Train control safety rule stalls Tri-Rail to Miami
Another roadblock has temporarily stalled Tri-Rail trains from steaming into Miami Central Station, which they were predicted to do by the end of this year.
“I’ve stopped making predictions” about when they will roll into downtown Miami, said Steven L. Abrams, executive director of the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority, the Tri-Rail’s parent.
Florida East Coast Railway, which owns the Brightline commuter service that runs from Miami to Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, must apply to have its Positive Train Control (PTC) system certified by the federal government. Once it’s approved, “We will apply to be a tenant on their tracks,” Mr. Abrams said. “We are dependent on their certification.”
PTC, a system of electronic controls intended to prevent train accidents, is mandated by the government and is manufactured by various companies. Tri-Rail’s existing system isn’t compatible with the system Florida East Coast Railway uses, so Tri-Rail must adopt that system on its locomotives and also install it on alongside the tracks.
“We have full control over our locomotives and we’ll install their different system in them, as well as on the wayside, but they control their tracks,” Mr. Abrams said. “We’re waiting on their start-up.”
In February, Bonnie Arnold, Tri-Rail spokesperson, said many issues had been resolved at MiamiCentral, Brightline’s station. Tri-Rail has two sets of tracks there; Brightline three.
“We’ve solved the level-boarding issue,” Ms. Arnold said then. “As soon as they let us know that 90% of their work is done on the tracks, we can get in there and finish the rest.”
Rail partners have invested $70 million to establish the Tri-Rail Downtown Miami Link, funding 26 trains and 9 miles of new rail infrastructure. The 450-person-capacity trains will provide a one-seat ride to and from downtown Miami and the West Palm Beach area, with stops all up and down the coast.
Computer-simulated models predict an outpouring of interest from new riders and regulars alike for the daily Tri-Rail trips. About 2,000 riders from Fort-Lauderdale and West Palm Beach would be flocking to downtown Miami on day one alone, of whom 1,000 riders are expected to be first-time passengers, those models predicted.