Railroad Operating in Florida is Deadliest in Nation
MIAMI, Fla. — The Brightline railroad operates between Miami and West Palm Beach on 66.5 miles of track. Brightline is responsible for maintaining the safety of all 178 crossings on its tracks. Yet, forty people have died on Brightline’s tracks in three years of operation, and that figure includes two people who died while the trains were in their testing phase, according to FloridaBullDog.org. As a result of these tragic fatalities, Brightline, soon to change its name to Virgin Trains USA, is now the deadliest railroad nationwide. Incredibly, the previous owners of the railroad knew about potential problems with the rail line and ignored several suggestions regarding safety concerns prior to earning this title.*
In 2014, before Brightline became operational, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) recommended adding safety features at railroad crossings in the northern region of Palm Beach County to Brightline’s previous owners. Train speeds are allowed to reach 80 miles per hour on that stretch, and the FRA wanted Brightline to do more to make the crossings safer. Also, the FRA recommended the installation of new signs and new gates and pedestrian crossings in Miami-Dade and Palm Beach Counties as well. These recommendations included sealing 31 crossings to cars and pedestrians. The FRA also wanted Brightline to install fenced bridges and underpasses for their railroad crossings. The recommendations were not implemented. The FRA wants Brightline to do the same suggestions for the second phase of its expansion from North Palm Beach to Orlando.
The train company is now implementing the safety recommendations into the second phase of the project that runs from West Palm Beach to Orlando. The company has maintained that most of the crossings that have sidewalks also have gates that are long enough to extend over the sidewalk and stop vehicles from crossing the tracks. Brightline may also implement drones and infrared sensors to help keep people off of its train tracks in the future.
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