Transit Briefs: Sound Transit, MassDOT, Brightline

Written by Carolina Worrell, Senior Editor
Sound Transit crews on Dec. 27 ran a light-rail vehicle dead-pull test, in which a train was pulled from station to station.

Sound Transit crews on Dec. 27 ran a light-rail vehicle dead-pull test, in which a train was pulled from station to station.

Sound Transit reaches milestone on Hilltop Tacoma Link Extension. Also, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) conducts Northern Tier Passenger Rail Study to examine North Adams-Boston rail service; and Brightline resumes 110 mph testing through Martin and St. Lucie counties.

Sound Transit

Sound Transit announced Dec. 30 that another milestone on the Hilltop Tacoma Link Extension project has been reached with the completion of a light-rail vehicle dead-pull test followed by live-wire testing, both of which went well, the agency reported.

According to Sound Transit, which is unable to give an update on the project’s opening date, the agency will be conducting more train and track system testing in early January, along with performing traffic signal modification, completing overhead wiring work and installing crosswalks, among other activities.


MassDOT is conducting the Northern Tier Passenger Rail Study to “examine the costs, benefits and investments necessary to implement passenger rail service from North Adams to Greenfield and Boston,” according to a News10 report.

According to the agency, the study “looks to ensure future rail service would have the speed, frequency and reliability necessary to be a competitive travel option along this corridor.”

According to the News10 report, MassDOT will hold a virtual public workshop for the study on Wednesday, January 11, at 6 p.m., in which the Northern Tier Passenger Rail Study team will present “two initial service plan alternatives and evaluation framework.”

According to the News10 report, feedback received during the meeting will be used to “develop four additional service plan alternatives as part of the project’s second phase.” The meeting materials will also be available after the meeting on the study website.


Brightline recently announced that 110 mph train testing through Martin and St. Lucie counties will resume Friday, Jan. 6.

Testing, which will continue through Jan. 23, will take place along an 11-mile section of track in Martin and St. Lucie counties, with flaggers and law enforcement present at five of the railroad crossings (Walton Road and Riverview Drive in St. Lucie County; and County Line Road, Skyline Drive and Pitchford Landing in Martin County) where trains will operate at high speeds. Testing is expected to bring additional wait times.

Brightline began high-speed testing in the Treasure Coast in October reaching top speeds of 110 mph, marking “the fastest a train has traveled in the state of Florida.” Brightline has also completed 79 mph testing through St. Lucie, Indian River and Brevard counties. High-speed testing, in preparation for opening to Orlando in 2023, is occurring in phases along the 129-mile rail corridor between West Palm Beach and Cocoa.

Below is a video released by Brightline that features the 110-mph testing and highlights the safety improvements at crossings throughout the testing corridor.

According to Brightline, the railroad has made crucial safety improvements at all 156 railroad crossings along the corridor. At the crossings in this testing area, all safety improvements have been installed. Those improvements, Brightline says, vary per crossing, but may include new crossing gates, signal systems, pedestrian gates, pavement markings and roadway profiles. Where trains will operate at 110 mph, all crossings have quad gates or medians to prevent motorists from driving around lowered crossing gates.

Brightline has also launched a new safety website, which includes updated safety content, PSAs and a virtual pledge.

Brightline currently serves Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, with stations in Aventura and Boca Raton having just opened at the end of 2022. The Orlando station will begin service in 2023.

Brightline also plans to bring its service to additional city pairs and congested corridors across the country that are “too close to fly and too long to drive.” Plans are currently in the works to connect Las Vegas to Southern California.

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