Brightline will run empty trains along a 130-mile route starting Monday. Here's why.
WEST PALM BEACH — Drivers will see Brightline trains running north of West Palm Beach for the first time next week as the high-speed railroad starts trial runs between West Palm and Cocoa.
There won't be passengers on the trains, but the 130-mile trial runs that start Jan. 17 will help familiarize Brightline's conductors and staff with the new route – part of Brightline's expansion to Orlando, which the company said is about 70% complete.
Brightline plans to run once-daily trials runs of the new route throughout 2022.
"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," the company said in a news release.
Drivers should expect short closures at rail crossings along the private FEC railway, where Brightline runs. But drivers familiar with the short closures caused by passing Brightline trains between West Palm Beach and Miami should prepare to be a little more patient with the trial runs.
Instead of Brightline's typical 80 mph speed, trains on trial runs north of West Palm Beach will travel at about 60 mph. That's around the same speed as a freight train. Federal regulations will require Brightline conductors to blow the train horn at all crossings with streets during the trial runs.
The train company's expansion to Orlando should be complete by the end of the year, according to the news release. Passengers can expect service between Orlando and Miami to begin in early 2023.
Brightline's expansion to Orlando is costing the company $2.7 billion.
In October, the company announced its plans to extend to Tampa by 2028.
Rail crossing safety tips
As drivers, pedestrians and cyclists spend more time at railroad crossings, Brightline offers the following safety tips:
- The train you see is closer and faster-moving than you think.
- Be aware that trains cannot stop quickly.
- Never drive around lowered gates. It's illegal and deadly.
- While waiting for a train to pass at a multiple-track crossing, watch out for a second train on the other tracks, approaching from either direction.
- When you need to cross train tracks, go to a designated crossing, look both ways, and cross the tracks quickly, without stopping. Remember it isn't safe to stop closer than 15 feet from a rail.