Conversation with Paul Schmitt, Director Rail Systems Design & Construction for Brightline Trains, Regarding GTABS’ Critical Work on the Brightline High Speed Rail Project

On February 4, 2021, GTABS, Inc. entered into a Service Agreement with Wabtec/Xorail to perform essential services on Florida’s Brightline High Speed Passenger Rail Project. Since this initial agreement, GTABS consistently provides system test engineering, cut-in support, and other essential engineering functions for Wabtec/Xorail Corporation, on Florida’s $6.2 billion-dollar Brightline High Speed Rail project. 

Brightline initially constructed a new rail line to transport passengers from Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, with further passenger rail service connecting to Orlando.  An additional stop along South Florida Express line has been implemented, which now includes a station in Aventura, Boca Raton.

GTABS’s engineering capabilities and achievements in this project affected positive change with citizens and visitors to Florida, as this project has reenergized static neighborhoods with transportation hubs including modern stations, office, retail, residential and commercial space. Moreover, an expanded Brightline helped alleviate traffic congestion along some of the most historically dangerous highways for motorists in the nation. 

GTABS provided the following critical engineering services on all Phases (I and II) of implementation: Service Test Engineering, Construction Management, Project Management, Signal Engineering, and Signal Design.

GTABS’s Director of Communications and Marketing recently had an opportunity to talk with Paul Schmitt, Director Rail Systems Design & Construction for Brightline Trains, regarding the critical roles GTABS has and continues to play in this monumental project. 

Rod Jackson (GTABS): Paul, thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to discuss GTABS’s essential roles in this ongoing and monumental project.

Paul Schmitt (Brightline):  You are quite welcome, Rod.

Rod Jackson (GTABS): GTABS strives to perform a high-level, reliable signal communications from a systems perspective. Can you provide an assessment of the work GTABS has provided on this ground-breaking project?

Paul Schmitt (Brightline):  We look to GTABS and rely on their experience as capable cut-over guys. They are always willing to step up to the tasks at hand. They are nimble and flexible.  We really appreciate those attributes. Anytime we have given GTABS field work, they always figure out a way to get the job done within the allotted timeframe.  

Rod Jackson (GTABS): GTABS was responsible for system testing and cutting-over crossings from Miami to Cocoa. Can you discuss the significance of this? 

Paul Schmitt (Brightline):  It’s the extra due diligence that’s key – we go back through with testing. GTABS obviously has a lot of experience with this. We have a dense, complex crossing system so the fact that they understand it and the complexities involved in it is huge. 

Rod Jackson (GTABS): Can you speak to GTABS’ capability in installing continuous wayside signals and configuring CAB signals?  

Paul Schmitt (Brightline):  We have a CAB signal down here [South Florida] from West Palm Beach to Cocoa…two separate systems. They tend to be test leads with group and route and signal testing — basically check all the boxes including route and regulatory testing. They enter the data. Though they don’t necessarily write the software and install the infrastructure, they are a big part of commissioning it.

Rod Jackson (GTABS): Can you discuss GTABS involvement with dispatch its connection with safety regulations? 

Paul Schmitt (Brightline):  GTABS works on final steps of inputting a segment or a line in an area for service to hand it over to dispatch. They take all necessary steps to ensure everything is fail safe and meets all regulatory requirements.

Rod Jackson (GTABS): GTABS has performed FRA testing on all data entering Phase I. Can you speak to the importance of this? 

Paul Schmitt (Brightline):  Yes, GTABS helped with configuration, change management, and addressed challenges from years before and they did a complete audit of all the tests in the database. They performed all the testing to make sure that the 68-mile segment was compliant.

Rod Jackson (GTABS): How do you view the roles of GTABS regarding future projects? 

Paul Schmitt (Brightline):  I view GTABS as primarily signal engineers.  They are experienced and highly capable. 

Rod Jackson (GTABS): Paul, thank you again for your time. 

Paul Schmitt (Brightline):  You are welcome, Rod.