Brightline 110 mph high-speed train test runs begin on Space Coast

bright line It will soon begin testing at 110 mph in Brevard County, zipping through Cocoa, Rockledge, Melbourne, Palm Bay, Malabar, Grant Vulcaria and Mikko railroad crossings.

“Brightline trains take a mile to stop, which means by the time you see them, it’s too late,” Brightline spokeswoman Katie Mitzner said after a press conference on rail safety in downtown Melbourne on Tuesday morning.

“So you have to pay attention to all the traffic lights, even the crosswalk arms that come down at intersections. Get out your AirPods,” Mitzner said.

“‘See, hear and live’ is our word,” she said.

Brightline’s 110 mph Brevard test could begin as early as Friday and run daily from 9am to 7pm. The high-speed test period is expected to last for a week.

Officials celebrated the completion of the private rail company’s 170-mile new route last month. Connects Orlando and West Palm Beach, but does not stop at Brevard. A grand opening date for the Orlando-South Florida route has not been announced.

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Melbourne Police are distributing glossy chip cards to motorists and pedestrians with Brightline-related railroad crossing safety tips, Deputy Chief David Woltemeyer said. Some tips include:

  • Cross only at designated intersections.
  • Check both directions before crossing the tracks. Trains may enter from either direction at the same time.
  • Never drive a car or walk around a lowered gate.

Mitzner said drivers should expect longer wait times at railroad crossings during Brevard’s 110-mph test period. Sign installers will be placed at intersections where test trains will exceed 110 miles per hour.

Brightline passenger service began in 2018 between Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach stations. Construction of the Orlando Expansion Route began in June 2019. Last year, the company opened new stations at South Florida’s Boca Raton and Aventura stations.

A press conference for Brightline and Melbourne Police on Tuesday took place next to the New Haven Avenue intersection in downtown Melbourne, alongside an orange and white metal traffic barricade on the still-shuttered section of Depot Drive. This short section of road has remained closed since the company began construction of a new steel-concrete twin bridge that spans Crane Creek.

“Brightline trains between West Palm and Cocoa will have a top speed of 110 mph. That’s not a sustained speed, it’s the fastest it can run. So if it goes through downtown Melbourne, that speed will be somewhere in the 70 to 80 mph range,” Mitzner said after the press conference.

“To give some perspective, freight trains have a top speed of 60 mph,” Mitzner said.

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Waltmeyer said that under state law, drivers who do not obey railroad crossing signs can be fined $209 and have three points deducted from their driver’s license. Pedestrians can receive tickets for $67.

Waltmeyer said anyone who leaves a railroad crossing and walks along the tracks could be charged with trespassing and face up to 60 days in prison and a $500 fine.

Mitzner said no signposts will be posted between the University of Melbourne and Hibiscus Boulevard during the high-speed test period because trains will not exceed the 110 mph standard.

According to the company’s press release, the construction team worked more than 7 million hours on the Orlando Railroad extension “while battling the COVID-19 pandemic and supply chain shortages.”

Key to Brevard was construction work along the 129-mile Florida East Coast Rail Corridor between Cocoa and West Palm Beach. The crew then:

  • Added a second parallel track and upgraded the corridors to allow for speeds up to 110 mph.
  • Installed upgrades at 156 railroad crossings, including new barriers, signaling systems, pedestrian gates, road markings and road profiles.
  • Replaced 19 bridges including the St. Sebastian River, Goat Creek, Turkey Creek, Crane Creek, O’Gary River and Horse Creek.

In March, Brightline test trains reached 130 mph on the new 35-mile rail corridor along the Beachline highway between Orlando Airport and Cocoa.

“Having a station on the Space Coast has always been part of our vision,” Mitzner told the media. But for now, the company’s focus is on the launch of Orlando passenger services.

Rick Neal South Brevard Watchdog reporter for FLORIDA TODAY (for more on his story, visit click here.) Contact Neale at 321-242-3638 or twitter: @RickNeale1

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