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.
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.”