Brightline this week heralded a milestone — arrival of its second train — and at the same time announced an apparent setback: When passenger service commences in July it will be even more limited than previously announced.
Instead of carryingpassengers between West Palm Beach and MiamiCentral, a sprawling downtown-Miami rail station with commercial, retail and residential space, Brightline in late July will begin service only between Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach.
Service is to expand to Miami in late August, when work on MiamiCentral is complete, according to Brightline. Stations in West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale are “nearing completion,” Brightline said in a news release.
The project’s second phase, full service to Orlando, is at least several years away, with service commencing in 2019 at the earliest, the company estimated in January. On Monday, Brightline said it is “currently finalizing permitting and will have a better idea of timing to Orlando after operations begin this summer.”
The project has faced opposition from Treasure Coast residents who say the railroad would endanger the public and the environment. It is facing lawsuits by Martin and Indian River counties.
Meanwhile, BrightPink, Brightline’s second completed passenger train, on Monday afternoon rolled through the Treasure Coast on the final leg of its trip from California to the railroad’s maintenance facility in West Palm Beach.
The four-car, two-locomotive train — named for its vivid hue — passed through Vero Beach at 3:45 p.m. and Stuart at 4:25 p.m. The passenger railroad’s first train, BrightBlue, was delivered Dec. 14, but rolled through the region in the early-morning hours.
BrightPink and BrightBlue are the first in Brightline’s five-train fleet that will run along the Florida East Coast Railway tracks, eventually between Miami and Orlando.
BrightRed, BrightOrange and BrightGreen are to be delivered from manufacturer Siemens’ Sacramento plant every six weeks, with all five trains assembled in West Palm Beach by early July, according to Michael Cahill, president, Rail Systems Division.
Brightline said it will hold a grand opening and official launch of the railroad in September.