Central Florida Commuter Rail Deal may help Jacksonville

August 4, 2006 5 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

CSX Transportation recently announced an agreement in principal to sell 61 miles of the A-Line, from DeLand to Poinciana, to the State of Florida for a proposed Central Florida Commuter Rail operation. The railroad plans to divert most freight traffic away from Orlando and onto the parallel S-Line, which runs from Baldwin to Plant City. Most freight traffic through Jacksonville will be sent to Baldwin, and then continue south on the S-Line to central Florida.

The state will invest $318 million to improve the infrastructure and expand  capacity on existing train tracks, including:

  • $198 million for projects on the CSXT rail line between Baldwin to Plant    City, referred to as the "S" line,
  • $59 million to build five road overpasses in Alachua, Sumter and Marion    counties on this line,
  • $52 million on other CSXT rail lines around the state, and
  • $9 million to build access roads to the new Integrated Logistics Center in    Winter Haven, which will be built by CSXT.

Phase 1 will consist of a 31-mile segment that will serve 10 stations,  linking DeBary to Orlando. Service could begin as soon as 2009 – just as FDOT  starts a major I-4 reconstruction project through the heart of Central Florida,  from State Road 434 in Longwood to Kirkman Road in southwest Orange County

The deal does depend on several contingencies:

  • Costs of any environmental contamination cleanup must be agreed upon.
  • CSX's new Integrated Logistics Center in Winter Haven must get approval.
  • Prior to closing on the property, funding from the Federal Transit    Administration as well as Volusia, Seminole, Orange, and Osceola Counties must    be in place for the Central Florida Commuter Rail project.

 Gov. Jeb Bush alongside CSX CEO Michael Ward pictured in front of the  demonstration DMU.

 Interior of the Bi-Level Colorado  Railcar DMU.

How does this affect Jacksonville?

Metro Jacksonville recently completed a five part  series on the benefits of commuter rail in Jacksonville and how it could  successfully be implemented. The Central Florida Commuter Rail plan has  unintentionally cleared a major hurdle for Jacksonville.

The Central Florida plan requires CSX freight trains to predominately operate  on what is known as the S-Line, which runs from Baldwin to Central Florida. The  only logical connection between the S-Line and the A-line is from Jacksonville  to Baldwin, effectively shifting freight traffic patterns away from the  Jacksonville to Orange Park line.

This plan has the potential to remove a significant amount of traffic  currently operating on the A-Line in Jacksonville. With less freight traffic  operating over this line, CSX may be much more receptive to hosting commuter  rail on a line with available capacity. The State of Florida has now shown its  commitment to bringing commuter rail to congested areas. It only makes sense to look at the unique situation this has created  in Jacksonville.


This map clearly shows the rerouting of freight traffic in yellow and the affect  it will have on Jacksonville. Most of the freight trains will head due west from  Jacksonville, instead of the current route south on the A-Line. This will reduce  the amount of freight trains scheduled to travel along Roosevelt Blvd and into  Orange Park. The 61 mile segment being purchased by the State of Florida is  highlighted in blue.


This CSX intermodal train crossing the Ortega River may soon be rerouted to  Baldwin and down the S-Line through Ocala, potentially opening up commuter rail  possibilities along the route.