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Postponement of Brightline Speed Testing Sought by 'Alliance for Safe Trains'

The privately-owned passenger rail line begins testing its trains at 110 mph through Martin and St. Lucie County on October 17.
Brightline
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Brightline will begin testing trains at maximum speeds of 110 miles-per-hour in Martin and St. Lucie Counties in two weeks starting on Monday October 17.

Treasure Coast - Tuesday October 4, 2022: The Alliance for Safe Trains is calling for a postponement of Brightline’s announced plans to begin testing at maximum speeds of 110 miles-per-hour in Martin and St. Lucie Counties two weeks from now.

This first phase of testing is expected to take place over a six-week period and along an 11-mile section of track, spanning nine railroad crossings in Martin and St. Lucie Counties.

According to Federal Railroad Administration data Brightline is the deadliest rail line in the country. As of this past August, more than 60 people had died after being struck by Brightline trains since it first began service from Miami to Palm Beach 5 years ago.

Susan Mehiel is the Communications Director for the Alliance. She is concerned that the fatality rate will climb even higher once the privately-owned passenger rail line begins testing its trains at 110 mph through Martin and St. Lucie County on Monday October 17.

“Brightline has killed sixty people at 79 mph max. They will be going 110 mph max when they come through here," said Mehiel. "Its like taking a car going 70 mph and putting it in your community. We should not have fast trains going through here. They should be west of our town.”

Amtrak’s Acela service from Boston to Washington travels at even faster speeds, but Mehiel points out that it doesn’t cross roads at street level and vulnerable open stretches have been fenced. Brightline, on the other hand, is running through populated neighborhoods, across multiple street level crossing, through areas without fencing or other safety features.

“There are no trains operating at this speed in this type of environment in the entire county. None," said Mehiel. "Our Florida Department of Transportation, they have never regulated trains going at 110 mph across streets, at grade, and kids cross those streets all the time.”

The Alliance has launched a petition drive on their website, flsafetrains.com. They are seeking, among other things, postponement of the speed testing. “They postpone the 110 mph speed limit until they can assure all of us that everything possible has been done in terms of safety,” she said.

WQCS has contacted Brightline for comment but they have not yet had the opportunity to respond.