Today marks the official start of Brightline’s passenger rail service between Orlando and Miami. The first train, Bright Pink, arrived in Orlando at 11:05 a.m. and was greeted by more than 500 elected officials, business leaders, community partners and company leaders from across the state. The celebration put an exclamation point on the boldest private infrastructure project in the nation and marks the revitalization of Henry Flagler’s original vision for the Florida East Coast Railway. A decade in the making, Brightline’s launch is poised to reinvent train travel in America and offers a blueprint to connect city pairs that are too short to fly and too far to drive.
First New Privately Funded Passenger Rail Service in a Century
The start of service was celebrated at the Brightline Orlando Station with guests who joined Brightline’s Founder Wes Edens, CEO Mike Reininger and President Patrick Goddard. Upon the train's arrival, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer greeted guests on the platform and presented the Key to the City to Edens who was joined by Reininger, Goddard and other Brightline representatives. Officials from the Federal Railroad Administration, the Florida Department of Transportation, Greater Orlando Aviation Authority, Central Florida Expressway Authority and more, were present to greet the first train.
Brightline launched operations in South Florida in 2018, connecting Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. Stations in Boca Raton and Aventura opened last year. Construction on its 170 mile extension from West Palm Beach to Orlando began in 2019. The $6 billion project has generated substantial economic benefits in Florida creating 10,000 jobs and approximately $6.4 billion in direct economic impact to the region. Construction teams worked more than seven million hours over the course of four years to complete the project.
Brightline covers 235 miles between Miami and Orlando and the new route will take between 3 and 3.5 hours depending on South Florida station stops.
BRIGHTLINE TRAINS AND STATIONS
Brightline has quickly become known for its guest experience, innovative station design, spacious lounges and comfortable train sets. Designed by The Rockwell Group, and set with Brightline’s signature yellow, the stations are meticulously built through the lens of today’s modern traveler. All stations and trains are packed with amenities including Starlink Wifi, chargers and outlets at every seat, and a selection of food, beverage and cocktails available for purchase for SMART and complimentary for PREMIUM. Guests can enjoy a wide selection of light bites, beverages and cocktails throughout the day at one of Brightline’s signature in-station Mary Mary Bars or pick up last-minute gifts, sundries and refreshments at one of the MRKT shopping retail locations.
The new Brightline Orlando Station in partnership with Orlando Health, is located at MCO’s 37,350 square foot Train Station adjacent to its new Terminal C. This is the only intercity passenger rail station of its kind to be located in a U.S. airport and stands three-stories tall, including a 72,000 square feet platform area, making it the company’s largest train station. The Train Station connects directly to the airport’s Parking Garage C, which will have more than 350 parking spaces marked for Brightline guests. The Train Station provides direct access to the other airport terminals A and B via the airport Terminal Link (automated people mover) in under five minutes.
MiamiCentral is strategically located on an 11-acre complex in downtown Miami and represents Brightline’s southern flagship terminus. MiamiCentral is a unique live-work-play destination featuring luxury rental residences, commercial offices and dynamic retail and entertainment space. Guest’s looking to connect have a number of options including Brightline+, the Miami Metromover and Metrorail which are both connected to the station.
Brightline trainsets were made in partnership with Siemens Mobility in Sacramento, Calif. The stainless-steel coaches are made with components from more than 160 suppliers across 27 states. They are designed for luxury and comfort, featuring special ergonomic seating, contemporary communication systems and enhanced Wi-Fi. Thanks to wide aisles, wheelchair storage and fully accessible restrooms, the Venture trainset exceeds ADA requirements from end to end.
THE CONSTRUCTION OF BRIGHTLINE FLORIDA
Brightline’s Orlando extension showcases engineering skill, cutting edge technology and design to create a transportation system that redefines intercity travel.
The Orlando expansion project included 56 bridges, including 18 new bridges, three underpasses, drainage installations, track and signalization installation and 60 track miles of new rail. Over the four years of construction, upgrades and improvements were made to three underpasses and 156 railroad crossings. Engineering of double track under active airport taxiways and tug roads and a new 35-mile rail alignment along the Beachline Expressway/SR 528, were also made.
The expansion to Orlando also included the development of Basecamp, a $100 million state-of-the-art train maintenance facility situated on 62-acres south of Orlando International Airport (MCO). The facility operates 24/7, servicing trains with skilled engineers, conductors, technicians and inspectors.
ECONOMIC AND ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT
Brightline’s phase I and II construction along with the launch of service have and will have an indelible impact on the state's economy. Independent studies show the combination of construction and operations will generate more than 10,000 jobs, 2,000 permanent jobs and over $6.4 billion in direct economic impact to the state. The system is expected to have a major impact on Florida’s travel and workforce industries while bringing a sustainable transportation alternative. Environmental benefits are equally impressive and include reduced highway and city congestion and CO2 emissions by an estimated 72,000 metric tons per year. Studies show the system will remove more than three million cars from roadways each year.
INNOVATIVE TECHNOLOGY AND MOBILITY OPTIONS
In 2022, Brightline launched a concierge service to connect guests to and from stations with Brightline+. The mobility service, powered by the Brightline app, makes planning a trip with Brightline from start to finish seamless through its add-on options available within the booking platform. Ground transportation and mobility options at the Orlando Station will cater to the unique needs of the Orlando visitor with new Brightline+ products including MEARS shuttles, Uber rideshare and car rental options through Avis. Upon booking a Brightline ticket, guests will receive confirmation email and instructions on how to add extras, such as parking, checked baggage, and Brightline+ mobility options available closer to their trip date.
Brightline recently unveiled a new digital experience for guests featuring a redesigned website and native mobile app available for iOS and Android devices. The enhanced guest journey is driven by a cutting-edge backend system, modern and intuitive design, and multiple additional upgraded features. Introduced ahead of expanded service connecting Miami and Orlando, the new digital journey transforms the booking process into a fast, dependable and frictionless system.
THE FUTURE OF HIGH SPEED RAIL IS BRIGHT
Brightline’s Orlando expansion is the newest transportation milestone for the company that has bold plans to transform high-speed rail in the U.S. on the West Coast, through Brightline West. Brightline West will be the nation’s first true high-speed rail network with fully electric trains operating at top speeds of 200 mph. Slated to break ground by the end of 2023, the line will connect millions of people traveling between Los Angeles and Las Vegas, annually.
“FRA congratulates Brightline on opening their new Orlando station, and we're eager to see more Floridians and riders benefit from the transportation options this station and route will provide, We know more Americans want and deserve world-class passenger rail, and when those services are fast, frequent, and efficient, that means greater convenience, less congestion on highways and at airports, and cleaner air in local communities. Whether through financial support or our role as a safety regulatory, FRA is proud to support efforts that make these benefits a reality for more people.” - FRA Deputy Administration Jennifer Mitchell
“As Governor of Florida, I was proud to work with Brightline to deliver reliable rail in our state without putting Florida taxpayers on the hook. Today’s grand opening of Brightline’s new Orlando station shows that Florida was right to embrace private rail partners and is great news for Florida families, businesses and the over one hundred million tourists who visit our state each year.” - Senator Rick Scott
“New intercity rail has eluded Florida for years. We’re proud to work with Brightline to finally get it done. This new line will be a major part of our vision for the future of Central Florida transportation, will soon begin connecting Orlando to West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, and Miami. Millions of Floridians and tourists alike will benefit from the great public-private partnership that made this project possible. As we look to what’s ahead, we are proud that the next leg of Brightline service to Tampa is already in the design phase thanks to a $16 million CRISI grant we helped secure for the Sunshine Corridor.” - Congressman Darren Soto, Florida’s 9th District
“Over the last century, America has perfected the automobile and pioneered space exploration, but we’ve barely budged in terms of passenger rail. Today is an historic event for Brightline and the state of Florida that represents a decade of hard work and determination. This moment also marks the beginning of a new industry and outlines a blueprint for expanding high-speed rail in America.“ - Wes Edens, co-founder of Fortress Investment Group, owner of Brightline
“This is an historic day for Brightline and the team that worked diligently over these past 10 years to bring the project to reality. We are charting a new path for innovation and transportation, and people are responding as we knew they would. I am excited to see millions of guests choose a smarter way to travel.” – Mike Reininger, CEO of Brightline
“Brightline’s Orlando Station sets a new benchmark for transportation between two of Florida’s busiest regions, with a seamless, convenient experience that caters to today’s modern traveler. We’ve curated an experience – both in our gleaming stations and onboard our trains – that exceeds the benefit of time-savings, alone. It’s comfortable and unique, and we are looking forward to welcoming guests onboard.” - Patrick Goddard, president of Brightline
We’re proud to see the advancement of our community with the start of Brightline train service today, making this important connection between our city and Miami, two of Florida’s busiest city centers, a reality. This new service is a transformational step forward in the future of transportation in our community and just the beginning as we continue to work to expand and advance our mobility options and network. Today we provide a critical piece of that network, connecting our Orlando International Airport and multimodal hub, providing access to jobs and opportunity, supporting future growth and improving the lives of our residents, workers and travelers.” - Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer
“Congratulations to Brightline for reaching this historic milestone. This intercity connectivity of high-speed commuter rail will serve as a catalyst for business development, as well as improve the prospects of intracity commuter rail for Orange County residents.” – Orange County Mayor Jerry L. Demings
“A multimodal vision of planes, trains and automobiles inspired by Orlando International Airport leaders nearly 50 years ago has come to fruition, making this a truly historic day in Florida transportation. We warmly welcome Brightline and the beginning of intercity high-speed rail service, which will provide mobility for the unprecedented growth our region is seeing and promote economic activity that benefits us all.” – Kevin J. Thibault, Chief Executive Officer, Greater Orlando Aviation Authority
Brightline is the only provider of modern, eco-friendly, higher-speed rail service in America. The company currently serves Miami, Aventura, Fort Lauderdale, Boca Raton, West Palm Beach and Orlando. Brightline was recognized by Fast Company as one of the Most Innovative Companies in Travel and included in Condé Nast Traveler’s 2023 Hot List for the best new ways to travel. Offering a guest-first experience designed to reinvent train travel and take cars off the road, Brightline plans to bring its award-winning service to additional city pairs and congested corridors across the country that are too close to fly and too long to drive, with immediate plans to connect Las Vegas to Southern California. For more information, visit www.gobrightline.com and follow them on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
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