Brightline Train

Along the highway near Orlando we noticed brand new railroad tracks under construction. You don’t see that every day, so we stopped to investigate. Turns out that there is a new high speed private rail line, Brightline, that will run from Orlando airport to Ft. Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Miami and Boca Raton. We noticed that they are using concrete ties rather than wood ties and wondered what the environmental impact of this is considering that production of cement is not at all climate friendly. We did a little research and found numerous articles saying that if one looks 100 years down the road, concrete ties are much more durable and are more environmentally friendly to produce than wood.

Brightline is clearly appealing to people with money and is using the airline model of business class and first-class. If you choose “Premium” (first class) you will have your own station “lounge” and train cars so you never need to mingle with the common folk. I don’t think this pushes us toward a more just society. The good news is that they have EV shuttle buses and biodiesel-electric engines powered by FPL, clean biodiesel for lower emissions and reduced noise.

According to NPR reporting, former Florida Governor Rick Scott (and current U.S. Senator) has a financial interest in Brightline and killed a federally funded project to build a high speed rail in Florida. While new electric and biofuel high-spreed rail lines is to be encouraged, in my opinion this could be done in a much better way.

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