All Aboard Florida, the speedy new passenger-train service scheduled to begin operations between Miami and Orlando in 2017, unveiled some of its new trains Monday, and then promised an immediate upgrade — from eight inches long to about 80 feet.
“I promise you the real thing will be a lot bigger than this,” said All Aboard Florida president Michael Reininger at a press conference where the company released some details about the trains, including the tiny, brightly colored model cars and a name for the service: Brightline.
Actually, the current size of the cars seemed much to the liking of some of the politicians invited to the event. “I feel like Godzilla!” exclaimed Miami-Dade Commissioner Esteban “Steve” Bovo, towering over the models and — prudently, after the cameras finished clicking — launching a ferocious mock swipe at them.
While Bovo relived his childhood fantasies of terrorizing Tokyo, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez had more practical concerns, carefully inspecting his ceremonial first Brightline boarding pass. “Is this first class?” he inquired.
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Ground broke on new stations and upgraded track for All Aboard Florida late last year. The privately owned and operated line plans to run 16 round-trip trains a day between Miami and Orlando, with stops in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, covering the 235-mile route in about three hours.
Left to their own devices, people prefer their own devices.
All Aboard Florida president Michael Reininger
Monday's disclosures included the Brightline name and a color scheme to match — cars painted vivid shades of red, orange, green, blue and pink. With yellow locomotives — because Florida.
The trains will have food and drink service, reserved seating, facilities for carrying pets and free Wi-Fi service and power outlets at every seat, because “left to their own devices, people prefer their own devices,” Reininger said.
Initially the company will operate five four-car trains carrying up to 240 passengers apiece, expanding to 10 seven-car trains with a capacity for 356 passengers apiece by mid-2018. They'll travel at speeds between 79 mph and 125 mph — not quite meeting the 150 mph industry definition of “high speed,” but considerably faster than ordinary passenger service.
All Aboard Florida plans to start carrying passengers in mid-2017, but only between Miami and West Palm Beach. Service to Orlando is scheduled to start late that year.
Reininger said, however, that the Miami-West Palm Beach service is no mere dress rehearsal but a serious moneymaker that may also unclog South Florida's highways a little bit.
“There are millions of trips being taken right now between those two metropolitan centers,” he said. “And they're all being taken on I-95. We can get some of that business.”