Published On: Wed, Dec 4th, 2019

Florida’s Brightline train service has worst death-rate in U.S.

When Florida’s rail service, Brightline, was officially established in January 2018, many thought it would be provide safer and faster transportation between Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach.

However, almost two years later, that has not been the case, as more than 40 deaths, caused by the train, have been reported, with the first death occurring in July 2017 during a test run before the train service was even available to the public.

According to the Associated Press’s analysis of Federal Railroad Administration data, those 40 deaths have led to a rate of more than one death a month and about one death for every 29,000 miles the trains have traveled. While the Palm Beach Post has reported that the deaths were neither caused by Brightline crew error nor obsolete equipment, Brightline President Patrick Goddard understands the scrutiny of the company.

“Even though it is not [the crew’s] fault, they feel like it is … and a lot of them suffer,” Goddard said. “There is nothing we would want more than for that number [of deaths] to go to zero.”

With many of the deaths resulting from suicides and both drugs and alcohol found in some of the victims’ systems, Brightline and Gooddard have now been taking measures with suicide prevention groups, such as planting barriers, putting up four-way gates at major road crossings and talking with cities about eliminating side-street crossings.

As Brightline currently continues to rebrand into Virgin Trains USA, The Federal Railroad Administration has not made any public comments addressing the suicides, but nonetheless reiterate that the “top priority is safety.”


About the Author

- Justin Baronoff is currently a junior at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, FL. He is pursuing a major in Multimedia Journalism, where he hopes to some day write for major news media publications, such as the New York Times, ESPN, or even Billboard Magazine. In high school, Justin wrote for his high school newspaper for three years where he was a staff reporter for the first two years before becoming the Sports Editor in his final year. At FAU during the first semester of his sophomore year, he began interning for, where he wrote about and covered his favorite professional football team, the New York Jets, and his favorite professional basketball team, the New York Knicks. Then during his second semester of his sophomore year, he began writing for FAU's student newspaper, the University Press, as a contributing writer. Justin now serves a News Writer Intern for the Boca Raton Tribune.

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