Author Topic: Florida High-Speed Rail Champion Dockery Resigns  (Read 10448 times)

tufsu1

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Re: Florida High-Speed Rail Champion Dockery Resigns
« Reply #30 on: April 19, 2009, 09:22:46 AM »
Ock...I know you don't like HSR much, but please don't use the same arguments that anti-rail folks do agaisnt AMTRAK and commuter rail.

The fact is that HSR would connect to local transit in both Orlando and Tampa....the planned Orlando light rail system goes to the airport....and the planned Tampa system would be re-routed/extended to meet HSR in downtown.

And of course, assuming those light rail lines don't happen, there would still b connecting bus service, rental car facilities, and kiss & ride facilities.

Ocklawaha

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Re: Florida High-Speed Rail Champion Dockery Resigns
« Reply #31 on: April 19, 2009, 03:21:00 PM »
Quote
That the Republicans voted as a block is no surprise, the HSR deal that has been cooked up by "WHO-EVER", is a complete disaster. It assumes way too much, and is apparently planned and drawn by someone who doesn't know the difference between a locomotive and track. The FOX plan is ridiculous:

Goes from Airport to Airport, not from City to City.
Bypasses City Center track and stations
Based on a state that has spent 100 years + promoting roads over rail.
Assumes that we can skip the Amtrak - higher density - higher speeds steps and go right into full trains on untried routes.
Leaves Jacksonville and the panhandle out of the system in our life times.
Doesn't recognize that frequent and multiple rail stops and high speeds do not go together.
Follows Interstate Highways which misses the core of every town on the routes.
Involves all new track and right-of-way construction when we already have a under utilized track system.
Ignores the fact that current Amtrak Equipment could easily go 120 MPH with track adjustments and overpasses.

... well you get the point, it just completely misses the mark and will cost us 10X what we SHOULD spend, and if we go this route, we STILL Won't have decent intercity service.



Sorry man, which argument do you see as the same as the anti-Amtrak groups? I realize that I have something of a respected opinion here, I could almost hear the blind passenger train advocates jumping off the Matthews Bridge last night after my post.

Let me explain...

I LOVE HIGH SPEED RAIL, the passion is about the same as my love for shortlines, narrow gauge, streetcars, interurban's, LRT, Trolley Bus, Cable Cars, Trams, Buses, Intercity Motor Coaches, Amtrak, Passenger Trains, etc...

In a perfect world, I'd love to see us step up and reclaim our rightful position as the rail passenger hub of the Southeast. Just in train service, crew base, baggage, fuel, food, flowers, linen, etc. For example ONE DINING CAR on ONE JAX-NEW ORLEANS TRAIN will carry 65,000 cups of coffee. So the economic boom would be knocking down the door once our business community saw the impact.

The beef with FOX - Central Florida High Speed Rail is the planning (or lack of planning). It seems to have been done by visionary futurist without a clue about the inner workings, strengths and weaknesses of rail. The planners on this project seems to have accentuated the negatives and negated the positives.

They have approached this more as a shiny new toy then logical, well planned, mass transportation system. Rail that ignores city centers. Rail that focuses on highway right-of-ways. Rail that has no room for Amtrak through service. The list of oversights is endless. Every indicator is that they just didn't even lay out a topo map, demographics or the text book, "The Railroad, What it Is and What it Does, 101." (I've got a copy if you'd like to check it out sometime).

Perhaps Ennis and I could do a revised plan for FOX, one we both would support. A map and a few station layouts and put Jacksonville at the throttle rather then in the caboose. Right now HSR Florida is a vacuum and we could steal the show, crazy thing is the show belongs to us anyway.



Another new map shows the eastern lines of the SouthEast High Speed Rail, I expect the more Eastern line along US-17 to become HSR Passenger. The "S" will be rebuilt, and commuter shuttles will be sharing some of the stops.

OCKLAWAHA

FayeforCure

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Re: Florida High-Speed Rail Champion Dockery Resigns
« Reply #32 on: April 19, 2009, 10:03:25 PM »
Ock...I know you don't like HSR much, but please don't use the same arguments that anti-rail folks do agaisnt AMTRAK and commuter rail.

The fact is that HSR would connect to local transit in both Orlando and Tampa....the planned Orlando light rail system goes to the airport....and the planned Tampa system would be re-routed/extended to meet HSR in downtown.

And of course, assuming those light rail lines don't happen, there would still b connecting bus service, rental car facilities, and kiss & ride facilities.

Thank you tufsu1. Maybe Ock's siding with his buddy Mica, who doesn't like HSR for Florida, but is a huge supporter for HSR everywhere else in the country. Even light rail for Orlando was derailed by Mica when others were trying to revive it.

When the commuter rail project kicked off in 2002, a re-study of light rail was already in the works. Then central florida was sold a "demonstration" project at about $50 million by Congressman Mica. The light rail study at the time estimated the cost to be $1 billion. And central florida said, "oh my god that is too much money we should go with the cheaper one".
Commuter rail is now $1.2 billion and climbing. Also the light rail line down the I-4 corridor would have carried 30,000 people a day on a 20-mile line, 10 times what is planned for on opening day of commuter rail,......seems the "commuter" train is not so much for commuters or tourists, but for development.....

Quote
It's alive! Light rail heads for I-Drive.(Public transportation in Orlando)(Brief Article)

Source: Orlando Business Journal

Publication Date: 18-MAY-01


New study outlines a path even previous opponents like.

ORLANDO -- It's back.

And it's heading for International Drive.

A light-rail system linked to the tourism corridor now is formally under consideration, less than two years after a similar proposal died a political death at the hands of Orange County commissioners.

An even bigger surprise: Despite light rail's past record, I-Drive business owners appear willing to reach consensus on a route.

"The recommendation to sit down with business leaders before the route is laid out is a very favorable direction," says Alan Villaverde, president of the Efficient Transportation Committee on International Drive and a critic of the first light-rail proposal.

Discussion of a southern leg to the rail system is unexpected. The most recent...

http://www.accessmylibrary.com/comsite5/bin/aml_landing_tt.pl?purchase_type=ITM&item_id=0286-10626220&action=print&page=aml_article_print

Instead, teaming up with Colorado railcar that went belly-up in Nov 2008, Mica pushed for Florida's use of this questionable company from 2002 through 2006.

Quote
Mica says rail link to Jacksonville possible
St. Augustine Record - Jan 29, 2006
John Mica, R-Winter Park, said a demonstration of the Ultra Dome luxury railcar ... Developed by Tom Rader, founder of Colorado Railcar, the Ultra Dome is ... Related web pages
 

 
Commuter train boosters praise test run
$2.95 - Daytona Beach News-Journal - NewsBank - Oct 26, 2002
By the time she arrived for a look at a commuter rail car that could link DeLand ... "I think John Mica had us drive through I-4 traffic by design," France ... Orlando, Fla.-Area Leaders Test Ride New Commuter... - Orlando Sentinel - AccessMyLibrary.com (Free with registration)
All 3 related - Related web pages
 

 
Virtual Train for Central Florida Might Put Commuter Rail on Track.
Free with registration - Orlando Sentinel - AccessMyLibrary.com - Aug 11, 2003
Planners can make the virtual Colorado Railcar train speed up, slow down, stop, ... John Mica, R-Winter Park -- are trying to find money and prepare for ... All 2 related - Related web pages
 

 
Mica pushes DeLand-Orlando rail link
$2.95 - Daytona Beach News-Journal - NewsBank - Feb 1, 2002
John Mica is pitching a plan he hopes will break the bureaucratic gridlock. ... A prototype locomotive is being built by Colorado Railcar Manufacturing. ... All 3 related - Related web pages
 

 

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thelakelander

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Re: Florida High-Speed Rail Champion Dockery Resigns
« Reply #33 on: April 19, 2009, 10:11:14 PM »
Is it safe to assume you won't be inviting John Mica over for dinner?
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FayeforCure

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Re: Florida High-Speed Rail Champion Dockery Resigns
« Reply #34 on: April 19, 2009, 10:16:29 PM »
lakelander, you don't have a response to Mica promoting Colorado Railcar to the exclusion of other rail options? Colorado Railcar was a questionable company from the start.
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thelakelander

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Re: Florida High-Speed Rail Champion Dockery Resigns
« Reply #35 on: April 19, 2009, 10:35:31 PM »
No.  However I am interested in what they will use instead of the Colorado Railcar?  Do you know?
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Ocklawaha

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Re: Florida High-Speed Rail Champion Dockery Resigns
« Reply #36 on: April 19, 2009, 11:53:23 PM »
lakelander, you don't have a response to Mica promoting Colorado Railcar to the exclusion of other rail options? Colorado Railcar was a questionable company from the start.

You'd do well to check your facts here Faye, Mica, Brown, and everyone else was behind CRC because it was THE ONLY American builder of a rail compliant, self propelled, diesel multiple unit. The only other choices are the non-compliant Sprinter, or the European made Flexliner (with modifications for US rail). The hope of every state rail agency in our country was on CRC, but the company was never financed well enough to be able to survive the brutal US passenger rail market. I took one of the CRC's along Tri-Rail at 80 MPH and was NOT impressed, I posted on the old Met Jax site that I saw big trouble ahead for the company because the car was more "airline plastic" then "railroad stainless steel".  The thing sounded like it was flying apart. But THEY were the only game in town. Ask anyone here what I said more then two years ago. "We better plan on going with a remanufactured Budd RDC car..." 

Faye, my distaste for Central Florida HSR has nothing to do with my friendship with John Mica. Nor does it have anything to do with the fact that I'm the one that convinced him Commuter Rail/Regional Rail was the way to go in Central Florida before there ever was a plan. I just don't support HSR with stupid planning, that ignores the strengths of railroads. Even if the planning was flawless, I'd still have doubts about success with or without Mica. REASON? Because John and everyone else for the last nearly 40 years has tried to zap the funding for Amtrak at every curve in the track. A lot of people reading this don't realize that Florida has gone backward with Amtrak since day one, while the rest of the nation has moved forward. Since the Amtrak rescue of 1971, we have lost:

The Floridian....MIA/TPA - Jax - B'HAM - N'VILLE - CHICAGO
The Champion...premier train, TPA - JAX - CHARLESTON - DC - NYC
The Miamian... Winter Season, MIA - JAX - CHARLESTON - DC - NYC
The Florida Special...Winter Season Premier "Champagne Train" - MIA - JAX - CHARLESTON - DC - NYC
The Sunset Limited... MIA/TPA - JAX - NEW ORLEANS - HOUSTON - PHOENIX - LOS ANGELES
The Palmetto I .... daylight coach train, JAX - CHARLESTON - DC - NYC
The Palmetto II... Extended version of above,  TPA - JAX - CHARLESTON - DC - NYC
The Silver Palm... TPA - WNTR HAVEN - SEBRING - WEST PALM - MIAMI
(There were actually several versions of the Silver Palm too but the one above is the SOLE example of a Florida DOT sponsored Amtrak Train).

By driving backwards through the crowds of cities and states making use of Amtrak services, we have less and less population, tourism or business that is rail savvy. People have left Florida's rails in droves because this state will not support rail. Plain and simple. Now they think spending a cool couple Billion on a "(HALF of a ) statewide" network, will cause these same missing passengers to materialize out of the ozone. They are not "TRAINED" to ride.

There is a way to do this, but it's to develop corridors of service with Amtrak. Fund the corridors so that each year XX dollars of improvements in track, signals, crossing elimination, speed, stations, etc... takes place. Once ridership and speed is on the cusp of HSR, THEN make the shift to full electric, dedicated lines alongside current tried and true rail routes.



OCKLAWAHA

FayeforCure

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Re: Florida High-Speed Rail Champion Dockery Resigns
« Reply #37 on: April 20, 2009, 10:20:17 AM »

By driving backwards through the crowds of cities and states making use of Amtrak services, we have less and less population, tourism or business that is rail savvy. People have left Florida's rails in droves because this state will not support rail. Plain and simple. Now they think spending a cool couple Billion on a "(HALF of a ) statewide" network, will cause these same missing passengers to materialize out of the ozone. They are not "TRAINED" to ride.

There is a way to do this, but it's to develop corridors of service with Amtrak. Fund the corridors so that each year XX dollars of improvements in track, signals, crossing elimination, speed, stations, etc... takes place. Once ridership and speed is on the cusp of HSR, THEN make the shift to full electric, dedicated lines alongside current tried and true rail routes. [/color] [/b]


Ock, I will address only this paragraph, as I AM completely aware of the history of CRC (ie, I HAD done my research, and DID indeed see you being less than impressed on the demo ride).

There are many reasons to want HSR NOW in Florida:
1. Jobs for Florida
2. Federal monies available without the usual matching state fund requirement
3. Tourism traffic rather than commuter traffic is a major draw for HSR
4.. Rail is not just planned to capture existing ridership ie Sunrail will have very little ridership when coming on-line, rather sometimes investments are made in anticipation of the capacity to grow ridership and/or to encourage compact economic development along the rail-line.

Because of 3, there is a rationale for HSR lines to go from airport to airport.

Sharing commuter rail with freight lines is always difficult because of safety requirements. In fact the CRC were specifically designed to withstand some of the impact of collisions.

Faye, my distaste for Central Florida HSR has nothing to do with my friendship with John Mica. Nor does it have anything to do with the fact that I'm the one that convinced him Commuter Rail/Regional Rail was the way to go in Central Florida before there ever was a plan.

Why?
I have seen communities putting in light rail before they put in commuter rail.

I know your preference is for using existing rail over putting in new rail. But there is no substitute for an effective light rail system,.........they are going to have to use new track regardless. Plus the commuter rail was sold as significantly cheaper than light rail.

Quote
POTENTIAL PROJECT RIVAL ENDORSES VOLUSIA COMMUTER RAIL SYSTEM
$2.95 - Daytona Beach News-Journal - NewsBank - Jun 13, 2000
Mica has urged the area to support a 53-mile commuter rail service along CSX tracks. The project would cost about $50 million, compared with the $600 light rail cost... 

PS, I can understand the importance of removing freight traffic out of Winter Park. I used to attend concerts in the park, and it is a very pretty community.
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Jason

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Re: Florida High-Speed Rail Champion Dockery Resigns
« Reply #38 on: April 20, 2009, 11:30:28 AM »
Even if more track is necessary for commuter/LRT to run with freight it is still much less expensive to use the existing ROW where available versus completely new lines.

Ocklawaha

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Re: Florida High-Speed Rail Champion Dockery Resigns
« Reply #39 on: April 20, 2009, 11:47:40 PM »

Sounder Commuter Rail Train Specifications
Every weekday, Sounder commuter trains connect Seattle to Everett in the north and Seattle to Tacoma in the south. Sounder passengers enjoy a number of new stations up and down the line. In addition, in partnership with the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway, Sound Transit is investing about a billion dollars to improve signals, tracks, stations and grade crossings throughout the Sounder corridor. Now that the track and signal improvements are complete, the overall capacity in the corridor will also increase for freight and Amtrak passenger service.




Ock, I will address only this paragraph, as I AM completely aware of the history of CRC (ie, I HAD done my research, and DID indeed see you being less than impressed on the demo ride).

Quote
There are many reasons to want HSR NOW in Florida:
1. Jobs for Florida
2. Federal monies available without the usual matching state fund requirement
3. Tourism traffic rather than commuter traffic is a major draw for HSR
4.. Rail is not just planned to capture existing ridership ie Sunrail will have very little ridership when coming on-line, rather sometimes investments are made in anticipation of the capacity to grow ridership and/or to encourage compact economic development along the rail-line.

Because of 3, there is a rationale for HSR lines to go from airport to airport.

Point by point:
1. I agree completely.
2. I agree completely.
3. Tourism traffic is a major draw, but will not, in and of itself, support our HSR.
4. Agree with the concept, but Sunrail will serve population density along the old rail lines, HSR will follow and promote sprawl as it is currently planned, something I will not support. [/quote]

Quote
Sharing commuter rail with freight lines is always difficult because of safety requirements. In fact the CRC were specifically designed to withstand some of the impact of collisions.


Virtually all Commuter Rail in the nation, even world wide shares track with freight or other passenger operations. The only real difficulty is the initial start up years, when freight schedules must be adjusted, signals changed, speeds altered etc... Once the new wears off, it's really no different then adding a new "Auto Plant" or "Coal Mine" along a freight railroad, either case calls for a sudden huge increase in traffic. The difference being that the Auto Plant, or Coal Mine, will require the freight carrier to handle the traffic by themselves, while Commuter Rail is a public/private ballet.


Quote
Faye:
Faye, my distaste for Central Florida HSR has nothing to do with my friendship with John Mica. Nor does it have anything to do with the fact that I'm the one that convinced him Commuter Rail/Regional Rail was the way to go in Central Florida before there ever was a plan.

Why?

I have seen communities putting in light rail before they put in commuter rail.

I know your preference is for using existing rail over putting in new rail. But there is no substitute for an effective light rail system,.........they are going to have to use new track regardless. Plus the commuter rail was sold as significantly cheaper than light rail.

Why? Because in the case of The Ormond Beach-Daytona Beach-New Smyrna Beach area, and in the case of Deland-Orange City-Sanford-Lake Mary-Longwood-Altamonte Springs-Maitland-Winter Park-Orlando-Taft-Kissimmee-Poncianna, we have long lineal metro areas built up along a single trunk line railroad. Either one is turn key for Commuter Rail. For example Orlando by virtue of the CSX mainline and the metros directional development can accomplish in 60 miles of Commuter Rail what it will take Jacksonville 120+ miles of Commuter Rail AND another 30 or so of Light Rail to accomplish.

The choice to go with Commuter Rail or Light Rail comes down to regional planning preferences and available funding. Both systems can be considered types of Commuter Rail, but the cost can vary greatly on a project by project basis. For example Jacksonville urbanized core area is more suited to heritage Streetcar and Skyway then to Light Rail, Freeways, Subways or Elevated Heavy Rail. Where ever we move in Jacksonville we need to build not just new track, but a new system. In Orlando, addition of an extra track in limited places (parts are already double tracked) on an existing core to core mainline makes Commuter Rail an easy build. Light Rail can't mix on a mainline with Freight Rail, during the same hours, so to build Light Rail in Orlando, they would have to blow entire new right-of-ways down Colonial, Orange, Mills, Orlando, OBT, where ever.


Quote
POTENTIAL PROJECT RIVAL ENDORSES VOLUSIA COMMUTER RAIL SYSTEM
$2.95 - Daytona Beach News-Journal - NewsBank - Jun 13, 2000
Mica has urged the area to support a 53-mile commuter rail service along CSX tracks. The project would cost about $50 million, compared with the $600 light rail cost... 


PS, I can understand the importance of removing freight traffic out of Winter Park. I used to attend concerts in the park, and it is a very pretty community.


Commuter Rail might cut this traffic back to more nocturnal hours, and shift some of it to the west on the "S" line. There is simply no way for Amtrak - CSX or Central Florida Commuter Rail to avoid Winter park. The great sounding plan to build a railroad by pass around Orlando, back in the 1980's was pie-in-the-sky dreaming. Imagine you have a billion dollar corporation that runs 20 freight trains daily through St. Louis, suddenly you learn of a plan that Kirkwood doesn't like hearing or seeing the trains anymore, so if you please, they want to build a new line around the city for you via Alton! Ain't gonna happen.

We have got to meet on the HSR project, jump in with both Jacksonville feet and take charge. We have more railroad know how in any 2 city blocks then Central and South Florida have combined. Make it logical, add North Florida and connect the Southeastern HSR with Florida HSR at the Jacksonville Terminal. We'll drag Tallahassee kicking and screaming to the train.

 
This is really funny because while I know trains, this is the third time I've composed this answer, the other two are out in cyber space! Duh?

OCKLAWAHA
« Last Edit: April 21, 2009, 12:15:54 AM by Ocklawaha »

thelakelander

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Re: Florida High-Speed Rail Champion Dockery Resigns
« Reply #40 on: April 21, 2009, 01:28:56 AM »
Quote
SunRail passes committee with 4 to 3 vote

TALLAHASSEE -- The controversial plan to build a 61-mile commuter rail line through the heart of Central Florida just scored a major win.

In a 4-3 vote Monday, the state Senate's Transportation Committee gave the SunRail plan a green light.

However, at the same time, it's encountered a new hurdle.

SunRail is finally back on track. But its final destination is still a long way off.

Sen. Paula Dockery, R-Lakeland, is out to kill the plan.

full article: http://www.baynews9.com/content/36/2009/4/20/462686.html?title=SunRail+passes+committee+with+4+to+3+vote
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FayeforCure

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Re: Florida High-Speed Rail Champion Dockery Resigns
« Reply #41 on: April 21, 2009, 01:40:25 AM »

The choice to go with Commuter Rail or Light Rail comes down to regional planning preferences and available funding. Both systems can be considered types of Commuter Rail, but the cost can vary greatly on a project by project basis.

Thanks for your detailed response. Clearly Mica was pushing for commuter rail and Colorado Railcar claiming it would be less expensive than light rail and then the costs kept ballooning until they were higher than the projected light rail costs.

Quote
Orange County, Fla., Rail Transit Issue Remains Divisive.
Free with registration - Orlando Sentinel - AccessMyLibrary.com - Oct 14, 2002
But starting commuter rail won't be easy. CSX has been noncommittal about leasing its ... Today, light-rail backers such as Orlando Mayor Glenda Hood, ...

 Orange County, Fla., Official Unveils Blueprint with Light Rail,...
Free with registration - Orlando Sentinel - AccessMyLibrary.com - Sep 13, 2002
The other plan suggests running commuter rail -- bigger, heavier trains that make fewer stops -- between Volusia County and downtown Orlando. ...

Proposed Central Florida Commuter Rail System Costs Rise.


Publication: The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Florida) (via Knight-Ridder/Tribune Business News)

Publication Date: 02-OCT-01  
COPYRIGHT 2001 The Orlando Sentinel

Byline: Jim Stratton

Oct. 2--The commuter-rail project championed by U.S. Rep. John Mica, R-Winter Park, may turn out to be far more expensive than anyone imagined -- perhaps three times the original estimate.

Instead of costing $2 million a mile, as supporters had suggested, a new study says the system linking DeLand, Orlando and Kissimmee will cost between $5.5 million and $6 million a mile to get up and running.

The total cost of the project, consultants say, will be at least $225 million, and that would buy only a bare-bones system with a few trains running at 45-minute intervals. More trains or more frequent service would push the price to...


COPYRIGHT 2002 The Orlando Sentinel
Byline: Jim Stratton

Aug. 5--The company that could make or break Central Florida's plans for commuter rail wants the region to buy a $500 million insurance policy to protect it from lawsuits -- a demand that could account for half the yearly cost of running the system.... say such a policy could cost anywhere from $2 million to $5 million annually, ... Officials with the Virginia Rail Express commuter system said the CSX ...

Insurance pushes up cost of trains

Article 1 of 1 found
   Derek Catron
Staff Writer
March 26, 2002; Page 01C
Article ID: 0203260197

How much is too much?

That's a question supporters of commuter rail are asking in the face of rising cost estimates for the project to take commuters out of Interstate 4 gridlock and put them into trains.

A report issued Monday at a meeting of the Volusia County Metropolitan Planning Organization's Rails Committee shows operating a commuter rail line between Orlando and Southwest Volusia could cost much more than originally thought.

Orange County, Fla., Taxpayer-Funded Rail Transit Plan Undetermined.
Free with registration - Orlando Sentinel - AccessMyLibrary.com - Sep 19, 2003
It might cost $600 million to $700 million. The third major proposal, a pet project of US Rep. John Mica, R-Winter Park, features a commuter-rail train ...


Here is a very good overview of what happened:

Quote
DOT Should Review Other Options To Build Commuter Rail In Orlando
Published: August 3, 2008

The Tampa Tribune

Someone in state government needs to step up and address the standoff over the proposed commuter-rail project in Orlando.

The obvious choice would be Stephanie Kopelousis, secretary of the Department of Transportation.

But so far, Kopelousis has been little more than a cheerleader for the off-strategy project she inherited. It's time she demonstrated leadership on behalf of all Floridians, not just Orlando's politically powerful lawmakers.

In May the Florida Legislature rejected the deal her agency struck with CSX Railroad to buy 61 miles of track in Central Florida. But since the purchase agreement doesn't expire until next year, supporters are preparing for a second legislative battle next spring.

DOT cannot afford to sit on its hands and hope for a different outcome, especially since the opposition shows no sign of budging. This state has a $30-billion deficit in public transportation projects, and DOT needs to get moving.

To find common ground, Kopelousis, with strong public support from Gov. Charlie Crist, should develop a process like that designed for the Tampa Bay Rays in the governor's hometown. After failing to win public support for a waterfront ballpark in downtown St. Petersburg, the team agreed to let a group of committed citizens take a second, broader look. So, too, might fresh eyes find a better way to meet Orlando's need for commuter rail.

Not The Best Route

Consider that the 61-mile route hardly touches the heart of Central Florida's congestion. The line runs from Deland to Poinciana, nowhere near the airport, the University of Central Florida or Walt Disney World.

Yes, it's a start. But at a cost of $1.2 billion and growing, the public isn't convinced it's the best place to start. A poll of Orlando citizens found 55 percent disapproved of the deal once its details were known. Even the mayor of Winter Park, whose community is bisected by the track, stands opposed. "I do not think the Central Florida commuter-rail project is in the best interest of our citizens financially," says Mayor David Strong.

Seemingly logical alternatives exist. Just five years ago, Orlando talked about running a high-speed rail line alongside a toll road between Disney and the airport. The Interstate-4 median remains open and designated for rail.

The CSX deal didn't come about because it was the best option. It came about because CSX approached the state with an offer to sell a portion of its A-line, one of the two major rail lines between Jacksonville and Central Florida. The railroad wants to shift freight trains out of Orlando and send them through downtown Lakeland and Plant City to a proposed 318-acre hub in Winter Haven.

CSX's strategy is to improve its freight-rail lines and get taxpayers to foot the bill. Other states have rejected such subsidies, but former Gov. Jeb Bush, without any public debate, committed the Sunshine State to major investments in freight lines despite the significant backlog of public transportation needs.

Initially Bush committed $491 million to the CSX deal - $150 million for the tracks and $341 million for the hub and track improvements through the state's back woods. The estimate has since jumped to $641 million because of needed rail overpasses.

The dollars add up like Monopoly money. Now consider that Tampa Bay's fledgling commuter-rail effort this year had to plead to preserve $2 million in state start-up funds.

Restore Statewide Vision

If railroaded through, the CSX purchase would gum up a state strategy drafted in 2000 to provide faster and more reliable passenger-rail service between Florida's urban centers. Bush changed the inter-city strategy after striking the deal with the freight railroad, a for-profit company.

The earlier vision better served citizens. It called for a partnership with Amtrak, which by federal law is allowed to use freight lines with appropriate modifications and accommodations. State Sen. Paula Dockery and Rep. Dennis Ross, both of Lakeland, want Florida to return to this fiscally conservative strategy, rather than buy and operate a new railroad.

It should be noted that early in the negotiations, DOT wanted to lease - not buy - the tracks. But after CSX insisted, Kopelousis says a decision was made that Florida "needs to own our destiny." If that's so, why does she want to sell highways like Alligator Alley?

While Amtrak cannot legally provide commuter rail, it can provide inter-city rail. With creative and strategic thinking, DOT could create a passenger-rail system that would not only benefit the traveling public between Deland and Poinciana, it would improve passenger-rail service from Jacksonville to Tampa to Miami.

There's some question of whether Kopelousis is up to the task. Many consider her boxed in a corner, unable to think outside the box. She's shown no discernable leadership since the deal's defeat. Her heels appear dug in.

That's why the governor, who inherited this backroom deal, should charge his DOT secretary with convening a credible - and visible - process to develop a Central Florida commuter-rail system that earns the public's trust and support.

Kopelousis and DOT need a paradigm shift.

Rather than help a for-profit railroad achieve its strategic goals, DOT should focus on creating the best public transportation solutions for Florida taxpayers.

http://www2.tbo.com/content/2008/aug/03/bz-dot-should-review-other-options-to-build-commut/

Jason, you are right,.......the light rail was going to use existing ROW to reduce expenses:
Quote
Interstate Route Best for Orlando, Fla.-Area Light Rail, Officials...
Free with registration - Orlando Sentinel - AccessMyLibrary.com - Jun 14, 2001
14--If light rail ever gets built north of Orlando, the route will closely ... to run the system next to existing rail tracks owned by CSX Transportation. ...  
In a society governed passively by free markets and free elections, organized greed always defeats disorganized democracy.
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tufsu1

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Re: Florida High-Speed Rail Champion Dockery Resigns
« Reply #42 on: April 21, 2009, 07:59:42 AM »
For those who may not know, a major impetus for the SunRail line is the planned I-4 reconstruction....this project will basically have I-4 being a mess (yes, worse than it is now) through the urban core area of Orlando for 6+ years....and the project is scheduled to start in 2012, so they need to get SunRail up and running so there is an alternative.

So while SunRail may not touch congested areas like the airport and UCF, it paraelells I-4 for a reason...and, btw...that's also how TriRail got started.

thelakelander

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Re: Florida High-Speed Rail Champion Dockery Resigns
« Reply #43 on: April 21, 2009, 08:39:17 AM »
That light rail line was also not going to serve areas like the airport and UCF.  Furthermore, if we want to lump the S-Line upgrades, road overpasses and the Winter Haven yard in with the price of commuter rail, its still cheaper than the light rail plan from a few years ago.  The light rail plan was less than 25 miles in length and never went outside of Orange County.  The commuter rail plan is 61 miles and serves Orange, Osceola, Seminole and Volusia Counties.
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FayeforCure

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Re: Florida High-Speed Rail Champion Dockery Resigns
« Reply #44 on: April 21, 2009, 09:40:49 AM »
Some more info on the latest vote:

Quote
orlandosentinel.com/news/local/orl-asecsunrail21042109apr21,0,3974804.story

OrlandoSentinel.com
SunRail plan survives close vote, chugs on
By Dan Tracy

Sentinel Staff Writer

April 21, 2009

TALLAHASSEE


The proposed SunRail commuter train rolled out of a Senate hearing Monday — barely — but its next stop remains uncertain.

The $1.2 billion project may need to go before another committee, or it could end up on the Senate floor for a vote that would determine its fate. With nine days left before the session's scheduled adjournment May 1, supporters want to go to the floor soon, though it is not certain they have the 21 votes necessary to win in the 40-member chamber.

The would-be train eked out a 4-3 vote in the Transportation and Economic Development Appropriations Committee, but the swing vote — cast by Sen. Chris Smith, D- Fort Lauderdale — was less than enthusiastic.

"This is still a very ugly bill, a bill that needs a lot of work. ...  But I don't think it needs to be killed dead," Smith said.

Smith's vote came only after sponsors allowed him to attach a local-option rental-car surcharge, a $2-a-day levy that would require approval by a county commission supermajority and a county's voters in a referendum. South Florida legislators are hoping the tax could raise as much as $40 million to support their Tri-Rail commuter system.

Smith and other South Florida Democrats oppose requiring a referendum. But Gov. Charlie Crist and anti-tax Republicans have made clear that's the only way they'll support it — and they could still turn against it on the Senate floor.


SunRail also faces stiff opposition from Sen. Paula Dockery, R-Lakeland, who has assembled a coalition of unions, Democrats and anti-tax Republicans. She was responsible for scuttling SunRail in last year's Legislature.

"I don't even know why this is a close call," Dockery complained after Monday's vote went against her.

Dockery contends the entire deal — which would pay CSX $650 million for rail improvements and a new freight yard and buy an umbrella $200 million policy to pay victims of accidents caused by either a freight or a commuter train — is a "giveaway" to the giant railroad company. She also fears that extra freight traffic could be rerouted to Lakeland because of SunRail.

Adding to SunRail's woes was a decision by the House in the budget it passed last week to sweep $400 million from state Department of Transportation trust funds to help balance the 2009-10 budget. If that decision holds up, SunRail and numerous road projects across the state would be delayed for years, DOT officials said.



http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/local/orl-asecsunrail21042109apr21,0,3974804.story

"a local-option rental-car surcharge, a $2-a-day levy ( to save Tri-Rail) that would require approval by a county commission supermajority and a county's voters in a referendum."

This will be difficult, but I think it's important we help Tri-Rail survive (there needs to be dedicated funding to operate Tri-Rail).

"But Gov. Charlie Crist and anti-tax Republicans have made clear that's the only way they'll support it — and they could still turn against it on the Senate floor."

That would be shameful. Starving Tri-rail while promoting Sunrail. It's not like this rental surcharge is taxing Floridians....
In a society governed passively by free markets and free elections, organized greed always defeats disorganized democracy.
Basic American bi-partisan tradition: Dwight Eisenhower and Harry Truman were honorary chairmen of Planned Parenthood