Broward County

The future of travel: Brightline express train debuts in West Palm Beach


Brightline, the company that will eventually zip passengers from Miami to Orlando, showed off the first of its five train sets Wednesday in West Palm Beach.

It was a preview of what’s to come in the summer, when express trains begin their regularly scheduled run between Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach stations. Run by Florida East Coast Industries subsidiary All Aboard Florida, the company intends to add service to Orlando in 2018 along a planned new rail spur into the city’s airport.

“We are excited to welcome our first Brightline trainset to Florida and provide a preview of the entire train,” said Mike Reininger, president of Brightline, in a statement. “Our trains are among the most innovative in the United States and the world, with every detail having been designed and built from the guest’s perspective, making it easy, convenient and comfortable to ride. We are looking forward to the launch of our new express, inter-city service this summer. South Florida is very close to experiencing the future of train travel, a new travel alternative as an option to private cars on crowded roads.”

Last month, two diesel engines and four passenger cars arrived in South Florida after traveling 3,052 miles across the country from the Siemens plant in Sacramento, California.

Each Brightline train set features one Select and three Smart coaches. The Select coach has wider seats, 21 inches, while the Smart coach seats are 19 inches wide. The Select coach has 49 seats and the Smart coach has 66. Single and double seats feature a drop-down task tray. Large windows are aligned with all seats to offer unobstructed scenic views. Brightline will also offer complimentary Wi-Fi, with built-in power outlets and USB connections to power devices.

While there are luggage towers in each coach for large carry-on bags, as well as overhead luggage racks and under-seat storage for small personal items, the last Smart coach provides a compartment for checked baggage.

The train will now begin undergoing testing along the Florida East Coast Railway line between West Palm Beach and Miami, the company said.

Construction of the MiamiCentral station — the southern hub for the new Brightline express train service to Orlando — has also been chugging full speed ahead in the middle of downtown Miami. The station, along four full city blocks just north of the Miami-Dade County Courthouse, is billed as Miami’s version of Manhattan’s Grand Central.

It will have glowing escalators leading up into a soaring, skylit concourse and train platforms that are elevated 50 feet above the streets. The station concourse will contain a marketplace of 20 restaurants and food stalls that will include local purveyors and well-known out-of-towners.

All Board Florida's bid to get high-speed trains from Miami to Orlando begins to take shape in downtown Miami.