First All Aboard Florida train finished and ready for testing

Last update on Dec. 28, 2016.

First All Aboard Florida train finished and ready for testing

Manufacturer Siemens uses the term "trainset" to describe five passenger trains it is building for the new All Aboard Florida service, scheduled to kick off next year between Miami and West Palm Beach.

On Wednesday, Siemens couldn't resist spilling the beans before Christmas: All Aboard Florida's first Siemens-built trainset is finished and has arrived in South Florida following a 3,052-mile trip from the company's Sacramento, California plant. It showed up Wednesday morning at All Aboard Florida's maintenance facility in West Palm Beach, said AnneMarie Mathews, All Aboard Florida spokeswoman.

Construction of the 489-foot-long train, comprised of two diesel-electric locomotives and four stainless-steel coaches, began in July 2015 and involved 1,000 employees at Siemens' 60-acre rail manufacturing plant, the company said in a news release Wednesday.

The new trains are built as integrated sets, the release said, to make ride quality better and quieter. Locomotives on each end of the trains will meet "the highest emissions standard set by the federal government," the release said.

Once in operation, the trains will be maintained by a full-time crew of about 70 Siemens employees and 40 Brightline employees, the release said. The high-speed All Aboard Florida service is scheduled to begin in mid-2017 and will initially offer 32 daily hour-long runs between Miami to West Palm Beach with an in-between stop in Fort Lauderdale.

All Aboard Florida is a wholly owned subsidiary of Florida East Coast Industries, the successor to Florida East Coast Railway, the railroad company founded by Henry Flagler in 1892. The train service was named Brightline in 2015.

"Having our first Brightline trainset completed ... is a major accomplishment and brings us one step closer to the introduction of our innovative new train service," Michael Reininger, president of Brightline, said in the release. "Once in Florida, we will begin the required testing as we ready to launch Brightline between Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach next summer."

In South Florida, the trains will reach speeds of 60 mph to 70 mph along a 67-mile-long expanded track on the railway's existing right of way.

The four additional trains that will be used in South Florida are expected to be delivered by the end of March. Stations being built in the three cities' downtown areas are envisioned as gateways to other public transportation, housing, jobs and shopping.

At some point, another five trains will serve the northern leg of the service — from West Palm Beach north to Cocoa, then west to Orlando. Originally, All Aboard Florida said it would initiate the Orlando route by the end of 2017, but that was delayed as Martin and Indian River counties filed federal lawsuits challenging the company's ability to sell $1.75 billion in tax-exempt bonds. The company has since announced it will pursue the bond sale in two parts — a $600 million sale to finance the South Florida phase and a second $1.15 billion sale to complete the Orlando leg.

Total cost of the project was originally announced as $2.5 billion. To complete the route from Cocoa to Orlando, the company will have to build a new track. That part of the project is still in the permitting stage and construction has not yet begun, Mathews said. The privately run company has not disclosed the cost of the trains., 954-356-4071
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