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The $3 billion Brightline express train project will launch this month with trains operating from West Palm Beach to Fort Lauderdale. Courtesy of Brightline hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy of Brightline

The country’s first private high-speed rail service is opening this month in Florida, promising to transform congested South Florida highways by taking as many as 3 million cars off the road.

The ambitious $3 billion Brightline express project will run along the state’s densest population corridor with more than 6 million residents and a regular influx of tourists. The project, funded by All Aboard Florida, represents the first test into the long-awaited U.S. move into high-speed rail, says John Renne, director of the Center for Urban and Environmental Solutions at Florida Atlantic University.

“It’s the first time that it’s happening, being built by a private company,” he tells Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson. “And that’s kind of a game changer for this type of model.”

The model includes developing retail, restaurants and condominiums around the stations. All Aboard Florida secured state approval in October to sell bonds to fund the project. The company has said no public money will be used.

When the service starts this month, Brightline trains will run from West Palm Beach to Fort Lauderdale. Service will expand into downtown Miami early next year and likely to Orlando in the future. Renne says the trip from West Palm to Miami, which can take up to five hours in a car, will take about 60 minutes on the train.

Brightline trains will run along one of the busiest transportation corridors in South Florida. Trains will operate from West Palm Beach to Fort Lauderdale and will expand into Miami early next year. Courtesty

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