President Joe Biden’s favorite mode of transportation, Amtrak, is about to lose its monopoly in some parts of the country.
Brightline, the nation’s only private rail company, will launch a high-speed service from Miami to Orlando in the coming weeks that will cut commuting in half.
The Brightline Florida connection between the two cities, which cost $6 billion to build, will reach speeds in excess of 125 miles per hour in some areas — the fastest train outside of the Acela service Northeast Corridor, which stretches from Washington, DC and Boston extends.
The 170-mile rail service will offer 16 daily round-trip flights between downtown Miami and Orlando International Airport later this year. Tickets start at $79 and go up to $149 for first-class seats.
Amtrak currently offers two daily train rides between Miami and Orlando, ranging in price from $39 to $49 and typically taking six hours and 19 minutes. A faster Amtrak Silver Service train can make the journey in just over five hours.
Brightline began operations five years ago when it opened a 67-mile route from Miami to West Palm Beach – the first privately funded passenger railroad to be built in the United States in more than a century.
The company also plans to eventually connect Orlando with Tampa.
Fortress Investment Group, a private equity firm co-founded by billionaire Milwaukee Bucks owner Wes Edens and Randal Nardone, owns the Brightline service.
Eden said the Washington Post that Florida’s intercity expansion will serve as a sort of blueprint for the company’s ambitions to replicate a similar railroad build in the west.
Rail construction for a bullet train line between Los Angeles and Las Vegas is slated to begin later this year after federal funding for the $12 billion project, known as Brightline West, was withdrawn from regulators under Biden’s $2.2 trillion infrastructure deal -dollar has been approved.
The all-electric bullet train will carry passengers at nearly 200 miles per hour along the 218-mile route, completing the trip from Las Vegas to Rancho Cucamonga in two hours and 10 minutes.
The line, scheduled to open in late 2027 or early 2028, will include stops in Hesperia, California and Victor Valley, California.
“Florida is version 1.0 and we think it’s a great 1.0,” Edens told the Washington Post.
“Version 2.0, the Vegas to LA high-speed line, is, in our opinion, the true embodiment of what a high-speed line can and should be like,” said Edens.
“And that’s the system that people will look at and emulate when they look at building systems across the country.”
Brightline’s Florida service has had some problems.
At least 88 people have died in collisions involving Brightline trains since the company began operations in 2017. The company was not held responsible for any of these deaths.
Investigators said the deaths could have been the result of either suicides or pedestrians and drivers who broke traffic rules by skirting border barriers to overtake the oncoming train instead of waiting for it to pass.
The trains travel at speeds of up to 79 miles per hour through dense urban and suburban areas on a 70-mile route between Miami and West Palm Beach, which they share with the Freight Line on Florida’s east coast.
An AP analysis found that Brightline averages about one death for every 35,000 miles its trains travel, three times that of the nearest mid-sized or large rail company.
In response to the accidents, Brightline installed infrared detectors to warn engineers if anyone is near the tracks so they can slow down or stop.
The company has also added more fences and green space to make access to the tracks more difficult.
The Post has reached out to Amtrak for comment.
With post wires