Brightline to begin training runs between Cocoa, West Palm Beach

COCOA, Fla. — The plan to build a high-speed rail system connecting Miami and Orlando is set to take a critical step forward.

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Brightline announced Friday it will start running “qualifying” trains between West Palm Beach and Cocoa starting Monday, January 17.

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Qualifying runs provide opportunities for train engineers and conductors to learn the new rail territory.

“These are qualified runs to go ahead and train the crews,” Katie Mitzner with Brightline Trains explained. “Then, once our crews are trained, they will train additional crews.”

The trains, which won’t have passengers aboard, will operate a round trip along the 130-mile corridor daily through 2022.

The high-speed rail will eventually hit 110-miles-per-hour in Brevard County. However, for the qualifying runs, the trains will operate below 60 miles per hour and will be required to blow their horns as they approach at-grade crossings.

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There are 54 crossings in Brevard County, 34 of which are updated with the latest safety measures. The rest are currently in the process of being updated.

Brightline is urging people to be aware of their surroundings when driving near the tracks.

“Follow the laws at the railroad crossings and definitely do not stop on the tracks, and do not drive around those crossing gates,” Mitzner said.

Brightline says construction on the extension that runs between the West Palm Beach station and Orlando International Airport is more than 70 percent complete.

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They expect to complete the Orlando extension by the end of 2022 and begin service in 2023.

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Jeff Deal

Jeff Deal, WFTV.com

I joined the Eyewitness News team as a reporter in 2006.