SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Thousands of workers in Sacramento, California, are assembling a new express train that promises to take passengers from Miami to Orlando faster than a car, and more comfortably than a plane.
The privately funded Brightline will take passengers from Miami to Orlando while making stops in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach.
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The trains are being assembled in the Siemens plant about 11 miles southeast of the state capitol.
"The technology in here is to produce the stainless-steel car shells," Mike Cahill, president of Siemens Rolling Stock, said.
The company typically makes light rail and locomotives, but for the first time it is assembling a whole train, which starts with the welding of pieces of metal.
The goal is to build four passenger trains and locomotives a month.
The Brightline train will be the first privately funded passenger rail system in the U.S. in more than 100 years.
At the factory, "Locomotive No. 2" is near its final stages of construction in the factory. It is being painted and includes a sleek futuristic design.
"This really is the new phase of the new look for transportation in Southeast Florida," Mike Reininger, the president of Brightline, said.
The trains will soon be part of a 235-mile route that will start in Miami and end in Orlando, with stops in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, traveling between 79 mph and 125 mph.
That's not high-speed train fast -- but it's fast enough to get people in Miami to Fort Lauderdale in less than 30 minutes, to West Palm Beach in less than an hour and to Orlando in about three hours.
"What makes this fundamentally different is really the attention to detail and the attention to the passenger," Cahill said.
The passenger experience is what some say sets them apart.
"We try to make every part of the experience far superior to the alternative," Reininger said.
The aisles are wide and designed so passengers can easily move in and out of the train.
"You can go from one (end of) this train to the other in a wheelchair, with a stroller, and be uninterrupted from one end to the other," Reininger said.
There will also be free Wi-Fi and places to plug in electronic devices.
"Whether it's integrated into the table or integrated into the arm sets, you'll be able to sit down and use multiple devices and keep powered up," Reininger said. "The side of these big beautiful windows, it contributes to a very open and airy feel once you're inside the train car itself."
Heat tends to be a problem, which is why the cars are insulated -- a key factor in the design.
"It really is meant to be customer focused, (a) very, very comfortable and convenient way to get back and forth between these important cities," Reininger said.
The price plan for rides will be released within the next few months, but they're said to be competitive enough to challenge what Reininger and others call the strong monopoly of the car.
One of the passenger trains that will go between Miami and West Palm Beach will be up and running next summer. Trains to Orlando will likely start sometime in 2018.
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