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Mayfield, Sirois File Legislation to Improve Rail Safety

October 29, 2019 - 6:00am
In Boynton Beach, a Brightline train fatality, November 2017
In Boynton Beach, a Brightline train fatality, November 2017

Sen. Debbie Mayfield, R-Indialantic, and Rep. Tyler Sirois, R-Merritt Island, filed Monday the Florida High-Speed Passenger Rail Safety Act, SB 676 and HB 465, designed to promote and enhance the safe operation of high-speed passenger rail systems in Florida.

In a press statement Mayfield explained the legislation incorporates recommendations identified in a study commissioned by the Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability (OPPAGA), published Oct. 31, 2018. The study, titled the Florida Passenger Rail System Study, examined all existing and planned passenger rail systems in the state of Florida and identified key safety deficiencies within Florida’s passenger rail system.

Mayfield didn't expressly mention the some two dozen deaths from the Brightline/Virgin high-speed train on Florida East Coast Railway tracks since July 2017, but the deaths and plans for that passenger line to serve a Miami-Orlando route are what first focused her attention on rail safety.

“Florida has a fatality rate 3.5 times the national average,” Mayfield said.  “This is unacceptable and must be addressed if we are going to continue to encourage additional high-speed passenger trains.” 

Debbie Mayfield and Tyler Sirois
Debbie Mayfield and Tyler Sirois

This legislation is the foundation for implementing necessary actions by the Florida Department of Transportation based on the study’s recommendations to improve passenger rail operations and safety in Florida. It requires the state to exert its authority over the Federal Railroad Administration where necessary, to make certain rail corridors and railway operating equipment are safe and well-maintained, pedestrian and road crossings are gated, high-risk corridors are fenced, and local emergency-service providers are properly trained for increased risks resulting from high speed train accidents.

“Public safety is a core function of government. The tracks run close to schools, neighborhoods, businesses, and historic downtowns. While I support high speed rail, my constituents want it to be safe for commuters and pedestrians who travel along the U.S. 1 corridor on a daily basis. I am proud to join with Sen. Mayfield on this important legislation,” said Sirois.

“As we begin to explore various options for transportation throughout our state, our priority should be to ensure the safety of not only the passengers, but also of the citizens of the communities that will be impacted by these trains as they travel through our neighborhoods,” Mayfield said.


"Sunrail in Orlando is a fine example of how valuable a properly-operated rail passenger service can be" Did you pull that one out of your ***? Here's just a single feature of your "fine example". The cost of SunRail to issue and collect tickets is greater than the revenue from ticket sales.

I think Seth H Bramson is busy strategizing how to best remove his foot from his mouth.


"Nothing is more important to our state's transportation needs than expanding passenger rail service" Perhaps the most egregiously false statement that could possibly be made on this topic. Pure hallucination.

Also, when he said "the steel wheel on the steel rail is the most effective and most efficient mode of transportation for passengers ever devised" I had to wonder if he was motivated by Auschwitz. Because in all other cases, it's simply a lie.

True. But the "crime" took place nearly 70 years ago - and it's probably too late (costly) to try to make-up for it today. (?)

As usual, they have it cockeyed. While public safety might be a "core function of government," so should common sense be and, as usual, their approach is to try to make the railroad companies responsible for the public's safety, which is ludicrous and nonsensical. When local government entities prohibit railroads from blowing their horns when approaching grade crossings, that, alone, is a criminal act by those whose job it is to work to eliminate criminal behavior and not to engage in it themselves, especially in Florida and specifically in South Florida where so many thoughtless, foolish people think that racing a train to try to beat it to a crossing or going around crossing gates or engaging in other nonsensical acts or actions vis-a-vis an oncoming train is perfectly acceptable. IT NEVER IS and nothing is more important than educating the public regarding the dangers of railroad tracks and oncoming trains. In fact, part of any new legislation should include MANDATORY classes by Operation Lifesaver to educate not only children and teenagers but the general public as to the hows and whys of safety around trains and railroad tracks.

What’s actually “beyond the ken” Seth, is political ignorance of the historically inherent & costly failure of “passenger” railroads.

In many cases it has been found that passenger rail service would lose less money if they removed the ticket selling infrastructure and didn't charge. If each ticket price had to reflect the real cost of service, nobody would ride.

Percentagewise, rail is nearly useless for passengers in Florida. It'a a great way to haul cargo, but not people.

Spot on comment, Robin!


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