May 22, 2019

Proposed Florida bill: AAF rail service to pay for safety upgrades

Florida Train Crash Attorney

by admin on January 29, 2017

Local communities in Florida that have high-speed passenger rail moving through their districts want the high-speed operators to pay for safety upgrades. State legislation calling for companies to pay and maintain the rail line has been proposed.

The legislation targets the privately funded All Aboard Florida’s Brightline service which hopes to connect Miami and Orlando with high-speed rail service. All Aboard Florida has started to test its Brightline passenger train on tracks belonging to Florida East Coast Railway. The testing is being done between West Palm Beach and Lantana. The rail service is expected to run at speeds just under 80 mph and to begin this summer. Ticket prices have yet to be announced.

The bill sponsor of SB 386 is Sen. Debbie Mayfield, R-Vero Beach. Republican House members are expected to file a House version of the bill. The Senate version of the bill gives the Florida Department of Transportation the power to regulate high-speed rail in cases when it is not preempted by federal law. At least two counties, Martin and Indian River, are still legally contesting Brightline’s service. Citizens have complained that the rail service will be unsafe and destroy their quality of life. They further argue that the rail service would block hurricane evacuation routes and that any explosions could pose threats to a nearby nuclear plant belonging to Florida Power & Light. The rail line is on the west of the Intracoastal Waterway, while the nuclear plan is on Hutchinson Island, on the eastern side of the waterway.

It is expected to take two more years before All Aboard Florida will run its Brightline trains heading north between Jupiter and Cocoa with speeds close to 110 mph. Trains are expected some day to travel 125 mph to Orlando.

The legislation requires high-speed passenger rail companies to pay for realigning and installing fencing and crossing gates and maintaining tracks and roadbeds. The bill also covers training for accidents involving rail and hazardous materials.

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