A bright day for Florida and an even brighter one for rail transport in the United States.
January 13 marked the long-awaited launch of Brightline, the country’s first privately-owned passenger train service since the 1980s.
Initially the line will connect passengers from Fort Lauderdale to West Palm Beach in around 40 minutes, making use of the existing Florida East Coast Railway. Tickets cost either $10 for a smart service ticket or $15 for a select service ticket – which comes with seats that are two inches wider, complimentary drinks and snacks and access to a premium station lounge.
But connecting the two cities quicker than a journey by car isn’t the main selling point for what Brightline president, Patrick Goddard, describes as a “game-changing” service.
Free wi-fi, charging points, reclining seats, e-tickets, spacious aisles, leather seats, retractable gap fillers and baggage attendants. Brightline promises to set a “new benchmark” for train travel by concentrating on comfort and convenience to encourage motorists to ditch their cars for a mode of transport which currently plays a limited role in the nation’s transport network.
Its plans are big and bold – a stretch to Miami is due to open in 2018 and plans are well underway for an extension to Orlando – and so is Brightline’s brand with an eye-catching fleet of pink, red, orange, green and blue carriages and showcase partners such as Pepsi and the NBA’s Miami Heat.