Trains are now set to start operating on the new line in 2023.
Florida’s Brightline began operating test trains on a 130-mile section of line between West Palm Beach and Cocoa on Jan. 18, as work continues ahead of the introduction of services on the full 235-mile Miami-Orlando route.
One round trip is expected to operate every day this year. Known as qualifying trains, these are federally approved non-passenger carrying services that enable engineers and conductors to learn the route of the new line.
The trains are currently only permitted to operate at a maximum speed of 60 mph, the same as freight trains.
Brightline says construction on its 170-mile Orlando extension is more than 70% complete, with more than 1,300 people employed on the project. The operator expects to reach substantial completion of the extension by the end of year, with services now starting in early 2023 rather than late 2022 as was hoped.
Brightline has ordered five new trains from Siemens Mobility for the new route, with the first delivered from the manufacturer’s plant in Sacramento in October. The push-pull trains are formed of four coaches and two 3MW Charger SBC-40 diesel-electric locomotives at each end. All five will be delivered by this summer, and will initially be used on the existing 67-mile Miami-West Palm Beach Brightline service.