The City Beautiful won’t see passengers get to board Brightline trains until 2023, but this week, Orlando did receive its first train that will bring passengers down to Miami and back.
The Bright Blue 2 train with four passenger coaches and two locomotives completed its 3,000-mile journey from Sacramento, California, to Orlando on Monday.
Tom Rutkowski, the chief mechanical officer for Brightline has been involved with the designs of this iteration of the train since it was conceptualized back in 2014.
After it was brought to the outside of the Brightline facility in Orlando, Rutkowski drove it right up to the new Vehicle Maintenance Facility, which is nearing completion.
“It was a proud moment that we were able to do that,” Rutkowski said. “Because it was a yard move, I only moved at five miles an hour. So, it wasn’t something high-speed and exhilarating, but it certainly was fulfilling as we were finally able to bring our first train into Orlando.”
While this train was the first to arrive in Orlando, another Brightline train that will be part of this new route was brought to Florida in October. Bright Red 2 is being used for commissioning work as it runs from West Palm Beach up into Brevard County to help train those who will be primarily operating the locomotives.
The project connecting central with southern Florida is about 70% complete with Brightline expecting to create a $6.4 billion economic impact on Florida’s economy over the next eight years. Brightline said in a statement that it anticipates creating more than 2,000 jobs following the conclusion of construction.
Rutkowski said that in designing the train, they wanted to create something as environmentally friendly as possible. That’s why they’re using ultra-low sulfur biodiesel for their locomotives.
“It’s a balance of performance and cleanliness. It was developed by Cummins over the course of many years as they were developing this specific platform engine,” Rutkowski said. “You’re always trying to find the sweet spot between environmentally friendly and performance.”
Some of the other ways Brightline said it hopes to cut down on its environmental footprint is by having two locomotives on each passenger train, it eliminates the need to have to spin the locomotive around to head back in the opposite direction.
There will be 10 trains operating initially for Brightline.
Brightline is hoping that by designing a luxury-style, high-speed train, more travelers will be enticed to not take their cars from Orlando to Miami and vice versa.
The passenger cars are equipped with bike racks to cater to those riders and the aisles throughout the coaches are wide enough for someone in a wheelchair to go from one end to the other without issue. The bathrooms are also designed to be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Seats feature a combination of real and faux leather that was designed by a California-based company that works on luxury cars, like Audi.
The trains are also equipped with Wi-Fi and the seats have 39 inches of legroom. The more expensive car has seats that are 21 inches wide compared to 19 inches in the less expensive coach.
Rutkowski also noted that they are proud of the layout of the seating so that everyone has access to windows.
The way we’ve aligned our seats, nobody gets the bulkhead column. Everybody has a window, regardless of where you’re sitting. So, it’s a pleasant open experience and it’s catering to you from the moment you step into our doors to the moment you leave the station.”
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