Alarmed over the number of train-related deaths and accidents, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez has asked the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT)to evaluate strictly the safety measures in place at the railway crossings along the private passenger line’s route before Brightline comes rolling through.
Gimenez noted in a letter to FDOT’s District Six secretary James Wolfe the worrisome recent string of incidents the private rail company was involved in including two deaths in Brightline’s first month of operations in South Florida; and four since it started testing last year. The mayor stressed the need to identify “any deficiencies” that may be attributed to the said unfortunate incidents.
Gimenez asked for the state to put in place a plan of action in order to enhance safety for the public. The mayor specifically asked for all grade crossings along the Florida East Coast Railway corridor to be analysed.
One speculation being forwarded in reviewing the train-related accidents is that people are still unaware about the presence of Brightline on the tracks, with some perhaps mistaking the passenger trains for racing freight trains. All the unfortunate incidents involved residents either –dangerously but seemingly oblivious- walking or riding a bicycle across the tracks after safety gates dropped, lights flashed and a piercing whistle sounded off.
Brightline tried to respond to the unfortunate incidents by strengthening its educational campaign about the presence of the passenger trains on the tracks; and by assigning safety ambassadors to distribute safety literature and deploying off-duty police officers to monitor the rails.
The office of the mayor also stressed that Gimenez is not blocking or opposing Brightline’s expansion in their county, and is even supportive of Brightline’s expansion to Miami-Dade County, which will link up the downtown areas of South Florida’s tri-county area and will soon even spread north to Orlando. The construction of Miami Central Station is also set to include a Tri-Rail connection, which, his office says, Gimenez is also excited about.
Brightline’s expansion to Miami will pave the way for a dramatic change in rail activity along the FEC tracks, which for decades have exclusively belonged to much slower freight trains. The freight trains also often block intersections for a few minutes at a time. By summer, the tracks will have passenger trains reaching speeds of 79 miles per hour. Brightline trains come and go in a matter of seconds which can take passengers from Miami to Fort Lauderdale in half an hour and for a fee of as little as introductory rates $10.
Several Amtrak train accidents have occurred in various places in the past few weeks including one <a href="Miami Orders Train Safety Check After Amtrak Accidents">Amtrak train separating at 125 miles per hour</a> traveling to New York City from Washington yesterday.
Just last Sunday, An Amtrak passenger train has collided with a <a href="https://thegoldwater.com/news/17458-Breaking-Amtrak-Train-Collides-With-Freight-Train-In-South-Carolina">freight train in South Carolina</a> in the early morning leaving at least two dead and another 50 injured.
Last month, an <a href="https://thegoldwater.com/news/15227-Breaking-Amtrak-Train-Derails-In-Georgia-With-300-On-Board#15236">Amtrak train in Savannah, Georgia</a> was derailed with more than 300 passengers on board.