Vacationing, doing business, commuting or otherwise traveling between Orlando and Miami is about to get easier.
A new passenger rail system called Brightline will connect Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Orlando along a 235-mile route. The privately owned, $3 billion project is slated to start service in 2017.
Driving from Miami to Orlando takes about four hours. All Aboard Florida’s Brightline train will allow passengers to cover that same distance in about three hours — while reading, relaxing or simply enjoying a more productive way to travel.
The trains, designed by the Rockwell Group, are being built in Sacramento by Siemens. Construction has begun on stations in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach and on connecting urban centers that developers hope will become dining and shopping destinations. Another station will be next to Orlando International Airport.
All Aboard Florida and tourism officials say the trains and their stations could transform travel throughout Florida, one of the country’s most populous states. Providing trains as an alternative could ease congestion on the roads and alleviate pressure on crowded airports.
All Aboard Florida will transport passengers at between 79 and 125 miles per hour — a speed similar to that of the popular Acela Express that serves the Northeast. Construction includes new track between Orlando and Cocoa, as well as, new signal systems, upgraded crossings, double tracking and other improvements for the existing stretch between Cocoa and Miami.
“Half of our business is international,” says William Talbert, president and CEO of the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau. “To connect Miami and those other three communities by train makes it convenient, affordable, clean and safe to travel. It gives the visitor options that we haven’t had before.”
Trains were the primary mode of transportation in the USA until after World War II, when cars and airlines took over the roads and skies. Federally funded Amtrak has remained the predominant interstate passenger train system, but it does not offer the kind of high-speed service found in Europe and Asia.
There’s been a recent resurgence in interest in trains, particularly among younger travelers, says Jim Wallington, a train expert at America by Rail, which promotes train travel.
“This younger generation is less car prone,” he says. “They are not buying cars like we used to, and they are demanding that there be alternate transportation.”
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