Brightline tunes its systems as launch nears

The recent derailment of an Amtrak train in Washington State that killed three people and injured 100 isn’t something you want to see when you are about to launch a new passenger train service in South Florida.

However, it appears that the Brightline high-speed passenger service is being fairly meticulous in working on its safety systems, based on my recent personal observations.

For starters, Brightline has been testing trains without passengers for several weeks. I’ve spotted the test trains several times during my trips around the region. That’s good because engineers should be very familiar with every mile of the tracks between West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale, where the service initially start.

In contrast, the Amtrak train that derailed was traveling a new route for the first time. It hit a 30 mph curve at 80 mph. The New York Times reports the investigation is looking at whether the engineer was on a cell phone or distracted by someone else in the cab.

I’ve also seen three examples of how Brightline appears to be working on safety.

A few weeks ago, I was on Dixie Highway just south of downtown Boca Raton. A Brightline train stopped before a crossing were lights were flashing and then blew its horn before slowly proceeding through.

Last weekend, in Wilton Manors, safety crews in brightly colored vests were at several spots near Northeast 26th Street as testing continued. Early Sunday morning, while I was cycling through Flagler Village, a truck for a company that specializes in railroad signals was already on the job. Add it up and it appears to me that Brightline is taking safety pretty serious.

My biggest concern is what Brightline can’t control. We have an issue with drivers and pedestrians in South Florida not paying attention to oncoming trains or using them to commit suicide.

The Sun Sentinel reported that 23 people died in Miami-Dade, Broward  and Palm Beach counties through September, compared with 14 in all of 2016. Tri-Rail has launched a suicide prevention hotline.

One would hope that law enforcement personnel give a bit of extra attention to crossings and the railroad right of way as Brightline launches service.

Railroad right-of-ways are private property and tresspassers need to be ticketed if they cross where there is no official crossing. I’ve read too many stories over the years of intoxicated people stumbling across tracks and getting hit.

I’ve also see way too many people stop on top of the tracks at intersections, which is foolish enough, when freight trains are going 40 mph. It will be even more foolish when Brightline trains are moving nearly twice as fast.





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Drew Limsky

Drew Limsky



Drew Limsky joined Lifestyle Media Group in August 2020 as Editor-in-Chief of South Florida Business & Wealth. His first issue of SFBW, October 2020, heralded a reimagined structure, with new content categories and a slew of fresh visual themes. “As sort of a cross between Forbes and Robb Report, with a dash of GQ and Vogue,” Limsky says, “SFBW reflects South Florida’s increasingly sophisticated and dynamic business and cultural landscape.”

Limsky, an avid traveler, swimmer and film buff who holds a law degree and Ph.D. from New York University, likes to say, “I’m a doctor, but I can’t operate—except on your brand.” He wrote his dissertation on the nonfiction work of Joan Didion. Prior to that, Limsky received his B.A. in English, summa cum laude, from Emory University and earned his M.A. in literature at American University in connection with a Masters Scholar Award fellowship.

Limsky came to SFBW at the apex of a storied career in journalism and publishing that includes six previous lead editorial roles, including for some of the world’s best-known brands. He served as global editor-in-chief of Lexus magazine, founding editor-in-chief of custom lifestyle magazines for Cadillac and Holland America Line, and was the founding editor-in-chief of Modern Luxury Interiors South Florida. He also was the executive editor for B2B magazines for Acura and Honda Financial Services, and he served as travel editor for Conde Nast. Magazines under Limsky’s editorship have garnered more than 75 industry awards.

He has also written for many of the country’s top newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald, Boston Globe, USA Today, Worth, Robb Report, Afar, Time Out New York, National Geographic Traveler, Men’s Journal, Ritz-Carlton, Elite Traveler, Florida Design, Metropolis and Architectural Digest Mexico. His other clients have included Four Seasons, Acqualina Resort & Residences, Yahoo!, American Airlines, Wynn, Douglas Elliman and Corcoran. As an adjunct assistant professor, Limsky has taught journalism, film and creative writing at the City University of New York, Pace University, American University and other colleges.