Brightline Reaches 130mph, Completes CRISI Grant Program

Written by Kyra Senese, Managing Editor
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After hitting speeds of 130 mph, Brightline is officially the fastest train in Florida and the Southeastern U.S.

Brightline achieved this while train testing along its new 35-mile rail corridor between Orlando International Airport and Cocoa, Florida, a release said

. The new tracks are built along the Beachline Expressway/SR 528, which is fenced and has no grade crossings.

“Reaching 130 isn’t just another milestone to our team, but the continuation of a dream that we’ve been working towards for several years,” said Patrick Goddard, president of Brightline Trains. “More importantly, this historic feat brings us one step closer to launching Brightline service between Orlando and Miami.”

By hitting 130 mph Brightline beat its previous record of 110 mph, which the agency accomplished last fall during testing through Martin and St. Lucie Counties in Florida’s Treasure Coast.

The Orlando Station, which opens this year, is expected to change train travel in the U.S., a release said. Brightline will transport passengers between South and Central Florida in around three hours, connecting two of the most congested city pairs in the country.

Current speeds include 79 mph in South Florida; 110 mph along the Orlando Extension from West Palm Beach to Cocoa; and 125 mph from Cocoa to Orlando International Airport, according to a press release. 

The Brightline train sets are powered by two locomotives—one at each end—that are 16-cylinder, 4,000 horsepower Cummins EPA Tier-IV compliant Cummins diesel-electric engines. Siemens Rolling Stock Facility in Sacramento, California, manufactures the locomotives and coaches.

CRISI Grant Program Leads to 48 Grade Crossing Impovements

Brightline announced on March 3 that it has completed a $5.4 million project to improve safety at 48 crossings in Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties, as part of its ongoing efforts to improve safety along the Florida East Coast Railway/Brightline corridor. 

The agency worked with 11 local cities and the Palm Beach Transportation Planning Agency to fund the improvements after the Federal Railroad Administration awarded a $2.3 million Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvement grant in 2017.

This $5.4 million total investment resulted in the addition of upgrades to 48 crossings throughout the region’s Phase 1 route. 

For each crossing, the scope of work varies and may involve one or more of the following: exit gates, flexible edge-of-roadway delineators and striping, center-line delineators, active message signs, or raised medians. 

Brightline invested more than $1.4 million in the project, and the 11 cities and the Palm Beach TPA contributed more than $1.5 million.

“Brightline continues to make significant investments in safety by taking every opportunity to work with our local and federal partners to deter pedestrian and vehicle incidents,” said Ben Porritt, SVP of Corporate Affairs. “This coalition shows the importance of safety as a shared responsibility and we really appreciate the investment made by the FRA, these cities and the Palm Beach TPA .”

Because of roadway width, crossing profile, the presence of sidewalks, and other variables, each crossing along the Florida East Coast Railway/Brightline corridor has various technical requirements. 

The Brightline team and the FRA analyzed high-trafficked crossings in collaboration with local governments to see what further safety upgrades could be built. Locations for crossings were chosen based on historical data and current infrastructure, a release said.

“The Palm Beach TPA is excited this project is coming to fruition and grateful for the collaboration with Brightline and local municipalities to advance a safe, efficient, and multimodal transportation system,” said Valerie Neilson, executive director of the Palm Beach Transportation Planning Agency.

Prior to the grant’s implementation, all crossings along the corridor were already outfitted with a variety of active warning devices, such as grade crossing arms, flashing lights, bells, and gates. 

Brightline invested an additional $500,000 in addition to the CRISI scope of work to install centerline delineators at 29 crossings in Broward County to dissuade drivers from going around the gates, the agency said.

The project was finished in January 2023. Brightline has also constructed channelization in southern Palm Beach County through community greening initiatives and fencing.