Brightline investing millions of dollars in railroad safety and mental health awareness

Written by David C. Lester, Managing Editor
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Brightline begins crew training and qualification runs on new line.

Brightline is taking on the challenges of railroad safety and mental health.

Brightline, the only provider of modern, eco-friendly, intercity rail in America, continues investing in advanced safety measures focused on technology, enforcement, engineering and education. The company has invested tens of millions of dollars in infrastructure along the South Florida corridor. Several of the new safety initiatives include the addition of red light cameras, channelization through community greening projects and partnerships with local schools and organizations, including 211 and Operation Lifesaver. 

“Innovation in safety is key, and we’re constantly monitoring the industry to determine if there are new ways to prevent illegal activity on the railroad corridor,” said Robert Gatchell, chief safety and security officer for Brightline. “While investing in technology is important, we continue to reinforce that the public adhere to the laws and stay off railroad tracks.”


As part of a proactive investment in technology, Brightline is collaborating with leading technology providers for intrusion detection via red-light cameras. Through this surveillance technology, Brightline aims to monitor and implement railroad safety features to reduce trespassing and illegal activity along the corridor. Testings to determine the success and application of this technology have already commenced along sections of the corridor in West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale with an additional $450,000 investment towards research and development of the pilot in 2022.

Brightline has started piloting a red light camera project in North Miami through its partnership with NovoaGlobal’s Railroad-Safe™ technology, a railroad crossing safety solution to prevent rail-related fatalities by warning and educating drivers about illegal actions. This Vision Zero traffic safety solution is currently being operated at crossings to collect information, educate the public, reduce the number of traffic violations and work to decrease the risk of vehicle accidents. Railroad-Safe™ also detects drivers who fail to heed the railroad warning signals and drive through the crossing gates when trains are approaching, which is illegal and dangerous. This technology has already been proven successful in reducing the number of railroad crossing violations in Orlando on SunRail’s corridor.


In September, Brightline partnered with Community Greening, a Delray Beach-based urban forestry non-profit, to implement a massive planting project in Palm Beach County as part of its sustainable approach to create a safe barrier between the railroad tracks and the community with the goal of bolstering public safety and enhancing the environment while beautifying the corridor. 

Through the pilot initiative, more than 3,000 native trees and shrubs have been planted along the South Florida railway which provide ecosystem benefits to this corridor valued at approximately $1.8 million, including $198,000 of stormwater benefits, $690,000 of energy saved and $924,000 of air quality improvement. Combined with fencing, the native plants will cover more than 10 miles along the Brightline/Florida East Coast Railway corridor serving as a deterrent and channelization mechanism for trespassers. 

Brightline was also awarded a Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvement (CRISI) Grant to add additional safety infrastructure at 48 crossings between Miami and West Palm Beach. This $5.6 million program will add exit gates, digital warning signs, striping and delineators to crossings.


On GivingTuesday, Brightline’s president, Patrick Goddard, presented 211 with a donation of $43,000 to be distributed across the organization’s Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach/Treasure Coast chapters. Brightline and 211 work closely to bring attention to mental health wellness by providing resources for counseling during Buzz Boxx activations and other community events, such as homeless outreach. 

Buzz Boxx is an out-of-the-box campaign created by Brightline to engage with residents in communities along its train corridor to promote rail safety and mental health awareness through a mobile barbershop experience. To date, Brightline and Buzz Boxx have done over 70 activations throughout Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties. For more information on the Buzz Boxx, partnership inquiries for events and activations, or interest in bringing Buzz Boxx to your facility, please email [email protected]


Rail safety education is one of Brightline’s top priorities. The company has partnered with several organizations to promote safety around railroad crossings which include South Florida school districts and WAZE GPS to map all railroad crossings across the U.S.

Brightline is continuing to take steps to increase awareness around railroad safety by implementing law enforcement outreach, has deployed safety ambassadors to high-trafficked crossings and installed VMS signs at rotating crossings, created tri-lingual materials and rail safety pledges, runs thousands of PSAs on radio and TV in English, Spanish and Creole. 

Brightline trains operate at FRA-approved and authorized top speeds of 79 miles per hour along the entire 67-mile corridor. Brightline continues to remind the public, pedestrians, motorists and cyclists to make safe choices around trains and crossings. The safety message is simple: look, listen, live. 

Here are some important safety tips from Operation Lifesaver, a national nonprofit focused on reducing grade crossing incidents and promoting rail safety.

  • The train you see is closer and faster-moving than you think. 
  • Be aware that trains cannot stop quickly.
  • Never drive around lowered gates — it’s illegal and deadly. 
  • Do not get trapped on the tracks; proceed through a highway-rail grade crossing only if you are sure you can completely clear the crossing without stopping. 
  • If your vehicle ever stalls on the tracks, get out and get away from the tracks, even if you do not see a train. Locate the Emergency Notification System sign and call the number provided, telling them about the stalled vehicle. 
  • At a multiple track crossing waiting for a train to pass, watch out for a second train on the other tracks, approaching from either direction.
  • When you need to cross train tracks, go to a designated crossing, look both ways, and cross the tracks quickly, without stopping. Remember it isn’t safe to stop closer than 15 feet from a rail.
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