Brightline’s Miami-Orlando Now a Reality

Brightline at the Orlando Station
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By Gerry Barker

Photos/Video by Gerry Barker

It’s been a long time coming, but Brightline — the inter-city rail service that’s been operating in South Florida since 2018 — has officially launched in Orlando. As of Sept. 22, Brightline now offers high-speed rail travel between Orlando-West Palm Beach-Boca Raton-Aventura and Miami.

Brightline at the new Orlando Airport Station

Connecting Florida by train was the original dream of industrialist Henry Flagler, the founder of Standard Oil. Starting in the late 1800s, Flagler’s Florida East Coast Railway at one time extended all the way to Key West. Over 100 years later, Brightline is redefining private train travel with modern, eco-friendly trains that offer the latest in comfort and technology.

Join us as we journey from West Palm Beach to Orlando and back.

We are booked on the 10:03 am train to Orlando. Less than two weeks after the service launched, Brightline has doubled the number of trains serving Miami to Orlando daily, with 15 departures from both stations. The first train leaves Orlando at 4:38 a.m., arriving into Miami at 8:11 a.m., and the final train leaves Orlando at 8:54 p.m.

After arriving at the downtown West Palm Beach Station, we head for the Premium Lounge. Brightline offers two classes of service: Premium and Smart. Premium includes food and drink, both in the lounge and on the train. In Smart, food and drink are available for purchase. On this trip, we are Premium going up, and Smart coming back..

Tickets are priced starting at $79 one way for Smart, and $149 one way for Premium.

This was our first time to actually take Brightline north. For the past six years, it’s always been south. The trip to Orlando will take a little over two hours, and at certain points, the train will be traveling up to 125 mph (and on some trips more). Pam orders a prosecco to go with the breakfast choices they handed out.

Our route is along the Florida coast, skirting the IntraCoastal waterway as we pass by Jupiter, Stuart, Ft. Pierce, Vero Beach, Melbourne and Cocoa Beach, where we make the turn toward Orlando. It’s after the turn when we are in open country that the train picks up speed.

According to Brightline, the “Orlando expansion project included 56 bridges, including 18 new bridges, three underpasses, drainage installations, track and signalization installation and 60 track miles of new rail” over four years of construction. To maintenance and service the trains, Basecamp was developed — a $100 million facility on 62 acres near Orlando airport.

It’s hard not to be impressed by the new Orlando station. Standing three stories tall, at 37,350 square feet in the airport’s new Terminal C, it has the familiar features of their other stations, just bigger and better. There’s the Mary Mary Bar (named for two of Flagler’s wives, both named Mary), a shopping area, the Smart and Premium lounges and lots of seating.

The new Terminal C is a beautiful home for the station. Newly opened, it connects to Terminals A and B via a short rail ride. The Terminal C parking garage has 350 spaces earmarked for Brightline guests. It is already making a difference for travelers taking cruises at the Port of Miami. The new service almost provides door-to-door service to the ships.

According to Brightline, independent studies show the rail line has had “over $6.4 billion in direct economic impact to the state,” and “studies show the system will remove more than three million cars from roadways each year.”

But far from resting on their laurels, Brightline has its sights set on the West Coast, where Brightline West has plans to take passengers from Los Angeles to Las Vegas at 200 mph. That project is set to break ground by the end of the year.

Screen shot of my speed app on Brightline

And we thought 125 was fast.

(Our thanks to Brightline for hosting our trip.)


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