Company says bill could block extension of train service to Orlando

The first Brightline train delivered to South Florida
The first Brightline train delivered to South Florida

Executives of All Aboard Florida, the company developing a passenger train service in South Florida, say a bill in the Florida Legislature could derail plans to extend the service to Orlando.

Michael Reininger, chief executive officer of All Aboard Florida, criticized a legislative proposal called the Florida High Speed Passenger Rail Safety bill, sponsored by Senator Debbie Mayfield (R-Melbourne).

Reininger said in a conference call with the Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald that the bill is a “thinly veiled” attempt to block an extension of All Aboard Florida’s rail service, called Brightline, from South Florida to Orlando.

The bill would require installation of a fence along All Aboard Florida’s railroad track, which All Aboard Florida officials called unnecessary and hazardous.

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Myles Tobin, general counsel of All Aboard Florida, said the Federal Railroad Administration has concluded that such fencing is hazardous because it traps trespassers who walk onto railroad tracks when a train is approaching.

Reininger said the bill also would require All Aboard Florida to add features to rail crossings that the state and federal governments already require.

The legislative proposal has gained support from a group called Citizens Against Rail Expansion, or CARE, whose membership is comprised mainly of residents of Martin, Indian River and St. Lucie counties on Florida’s Treasure Coast.

Reininger said the Brightline service between train stations in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach will start in late summer. He said an expansion of the service to Orlando will not begin before 2019. [Miami Herald] Mike Seemuth