Florida’s High-Speed Brightline Sets Its Sights On Tampa

Brightline Miami 6 photos
Photo: WESH
Miami Central StationWest Palm Beach StationBrightline InteriorBrightline OrlandoMiami Station
Thanks to favorable taxes and ample opportunities, Florida is experiencing unprecedented growth. With every vital Interstate clogged for hours each day, the state’s largest railroad is looking west. Tampa to Miami in 3 hours looks promising to the Sunshine State.
The democrats' massive spending bill has earmarked $66 billion for Amtrak’s modernization. But since this federalized network is only held accountable by Congress it will be decades before they change their archaic ways.

Instead, the Florida East Coast Railroad has made a successful return to inter-city service. An Amtrak train from Tampa to Orlando takes nearly 3 hours because it rides on ancient freight rails at speeds below 60 mph (97 kph). In fact, the last passenger train from Jacksonville to Miami ran a year before we landed on the moon.

Brightline Orlando
Photo: WDW News Today
Brightline has already opened glamorous new stations from Palm Beach to downtown Miami, and their terminal within Orlando International Airport is poised to open in a few weeks. With a top speed of 125 mph (201 kph), their quiet & efficient cars are a cooperation with Siemens. Interstate 4 is a misnomer because it runs soley within the state. Nevertheless, it seems to connect the state’s worst drivers. Having attended college adjacent to where the new tracks run, it will be a welcome relief for those of us who love our cars.

A 2-hour trip from Walt Disney World to Palm Beach has the potential to transform the Tampa-Lakeland-Orlando corridor into the nation’s next Mega-City. As such, Richard Branson lent his support by naming the project Virgin Trains Florida. Beardy Branson’s big eyes got the best of him, so this private venture has also assumed his anticipated route between Las Vegas and Victorville, California. Given the incredible fuel prices this holiday season, $23 is a nice respite to travel in luxury.

Polk county is bisected by I4, which is gridlocked twice daily. As reported by The Ledger, the county commissioners have voted to petition support from Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. His current Railroad Infrastructure program is budgeted at $361,978,796. Looking west from the Orlando attractions, the Central Florida Expressway Authority has already given support to use their right-of-way to build 17-miles of new rail. In an ideal situation, Amtrak could save Brightline a big chunk of cash by improving their dismal conditions within the state.

Miami Station
Photo: Florida East Coast Railway
This would allow Brightline to replicate the grandeur of the stations they have already opened. The new MiamiCentral terminal has resurrected a historic spot of Florida’s past. Located on the site of the original station (1896-1963), it routes local rail on street level with shops, dining, and entertainment. The upper concourse is dominated by marble and glass, giving tourists and long-distance riders a relaxing experience.

Orlando International Airport will be less than 3 hours away, with the train station being the focus of an entirely new Intermodal terminal. This connection to the people-mover allows tourists and business travelers to reach Intenational flights inside TSA security. The new train service shops are located south of the airport, and they have spurred job growth in the bustling medical complex operated by my Alma Mater: The University of Central Florida. When I was the Marketing Director at Eckler’s Corvette in Titusville, my hour-long daily commute would have been much nicer in a 15-minute train ride.

As the largest metropolitan area in Florida, the Tampa Bay area will soon enjoy the international connections offered by Orlando. A relaxing weekend trip to London-Heathrow (or even Gatwick) for a weekend will be a new opportunity for this Florida Man, so stay with us as America gets moving again.

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