ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — A privately owned high-speed passenger train service launched Friday between Florida's two biggest tourist hubs.
The Brightline train is a $5 billion bet by owner Fortress Investment Group that eventually 8 million people annually will take the 3.5-hour, 235-mile (378-kilometer) trip between Miami and Orlando — about 30 minutes less than the average drive.
The company is charging single riders $158 round-trip for business class and $298 for first-class, with families and groups able to buy four round-trip tickets for $398. Thirty-two trains will run daily.
Brightline, which began running its neon-yellow trains the 70 miles (112 kilometers) between Miami and West Palm Beach in 2018, is the first private intercity passenger service to begin U.S. operations in a century.
Friday's launch of the Miami-Orlando line was marred by the death of a pedestrian who was hit in South Florida on a section of track served by the new route.
The unidentified pedestrian was struck before dawn in Delray Beach by a southbound Brightline train, according to Ted White, a public safety officer with the Delray Beach Police Department.
It wasn’t immediately clear whether the train was part of the Miami-Orlando service.
The death is the privately owned railroad’s 12th in 2023 and its 98th since July 2017. That’s one death for approximately every 33,000 miles its trains travel, the worst death rate among the nation’s more than 800 railroads, an ongoing Associated Press analysis that began in 2019 shows.
A Brightline spokesperson didn't immediately respond to messages for comment.
None of Brightline’s deaths have been found to be the railroad’s fault. Most have been suicides, pedestrians who tried to run across the tracks ahead of the train, or drivers who maneuvered around crossing gates rather than wait.
Brightline also is building a line connecting Southern California and Las Vegas that it hopes to open in 2027 with trains that will reach 190 mph (305 kph). The only other U.S. high-speed line is Amtrak’s Acela service between Boston and Washington, D.C., which began in 2000. Amtrak is owned by the federal government.
This story was first published Sept. 22, 2023. It was updated Sept. 26, 2023, to correct that a person struck and killed by a train was a pedestrian, not a passenger.