First private passenger service in the U.S in a century launches in Florida

First private passenger service in the U.S in a century launches in Florida

Brightline, the United States' only privately owned and operated intercity passenger rail service, launched its Florida extension to Orlando on Friday, September 22, 2023. The new service connects Miami with Orlando, with stops in Fort Lauderdale, Boca Raton, and West Palm Beach.

The Brightline Orlando station is located at Orlando International Airport and spans three stories. The station has two platforms, which are 1,000 feet long and will accommodate a train with four coaches and two locomotives.

The Orlando extension includes 168 miles of new tracks, 56 bridges, and three underpasses. The line is not electrified, and Brightline runs with Siemens Venture trainsets pulled by Siemens Charger diesel-electric passenger locomotives.

The Siemens Charger has already been used on the original line and initially stretched between Miami. It is a remodelled version of the model that hides the coupler behind a removable nose cone. It will reach nearly 125 mph.

The new route will see a journey from Orlando to Miami take just over three hours.

"Opening Orlando fulfils our ultimate business model," said Patrick Goddard, president of Brightline. "We have seen incredible enthusiasm from the business and tourism industries eager to travel between Central and South Florida. As we start service to Orlando for peak holiday seasons, I encourage everyone to check calendars, make plans, visit our website or app and reserve a seat now."

The Brightline venture is the first private intercity passenger service to open in the U.S in a century and is seen as a test of whether privately owned passenger services can work on the American rail network, a notoriously difficult market, dominated by publicly owned networks. The only other high-speed service available in America is Amtrak’s Acela service between Boston and Washington, D.C., which began in 2000.

Amtrak is owned by the federal government.

The Brightline Orlando extension is expected to have a significant impact on Florida tourism. The company estimates that it will carry over 3 million passengers per year on the new route and the company is working with tourist attractions and businesses in both Miami and Orlando to offer discounts and packages for potential passengers.

The company has ambitions to expand the network to other Florida cities, including Jacksonville and Tampa Bay. It is also hoping to open a high-speed line from Los Angeles to Las Vegas by 2027.

Photo/Video Credit: Brightline

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