HOW A FENCE COULD DERAIL A NEW MIAMI-ORLANDO ALL ABOARD FLORIDA TRAIN

Publish Date: 
Monday, March 27, 2017 - 4:15pm

Original article written by Alfonso Chardy of the Miami Herald

Executives of All Aboard Florida's Brightline high speed passenger rail service are deeply concerned about a bill that is passing its way through the Florida Legislature. In a telephone conference, Michael Reininger, one of the firm's principal executives, says that the lay could not only the project's West Palm Beach-Orlando stretch but even derail it.

This bill was proposed by Sen. Mayfield, also named as the "Florida High Speed Passenger Rail Safety Act." This bill would highlight minimum safety standards for crossing along the Treasure Coast, as well as reinforce Brightline to cover all maintainance and repair costs.

"We are on track to initiate the new business of Brightline and begin carrying passengers between Miami and West Palm Beach with new trains and new stations in the very near future, in a matter of days from now," Reininger states. "And we're concurrently continuing to work on the second phase, the extension of the business."

Reininger states that the backers of the bill are people who primarily live in the Treasure Coast counties of Martin, Indian River and St. Lucie, many of which are grouped under the organization Citizens Against Rail Expansion.

"We actually believe [the bill] is a very thinly veiled attempt to put up yet another roadblock... to create a challenge that could be detrimental not only to our own pursuit of passenger rail in Florida, but that we believe will have negative consequences, if not fatal... to any place in Florida that has a vision of the future where moving people by train is part of a long-term solution."

"We've lived up to every commitment that we've made along the way," Reininger states.

However, Brightline has not released any documentation or mentioned anything about safety measures until now.

They also comment that fencing doesn't add safety on tracks. "Once folks trespass and enter onto the [trains] right-of-way, they're trapped inside the right-of-way as the train is coming."

That makes sense, except the fence would prevent an individual from entering the right-of-way in the first place...

CARE published a statement praising Mayfield's bill. "The unanimous support the bill received in committee," CARE chairman Brent Hanlon states, "highlights the importance of ensuring that all Floridians are protected from accidents and injuries at dangerous high speed rail crossing across the state."

Miami-Dade County commissioners unanimously passed a motion last Tuesday opposing Mayfield's bill.

Commissioner Bruno Barreiro, Miami-Dade County's rep on the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority board offered the motion.

"Brightline has already created hundreds of jobs and spurred significant economic impact in out county," Barreiro includes in a statement. "This private express passenger rail service is set to connect Miami-Dade with central Florida in an unprecedented way, bringing with it new tourism opportunities, less congestion on our roads and a new affordable way to travel."