Trains Top 10 stories for 2017: No. 5, BRIGHTLINE

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Brightline's BrightBlue trainset that arrived in Florida in 2016.
Bob Johnston
WAUKESHA, Wis. — As this Top Ten story is written and edited, Brightline has yet to begin scheduled passenger service in south Florida. And if that still holds, well, the first private U.S. passenger railroad to operate on its own right-of-way in decades still has five days to get going to meet its self-imposed "end of 2017" start of operations deadline.

Brightline, you may remember, is the brand name for private passenger rail service from All Aboard Florida between West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

The service has all-new cars, locomotives, and stations on a recently double-tracked, formerly freight-only Florida East Coast Railway route. The multi-million dollar investment gamble is that passengers will flock to the new trains, which will eventually go to Orlando International Airport. It faces publicly financed opposition of wealthy individuals north of West Palm Beach, but revenue streams to the railroad from real estate near the stations will help mitigate the threat.

And the railroad received all the approvals it needs to move forward, so it just needs to move — literally — to make headlines.

For the fanfare, millions of dollars spent, interesting looking trainsets, and the gutsy gamble of all-private investment in passenger railroading, which is nearly extinct in the world today, Trains editors name Brightline service the No. 5 story of 2017.

Trains editors will present the Top Ten stories of the year in reverse order starting Dec. 21 and finishing on Dec. 30.

Read previous years' Top Ten stories online.
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