This month let me introduce readers to a developing Florida rapid rail transit that will change the traveling habits of many folks. Brightline is an express passenger train service that is currently being built that will connect Miami with Orlando International Airport.

Brightline will be using and upgrading the existing Florida East Coast freight rail tracks that now pass through Brevard County and connects Jacksonville and Miami. 

Brightline will also build a new 40-mile stretch of rail tracks going west of Cocoa along State Road 528, ending just east of Orlando International Airport. 

Right now, it takes about 4 hours to drive from Orlando International Airport to Miami. 

Brightline rail promises to cut that travel time to 3 hours. Anticipated operating speed for the express trains are up to 79 miles per hour from Miami to West Palm Beach, up to 110 miles per hour from West Palm Beach to Cocoa, and up to 125 miles per hour from Cocoa to Orlando International Airport. The target date for opening full Brightline rail service from Miami to Orlando International Airport is late 2017 or early 2018.

At this time, there are only four planned stops on the rail service. New stations for these stops are being built in Miami, West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale and Orlando International Airport. The airport station will be part of a much larger transportation complex that will fill the needs of the airport’s growth. 

As you drive west along SR 528 to Orlando airport, you can begin to see the ongoing construction of this new express rail service. Will there be any stops in the future in Brevard County? Only if there is a demand, and time will tell. Driving from Brevard to Miami on I-95 takes about 3 hours so the demand for a stop in Brevard may not develop. 

The interesting thing about this project is that it is completely funded by Florida East Coast Industries, all private money. There are no funds for this rail system from either the federal government nor the state of Florida. 

Florida East Coast Railway’s story is rich with history, beginning with an entrepreneurial spirit that pioneered the glory days of rail travel. The company owes its roots to Henry M. Flagler, a name synonymous with growth and development for the state.

For more information about the Brightline train service, go to gobrightline.com

To read more of my previous Central Florida travel stories, go to travel.myseniorlife.com