Delray Beach mayor worries about fatalities from high-speed train service

Delray Beach mayor worries about fatalities from high-speed train service. (WPEC)

A chilling prediction before Monday’s deadly Amtrak train derailment.

Earlier this month, Lakewood Don Anderson said he believed it was just a matter of time before these high-speed trains kill someone, and he recommended safety enhancements to keep trains separated from pedestrians and cars.

Delray Beach Mayor Cary Glickstein has similar speed and safety concerns about Brightline and predicts fatalities and serious injuries involving pedestrians and the high-speed passenger rail service after it launches.

After two pedestrian fatalities last year, Glickstein said the city added $40,000 corridor fencing project on the edge of the tracks on Atlantic Avenue to prevent illegal crossing.

But, mayor Glickstein is still worried about the dangers residents could face when it races through the city.

“Their [Brightline] default position is a trespass, pedestrians don’t belong on the tracks, it’s a dangerous place to be, which is true. But, that doesn’t mean they’re not going to be on the tracks,” said mayor Glickstein.

Many cities in Palm Beach County that sit along the Florida East Coast Railway corridor like Delray Beach added more safety improvements before Brightline’s launch.

For example, additional railroad gates that block traffic on both sides of the tracks at crossings.

However, that means the train horns along the route will stop.

Glickstein said, “I certainly anticipate where people are going to be misjudging the speed of this high-speed train.”

Brightline trains will reach top speeds of 79 mph between Miami and West Palm Beach, then will zip through the Treasure Coast with 110 mph speed to Orlando.

“Our primary concern is not automobiles, it’s pedestrians crossing the tracks and taking the extra time to go down to the protective intersections, and misjudging a high-speed train,” continued Glickstein.

Brightline company released a statement Tuesday afternoon:

"The Brightline team extends its thoughts and prayers to those affected in the recent Amtrak incident.

Brightline is working toward operational readiness in close coordination with federal authorities to ensure we meet the highest safety standards. As we have communicated to local stakeholders, we are currently operating simulated service, which means we are running our schedule without passengers.

The safety of Brightline’s guests, teammates and stakeholders is our highest priority. We are installing safety measures such as a new automatic train control signal system, Positive Train Control, crossing predictor units to provide consistent warning time to motorists of a train’s approach, and grade crossing improvements at every at-grade intersection."

Meanwhile, Palm Beach County Mayor McKinlay released a statement to CBS12 about Brightline concerns. She said, “in light of today’s horrific incident, Brightline must continue to do extensive testing of its equipment and tracks.” She went on to say, “I hope Brightline and the FTA go above and beyond normal requirements to optimize safety for its passengers.”

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