Brightline begins qualifying train runs between West Palm Beach and Cocoa

Jan. 19, 2022
Trains will operate one roundtrip per day and offer engineers and conductors an opportunity to learn the territory.

Brightline began a once daily roundtrip of qualifying trains between West Palm Beach and Cocoa, Fla., on Jan. 18 – a critical step needed as the private passenger rail carrier eyes service between Miami and Orlando.

The qualifying trains will not carry passengers and will not exceed freight speeds of 60 mph. The runs are expected to continue through 2022 and provide Brightline locomotive engineers and conductors an opportunity to learn the 130-mile stretch.

“Qualifying runs are the federally approved approach to familiarize certified engineers and conductors with new rail territory. Operating a train requires engineers and conductors to be intimately familiar with the rail corridor, including road crossings, signals, curves and speed restrictions. During qualifying runs, Brightline train crews will work with a manager already qualified on the territory who will provide oversight and instruction,” Brightline explained.

The rail service expects to reach substantial completion of its Orlando extension by the end of 2022 with passenger service beginning in 2023. The extension from the current West Palm Beach station to the Orlando station at Orlando International Airport is more than 70 percent complete.

Safety is also a focus at Brightline, which has complete safety improvements at more than half of the 156 grade crossings on the West Palm Beach to Cocoa corridor. Additional crossing safety work will occur in 2022, but even with safety improvements, the railroad is reminding the public of the simple rail safety credo: look, listen, live.

Brightline trains are required to sound their horn as they approach an at-grade crossing. The public is being asked to remember to not drive or walk around lowered crossing gates – an action that is both dangerous and illegal, remain alert around train tracks, do not stop on tracks and only cross at designated crossings.

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Group Editorial Director

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine and group editorial director of the Infrastructure and Aviation Group at Endeavor Business Media. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the editorial direction of the group and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.