Siemens is no stranger to hybrid-transportation technology, and has announced its intention to create a hybrid electric plane long before NASA. However, the engineering firm is also working on more earthbound transportation in the form of a passenger train — and a fast one at that.
In a privately funded venture, Siemens will build hybrid diesel electric trains for Brightline, according to Business Insider. Initial plans for the train will connect Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach. Brightline indicates that the train will cut travel between downtown Miami and Fort Lauderdale to 30 minutes, allowing commuters and tourists a quicker, greener option to travel that route.
Florida’s east coast will be a starter market for the high-speed hybrid train, but Siemens indicates that it is also manufacturing 69 more diesel-electric trains for California, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, and Washington Departments of Transportation. Siemens manufactures the trains at its 600,000 square foot factory in Sacramento, California, and then transports the trains to the service markets.
Rail service from Miami to West Palm Beach is scheduled to begin in mid-2017, though no implementation time frame was immediately available for the markets outside of Florida.
In the mean time, Florida is preparing the infrastructure necessary to incorporate this game-changer and to extend its reach. Fort Lauderdale began construction on its 60,000 square foot Brightline station in May. Outside of Fort Lauderdale, rail construction is expected to be complete by the end of 2017, and will add Orlando to the list of Florida rail destinations.
While the 125 mph Brightline is not as fast as some found overseas, it is much faster than Amtrack’s 80 mph trains, and provides a quicker alternative for travel between the popular destinations on Florida’s east coast.
A 4,000 horsepower Cummins diesel-electric engine powers the Brightline train, and a 42,000-pound 16-cylinder electric generator keeps electricity flowing. 42 miles of cable runs throughout the train to meet train and passenger electrical demands. The hybrid design allows the train to meet Federal Railroad Administration Tier IV clean air standards.