The privately owned high-speed train company launched its long-awaited service out of Orlando on the morning of September 22, with the first train slated to leave Miami around 6:40 a.m. and pull into the Central Florida area around 10 a.m. However, a pedestrian was fatally struck on the track by another Brightline train, causing the operation to be suspended.
The crash occurred on the southbound track about a half-mile south of downtown Delray Beach while the train was en route to Miami. The incident reportedly delayed the inaugural Miami to Orlando service by roughly 30 minutes.
The launch of the new service has been a long time coming — around 11 years, to be exact. It's the first private, high-speed intercity passenger service to begin railway operations in America in 100 years, according to the Associated Press. The only other high-speed long-range trains in the U.S. are operated by government-owned Amtrak.
BREAKING! Delray Beach police are investigating a fatal collision involving a Brightline train and pedestrian at SE 2nd Ave and SE 4th St. Please avoid the area. pic.twitter.com/6Dn0zXtEqb— Delray Beach Police (@DelrayBeachPD) September 22, 2023
As noted by the AP, Friday would be the "first big test" of whether a privately owned high-speed passenger train service can succeed in the U.S.
Brightline has killed dozens of people across Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties since its 2017 debut (see: Death Train: A Timeline of Brightline Fatalities in South Florida). Most of those fatal incidents involved pedestrians struck while walking on the tracks.
The fatalities led the AP to dub Brightline the deadliest train service per mile in America.
Among other programs to improve safety, Brightline announced in August 2022 a $45 million federally funded project entailing the construction of "at least 33 miles of pedestrian protection features and supplemental safety measures." Brightline said it would upgrade its railway with fencing, better safety signage, and raised pavement markers, among other upgrades stretching from Brevard to Miami-Dade counties.
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