Police: 2 killed when Brightline commuter train hits SUV in Florida

SUV was on the tracks when it was hit, officials said

This is a file photo of a Brightline train, not the train involved in the story. (WPLG)

DELRAY BEACH, Fla. – Two people are dead after their SUV was struck by a high-speed commuter train in South Florida, the latest in a string of accidents that have plagued Brightline since its inception more than five years ago, authorities said.

The train crashed Wednesday night in Delray Beach, south of West Palm Beach. Witnesses told police the vehicle was on the tracks when it was hit by the southbound Brightline train, officials said.

The National Transportation Safety Board announced that it was launching a team to conduct a safety investigation of the crash.

At least 88 deaths have now been connected to Brightline, Florida’s privately owned passenger railroad, since it began operations in July 2017, running from West Palm Beach to Miami.

That’s one death for approximately every 32,000 miles (51,000 kilometers) its trains travel, the highest rate among the nation’s more than 800 railroads, according to an ongoing Associated Press analysis that began in 2019.

Among U.S. railroads that log at least 100,000 train-miles (160,000 train-kilometers) a year, the next-highest rate since 2017 belongs to central Florida’s SunRail commuter service, which has averaged one death for every 117,000 miles (188,000 kilometers).

None of the deaths involving Brightline have been found to be the railroad’s fault. Most have been suicides, pedestrians who tried to run across the tracks ahead of a train or drivers who maneuvered around crossing gates rather than wait.

Brightline this year plans to expand its service, building rails that will connect West Palm Beach and Orlando. It is also working on a line that will connect Southern California and Las Vegas.