ALL ABOARD The Orlando Express

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All Aboard Florida and tourism officials expect the trains to mitigate congestion on highways and crowds at airports.

It’s over an hour to fly to Miami from Orlando, gate to gate but a rail company is hoping passengers will consider a three hour train trip as a practical alternative when one considers the time spent for the check-in process and security.  All Aboard Florida is introducing a passenger rail service connecting travellers in four major Florida cities. The Brightline will be ready mid-2017.

Brightline is named for the locomotives (painted yellow) and red, orange, green, blue and pink coaches.  They will be connecting Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Orlando along a 235 mile (370 km) route.

All Aboard Florida and tourism officials expect the trains to mitigate congestion on highways and crowds at airports.

"Half of our business is international," says William Talbert, president and CEO of the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau. "To connect Miami and those other three communities by train makes it convenient, affordable, clean and safe to travel. It gives the visitor options that we haven't had before."

Train expert Jim Wallington at America by Rail suggests that this service will appeal to young people "This younger generation is less car prone," he says. "They are not buying cars like we used to, and they are demanding that there be alternate transportation."

The US’s Amtrak is highspeed rail service with trains reaching up to of 150 mph (241 kph). Brightline is considered an express service, but certainly not high speed.

High-speed rail "takes more money and fully dedicated track and electrification," says Andy Kunz, president and CEO of the US High Speed Rail Association.

"Every metropolitan region across America is highly congested, and it's all continuing to grow worse as our population continues to grow," he said. "They're really not building any more major highways or new roads, so this leads to ever-growing congestion. The only way out of this downward spiral is to move thousands of people out of cars and into fast trains."

Amtrak spokeswoman Kimberly Woods is optimistic about Brightline’s contribution to rail travel saying "Expansion of intercity passenger rail is a positive step to ensure the mobility and connectivity needed to drive the country's economic growth."

Not everyone is onboard with this announcement. Citizens Against Rail Expansion, a coalition of residents and community leaders in South Florida, says that the rail system will compromise public safety.

A number of hospitals along the route are on one side of the tracks while first responders are on the other, says Stephen Ryan, an attorney representing CARE.

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