Qualifying runs are the federally approved approach to familiarize certified engineers and conductors with new rail territory. Operating a train requires engineers and conductors to be intimately familiar with the rail corridor, including road crossings, signals, curves, and speed restrictions. During qualifying runs, Brightline train crews will work with a manager already qualified on the territory, who will provide oversight and instruction.
Brightline trains will be operating at freight speeds, with maximum speeds of 60 miles per hour. For qualifying runs, Brightline trains will NOT be operating faster than 60 miles per hour.
Per federal statute, Brightline and freight trains will be required to blow the horn as they approach at-grade crossings or in an emergency situation.
Brightline is reminding the public, pedestrians, motorists, and cyclists to make safe choices around trains and crossings, always expect a train, and obey all traffic laws and signals around crossings. The safety message is simple: look, listen, live.
- Do not drive or walk around crossing gates when they are down. It is dangerous and illegal.
- Remain alert and aware when near railroad tracks, remember trains operate in both directions.
- Only cross the tracks at a railroad crossing and never walk alongside the tracks, which is dangerous and illegal.
- Never stop on the tracks.
Construction on Brightline’s extension to Orlando is more than 70% complete and spans from the Brightline West Palm Beach station to the Orlando station at Orlando International Airport.
Improvements have been completed on more than half of the crossings with the additional crossing work to be completed this year. Brightline expects to reach substantial completion of the Orlando extension by the end of 2022 and begin service in early 2023.