The Brightline Miami rail project is a privately run inter-city rail line that runs between Miami and West Palm Beach in Florida. The rail began operation over its current route in January of 2018 however construction is underway for a 170-mile extension to the line to the Orlando International Airport and is expected to go into service in the coming year.
The Florida East Coast Industries (FECI) announced plans to operate a passenger rail service between Miami and Orlando. The construction was projected at the time to be US$1.5 billion.
All Aboard Florida under FECI applied for a US$1.6 billion Railroad Rehabilitation & Improvement Financing (RRIF) loan, which was administered by the Federal Railroad Administration, and in late 2014, the company applied for a US$1.75 billion private activity bond allocation, with proceeds from the bond sale substantially reducing or replacing entirely the amount of the RRIF loan request. The company then received a Finding of No Significant Impact from the Federal Railroad Administration, effectively clearing the way for work to begin between Miami and West Palm Beach.
Construction work on the Fort Lauderdale station began with the demolition of existing buildings on the site. A groundbreaking ceremony for the West Palm Beach station was held in November 2014 and in the following year, All Aboard Florida announced that the service would operate under the name Brightline.
Service began between Miami and West Palm Beach in May of 2018. In November 2018, it was announced that Virgin Group would become a minority investor in the railroad and would provide rights to rebrand the service as Virgin Trains USA, however this agreement between the two companies was short-lived as two years later, they reverted to the Brightline name, ending the branding deal, claiming that Virgin had not provided the agreed investment money. Brightline however was sued by Virgin for US$251.3 million for breach of contract.
In April of 2019, Brightline secured US$1.75 billion in funding for the Orlando extension and said construction would begin right away. Hubbard Construction Company, Wharton-Smith Inc., The Middlesex Corporation, Granite, and HSR Constructors, are all announced as contractors that would be responsible for the 170-miles of track development.
The rail company announced that they had made an agreement with Walt Disney World Resort to construct a station in Disney Springs as a part of its Tampa extension, providing a high-speed rail connection to Walt Disney World Resort and the vicinity. The proposed station would include a lobby on the passenger facilities, ground level, and an upper-level train platform. In February 2020, Brightline broke ground on engineering and design work for the proposed project. The high-speed rail corridor between Disney Springs and Orlando International Airport will cost US$1 billion and travel alongside Florida State Road 417. Passenger service is expected to start by 2026.
Brightline executive vice president of infrastructure, Cegelis stated that crews had worked 4.3 million manhours on the 169-mile project thus far. Over 1,300 workers are on the project which is 63% complete.
In Brevard County, Brightline was installing over 70 miles of track on two corridors. Cegelis revealed that the rail line in north-south Florida East Coast between Cocoa and the St. Sebastian River was under “total reconstruction” being a double-tracked freight-passenger corridor. A new single set of tracks was being laid down over the east-west stretch between Cocoa and the St. Johns River. About 50 miles of double-track rail will be developed in Brevard with two structural underpasses, along with upgrades of 15 bridges and 50 crossings.