Brightline proposes Orlando-Tampa HSR

Written by Mischa Wanek-Libman, Editor, Railway Track & Structures; and Engineering Editor, Railway Age
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The state of Florida has opened the process for development of its first high-speed rail line.

The Florida Department of Transportation and the Central Florida Expressway Authority (CFX) received an unsolicited proposal to lease property owned by the state and CFX to build a high-speed route along Interstate 4. FDOT says that, based on the unsolicited proposal, it is initiating an open, transparent procurement process for any interested private entities.

Brightline, the subsidiary of Florida East Coast Industries now operating higher-speed  passenger service between Miami and West Palm Beach, confirmed it submitted the unsolicited proposal.

“As one of the nation’s fastest growing regions, Tampa Bay is a natural extension for Brightline. Our state’s residents, visitors and economy will benefit tremendously from a fully connected passenger rail system that includes our current operations in South Florida and our future line to Orlando. We are currently engaged in the RFP process, which is the first step needed to extend the system to the Tampa Bay region,” said Patrick Goddard, president and COO of Brightline.

“The department is committed to creating a robust transportation system that meets Florida’s current and future needs,” said FDOT Secretary Mike Dew. “Privately-funded passenger rail will provide residents and visitors a transportation choice for one of the busiest corridors in the state.”

Brightline was created with the intention of providing high-speed service from Miami to Orlando. The company since early spring has been operating revenue trains in South Florida, but its high-speed aspirations have run into opposition from both residents and  politicians. The company has also seen a number of senior executives come and go in the past year.

Parties interested in leasing FDOT and CFX owned rights-of-way to establish privately-funded passenger rail service between Orlando and Tampa will have 120 days to submit proposals after the RFP is released.

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