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FECI Bringing Private Passenger Rail To Florida By 2014

Florida East Coast Industries, Inc. (FECI) recently announced its intention to develop a privately owned, operated and maintained passenger rail service connecting South Florida and Orlando by 2014. If the 240-mile route, which would combine 200 miles of existing track and 40 miles of new, is successful, FECI plans to extend service to Jacksonville and Tampa. What could this mean for Jacksonville?

Published March 27, 2012 in Transit      64 Comments    Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article


feature

Called "All Aboard Florida," the intercity passenger rail project will include business- and coach- class service with advance purchase reserved seating, gourmet meals, Wi-Fi, and the ability to work productively throughout the entire trip.  FECI began a feasibility analysis for the project several months ago.  Currently, the company is conducting an investment grade ridership study and engineering work to design the system, planned to be operational by 2014.  Exact station locations have not been announced, although the major stops are anticipated to be located in Orlando, West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, and Miami.  According to the company’s press release, “All Aboard Florida" will provide a high-quality experience for passengers, and will be the first privately owned, operated, and maintained passenger rail system in the United States.  


The "All Aboard Florida" rail system would initially connect Miami and Orlando with hourly train service.  If successful, the system could be extended to Jacksonville and Tampa.

Since the idea of a privately operated passenger rail system is a foreign concept to Jacksonville and the State of Florida, several questions have been raised since the announcement.  These questions include:


Is A 2014 Start Date Too Ambitious?

Used to public rail start-ups moving at a snail's pace, many believe that having this system operating by 2014 is impossible.  However, FECI believes otherwise.  In the event that 40 miles of new track between Orlando and Cocoa is not complete by 2014, the railroad would run on the existing FEC from Miami to Cocoa, and offer temporary connecting service to Orlando.


How Fast Will Trains Go?

Amtrak currently runs a daily service between Orlando and Miami, but it isn't direct, and takes between five and seven hours.  FECI envisions a three-hour trip between the cities at an average speed similar to the Acela between New York and Washington, DC.  Trains will likely run at 79 mph from Miami to West Palm Beach, 110 mph from West Palm Beach to Cocoa, and 125 mph on the new segment to Orlando.  


How Much Would It Cost?

The initial 240-mile project between Orlando and downtown Miami is expected to cost $1 billion.  While this may seem like a lot to many, FECI's parent company, Fortress Investment Group, has $43.7 billion in assets and raised $4.2 billion in capital during 2011.  In addition, FECI owns Flagler Development Group, a real estate company that owns 5,000 acres of land in Florida, including 9 acres in downtown Miami that would be used for a new passenger station and transit-oriented development.


Will This Negatively Impact the Amtrak/FEC Project?

Plans for implementing Amtrak service between Jacksonville and Miami by 2015 are still moving forward.  Additional passenger rail should complement Amtrak track with the double tracking of the FEC corridor and shared station facilities.  In addition, with the coordination of schedules, both systems should have the ability to feed each other with additional riders.


How Frequent Will Trains Travel?

Eugene Skoropowski, FECI's recently hired senior vice president of passenger rail development, envisions trains operating on one-hour headways.  Skoropowski describes the FECI project as "Capital Corridor East" but with a much bigger market.  Before joining FECI, he became well known in the railroad industry for his successful management of California's Capitol Corridor passenger service.  The Capitol Corridor is a 168-mile passenger train route operated by Amtrak between the San Francisco Bay Area and Sacramento.  Started in 1991, the hybrid intercity/commuter rail service carried over 1.7 million passengers during the fiscal year 2011.


What About Connecting Service?

A common complaint regarding Florida's defunct High Speed Rail project was that passengers weren't able to get around cities due to a lack of local mass transit offerings.  Unlike the High Speed Rail project, FECI's service will directly connect the downtown cores of Florida's populated East Coast cities with one another.  In addition, intermodal centers will be initially located in Orlando, West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, and Miami, allowing passengers direct access to Tri-Rail, Sunrail, Metrorail, Metromover, Wave Streetcar, Amtrak, and local bus services.  In addition, intermodal centers will provide direct access to Orlando, Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood, West Palm Beach, and Miami International Airports.


How Many Jobs Will Be Created?

FECI envisions approximately 6,000 direct jobs will be needed to construct the system and over 1,000 more jobs will be needed to operate and maintain it.  In addition, the project will create new transit-oriented economic development opportunities along the entire 240-mile route.


Could This Involve More Than Passenger Rail?

While much of the media has focused on this project from a passenger rail component, a new FECI alignment between Cocoa and Orlando provides FECI and Norfolk Southern direct freight access into Florida's most rapidly growing metropolitan area.  Already owning thousands of acres of land throughout Florida, FECI would stand to financially benefit from industrial activity between Orlando and Port Canaveral.  Long term, if the line is extended to Tampa, FECI and the 'Norfolk Southern Thoroughbred' could become a viable freight option in a region with more than seven million residents where CSX is currently the lone horse.


Congresswoman Corrine Brown Excited

Not surprisingly, this story hasn’t caught on here as much as it has around the state.  However, at least one of our region’s representatives has publicly expressed their excitement:

Quote
Congresswoman Corrine Brown is extremely excited with the announcement of Florida East Coast Railway’s All Aboard Florida initiative. The Congresswoman is always looking for expanded opportunities for rail service throughout Florida and the nation. “I can assure everyone that I will continue to work with the railway to tap any federal resources necessary to make this project a success,” said the Congresswoman.
 
“Indeed,” she continued, “this project serves as a perfect example of how the private market has come to recognize the public’s desire for transportation options as our roads become more and more crowded in all of our nation’s metropolitan areas. This environmentally responsible option will bring more jobs and get commuters and tourists moving faster than they would be able to travel on any highway. Furthermore, these new lines will work hand-in hand with Sunrail to enhance the multimodal system that is expanding throughout the state.”
http://corrinebrown.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=636:congresswoman-corrine-brown-thrilled-with-florida-east-coast-railways-all-aboard-florida-initiative&catid=3:press-releases&Itemid=35


What Does This Mean For Jacksonville?



FEC and Amtrak still plan to operate their new intercity rail service between Jacksonville and Miami by 2015.  The long term plan for the "Flagler Line" was to grow it into a corridor service with frequent trains traveling from Cocoa to Miami, joining those running from Jacksonville to Miami, complementing long-distance intercity service.  FECI's proposed privately owned and operated service can complement the Amtrak project in many ways;  In terms of capital costs, the double tracking of the FEC corridor to increase the corridor's capacity, (ability to efficiently move passenger and freight trains) should reduce the financial burden on the Amtrak project.  In addition, the corridor project's frequency of service will potentially feed Amtrak with more rail passengers between Cocoa and Jacksonville.  Long term, assuming this system is successful in its early years, the extension of corridor service into Jacksonville essentially delivers frequent regional rail service between downtown and St. Augustine, services that many believe JTA won't be able to deliver any time soon.  

For several years, Metro Jacksonville has been a strong local advocate of statewide passenger corridor service on existing rail infrastructure instead of High Speed Rail.  We've always felt that such a service would better serve local residents, commuters, and tourists at a significantly cheaper cost than HSR.  The announcement of FECI's project validates this belief and if Jacksonville were smart, we'd start aggressively planning and promoting the concept to be extended to our community.

It's very possible that Jacksonville could become a hub for frequent regional passenger corridor service and once again, a passenger rail gateway to Florida before this decade is over.   From a local planning standpoint, it means that it's time for Jacksonville's officials and residents to move into the 21st century and plan in advance for the world that continues to change outside of our borders.  This includes hiring a competent replacement for JTA’s Michael Blaylock, who recently announced his resignation.  That replacement should be a candidate who is well versed in the operation and implementation of a multimodal mass transit system.  In addition, those seeking to pump life into our morbid downtown should place a higher priority on relocating Jacksonville passenger rail station back to downtown.


Article by Ennis Davis.







64 Comments

acme54321

March 27, 2012, 06:41:38 AM
Good article.  2014 is a lofty goal, hope they can pull it off.  I assume they are already well underway in in aquiring the ROW.

"What the Local Leaders Are Saying?" - Might want to fix that.

thelakelander

March 27, 2012, 07:00:17 AM
They already own 200 miles of ROW with track already installed between Miami and Cocoa.  That will most likely be the part of the corridor that is operational in two years.

acme54321

March 27, 2012, 07:05:31 AM
Right, I meant the section between Orlando and Cocoa.

thelakelander

March 27, 2012, 07:18:26 AM
I don't believe they have started purchasing ROW.  They are still evaluating two potential corridors.  If that 40 mile segment isn't up by 2014, they mentioned they'd run a connecting temporary shuttle service.

dougskiles

March 27, 2012, 10:15:44 AM
This is great news.  I wonder why is it not receiving more local coverage?  I don't even know that our newspaper has reported on it.

jcjohnpaint

March 27, 2012, 10:21:29 AM
Lake,
If I am understanding this correctly, if the line from Orlando to Jacksonville was built- it would act as commuter trains as well?

jcjohnpaint

March 27, 2012, 10:22:28 AM
once in the city of Jacksonville?

jcjohnpaint

March 27, 2012, 10:24:32 AM
which would also mean getting the old rail station ready?

thelakelander

March 27, 2012, 10:32:56 AM
It appears they are designing a corridor service, which has grown to be pretty successful throughout California.  A corridor service is essentially an intercity rail system that is designed to also cater to everyday commuters.  Thus, they can be described as a hybrid between traditional long distance intercity and commuter rail.  For example, All Aboard Florida plans to have trains running every hour between Orlando and Miami.  At that frequency, one could easily live in a community like Cocoa and work in Orlando without having to drive their car.  Locally, we have major bus routes in town still on hourly headways. 

If the initial Orlando to Miami segment is successful, an extension to Jacksonville (along the FEC corridor north of Cocoa) has been mentioned by FECI as a possibility.  Depending on the headways and station locations, such an extension could function like commuter rail by linking downtown Jacksonville and St. Augustine with several trains in both directions daily.

thelakelander

March 27, 2012, 10:35:44 AM
which would also mean getting the old rail station ready?

We need to take the initiative locally, to get the old rail station ready because such a move would economically benefit Jacksonville locally moreso than anyone else.  I wouldn't count on any other entity to lead the effort to revitalize our own downtown.

acme54321

March 27, 2012, 10:46:56 AM
Using the station again would be great.  Seeing as it's also the north terminus of the FEC it would also make the most sense!

Ocklawaha

March 27, 2012, 12:30:42 PM
EAT YOUR HEART OUT BOYS AND GIRLS! Oh yeah, that St. Lucie Sound, was usually my "private car."

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/YRntkdrQWNc?version=3&amp;amp;hl=en_US" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/YRntkdrQWNc?version=3&amp;amp;hl=en_US</a>

JeffreyS

March 27, 2012, 12:35:13 PM
If we could get stops for two Amtrak trains and four FECI trains a day in Downtown, the Avenues and St. Augustine that would be wonderful.

jaxlore

March 27, 2012, 12:50:45 PM
Nice!

duvaldude08

March 27, 2012, 01:06:32 PM
Well from what Im getting Jacksonville is not included so what is there is get excited about. ? Seems to me NE Florida is left out again as usual.  I cant get excited about a "possiable"extension. Somebody set me straight because Im not excited about this.  :-\

JFman00

March 27, 2012, 01:18:19 PM
Well from what Im getting Jacksonville is not included so what is there is get excited about. ? Seems to me NE Florida is left out again as usual.  I cant get excited about a "possiable"extension. Somebody set me straight because Im not excited about this.  :-\

I think hopeful/optimistic would be a reasonable reaction. It's definitely a good impetus to reclaim Union Station.

cline

March 27, 2012, 01:34:52 PM
Well from what Im getting Jacksonville is not included so what is there is get excited about. ? Seems to me NE Florida is left out again as usual.  I cant get excited about a "possiable"extension. Somebody set me straight because Im not excited about this.  :-\

The map and article clearly state that it eventually will be extended to Jax if the initial route is successful.

duvaldude08

March 27, 2012, 01:38:29 PM
Yeah nothings a guarentee for NE Florida  ::) Well see what happens

cline

March 27, 2012, 01:40:38 PM
Yeah nothings a guarentee for NE Florida  ::) Well see what happens

I have not read the feasibility study but perhaps they determined that the ORL-MIA was more feasible to start with in order to insure a greater chance at success.  Those are both large population centers.

urbaknight

March 27, 2012, 03:56:33 PM
Blaylock's out?! That's great news! I hope we can get someone in who's NOT connected to local powers that be. A fresh outsider is what we need to move forward. And with this forcast of passenger rail returning to the state, we have time to find the money in order to get the DT station ready.

Those on this site that talked about running for council, please do it. Run, win, and help to make this project a priority. 

mtraininjax

March 27, 2012, 04:48:08 PM
Uh, Blaylock is not officially out, and the JTA board has come out and said he will be there for at least 2 years as a consultant. He resigned on his own accord, of course we still have to pay him for his own resignation. It all stinks to high heaven.

FECI line does initially exclude Jax, but that is OK with me. Best to see if they can make it work between Miami and Orlando for now, if it does work, wow, what a great deal that will be to be in Miami faster than you can drive and a lot less than the cost of flight. The current Amtrak route took us 9 hours down and back. We spent more time on the train than in Miami.

tufsu1

March 27, 2012, 10:15:19 PM
Uh, Blaylock is not officially out, and the JTA board has come out and said he will be there for at least 2 years as a consultant. He resigned on his own accord, of course we still have to pay him for his own resignation. It all stinks to high heaven.

not quite...the Board saiid he COULD be available as a consultant for up to 2 years...I don't actually expect them to use him

Jaxson

March 28, 2012, 01:27:41 AM
This private venture, if successful, could help to spur a new birth for passenger rail.

thelakelander

March 28, 2012, 07:13:06 AM
Going back to the model of infrastructure implementation that built this state and country.  Rail mixed with TOD.  We saw this coming a mile away.

Quote
The company claims the service “will remove up to three million cars from our roadways annually, mitigating traffic congestion and lowering carbon emissions.” It also promises more than 6,000 new jobs building the line and another 1,000 permanent jobs operating it – “not counting additional jobs from property development around the rail system that could create even more employment opportunities.”

That last part might give a clue as to why FECI is interested in this venture when it will be hard pressed to make back the $1 billion it’s investing in the rail service. Druce speculated that the profits could come not from ridership but from the increased value of properties along the line:

While it would run on Florida East Coast Railway track, the announcement was made by their holding company Florida East Coast Industries which describes itself as a major real-estate owner and developer in the state of Florida. Looking into their holdings, we find one very prominent eight acre parcel in downtown Miami that is especially interesting. This used to actually be the location of the FEC Miami station and skirting the northern edge of the property there remains a single tracked FEC line. It also currently possesses an entitlement for up to 2.5 million square feet of mixed use development.


While this area is certainly valuable enough as is, both due to its inherent location as well as its proximity to Metrorail and Metromover stations, the addition of easily accessible intercity rail connections to the rest of the state greatly boosts that value, especially if developed with an eye towards the tourist trade.

Druce told me that running freight to Orlando on its new line will also be a money-maker.

Transit construction is sometimes financed with taxes and fees on property owners and merchants along the route who will benefit from the line, but FECI isn’t trying to demand anything from other property owners. “Increased tax revenues from rising property values near stations can be applied towards local needs (e.g. schools, parks, public works, police and fire protection),” the company said in its announcement.

More info: http://dc.streetsblog.org/2012/03/27/can-a-100-private-passenger-rail-line-turn-a-profit/

Here's the land FEC owns in downtown Miami:

tufsu1

March 28, 2012, 07:58:50 AM
also note that MetroRail parallels the site in the picture above....and MetroMover cuts through it

acme54321

March 28, 2012, 08:54:04 AM
Too bad they don't own a similar piece of land in San Marco or DT.

I wonder if they still have the ROW into the JEA Southbank property?

thelakelander

March 28, 2012, 09:29:04 AM
JTA and COJ own half of LaVilla. There's a lot of TOD that could go up around a compact JRTC.

acme54321

March 28, 2012, 12:04:56 PM
JTA and COJ own half of LaVilla. There's a lot of TOD that could go up around a compact JRTC.

Yeah but if FECI already had property railside in DT Jax somewhere that could be developed into TOD it might give them an incentive to run the line to Jax sooner than later. 

mtraininjax

March 28, 2012, 12:25:41 PM
Quote
not quite...the Board saiid he COULD be available as a consultant for up to 2 years...I don't actually expect them to use him

They are stilllllll paying him though for another year, so why not use him as a consultant. Strip decision making power from him, but use his experience at the very least. I know how much we love him as a leader, but really, does it make you feel better to know we are paying him $287,000 well into 2013 for him to work a 2nd job? Nice double-dipping. Put his butt to work, somehow. Maybe he could drive a bus?

thelakelander

March 28, 2012, 12:43:35 PM
JTA and COJ own half of LaVilla. There's a lot of TOD that could go up around a compact JRTC.

Yeah but if FECI already had property railside in DT Jax somewhere that could be developed into TOD it might give them an incentive to run the line to Jax sooner than later. 
They have tons of land between Jax and Cocoa that can be developed.  I wouldn't be surprised if service to Jax happens before Tampa. However, Miami to Orlando makes economic sense as an initial segment.

aclchampion

April 11, 2012, 05:25:01 PM
I had a chance earlier this week to chat with Mayor Brown about the FECI project, a project that he and his office were aware of. He is a supporter of commuter rail and would like to see light rail from all parts of Duval County. Of course he mentioned how much he likes public private partnerships and wouldn't mind seeing such a service in Jacksonville if it didn't cost the taxpayers any money. One thing that surprised me however was his response to my question about the recent meeting in Daytona. He said he was unaware such a meeting even took place.
MJ, have you guys had a chance to speak to him at all about the FECI project? And if not, maybe this might be a good time.

tufsu1

April 11, 2012, 09:20:51 PM
several of us have been talking to the Mayor and his staff about transit on all levels....streetcar, BRT, commuter rail, and Amtrak....the odd thing is he keeps talking about light rail, which hasn't really been studied in Jax.

thelakelander

April 11, 2012, 09:45:02 PM
I had the opportunity to sit in on their meeting with the Times-Union's editorial staff today, where they explained their economic development proposals.  They pretty much said that at some point, there will be some type of new convention center done, although the feasibility of how large or small it will be still needs to be determined.  Since that's the case, there needs to be a bigger discussion about the JRTC and coordinating it's buildout with whatever the new DIA will be cooking up over the next couple of years.

That discussion should include resolving whatever is needed to get Amtrak back downtown, making a long term plan with the existing convention center box, and pushing the possibility of TOD on current COJ owned properties adjacent to the JRTC property.  There's too much money at sake to not collaborate the planning of both of these projects.

Ocklawaha

April 12, 2012, 08:49:49 AM
several of us have been talking to the Mayor and his staff about transit on all levels....streetcar, BRT, commuter rail, and Amtrak....the odd thing is he keeps talking about light rail, which hasn't really been studied in Jax.

Perhaps he understands that streetcar is a form of light-rail, only... um... lighter. Streetcar lines can also be light-rail lines if built to those standards.

For example we could have light rail to Orange Park, Airport and the beaches and downtown, while having a network of historic style streetcars in Springfield, Riverside, Avondale etc... The airport route might use some of the streetcar line to reach downtown.

For example: Imagine a streetcar line running up North Main Street to 8Th Street, at 8Th the streetcar turns west and heads down to Shands. Light-Rail cars use the same line between downtown and the corner of Main and 8Th, but then the light-rail line continues north and actually joins a railroad right-of-way (The former S Line) at this point it shoots straight north to Airport Road on RAILROAD tracks. It CAN be done.

So you build segments of streetcar to light-rail standards, but you save $$ by not having to build all of the streetcar routes to that standard.

OCKLAWAHA

JeffreyS

April 12, 2012, 09:21:14 AM
My guess is the Mayor is using the term "light rail" generically instead of passenger rail.

fsujax

April 12, 2012, 09:28:05 AM
Yeah. Ed Burr mentioned light rail at the ULI breakfast yesterday. I think most people just use it as a generic term, because it's easy for most to understand. At least they talking about it. thats a good thing.

thelakelander

April 12, 2012, 10:24:29 AM
^Yes.  I remember in the days of Metjax and Urban Planet talk about any type of rail in Jax was completely nonexistent.

Ocklawaha

April 13, 2012, 09:57:04 PM

Going back to the model of infrastructure implementation that built this state and country.  Rail mixed with TOD.  We saw this coming a mile away.







That's one hell of a piece of property! Note the parking lots to the right in the photo (former rail yard) which goes right up to the metro rail system. The FEC RY right-of-way continues north from here and links to the current mainline according to local sources.

OCKLAWAHA

JohnBalzer

April 22, 2012, 08:56:21 AM
It is wonderful to have private industry perform this expansion and make the improvements in Florida's infrastructure.  While Tallahassee has failed to do anything to relieve the intercity highway congestion here comes a great solution and accomplishing the goal in just two years is outstanding. Also unlike most government initiatives, this railway will achieve great ridership and make money for Florida. It's a win-win for everybody!

Ocklawaha

April 22, 2012, 11:45:46 AM
Private industry will own 'the operating rights'. FECI will continue to own the track from Cocoa south to Miami, unless the state of Florida buys them out, in which case the state would own the tracks and the trains, but FECI would own the private concession for operations. The new link in the route will be the Cocoa - Orlando portion which I suspect will be 100% state funded.

Don't expect to see private industry (the railroads) suddenly start building 40, 80 or 100 miles of new track in passenger train infrastructure. FECI KNOWS this railroad project will not turn a profit on the passenger operations, only 2 railroad passenger routes in the world do.

I also suspect the state worked out a deal with the CSX and FECI to sell the passenger operating rights in order for the local Tea Party types to save face. The Republicans in general and the Tea Party in particular hate passenger rail. When they get this thing going I believe they will use it as a tool to bash Amtrak out of the game. "SEE?! Florida has private passenger rail up and running...." and they'll extrapolate that out to mean, "America doesn't need Amtrak..."

In a sense FECI is just going to be another operator, very similar to Amtrak. I believe there has been a back room 'deal' for the state to own the equipment, stations, and 40 miles of the track itself. Flagler Development knows that by placing passenger trains on their railroad, every property they own along the east coast will double in value.

tufsu1

April 22, 2012, 01:50:28 PM
It is wonderful to have private industry perform this expansion and make the improvements in Florida's infrastructure.  While Tallahassee has failed to do anything to relieve the intercity highway congestion here comes a great solution and accomplishing the goal in just two years is outstanding. Also unlike most government initiatives, this railway will achieve great ridership and make money for Florida. It's a win-win for everybody!

don't jump for joy just yet....FEC is still studying to determine feasibility, potential fares, and ridership estimates....and no, it won't be profitable on its own....but FEC knows it opens up some of their land for development and gives them better access to Orlando (and Tampa) for freight.

JohnBalzer

May 07, 2012, 12:47:11 PM
This is the best news Florida has had in a long time. It requires no feasibility study to know the service will fair well. Inter-city connectivity has long been lacking in this state via any singular mode and given the reasonable cost of train travel and the superior comfort it affords over bus or plane, this service will be used by many. The high cost and hassle of doing business between Florida cities can now be surmounted and did it happen because of bureaucrats in state government at taxpayer expense? No! Congratulations to the railroad for this upgrade that will greatly benefit Floridians.

jasandros

May 09, 2012, 01:29:36 AM
Its a shame that so much effort has been put into more and more passenger train service between Jax and Miami while west Florida between jax and Pensacola is being treated like an unwanted stepchild where passenger trains are concerned. Amtrak arbitrarily snatched away the one train we did have with no plans to even implement an Amtrak bus service to the nearest passenger train stop. We need a private company other than Amtrak to look into implementing even a one or two car Train out here.

JeffreyS

May 09, 2012, 09:34:46 AM
Private companies are not coming to save the day. The FECI deal is a perfect storm where by doing the passenger line they make their freight opperations and real estate holdings more profitable.  Passenger rail like streets are going to be government 99% of the time.

tufsu1

May 09, 2012, 01:47:02 PM
Its a shame that so much effort has been put into more and more passenger train service between Jax and Miami while west Florida between jax and Pensacola is being treated like an unwanted stepchild where passenger trains are concerned. Amtrak arbitrarily snatched away the one train we did have with no plans to even implement an Amtrak bus service to the nearest passenger train stop. We need a private company other than Amtrak to look into implementing even a one or two car Train out here.

well south Florida alone has over 5 million people....and north Florida (from Jax. to Pensacola) has roughly 2 million people.

that said, Amtrak would love to resume service on both the FEC and Sunset Limited routes....but neither one will happen as long as Congress annually talks about cutting their budget!

bill

May 09, 2012, 02:03:51 PM
Its a shame that so much effort has been put into more and more passenger train service between Jax and Miami while west Florida between jax and Pensacola is being treated like an unwanted stepchild where passenger trains are concerned. Amtrak arbitrarily snatched away the one train we did have with no plans to even implement an Amtrak bus service to the nearest passenger train stop. We need a private company other than Amtrak to look into implementing even a one or two car Train out here.

I think you mean subsidy
well south Florida alone has over 5 million people....and north Florida (from Jax. to Pensacola) has roughly 2 million people.

that said, Amtrak would love to resume service on both the FEC and Sunset Limited routes....but neither one will happen as long as Congress annually talks about cutting their budget!

yapp1850

June 20, 2012, 10:28:30 PM
U.S. Rep. John Mica is doing everything he can to help Florida East Coast Industries establish passenger rail service from Miami to Orlando.
 
On Wednesday Mica, the chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, announced that he was expecting the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to fast track the approval of permits for the passenger rail service.
 
“With the right-of-way already in place there is no reason to drag this out,” Mica said in a letter to Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works) Jo Ellen Darcy.  “This should not be a bureaucratic process."
 
FEC announced earlier this year that it was establishing private passener rail service within the next two years with stations in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Orlando. If it's successful, FEC will look at expanding the service to Tampa and Jacksonville.

Ocklawaha

June 20, 2012, 11:35:21 PM
Good catch Yapp, here is the complete text.

OCKLAWAHA

Quote
Mica Sets High-Speed Approval for Miami-Orlando Private Rail Service
06/18/12
Washington, DC – Promising to cut through the permitting red tape, U.S. Rep. John L. Mica (R-FL) is putting the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on notice this week that he expects the agency to fast track the approval of permits for privately sponsored passenger rail service over an existing rail corridor and transportation right-of-way between Miami and Orlando.

In a letter today to Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works) Jo Ellen Darcy, Mica followed up on discussions with the Corps in Washington and Jacksonville about shrinking the approval schedule and expediting the private sector rail project.

“With the right-of-way already in place there is no reason to drag this out,” Mica said.  “This should not be a bureaucratic process.  Imagine the government actually acting quickly to put people to work, expand private investment in a billion-dollar infrastructure project, and get cars off our congested highways.”

Mica recently met with Corps of Engineers officials to discuss fast forwarding the required environmental reviews that will allow the project to proceed, and work on a plan that could bring the route into service by early 2015.  Mica expects the Corps’ environmental review and permitting process to be completed within 12 months, since the planned route travels over an existing rail right-of-way and other existing transportation corridors.

The “All Aboard Florida” passenger rail project sponsored by Florida East Coast Industries will provide frequent service between Orlando and Miami. The 230-mile distance will be covered in approximately three hours at speeds of up to 110 mph.

“Hopefully we can fast forward this private sector passenger rail project that will not cost the taxpayers a penny,” added Mica, who chairs the U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.  “Restoring passenger rail service along this historic corridor will bring an economic boost to Florida’s East Coast and the Orlando area, and will do so without any federal grants and without leaving Florida taxpayers on the hook.”

yapp1850

June 21, 2012, 03:22:08 PM
Orlando International Airport may soon be connected to Miami by rail, according to a release from the airport. In discussions held at the June meeting of the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority, the board was asked to consider a request by Florida East Coast Industries (FECI) to develop the first passenger rail service from Orlando International to Miami by 2015.
 
The board approved the request and authorized the executive director to develop an agreement with FECI to provide commercial passenger rail service to Orlando International Airport's Intermodal Facility to be presented to the aviation authority board.
 
Privately-owned FECI plans to add approximately 40 miles of new track that will link Orlando to the company's 200 miles of rail infrastructure already in place. The passenger rail service will be called All Aboard Florida.
 
"We view the potential opportunity as positive news because it follows our master and strategic plans. The addition of rail, which has always been viewed as significant, will make Orlando International Airport truly an intermodal gateway," says Phil Brown, executive director of Orlando International Airport.
 
The Greater Orlando Aviation Authority, which operates Orlando International Airport, already has invested in infrastructure for a station that could accommodate up to four rail systems. In discussing the integration of rail Brown explained, "We have planned our intermodal facility in a central location to service both the north and the future south terminal and All Aboard Florida is vying to be the first rail system to operate from it."
 
The station as proposed would incorporate the airport's design concept of The Orlando Experienceâ„¢ with the prevailing use of light, water, gardens and open spaces for meetings and retail concessions.
 
In addition to other proposed community rail systems, including SunRail, the airport's plans include an automated people mover that would provide passengers direct access from the current North Terminal to future expansion, including additional aircraft gates to the South. SunRail will be Central Florida's first commuter rail line connecting four counties and spanning 61.5 miles including a future connection to Orlando International Airport.
 
According to FECI, All Aboard Florida will create jobs and stimulate local economies. The company estimates the project will create about 6,000 construction jobs and 1,000 permanent jobs for Florida workers.
 

thelakelander

June 21, 2012, 03:36:26 PM
I guess this puts an end to the debate over whether this train will be going into downtown Orlando instead of OIA.

Ocklawaha

June 21, 2012, 04:31:35 PM
According to my source within FECI (a top exec) that decision hasn't been made yet. What the news release says is the airport WILL have a station, (DUH!) and someday Sunrail, Amtrak, SEHSR, pogo sticks etc... will service it. This does not say a word about OIA being the main terminal.

If it is, they will sacrifice over 50% of the local market to the super slab for the same reasons that a flying train from OIA to a parking garage in Tampa wouldn't have collected local fares. If I live 23 minutes from the airport (average for the metro area) and have to waste another 20 minutes hunting a parking space and getting to the rail side terminal, I've lost 43 minutes before I step on the 'ALL ABOARD' train. Not to mention that I'm in hock for a $19 a day for parking that I could avoid by 1. driving to Cocoa, Miami, etc... or 2. parking at a lighted Sunrail lot.

They may or may not make this mistake, but if they do, you can bet they'll quickly be looking for a cure, (think: Sanford - Sunrail/Auto-Train and Hialeah - Amtrak's major passenger car shops both of which can do contract work) somewhere more central in the metro. I don't think a Sunrail connection to feed the system will function as it does in other states simply because the peasantry of Florida is 'transit-ignorant.' Not saying EVERY train needs to go downtown, but I could see a situation where every other train goes on into Orlando and the other into Tampa. The entire trip needs to be seamless.

OCKLAWAHA

thelakelander

June 21, 2012, 04:49:18 PM
According to my source within FECI (a top exec) that decision hasn't been made yet. What the news release says is the airport WILL have a station, (DUH!) and someday Sunrail, Amtrak, SEHSR, pogo sticks etc... will service it. This does not say a word about OIA being the main terminal.

Everything discussed to date details a limited number of stations.  If Miami-Dade County with +2.5 million residents will only have on station, there's little chance that a smaller Orlando market will have two.  The ultimate key will be connectivity with other modes of transportation.

Quote
If it is, they will sacrifice over 50% of the local market to the super slab for the same reasons that a flying train from OIA to a parking garage in Tampa wouldn't have collected local fares. If I live 23 minutes from the airport (average for the metro area) and have to waste another 20 minutes hunting a parking space and getting to the rail side terminal, I've lost 43 minutes before I step on the 'ALL ABOARD' train. Not to mention that I'm in hock for a $19 a day for parking that I could avoid by 1. driving to Cocoa, Miami, etc... or 2. parking at a lighted Sunrail lot.

The Orlando MSA has 2.2 million residents.  However, it attracts nearly 50 million tourist a year.  In addition 35 million flew in or out of OIA last year.  The last two are clustered miles south of DT Orlando.  My gut tells me they'll sacrifice a few local residents (who will still have access to Sunrail, which will connect with OIA and FECI) to cater to the 50 million who are visiting with pockets full of money to blow.

Tacachale

June 21, 2012, 04:58:08 PM
I'd expect that any statewide connectivity project including Orlando will primarily consider travelers, rather than the highly spread out local population, as has always been the pattern.

Ocklawaha

June 21, 2012, 05:08:13 PM
Lake that's only 875,000 annual passengers at 5% of OIA's traffic. 5% is pretty much a national average for transit usage. Amtrak carries 1,076,472 in or out of Florida stations for boardings of 538,236 with just two slow trains.

They must abandon 'end point thinking' if they want to be successful. Trains don't operate between Orlando and Miami as aircraft do, trains operate between Orlando and Cocoa, Orlando and West Palm Beach, Orlando and Fort Lauderdale and Orlando and Miami.

I even think the old Sligh Avenue Amtrak station is in a poor location. They need to seriously look at the Lynx Station with the addition of several tracks and a pedestrian subway or bridge, or the same thing at the historic Church Street Station. Turn Sligh Avenue into the mother of all commuter rail stations.

thelakelander

June 21, 2012, 05:33:04 PM
^I agree.  However "Orlando" in terms of potential ridership numbers has drifted significantly to the south since the year the rat opened for business.  Luckily, Sunrail will be integrated into the system.

tufsu1

June 21, 2012, 08:34:10 PM
According to my source within FECI (a top exec) that decision hasn't been made yet. What the news release says is the airport WILL have a station, (DUH!) and someday Sunrail, Amtrak, SEHSR, pogo sticks etc... will service it. This does not say a word about OIA being the main terminal.

you're dreaming if yiou think there will be another station in downtown Orlando

Ocklawaha

June 21, 2012, 11:34:29 PM
^I agree.  However "Orlando" in terms of potential ridership numbers has drifted significantly to the south since the year the rat opened for business.  Luckily, Sunrail will be integrated into the system.

LAKE, No doubt that will help, provided they get Sunrail into the station by the time the FECI trains roll. They'll eventually come around to service Orlando proper, just as you can expect that in time, Fort Pierce, Stuart, Boca Raton, etc... will come online.

TUFSU, you gotta ask yourself how much a big interchange on I-95 and a 6 lane boulevard costs, how many small towns does 95 pass near that have that interchange? There are more drivers in this then anyone in the public knows, and the push for rail will come with a powerful political pull for stations.

While there is a big effort to call this 'private HSR', it's more like Public-Private HSR. A whitewashed, Republican palatable, 'ALL PRIVATE ENTERPRISE TRAIN,' that friend John Mica and Rick Scott, can use not only in 2014, but in Washington, against Amtrak funding. It's not revenge they're after... it's a reckoning...

spuwho

June 21, 2012, 11:52:22 PM
Orlando International Airport may soon be connected to Miami by rail, according to a release from the airport. In discussions held at the June meeting of the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority, the board was asked to consider a request by Florida East Coast Industries (FECI) to develop the first passenger rail service from Orlando International to Miami by 2015.
 
The board approved the request and authorized the executive director to develop an agreement with FECI to provide commercial passenger rail service to Orlando International Airport's Intermodal Facility to be presented to the aviation authority board.
 
Privately-owned FECI plans to add approximately 40 miles of new track that will link Orlando to the company's 200 miles of rail infrastructure already in place. The passenger rail service will be called All Aboard Florida.
 
"We view the potential opportunity as positive news because it follows our master and strategic plans. The addition of rail, which has always been viewed as significant, will make Orlando International Airport truly an intermodal gateway," says Phil Brown, executive director of Orlando International Airport.
 
The Greater Orlando Aviation Authority, which operates Orlando International Airport, already has invested in infrastructure for a station that could accommodate up to four rail systems. In discussing the integration of rail Brown explained, "We have planned our intermodal facility in a central location to service both the north and the future south terminal and All Aboard Florida is vying to be the first rail system to operate from it."
 
The station as proposed would incorporate the airport's design concept of The Orlando Experienceâ„¢ with the prevailing use of light, water, gardens and open spaces for meetings and retail concessions.
 
In addition to other proposed community rail systems, including SunRail, the airport's plans include an automated people mover that would provide passengers direct access from the current North Terminal to future expansion, including additional aircraft gates to the South. SunRail will be Central Florida's first commuter rail line connecting four counties and spanning 61.5 miles including a future connection to Orlando International Airport.
 
According to FECI, All Aboard Florida will create jobs and stimulate local economies. The company estimates the project will create about 6,000 construction jobs and 1,000 permanent jobs for Florida workers.

Kudos to Yapp for digging on the reports. Beats the speculation all the time.

tufsu1

June 22, 2012, 07:59:17 AM
TUFSU, you gotta ask yourself how much a big interchange on I-95 and a 6 lane boulevard costs, how many small towns does 95 pass near that have that interchange? There are more drivers in this then anyone in the public knows, and the push for rail will come with a powerful political pull for stations.

that's all fine and good....but please, the road building lobby is far more powerful in this state than almost any other lobby group....and that won't change anytime soon

take a look at what FDOT Secretary Prasad told the Orlando Sentinel editorial board the other day and then tell me you're encouraged.

Quote
Ridership studies on rail transportation have always underperformed … The actual ridership is always less.

http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2012-06-20/opinion/os-ed-front-center-prasad-062012-20120619_1_commuter-rail-ridership-studies-high-speed-rail

thelakelander

June 22, 2012, 09:07:06 AM
Yeah, those guys have never seen a road they didn't like.  I also would like to know where he's getting his rail ridership estimate numbers from.  It's well known within the transportation industry that several new rail projects in cities like Charlotte, Norfolk and Minneapolis have blown the door off their initial ridership estimates.

Ocklawaha

June 22, 2012, 11:16:24 AM
Quote
Commuter rail makes sense for Orlando. The track is in the right place — unlike with [South Florida's] TriRail, where the track is in the wrong place. Here, the train is going to go through downtown[/u].

Really? This is the only thing he said that makes any sense, he obviously got his ridership numbers from Syracuse and Nashville, both of which suffered greatly from JTA style planning. FDOT is cerebrally challenged.

OCKLAWAHA

thelakelander

June 26, 2012, 06:49:21 AM
FECI and OIA working on new station for airport.

Quote
Orlando airport eyes $470M expansion

...But OIA has taken the first tentative steps by entering into an exclusive 60-day negotiating period with All Aboard Florida, a Coral Gables company studying whether to build a $1 billion passenger train system between the Orlando airport and Miami.

All Aboard Florida spokeswoman Christine Barney would not discuss specifics but did confirm talks are under way. All Aboard Florida is supported byFlorida East Coast Industries Inc., which is relying on the expertise and holdings of one its affiliates, Florida East Coast Railway.

Brown said preliminary talks have centered on All Aboard Florida paying for the station south of the existing terminal near what is now a parking lot for people waiting for planes to land.

The airport, in turn, would be responsible for building a mile-long, elevated monorail to serve the station, at a cost of $181.4 million. OIA also would be responsible for roads and other infrastructure costs of about $78 million.

The 3,500-space garage and depot would cost $210.7 million. About 80 percent of that expense would be the garage. But who pays for what part of that bill has not been determined, airport spokeswoman Carolyn Fennell said.

Full article: http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2012-06-25/business/os-airport-expansion-train-20120625_1_rental-car-companies-orlando-airport-airport-director

thelakelander

July 29, 2012, 09:15:17 PM
Beachline Expressway as the desired path to Orlando is confirmed...

Quote
Florida East Coast Industries Inc., which was formerly based in Jacksonville and is now based in Coral Gables, reportedly will seek permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to secure right-of-way to lay its 40-mile track from Cocoa to Orlando International Airport along the Beachline Expressway.

http://www.bizjournals.com/jacksonville/print-edition/2012/07/27/feci-may-soon-start-building-passenger.html

Ocklawaha

July 29, 2012, 11:10:14 PM
Quote
Think conservative and act liberal

...Environmental considerations, right of way purchase and speed of implementation all point to the state owned, former high-speed rail right-of-way. All Aboard Florida will use conventional passenger trains operating over the Florida East Coasts speedway and the new link between Cocoa and Orlando...

Quote
...If I am correct, until the long delayed south terminal is constructed at OIA the Orlando Airport Station would be in the vicinity of the intersection of Wethebee Road/CR-530 and Boggy Creek Road. If this alignment were chosen it would cross the Tosohatchee State Reserve and the St. Johns River parallel and contiguous to the Beachline Expressway, but not in the median...

SOURCE: http://www.metrojacksonville.com/article/2012-apr-stunning-things-are-happening-as-florida-goes-rail/page/1
.

Lake, Look's like we nailed this one too!

I still believe that sooner or later the system will have to operate into a more central location in Orlando-Sanford metroplex. Sunrail would no doubt help, but in the end, a seamless trip will be in demand.
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