INTERNATIONAL SUPPLEMENT TO BLN 1326 6 APRIL 2019
BRANCH LINE NEWS
This newsletter covers the World outside the British Isles from information
supplied by members.
Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the Compilers or of the Society.
INTERNATIONAL NEWS TEAM:-
International Editor (to whom all email and postal contributions should be sent):
Paul Griffin, 7 School Bell Mews, Church Lane, Stoneleigh, COVENTRY, CV8 3ZZ
Email: [email protected]
Deputy International Editor: Derek Woodward, 68 Church Street, Matlock, DERBY, DE4 3BY
Opening of the passenger service to Eemshaven was reported in BLNI 14 April 2018. The new passenger line to Eemshaven
comprises about 4 km of upgraded freight line and about 3 km of new construction. Where the freight lines to Eemshaven bear
east along the south side of the harbour complex, the passenger line continues northwards and follows the coastal dike to a simple
halt. This is not immediately adjacent to the ferry terminal building, but on the far side of a large car park. The frequency of the
ferry to Borkum varies during the year, so the train service is very sparse during the winter and infrequent by Dutch standards at
The largest place on the branch from Groningen is Winsum, so traffic drops off considerably beyond there. The picture shows the
train forming the 14:22 from Groningen to Eemshaven and 15:20 return on Sunday 17 February 2019. Note the sea wall to the
right of the train and a rather unfamiliar style of buffer stop. The station must be a bleak place to get to, and to wait for a train, in
BLNI Extra 49 Poland Extra 3, item E8 contained an error caused when a copy of the item was updated
on one computer, but not on the computer used to actually compile BLNI. Correction as follows:
The following trains are diverted between Przemyśl Gł. and Żurawica via Hurko (reverse) and via
Przemyśl Bakończyce (reverse): IC-33021 [20-26.V], 33022 [19-24.V], R-30450, 30462, 30468, 30401,
30409, 30421 [all 20-24 .V]
 Czech Republic – KŽC tour visits the Čáslav area
Čáslav is a city of just over 10,000 people sited on the direct line from Kolín to Brno. Most gricers will
remember it as the station where they had to walk over a long overbridge to a platform on the other
side of the yard from where trains on the 17km branch to Třemošnice depart.
The platform is referred to as Čáslav místní nádraží and had its own station building, now disused. The
yard is not electrified and has connections to the main line at both ends. From the northernmost track
of the yard is a connection to the line to letiště Chotusice (Chotusice airforce base). This runs north west
from Čáslav, also giving access to an industrial siding behind a gate which showed evidence of occasional
use. After 3.2km the single track line crosses the road between air base and fuel depot, and there is a
short siding, about 80 metres long, with a platform. This is where the rail shuttles for the open day get
to. The line continues, with the line from the fuel depot immediately trailing in on the right, for 350
metres to the gate in the perimeter fence. The tour was able to continue into the base to the end of the
line at approximately 4.5km. There was a run round loop and a loading dock. On the return journey the
tour went down the fuel depot line for 370 metres to the gate. Tracks continue in the compound for a
Čáslav místní nádraží is the part of the Čáslav station area serving the branch to Třemošnice, and accessed by a long overbridge,
part of which is seen in the background.
The picture shows the short stub of track and platform used for the bi-annual shuttles to the Chotusice air base, the perimeter
fence of which is visible to the left and straight ahead. To the right track continues into the air base proper, and, just about visible,
beyond this can be seen the track to the fuel depot, trailing in from a junction just out of sight.
Open days at Chotusice are every two years and trains should run again this year on 25 May. They depart
from Čáslav místní nádraží, which is where the tour now proceeded. To get a DMU from the main line
platforms to the branch platforms requires a double reversal, and in years gone by some early or late
services actually did this, but none in recent timetables. After a pause for photographs at Čáslav místní
nádraží the tour continued up the Třemošnice branch as far as the minimalist station of Skovice, a few
metres beyond which is the junction for the freight branch to Vrdy.
This 3km branch ran to a station called Vrdy-Bučice, near which there were also two rail connected sugar
mills, the area being a major grower of sugar beet. Passenger services ended in 1955, and in 1975 the
line was designated a siding. The line splits after 2.6km, one branch serving Goldbeck (who make
reinforced concrete parts), the other going to a former sugar mill, now a bioethanol plant which is part
of the Agrofert group. Further progress was prevented by gates on each branch. The northernmost one
presumably has the site of the former Vrdy-Bučice station, but there was no time to investigate further.
 Denmark – New HSL to open, but limited service
The new line from København to Ringsted will open on 1 June, but the line has very restricted signalling
so there will only be one train each way an hour to start off with.
 Germany – Extracts from the IBSE Telegramm
Wiesbaden Ost – Wiesbaden-Biebrich. Since 9 December peak hour trains from Frankfurt (Main) Hbf
to Eltville via Mainz-Kastel use the curve from Wiesbaden Ost to Wiesbaden-Biebrich not calling at
Wiesbaden Hbf. The trains are in the KBS 466 timetable pdf.
Ex freight line 3525 Abzw. Kostheim – Mainz Abzw Kaiserbrücke Ost. Since December this section (used
briefly by the HKX service to/from Frankfurt when it ran a few years ago) now has regular passenger
services. It is used by the new RE4 service, hourly from Frankfurt (Main) Hbf to Mainz Hbf via Hochheim
2019-2020 timetable interest. The west side of Halle station (platforms 4-7) will reopen next year but
work will continue on S-Bahn platforms 1-3. It is very likely that the use of temporary platform 13a and
the freight line from there as far as Halle Rosengarten station (Strecke 6350 Abzweig Kasseler Bahn –
Halle Hbf 13a) will cease. One to do this year if you haven’t already done it.
From December 2019 a few weekday RB 47 Bernburg – Halle services will use the Köthener Kurve again.
Strohgäubahn services extended. The Strohgäubahn (KBS 790.61) ran from Korntal (which is west of
Stuttgart Hbf) to Weissach, but was progressively cut back from 2012, first to Heimerdingen, then to
Hemmingen. Rather late news, but from 10 Sept 2018 Hemmingen - Heimerdingen reopened.
Strecke 1112 Bad Malente-Gremsmühlen – Lütjenburg draisine operation. Previously reported as
reopening for draisine operation, test runs are planned for 2019 but no details of when the draisines
can be hired yet. Check the website if interested. http://www.draisinenbahn.de
Freight returns to line after 30 years. The middle section of line 1940 runs from Salzgitter Bad to
Börßum. It closed to passenger traffic in 1976, but found use as a museum railway for several years.
Recently only draisines have operated on the line, but track condition cannot be that bad as freight
returned to the Salzgitter Bad to Klein Mahner section (4.2km) from 11 February 2019, albeit not for
very long probably. The reason for freight returning after 30 years is to collect timber from the Harz
region blown down in storms and transfer it to Wismar harbour for export to Sweden. There is no run
round at Klein Mahner so loaded trains are propelled to Salzgitter Bad.
Schönheide Ost to Muldenberg museum railway extending. Preservation group Förderverein
Historische Westsächsische Eisenbahnen e. V. (FHWE) has obtained EU funding of €150,000 to
renovate Schönheide Ost – Schönheide Süd as part of plans to reopen Schönheide Ost – Muldenberg.
Despite working on the line since 2003 the FHWE has not managed to get it into a fit state to operate
although they did operate a train at Schönheide Ost in May 2009. Three bridges on the Schönheide Ost
– Schönheide Süd section need work, total cost estimated at €200,000, so they have more money to
find. The line closed in 1995.
Goods lines in use between Bielefeld and Brackwede. Hamm to Minden is the longest quadruple track
line in Germany. In the period 18 March to 11 October all long distance trains (IC and ICE) use the freight
lines (line 2990) between Bielefeld Hbf and Brackwede.
 Germany - Freiburg inaugurates Rotteckring tram line
A new 1.9km link has opened on 16 March between Europaplatz and Heinrich von Stephan Strasse. It
runs from a triangular junction at Siegesdenkmal on Line 2, passing through the old town along
Rotteckring, Werthmannstrasse and Kronenstrasse to join lines 3 and 5 on Basler Strasse. The increase
in capacity led to a complete recast of tram and bus services.
 Germany - Loco haulage on the Berlin U-Bahn and non-passenger curves
U-Bahnen – all units, aren’t they? Well, yes…but there is an exception in Germany.
Berlin’s underground rapid transit system – its Untergrundbahn (universally referred to be the
abbreviation “U-Bahn”) – is a classic of its type. With services running up to every two minutes, it
conveys over 1.5 million passengers each day. Much like its equivalent in London, its rolling stock is of
both ‘large’ and ‘small’ profile and universally consists of EMUs, drawing their power from upward-
facing third rails. However, on selected Fridays between April and October, the Berlin U-Bahn also offers
some interesting loco haulage beneath the city’s streets. This is offered by the “U-Bahn-Cabrio”, which
is fairly self-explanatory – an open-top tour of the U-Bahn tracks!
The “U-Bahn-Cabrio” makes two round trips on the dates that it runs – departing Deutsche Oper station
(on the U2 route in the west of the city) at 19:00 and then 22:30.
The tour takes about two hours and covers a distance of approximately 35 kilometres, and includes a
number of non-passenger curves. The trains are operated in push-pull fashion powered by an
AKędzierzyn-Koźleulok (battery loco), on a load of four what can best be described as flat wagons with
seats on! Information on booking (telephone only) and dates at:
However only one date out of seven before the end of June had seats left at mid March, so for those
interested, and with €50 to spare, the dates for the second half of 2019 can be requested from the end
of April and are expected to be booked from May 2019. For a taster of what’s on offer have a look at
this you tube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JdMXZrz3LtQ
 Germany – Bad Bentheim
IC trains every two hours between Amsterdam and Berlin stop at Bad Bentheim to change locomotives.
This is something that used to be common, but the introduction of multi-system high-speed trains and
locomotives has made it quite unusual in western Europe. Indeed, it is remarkable that cities as
important as Amsterdam and Berlin are still linked by a locomotive-hauled service using conventional
carriages. The trains are able to use the Schnellfahrstrecke between Berlin and Wolfsburg, but the line
west from there has not received the same level of investment as many others in Germany. It is 647 km
from Amsterdam Centraal to Berlin Ostbahnhof, with a standard journey time of 6 hours 34 minutes, so
an average speed of only 98.5 km/hr. Quite an extensive length of overhead line at Bad Bentheim can
be fed at 1,500 V dc or 15 KV ac, with the German locomotives able to run to sidings well to the west of
the station. Eastbound and westbound lines can be switched independently. Local trains across the
border are worked by dual-system EMUs running between Hengelo and Bielefeld, operated by Keolis
Deutschland, trading as Eurobahn. As the change of system takes place while the train is stood in the
station, the overhead line has to be switched for them as well. Other places in western Europe where
day trains still change locomotives at the border on a regular basis are:
• Ventimigila: Thello trains between Nice and Milano, typically three in each direction daily.
• Domodossola: Seven EC trains daily between Milano and Genève or Basel.
• Basel SBB: Many trains between Germany and Switzerland via Basel are formed of ICE trains, but
a few locomotive-hauled EC services remain.
• Singen: IC trains every two hours between Stuttgart and Zürich, which have to reverse here.
• Lindau: Three EC train pairs between München and Zürich, plus one each way between Innsbruck
EC52 from Milano to Frankfurt is most unusual in having two cross-border locomotive changes, at
Domodossola and Basel SBB. There is no equivalent southbound train.
 Germany – Dörverden
There was a large military depot at Dörverden, south east of Bremen, which closed in 2013. Part of the
site was acquired by the engineering company Wiebe, for use as a depot for its railway engineering
activity. This has a rail connection to the Hannover – Bremen line. As well as sidings the depot includes
a balloon loop on which engineering trains can be turned.
 Germany – Ochtrup to Brechte
The Bentheimer Eisenbahn line, south from Bad Bentheim to Ochtrup-Brechte, was observed from the
parallel main road at Gildehaus. The track appears to be in excellent condition, with continuously-
welded rails on concrete sleepers and clean ballast. It is, no doubt, well maintained because it serves a
large military depot. However, traffic cannot be frequent, because the rails were rusty and a tree was
leaning across the track.
 Italy – Passenger services restart between Ruvo and Corato
The 70 km Bari to Barletta line operated by Ferrotramviaria had passenger services suspended on 12
July 2016 following a head-on collision which killed 23 people. The subsequent enquiry revealed a
number of deficiencies which Ferrotramviaria undertook to rectify. 7.8km of line has been double
tracked, signalling upgraded and a bridge built to replace a level crossing. Passenger services on the
Ruvo to Corato section restarted on 4 March, initially with only one of the two tracks being used and a
maximum speed of 50 km/h. An intermediate station called Corato Bracco is expected to open in 2020.
 Netherlands – The Utrecht Maliebaan
Whilst on a short break in Amsterdam, a member and his wife travelled to Utrecht Centraal on a Friday
morning in order to sample the shuttle service to the Dutch National Railway Museum. The museum is
situated at the old Maliebaan station, which closed in 1939. This station is on what was formerly a
through line avoiding Utrecht Centraal to the east, linking the Geldermalsen and Arnhem lines to the
south and the Amersfoort and Hilversum lines to the north. In recent times the south end of the route
has closed so the museum is now at the end of a branch. The route taken by the shuttle was via a reversal
at Blauwkapel Oost as per EGTRE (which pleased your member as he’d done the other connection, to
Blauwkapel Noord, on the 1990 BLS tour, which also covered the line south of the museum). He expected
the train to be quiet but it turned out to be an absolutely packed 4 car EMU. The driver later explained
that there was a national teachers strike that day so lots of grandparents and grandchildren looking for
things to do! The plan had been to visit the museum, but the queues at the entrance were such that,
given a limited amount of time before a late afternoon flight home from Schiphol, it was decided to
return on the first available train. The lines to both Blauwkapel Oost and Noord were double track, but
in both cases the northbound tracks are out of use with sleepers across the line. The remaining track
towards Blauwkapel Noord was rusty, but a Dutch enthusiast on the return train said that it is used by
the occasional special from the museum.
The EMU shuttle is seen at Maliebaan station, on the right of the picture. On the left the EMU is set 273 of Mat’46, 46 being the
year the order was placed, and the class was delivered from 1949-51. They were not particularly comfortable by modern standards.
The cabin was so tight that the driver had to fold up his seat (similar to a bicycle saddle) before he could leave. The class was
withdrawn in September 1983, with 273 the sole survivor. It was subsequently repainted into the original livery and is still available
for special trains.
 Netherlands – Amsterdam sneltram withdrawn
Sneltram 51 has been withdrawn from 3 March 2019 and the section beyond the junction for
Amstelveen Stadshart is currently out of use while the line is upgraded. It will reopen for a tram service
from Amsterdam Zuid. Most of the high sections of the joint platforms are stacked with sleepers. The
sleeper track part of the connection to the metro at Amsterdam Zuid has been lifted.
 Spain - A new realignment and the Jaén tramway to reopen?
The tramway, closed since 2010, seems set to reopen, but not before
the end of the year due to delays caused (allegedly) by the Socialist
A fairly significant realignment of approximately 6km of the branch
from Espelúy to Jaén is in progress starting about 6 km north of Jaén.
In some places track is laid and ballasted (but not tamped) and with
the overhead complete, and in other parts just the formation and
masts are present. The map shows the existing line in black, and the
deviation in yellow.
 Spain - Madrid railway stations
Madrid-Chamartín: With the concentration of main-line services at Puerta de Atocha, it is easy to
overlook this, Madrid’s other main station. It is relatively new, opening in 1975 with the first cross-city
tunnel from Atocha, and today has grown to 21 through platforms; numbers 1-13 are Iberian gauge and
14-21 standard gauge (14 and 15 having recently been converted). In the modern style (eg Birmingham
New Street, Barcelona Sants) the platforms are largely hidden from view beneath a massive concourse
and retail space. Operations are constrained by flat junctions immediately north of the station for the
lines toward Pitis, Cantoblanco, and Fuente de la Mora, but there are plans to achieve grade separation
here, and to expand the station to 25 platforms.
Madrid Delicias: Formerly the terminus for trains toward Lisbon, this 4-platform station with overall
roof now houses the collection of locomotives and coaches of the Museo del Ferrocarril. Admission is
free, and locos of British manufacture are an 1862-built 2-2-2 #1 “Tardienta” by John Jones & Sons
(Liverpool); two Sharp Stewarts, 2-4-0T #120-0201 of 1877 and 0-6-0ST #130-0201 “Pucheta” of 1887;
North British 4-6-0 #230-2059 of 1907, of the same design as the Highland Railway “Castle” class; and
Yorkshire Engine Co 0-8-0 diesel #306-001-9 of 1962. There are also two Ashbury-built coaches, a 5-
compartment 4-wheeler of 1890, and a 4-wheel private saloon of 1902. Not to be missed is the
museum’s café, housed in the splendid CIWL restaurant car #3569 of 1930, with its exquisite marquetry
Madrid Estación del Norte: Nowadays this is much reduced in railway terms, serving only local and
Metro lines under the new name Príncipe Pío. It is nevertheless well worth a visit to see the magnificent
roof and station buildings, crowned by two splendid recently-refurbished silver domes. A curiosity here
is that the southbound RENFE track bridges the Metro Line 6 / 10 interchange platforms in what looks
almost like a scene from a model railway!
Madrid Metro: At Chamartín metro station there is an exhibition celebrating the centenary of the first
line opened (Cuatro Caminas to Sol, 31 October 1919). Three early 2-car trains in the red livery of
Compañia Metropolitano de Madrid are stationed in the unused pair of platforms alongside Line 1 (there
are, incidentally, also two unused platforms at the lower Line 10 level, pending construction of new
lines). The exhibition is open 10:00 until 14:00 on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays until 17 October. Each
station on the original section features interesting historic photographs.
 Spain – New cut-off between Pamplona and Castejón de Ebro
This is part of a project launched in 2009 called the Cantabrian-Mediterranean corridor which connects
ports on the Cantabrian coast (Santander, Bilbao, Pasaia) with the Mediterranean harbours (Valencia,
Port de Sagunt) running via Tudela de Navarra, Zaragoza and Teruel. The corridor will be used by both
freight and high speed passenger services. Progress has been incremental and the latest parts to have
tenders accepted is for Tafalla Sur to Olite and Tafalla to Tafalla Sur.
Olite to Tafalla Sur is 7.6 km long and includes the 1560 metre long Monte Plano Tunnel. The contract is
for 42 months. Tafalla to Tafalla Sur is 7.1km long and includes a 542 metre long tunnel under the Canal
de Navarra. The contact is for 25 months and the project description refers to the double track line being
‘designed for standard gauge double gauge platform’. Presumably this means dual gauge?
REST OF THE WORLD
 Barbados – St. Nicholas Abbey railway situation
Trains in Barbados commenced in 1844 and were of three classes. They were unreliable and third class
passengers often had to get out and get the train back on the rails. The line served what is still a very
sparsely inhabited area once forming part of Bridgetown’s suburbs. The city is very congested and trains
would be welcome today.
Visiting St. Nicholas Abbey our member found newly ballasted track curving around a newly excavated
or enlarged lake in front of the house. He had a glimpse of a train moving off, despite being informed by
track workers that there would be no trains! He speculates that it was a private party. The train must
have been diesel hauled. The workers advised the train would return by 13:00, and there was a faint
possibility of another trip at 13:30 though 15:30 was more likely, though far from certain. He did not
wait. A sign claimed steam operation would be starting in a few days, but the workers said at least a
fortnight. That was in mid-February. There is no station, just a raised area as at a bus stop. The site is in
a remote area amongst sugar cane fields. The no 2 bus runs very frequently from Speightstown bus
terminus, the journey taking about 20 minutes.
 India – Four railways to be extended in Himachal Pradesh
These are Bhanupalli-Bilaspur-Beri (63.1km), Una-Hamirpur (50km), Chandigarh-Baddi (33.23km) and
Nangal Dam-Talwara (112.9km). Note that some of these distances do not look correct when viewed in
the Indian Railway Atlas.
 New Zealand – the Waimea Plains Railway
The Waimea Plains railway once ran from the Main South line of the South Island for 59km to Lumsden,
junction with the Kingston and Mossburn Branches. It opened in 1880 and closed to passenger traffic on
17 September 1945, but excursion trains continued until Easter 1957. Freight continued until 1 April
1971, lifting starting almost immediately with only the last 2 km section of line from the junction points
at Gore to the Gore Gravel and Crushing Company's plant retained as an industrial siding until it too was
closed on 1 October 1972. The 16km section from Lumsden to Balfour continued as the Balfour Branch
until 15 January 1978. The Waimea Plains Railway Trust was established in 1998 to restore and recreate
a small part of the Waimea Plains Railway,
The station of Mandeville was sited 17km from Gore, and today the railyard is adjacent to the Croydon
Aviation Heritage Centre, to which it will provide a complimentary visitor experience. A number of
railway structures and rolling stock have been acquired and moved to their permanent locations, while
the track layout is progressing, with two key lines laid. Diesel shunter 511 and steam loco Rogers K92
(dating from 1878) are operational.
In February 2018 K92 hosted her own Steam Festival at Mandeville, happily shunting along a section of
track that has been approved for use. On 13 October 2018 rides were organised for the first time using
K92 and newly restored Addington Carriage A294 built in 1895. A week later our member took a day
excursion from Dunedin to Gore using Dunedin Railway’s Silver Fern railcar. From Gore station (closed
to passengers in 2002) coaches transported the participants the short distance to Mandeville, where
K72 was again offering shuttle rides up and down the yard, a distance of 250 metres each way. Of the
exhibits on the site the most interesting to our member was the Sellars turntable previously used at
Heriot from 1910 to 1978. After being sold to a local farmer (the mind boggles as to what he used it for)
it was found and purchased by the Trust in 2002. This turntable (possibly the only surviving original 50
foot Sellars type built in the 1870's USA) has been lifted on to its new foundation, the pivot bearing
restored, and work is continuing on completing the circular pit wall and ring rail system.
The Sellars turntable is installed, but work remains to be done. Judging from the levels, it is not intended to be used.
Funding has been secured for construction of a locomotive shed on site at the end of the railyard. This
is hoped to start soon and will enable the Trust to keep K92 and a carriage under cover. Longer term it
is hoped to construct a loop line around the airfield.
K92 shuttles back and forth with its single coach train. The whole site is very much a work in progress.
 Philippines – Construction starts on Tutuban to Malolos railway
The start of construction of the Tutuban to Malolos railway, known as PNR Clark Phase 1, which is part
of the North-South Commuter Railway (NSCR) project, was officially inaugurated on 15 February 2019.
The 37.6 km line will be served by ten stations and a 14-hectare depot in Valenzuela City. The project is
scheduled to be completed by the last quarter of 2021 and, with 120 km/h trains, should reduce journey
time between Manila and Bulacan from one hour and 45 minutes to just 35 minutes.
It will connect to a future PNR Clark Phase 2, from Malolos to Clark and the PNR Calamba line.
 Senegal – Dakar TER officially handed over
The president of Senegal attended a ceremony at Dakar station on 14 January to mark the official
handover of the first phase of the Dakar TER (Transport Express Régional).
Senegalese president Mr Macky Sall arrives at the handover ceremony.
The Dakar TER project is a central component of the government’s Plan for an Emerging Senegal policy
framework. The 57km 14-station standard-gauge line from Dakar city centre to the new Blaise Diagne
International Airport (AIBD) near Ndiass largely follows the western section of the metre-gauge Dakar –
Diourbel line, which is being upgraded as part of the project. The initial 36km section between Dakar
and the new city of Diamniadio is due to open in the middle of 2019. The remainder of the line to AIBD
will be commissioned in 2020. The new line will offer a journey time of 45 minutes between Dakar and
AIBD and is forecast to carry up to 115,000 passengers a day. The double-track line has been designed
for 160km/h operation with 25kV ac electrification, GSM-R and ETCS Level 2.
Inside the station.
The contract includes electrification, passenger Wi-Fi, ETCS, passenger safety systems, electronic
interlockings, a centralised traffic command and control system, axle counters, passenger information
systems, fare collection and ticket gates, which will be installed at all stations.
Looking over the platforms, of which there are at least three, though only 1 and 2 appear to be numbered.
 USA - Tourist operations to end from Tavares to Mt. Dora
The Orlando & Northwestern Railway (O&NW) began tourist train operations in October 2017, running
on tracks of the Florida Central Railroad and marketed under the "Royal Palm Railway Experience"
brand. The historic trains run between Tavares and Mt. Dora, and Tavares to Eustis, with some train
services, branded the Golden Triangle Route, connecting all three stations.
Now the Florida Central Railroad has announced that from 22 April the track between Tavares and
Mount Dora will be removed from passenger service, eliminating one of the Royal Palm railway’s
destinations. It seems the 100 year old tracks are simply too expensive to maintain.
 USA - Brightline, Miami Florida visited
The brand new (May 2018) Brightline service from Miami Central to West Palm Beach via Fort
Lauderdale is a very different rail service. The Miami terminal is conveniently located a two-minute walk
from the Metromover system. The Miami Central building housing the station is still under construction,
but the light and airy concourse is open and fully functional. The Virgin branding will be applied mid
2019 so currently the yellow Brightline livery graces stations, trains and staff uniforms. Entering the
modern station there are a bank of ticket machines and on the opposite side of the spacious hall a ticket
office and baggage check in.
If you have not booked on line then one needs to be in plenty of time as the ticketing machines require
the name, email, date of birth of the lead passenger plus the name and date of birth each accompanying
passenger – so he was glad that there were only the two of them. Regular travellers can obtain a
Brightline card so that their information is picked up automatically. Tickets are only valid on specific
services and only singles are sold. There are there classes of travel Smart, Smart Plus and Select. Having
selected the outbound service, the system automatically allocated seats but you can change these.
Finally a credit card payment and tickets are issued. There are staff on hand to guide prospective
passengers through the process. Smart Class is the basic fare however you still get access to a
comfortable lounge, children’s play area, and a shop selling food, drink and souvenirs. Seats are 2+2 with
some tables of 4. Smart Select at an extra $5 is the same as Smart with the addition of one
complimentary on train snack and drink (includes wine or beer). Select is First Class with a dedicated
lounge offering a nice range of complimentary food, hot drinks, wine and beer. On the platform Select
passengers are served Prosecco or other drinks. Once on board the Prosecco/Wine/Beer etc., continues
throughout the journey. On our members’ northbound trip in Select they received fruit and snacks, while
on the return they were in addition served a selection of cheeses and cold meats by charming staff. At
every stage of the journey they were greeted with smiles and offers of help. It must be a contender for
the friendliest commercial railway. The journey to West Palm Beach takes around 90 minutes with one
stop at Fort Lauderdale. CSX freights can be spotted during the trip during the trip as you pass
marshalling yards and freight branches. The Brightline stock claims to be “Proudly made in America”
with Siemens diesel traction. Speaking to a driver the trains are maintained at West Palm Beach, to the
north but out of sight of the station. Trains are top and tailed with coaching stock formed into named
sets. Brightline Red, Brightline Green, Brightline Blue and Brightline Yellow were seen during his visit.