Some things that impressed me about the first ever ride on Brightline:
The stations are particularly impressive, laid out extremely well, clean and ultra-modern. The ticketing process seems to be the easiest ticketing process I’ve seen on any passenger rail system. Turnstiles are very similar to Japan’s with a tap-n-go scanning system on your phone, ticket or season pass card.
The stations also have food, souvenirs, and clean bathrooms. You can get coffee, snacks, a wide selection of drinks, and alcohol are also available. Sitting areas are very comfortable and exceeding airline wait areas, with plush minimalist seats for open space, well-lit areas, and a slew of charging ports and electric outlets (unlike some airports *cough* San Francisco *cough*)
Not everything is perfect yet, the one thing that irked me was the Dyson faucets designed by somebody who thought it was a great idea to install a hand drying system RIGHT INSIDE THE FAUCET! It saves space, sure, but not t-shirts, but that’s one thing that can easily be fixed. Also, a personal preference, maybe the installation of a large clock in some areas and on the station platform itself, instead of a small time stamp on the large screens surrounding the area.
Now for the trains themselves, getting on it was a breeze with the level platforms, extendable gangway/gap-closer to ease the access of those on wheelchairs and legs that aren’t working up to speed (or certain people like myself that had leg day yesterday).
The aisles are the widest I’ve ever seen, and I had no issues getting through, even with the snack carts in the aisle. The ambiance of the coaches themselves is super modern and relaxing, with ambient lighting that dims down for night riding.
Then there are the seats! These are the biggest seats I’ve ever sat on in any train! Big leather seats, a simple recline button, and HUGE tables! Also, there’s no shortage of USB or power ports. Reading lights are reachable and fixed, but they’re in a perfect position, and climate control isn’t necessary since the trains themselves are at a comfortable temperature already.
Ride quality is the best on any train in North America, little to no bumps and glides over grade crossings thanks to the upgrades by FEC. We also experienced an emergency stop which was quick, smooth, and not jarring, so I’m confident the PTC system will work to it’s fullest and we won’t see accidents such as the recent ones in Pennsylvania and Washington.
There is smart class and select class, which are the coach and first class respectively; we tried both. Honestly, the only difference most people will notice between the seating and experience is that Smart Class has a wider seat, more leg room, and free drinks and snacks – the seats feel the same to me but I can basically sleep on rocks and school desks and be fine so take my advice with a grain of salt.
Internet is fast, pretty simple to access it with speeds around 10-15mbs download, enough to stream videos in 1080p and play games at relatively low to medium ping rates.
The train reaches 79-80 mph pretty quickly for a diesel, feels closer to an electric train in terms of acceleration. We know that’s not fast for our friends in Europe and Asia, but please give us burgers a break! It’s our first foray in HSR.
Thanks to Tolga Erbora for also joining Darius Villa and me on this historic journey!
I’ll also answer any questions about the Brightline and upload more pictures.