Brightline’s First Train Wows in West Palm Beach
January 20, 2017
It’s been a busy couple of weeks for Brightline, the new express inter-city train service that will initially connect Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach with future service to Orlando, Florida.
Last week, the first train, named BrightBlue because of its blue markings on its four coaches, was unveiled to the media (four more trainsets are coming in different colors). As part of the reveal, guests could walk inside the train, built by Siemens, for the first time and see the many innovations and amenities that riders will be able to enjoy when service begins this summer
Here are a few of the features:
Level boarding is a unique feature on Brightline trains. The station platform and the train door are slightly different heights (about 3 inches different). As part of the automated door system on the train, Brightline utilizes a “gap filler” that literally bridges the gap and height change between the train and the platform. The gap filler makes it possible to keep the platforms far enough away that freight trains can pass by, while still providing passengers a seamless way of stepping (or rolling) into and out of the train. Brightline is one of the only trains in the industry to leverage this kind of innovation.
Each coach includes a spacious restroom that is ADA accessible and features a touchless environment. The toilet has a touchless flush, guests just wave their hand to flush it. For those who forget to flush, it will automatically take care of that when the door is opened. The sink is integrated into the vanity area that also includes a large back-lit mirror. Each restroom also includes a Dyson faucet that both dispenses water and dries hands from the same fixture, eliminating water dripping onto the floor.
Brightline’s interior aisles are 32 inches, wider than any other train, providing ample space for wheelchairs and strollers to easily glide throughout the coach with access to all areas, including the restrooms. Interior vestibule doors also slide open and close automatically, so guests can seamlessly move between coaches. In fact, Brightline is the first and only fully accessible train in the world.
Every seat (in both the Smart and Select coaches) are big and comfy, wider than most other transit sets. They are all made of a blend of real and synthetic leather (real durable leather down the middle saddle of the seat – where there will be the most “wear and tear”. And an easier to clean/maintain synthetic leather on the sides and backs of the seats where guests will likely be grabbing and touching with their hands the most.
Also, every aisle seat has an ergonomic metal grip handle – for guests that are walking through the train or placing bags in the overhead space to grab (no more accidentally touching another guests’ head or hair when maneuvering!)
The seats recline in place, sliding down and back. No more frustration when the person in front of you leans back and invades your space—these seats recline without compromising your neighbor’s legroom. There are a multitude of built-in power outlets and USB connections (under the armrests, in the seat pedestals) and in pop-up style table units.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of the innovations in a future blog.
Another major milestone occurred this week as BrightBlue ventured out of Workshop b, our new railroad operations center, for the first time and completed its first run on the test track in West Palm Beach.
The extensive testing protocol covers three general areas: dynamic testing of the rolling stock, system integration tests between the train and railway infrastructure and a series of tests required by the Federal Railroad Administration. Next week, the team will add 45,000 pounds of sand in 40-pound bags to the coach cars to simulate passengers, baggage and supplies.
The Railroad Operations team was excited to see so many people who came out to view the train for the first time. “It was amazing that people were waving and cheering for BrightBlue!” said Tom Rutkowski, Brightline’s Chief Mechanical Engineer.
Testing of BrightBlue will continue for several weeks. Brightline is also gearing up for the delivery of its second trainset in February.
Brightline is reinventing train travel in America and is going to make getting around Florida much easier and more convenient. Stay tuned for more blog posts as the launch of the service will take place this summer.