As the new year begins, we’re betting All Aboard Florida’s plans for an intercity rail system in Florida will continue to be one of our top business stories.
Here are five things you need to know about the massive project.
1. It’s truly massive. The downtown Miami station is slated to have a footprint that spans six city blocks. The West Palm Beach station will be 60,000 square feet, and it’s paired with a plan for a rail-side apartment complex.
2. You could ride a Brightline train by the end of 2017. The company plans to run 32 trains a day between Miami and Orlando with stops in West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale. Service between Miami and West Palm Beach is set to begin in 2017, with the West Palm-to-Orlando route set to open by the end of 2017.
3. Station construction already is happening. This month, engineers tested lighting for the signature V’s that mark the facade of its stations. Above-ground work is underway in Miami, and Florida East Coast Railway, All Aboard’s sister company, has been adding a second line of tracks along its route to accommodate both freight and passenger trains.
4. All Aboard Florida didn’t change its name to Brightline. Rather, Brightline is the official brand name of the rail line.
5. The project has its detractors. Citing safety and economic concerns, groups including Florida Not All Aboard and Citizens Against Rail Expansion have launched campaigns against All Aboard Florida. Martin and Indian River counties have pledged money to fight the rail line. Opponents also have fought to block the company from issuing bonds to pay for the project.