New passenger train will impact campus

Connecting Orlando to Miami, Brightline will pass through Brevard.

(Photo: All Aboard Florida)

Connecting Orlando to Miami, Brightline will pass through Brevard.

Tracks haven’t been set yet, but the effects of a new passenger train through Brevard already have begun to rumble. Brightline, an express train service connecting Miami to Orlando is slated to be finished in 2017, marking the first time since 1968 that regularly scheduled passenger trains will pass through Brevard County.

Distractions in class from trains are nothing new. However, All Aboard Florida plans to run 16 trains a day in each direction — 32 passes in all — with departures from Orlando and Miami from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.

“My projector shakes when the trains go by,” math teacher Jill Whitacre said. “Because of them going by, I have to recalibrate the SmartBoard, so I use the pad now. When the projector shakes, it physically moves the projected screen, so when you go to write on the SmartBoard you would be writing on the wrong place.”

With speeds of 79 to 125 mph the new rail brings up safety concerns compared to the 60 mph of freight trains.

“With that amount of speed, I would think they [All Aboard Florida] would want to have it on a different track,” School Resource Officer Chuck Landmesser said. “I couldn’t see the trains coming through a populated area at that speed. It would be a lot more dangerous.”

The new train schedule also will impact students traveling to and from school. The Brightline trains will be about 900 feet long, compared with for 7,800 feet long for a typical freight train; so the wait will be faster, but still will occur.

“I’ve been late to school around three or four times because of trains,” sophomore Jasmine Greathouse said. “It’s hard because having to get a late pass just causes me to lose even more time in class. If the number of trains crossing in Brevard increases next year, then it’s going to be even harder to make it to class on time after being stuck in traffic caused by trains.”

Connecting Central and South Florida, Brightline has stops in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. No stops are planned in Brevard, meaning that Brevard will gain no tourist money or attraction through the locomotive. Cocoa has submitted proposals to the Space Coast Transportation Planning Organization, but it is the company who will decide if a stop is added.

By Rachel Montgomery