News & Reviews News Wire Brightline to resume 110-mph testing in two Florida counties on Friday

Brightline to resume 110-mph testing in two Florida counties on Friday

By Trains Staff | November 14, 2022

| Last updated on February 11, 2024

Tests are in preparation for expansion to Orlando

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A streamlined passenger train on a double-tracked mainline with palm trees in the background.
Brightline is resuming 110-mph testing in two Florida counties. David Lassen

ORLANDO, Fla. — Brightline will resume 110-mph testing of its passenger trains in Florida’s Martin and St. Lucie counties beginning this Friday, Nov. 18, the company has announced.

Testing is scheduled Friday through Sunday, Nov. 20, from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Flaggers and law enforcement officers will be present at five grade crossings during the testing: Walton Road and Riverview Drive in St. Lucie County; and County Line Road, Skyline Drive (County Road 722), and Pitchford Landing in Martin County.

Initial testing at 110 mph began in October as part of preparations for expansion of Brightline service between West Palm Beach and Orlando, planned in 2023. The company has also held testing at 79 mph through Melbourne, Cocoa, and Rockledge in Brevard County. Testing will continue in phases toward 110-mph operation along the 129-mile segment between West Palm Beach and Cocoa.

Brightline has launched a new safety website as part of its expansion; it is available here.

6 thoughts on “Brightline to resume 110-mph testing in two Florida counties on Friday

  1. it’s interesting how the yellow paint above the cab windows emulates the air intakes of the 1930’s Burlington Zephyrs.

    1. Henry Flagler would be proud. Flagler only built the FEC as a way to sell Florida as a destination for northeastern travellers. He wanted to sell them long hotel stays, land and housing. In some ways, he invented the “snowbird.”

  2. Technically, Brightline “owns” a few train sets, some real estate and a line between Cocoa and Orlando and a lot of bond based debt. They also own an exclusive contractual right to run passenger rail on FEC tracks in segments between Miami all the way to Jacksonville.

    The FEC still owns everything between Miami and Cocoa, Brightline simply paid FEC to have the additional rails and bridge upgrades and gets concessions on the per mile usage rate FEC charges them to run on their rails. It’s a real weird horse trading deal between the two. Since the ROW is broken up into service segments, Brightline pays a per mile rate to FEC for the use of each segment.

    The only exception is the Cocoa-Orlando segment, which is owned by Brightline outright. (But the land under the ROW is leased from the tollroad authority) If the FEC wanted to run an overnight freight job to Orlando from Port Canaveral, then the FEC pays Brightline a freight based per mile rate to use the ROW. (and yes this will happen, its in Brightline’s financial forecast for the segment)

    If Brightline’s parent company (All Aboard Florida) were to go sideways, the trainsets and real estate will be easy to unwind. The high performance rails and signaling between Miami and Cocoa would be a bit harder for the bondholders to recapture value as the FEC will be using them and they are owned by Ferromex now. If no one were to bid on the Cocoa-Orlando segment to take it over, the rails would probably be pulled to satisfy the bondholders interest. The contract for exclusive passenger rail rights would probably be put up for bid or sold to a government entity.

    I am not being fatalistic here, just explaining how complex the whole All Aboard Florida/Brightline/FEC corporate and contractual structure is. Fortress Investment aka Softbank now has really pieced together a web of corporate structures that maximize revenue, but also make it palatable to the bondholders.

    I wish them all the success in the world and hopefully, their business model (if it does become successful) will serve as a motivator or model for profitable private passenger rail in the US.

    1. I agree. As I understand it, the Brightline business model combines real estate development with passenger rail. Passenger rail access make the properties more desirable, and some of the property revenues support the rail service. Also, Brightline has no publicly-traded stock, so the Cult-of-the-Operating Ratio can’t force short-sighted decisions that accomplish short-term gain at the price of long-term damage.

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