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Front Page » Transportation » Tri-Rail into downtown Miami awaits Brightline’s action

Tri-Rail into downtown Miami awaits Brightline’s action

Written by on December 3, 2019
Tri-Rail into downtown Miami awaits Brightline’s action

Thousands of would-be downtown commuters wait anxiously to learn when Tri-Rail trains will roll into Miami Central station, and they aren’t alone.

The South Florida Regional Transportation Authority, Tri-Rail’s parent, must wait for Florida East Coat Railway, which owns the Brightline commuter service, to have its Positive Train Control (PTC) system certified by the federal government before it can move forward.

PTC is a federally mandated safety system that must be installed and running in all US trains and along tracks by December 2020. The system Tri-Rail uses isn’t consistent with the one Florida East Coast Railway uses, but there are ways to make them interoperable.

Once Brightline’s PTC is certified, “We will apply to be a tenant on their tracks,” said Steven L. Abrams, authority executive director, in June. “We are dependent on their certification.”

Brightline hasn’t given Tri-Rail officials any indication of how the process is going, Mr. Abrams said this week. “PTC is very costly and complicated to install. We talk with them frequently and we ask, but we don’t know. I’m sure they’re working on it very diligently, because nobody wants to face the consequences of missing the 2020 deadline.”

Brightline was contacted for comment on this story, but no response had been received by press time.

In February, Bonnie Arnold, former 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 TriRail Downtown Miami Link, funding 26 trains and 9 miles of new rail infrastructure. The 450-person 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.

Early computer-simulated models predicted 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.

6 Responses to Tri-Rail into downtown Miami awaits Brightline’s action

  1. Macacovelho Reply

    December 4, 2019 at 4:37 pm

    I will be of those 1,000 new riders. I just moved from downtown Miami to Hollywood for the more affordable real estate, but continue to work downtown.

    I am somewhat lucky that I use an electric car and therefore get to use the 95 Express for free, but it really doesn’t alleviate that much. I’m saving around 10-15 minutes average on a 50minute commute. I would be very annoyed to pay 20.00/day to save just 10 minutes. I don’t understand how so many people take the express everyday. Maybe they are fooling the carpool system, riding for free also. I heard it’s easy to do.

    I’ll be the first one to get on the Tri-Rail. I am not surprised by Virgin’s stalling, as it doesnt benefit them to have TriRail take away their train’s traffic. But what they should realize is that they’ll get a lot more traffic in their stores, and even possibly real estate, which is where they will be making most of their money, anyhow. Just look at Hong Kong’s model.

  2. Richard S Webster Reply

    December 4, 2019 at 5:33 pm

    The writer needs to get his facts straight. Florida East Coast Railway does not own Brightline. They are 2 separate companies.

  3. Michael Gleason Reply

    December 4, 2019 at 9:46 pm

    Miami-Dade County must freeze development of Virgin/Brightline stations at Aventura, PortMiami, or any intermediate point until such time as Tri-Rail service is fully implemented along the FEC Corridor.

  4. Carlos Reply

    December 5, 2019 at 4:11 am

    Welcome to the 21 century! SHAME SHOULD to Key West.

  5. Daniel Teigman Reply

    December 5, 2019 at 4:15 pm

    I almost never comment on a story, but here I must. It’s hard to overestimate the importance of Tri-Rail reaching MiamiCentral. For eco-aware commuters like me, taking the local train to all stops from Miami to West Palm Beach really is without precedent — for work and for recreation.

    When MiamiCentral opened a few years ago I was excited to see the downtown Tri-Rail signage. At the time, Tri-Rail’s arrival in Miami was a major part of the marketing pitch. I was totally on board. Pardon the pun.

    Now, the signage is a reminder of how slow things move in this state and the US at large. Sitting at this end of the keyboard, as other countries like China and India invest in high speed rail or related infrastructure projects, we in the US languish.

    What happened to the country I was born in? What happened to our ability to dream big and execute bigger? Maybe I’m still sulking in the post-Apollo anniversary glow, celebrating what we could do a half century ago but no longer. I just hope the December 2020 deadline isn’t missed and that just maybe, Tri-Rail will grace MiamiCentral with its presence sometime soon. As a writer there’s nothing like beating a deadline.

    Bottom line: the moon was 238,900 miles from Cape Canaveral. Miami is 72 miles from West Palm. This shouldn’t be that difficult.

    When Miami’s Tri-Rail train finally come in, I look forward to riding it.

  6. Dawson Allen Reply

    December 8, 2019 at 3:46 am

    The new Brightline stations in South Florida are very exciting, and the prospect of Tri-Rail trains in downtown Miami even moreso. Congratulations to everyone advancing this worthy project.

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