The Lightning Strike

Brightline: Ft. Lauderdale to West Palm Beach in 40 minutes

Passengers+boarded+the+Brightline+train+at+a+station+after+its+launch+last+month.+After+its+initial+launch%2C+Brightline+is+seeking+to+expand+into+Miami-Dade+county.
Passengers boarded the Brightline train at a station after its launch last month. After its initial launch, Brightline is seeking to expand into Miami-Dade county.

Passengers boarded the Brightline train at a station after its launch last month. After its initial launch, Brightline is seeking to expand into Miami-Dade county.

Courtesy of Miami Herald

Courtesy of Miami Herald

Passengers boarded the Brightline train at a station after its launch last month. After its initial launch, Brightline is seeking to expand into Miami-Dade county.

Alexis Sanford, Staff Writer

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Brightline is the new, higher-speed express train that runs between West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale. A VIP inaugural service was held Friday, January 12th. The first public ride was the following day.

The first train left West Palm Beach at 8 a.m. and arrived about 40 minutes later in Fort Lauderdale. That night, the train fatally struck a woman, who the Boynton Beach Police identified as Melissa Lavell. Witnesses told the police that the 31-year-old woman was crossing the tracks in Boynton Beach after the guard rails were down and was on the tracks as the train approached.

Michael Hicks, a spokesman for Brightline, released a statement Friday night.

“This is a tragic incident, and our thoughts and prayers are with those affected,” the statement said. “We continue to stress safety and the adherence to the rules and laws in place around active railroads.”

Lavell was the third woman to be killed by a Brightline train before the system officially opened to the public Saturday, according to the Sun Sentinel. A woman, whose death was investigated as a suicide, was hit in July 2017 in Boca Raton, and in November, another woman was killed on the tracks in Deerfield Beach.

There are two ticket options: Smart and Select Coaches, which have leather seats, new technology, food services and touchless bathrooms. Prices vary with one-way tickets cost $10 in the 66-seat Smart Coaches and $15 each way in the 50-seat Select Coaches with more room. Children age 12 and under ride for half price and seniors, active military and veterans get 10 percent discounts. There is currently a promotion to buy one ticket and bring a friend for free, but these prices could rise when full service begins.

Courtesy of Brightline
Brightline trains feature services like power outlets, food carts and bicycle racks. The Ft. Lauderdale-to-West Palm Beach line launched last month.

Although the current train runs between West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale, it will eventually run from Miami to Orlando. Currently, Brightline is working to complete construction for the trains to add another 30-minute ride between Fort Lauderdale and Miami by the spring. Railroad tracks between West Palm Beach and Cocoa Beach are being upgraded, and new train tracks between Cocoa and Orlando International Airport are expected to be built later this year.

Brightline executives said that by 2020 their trains should be making the three-hour trip to Orlando. Brightline has five trains currently running, but also has plans to expand and run to Orlando, Tampa and Jacksonville with other stops in Florida cities between the currently available destinations.

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Brightline: Ft. Lauderdale to West Palm Beach in 40 minutes