Brightline begins running trains on new rail system, paving way to connect Central, South Florida

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. — Brightline has started the new year with a critical step toward the completion of its intercity rail system that connects Miami and Orlando.

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On Tuesday, Brightline started running qualifying trains between West Palm Beach and Brevard County.

The trains are an opportunity for locomotive engineers and train conductors to learn the tracks and territory along a 130-mile stretch of the corridor, but is not yet available to passengers.

Though no one was on board, it marks an important step in connecting Central Florida to South Florida.

READ: Brightline to begin training runs between Cocoa, West Palm Beach

The Brightline train departed from West Palm Beach around 7:30 a.m. and arrived in Micco about four hours later.

The qualifying runs will allow crews to be “intimately aware of where the curves are, the straightaways, the communities (they) are going through, the crossings,” said Katie Mitzner with Brightline Trains.

See photos in the gallery below:

During these runs, the trains will top out at 60 miles an hour, basically freight train speeds. None of them will have passengers.

READ: First look at high-speed Brightline trains that will connect OIA, South Florida

On Tuesday, while crossing the river, the train slowed to around 30 to 40 mph so it could stop in Micco.

On Wednesday, the train will start making its qualifying runs through more of Brevard County into the Cocoa area before heading back to West Palm Beach.

Brightline officials previously revealed how much a trip might cost. During a meeting with Orange County commissioners last year, they said a round-trip ticket from Orlando to Miami would cost riders about $200, while a one-way ticket would cost about $100.

READ: 2 killed in Florida when train hits car going around crossing gate

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Jeff Deal

Jeff Deal, WFTV.com

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

Adam Poulisse, WFTV.com

Adam Poulisse joined WFTV in November 2019.