Private rail operator Brightline will open long-awaited passenger service between Miami and Orlando on September 22, three weeks later than previously planned.

Brightline will initially offer 16 daily trains between Florida’s two largest metropolitan areas. Trips will take a little over three-and-a-half hours — comparable to the time it takes to drive between Miami and Orlando — and make four intermediate stops, including in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach.

Brightline previously planned to begin train service to Orlando on September 1.

Brightline trains Orlando
Brightline plans to begin passenger rail service to Orlando on September 22. (Brightline)

The rail line is the first newly built passenger train in the U.S. in decades. Amtrak has opened several new lines in recent years, including to Burlington, Vt., in 2022, but those expansions mostly involved upgrading existing tracks. Brightline upgraded existing tracks between West Palm Beach and Cocoa, Fla., and built 40 miles of new track and right-of-way to Orlando. Trains terminate in the new South Terminal complex at the Orlando airport.

Orlando is only the beginning for Brightline. The company, which is owned by private equity firm Fortress Investment, also plans to build a 281-mile high-speed rail line between Las Vegas and Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., in the Los Angeles area. Work on the roughly $12 billion Brightline West line could begin later this year with a target of opening in time for the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles.

Both the Orlando and Las Vegas rail lines come amid a flurry of new passenger rail investment in the U.S. President Biden’s 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law includes $66 billion for new passenger rail with the bulk of that going to Amtrak and the Northeast Corridor that connects Boston, New York, and Washington, D.C. The Department of Transportation will distribute a portion of those funds as competitive grants to projects around the U.S., funding that Brightline plans to seek for its Las Vegas project.

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