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All Aboard Florida Rail Project Chugging Along

What seemed to be a dream that many believed would eventually fade away appears to be picking up steam. According to Florida East Coast Industries (FECI), All Aboard Florida is envisioned to transform the way people travel throughout the state, offering a faster, safer, and more enjoyable mode of transportation. Here is a brief overview of where the proposed $1 billion privately funded passenger rail project currently stands.

Published August 3, 2012 in Transit      9 Comments    Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

John Flint

All Aboard Florida recently announced John Flint as its new senior vice president of rail infrastructure.  With over 30 years of rail experience, previous projects Flint has worked on includes Chicago Transit Authority's Red Line and Miami International Airport's automated people mover system. His responsibilities with All Aboard Florida include managing environmental permitting as well as overseeing the design, engineering and construction of the system and station platforms.


Rail Stations

FECI is currently in the process of scouting station locations at Orlando International Airport and in downtown Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach.  FECI already is in possession of 9 acres in downtown Miami, adjacent to existing metrorail and metromover stations.  There, FEC desires to create a "Grand Central Station" that could include everything from offices to residences. In Fort Lauderdale, it appears the desired station location will be next to an existing bus terminal that will also provide connectivity with that city's proposed 2.7-mile Wave streetcar line.

The BeachLine Expressway

Since the FEC corridor hugs Florida's east coast, between Jacksonville and Miami, how this proposed passenger rail system would connect with Orlando has been a major question mark.  It appears the project's route to Orlando has been identified.  FECI is currently working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to secure the permits to lay 40 miles of new track from Cocoa to Orlando International Airport along the Beachline Expressway. FECI anticipates finalizing right-of-way agreements by the end of summer, enabling the first phase of the rail project to be in operation by 2014.

It is estimated that ticket pricing would fall in the range of $59 to $69.  By comparison, a same-day flight between could be as much as $400.If this initial project is successful, FECI intends to extend the service to Jacksonville and Tampa.  

For more information, click HERE.

Article by Ennis Davis

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August 03, 2012, 04:37:07 AM
Small point, but isn't SOM based out of Chicago?


August 03, 2012, 07:08:20 AM
Yes, you're right.  Their first branch outside of Chicago, opened in New York in 1937.


August 03, 2012, 07:14:10 AM
"All Aboard Florida is envisioned to transform the way people travel throughout the state, offering a faster, safer, and more enjoyable mode of transportation"

Faster? We'll see if reality matches expectations.  Safer?  No doubt!  Traveling by car is the most dangerous thing most Americans do everyday.  More enjoyable?  I think that will depend on the individual.  Less convenient?  This wasn't mentioned in the article but it's the main drawback to all forms of mass transit and what makes the high cost of car ownership and use worth the extra expense.  The best thing about this rail venture is all the money for it will come from voluntary contributors.


August 03, 2012, 08:18:18 AM
I do think if they are able to show you can make a bunch of money developing real estate with rail as a loss leader that will be impressive.


August 03, 2012, 09:36:38 AM

Not to worry, they've been doing the impossible for a long, long, time

Captain Zissou

August 03, 2012, 11:24:50 AM
I miss Bill Killingsworth.


August 03, 2012, 11:29:29 AM
I'm impressed with All Aboard Florida's recent hirings and pace of moving things forward.  It will be interesting to see what happens across this state in the development world, if they make a killing off TOD.


August 03, 2012, 01:41:09 PM
I miss Bill Killingsworth.

he's still around and, from what I hear, working on some pretty interesting things of late


August 09, 2012, 04:26:52 AM
Florida East Coast Industries said its "All Aboard Florida" project is financially viable without any need for federal and state grants or subsidies.

"After completing our due diligence we have decided to go through with it," said Husein Cumber, vice president of corporate development at Florida East Coast Railway, which operates the company's existing freight line.

Construction would begin in early 2013, Cumber said, and when completed the new service would be the only privately run, non-subsidized passenger rail link between two major cities in the United States. A similar private scheme has been proposed in Texas to link Houston and Dallas.

Amtrak, the government-owned national rail corporation, currently offers a twice daily service between Miami and Orlando, taking five to seven hours.

The announcement comes after Florida Governor Rick Scott rejected federal funding in 2011 for a high-speed rail service linking Tampa, Orlando and Miami, saying the state could not afford it.

The new service is designed for tourists and business travelers and would link two of Florida's major urban centers, Cumber told members of the Beacon Council, a public-private partnership to promote business development in Miami-Dade County.

The $1 billion cost includes a set of 10 diesel-powered trains with a 400-seat capacity offering an hourly service with First-class and Business-class seating, gourmet dining and Wi-Fi, as well as new tracks and stations in downtown Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and the Orlando airport.

The trains would make the journey in 3 hours 3 minutes traveling at speeds of up to 110 mph at a "cost competitive" price compared to the cheapest round-trip airfare of $140-160 or the roughly $120 cost of car travel, Cumber said.


All Aboard Florida would be financed through a combination of debt and equity and would create 6,000 rail construction jobs and 1,000 permanent positions once in operation, he said.

FECI is owned by the Fortress Investment Group and currently operates a 351-mile (565-km) single-track freight rail system along Florida's east coast with a fleet of 85 diesel electronic locomotives and 4,800 freight cars. It generated operating revenues of about $208 million last year.

FECI plans to double-track its existing line along a 100-foot (30-meter) wide corridor that runs most of the 230-mile route between Miami and Orlando, adding an extension for a section from the coast inland to Orlando.

The company also owns 9 acres in the heart of downtown Miami, the site of the former Henry Flagler railroad station, named after the rail pioneer who built Florida's first east-coast railroad system 100 years ago linking Jacksonville to Key West.

"We are now hoping to bring passengers back in a second wave of economic development," said Cumber.

The company is also examining the possibility of expansion to Tampa on Florida's west coast and Jacksonville in the northeast of the state.

Cumber said studies show about 50 million people travel between Miami and Orlando every year, 95 percent making the journey by car in around four to five hours.

Orlando is the most visited city in the nation with 52 million visitors a year, said Cumber. Besides being home to Walt Disney World and Universal Studios, as well as the University of Central Florida, the nation's second largest university, the city is a major convention destination.

Miami-Dade County has 2.5 million residents, making it the seventh most populous county in the nation, as well as a popular tourist destination and the cruise ship capital of the world.

"It sounds very promising. You have an incredible amount of population density on the east coast, and that's important to any kind of high speed rail project," said Petra Todorovich, a transportation specialist with Regional Plan Association, a New York-based think tank.

Cumber said the new service is being designed to meet the expectations of the traveling public and would also reduce traffic congestion and accidents. Rail travel, he said, would be "faster and safer."
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