Florida East Coast News

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Lots of exciting things happening on Florida’s East Coast. The Port of Miami is getting ready for the expanded Panama Canal. A new high speed train will run between Miami and Orlando. Here’s some of the related stories.

The Florida East Coast Railway (“FECR”) recently took delivery of two refurbished locomotives (436 and 425). (Number 436 pictured above) These locomotives have a new paint scheme that recognizes breast cancer awareness. “These locomotives provide a visible example of FECR’s support to find a cure for breast cancer,” said FECR’s CEO Jim Hertwig.  “The locomotives were painted in honor of our employees, customers, suppliers, and the communities we serve who have fought for the cure. The locomotives will operate in local service along our network.”

All Aboard Florida won’t stop along the Treasure or Space coasts when passenger service starts to speed between Miami and Orlando in late 2015.

Platforms for passengers may someday be in those east coast communities and at more distant points across the state.

But first, backers of the $1.5 billion private venture by the subsidiary of Coral Gables-based Florida East Coast Industries want to know they’ll have a chance to recoup their investment before adding stops.

That didn’t prevent members of the Florida Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee this week from expressing a desire for the private venture to start making plans to expand the service west to Tampa and north to Daytona Beach and Jacksonville.

People who now drive from Central to South Florida could within two years hop on a train for a three-hour trip instead, thanks to deals being reached this week.

Owned by Florida East Coast Industries of Coral Gables, All Aboard Florida is planning stops at Orlando International Airport, West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale and Miami. The trains would run on a 230-mile route. Its customers are expected to be business travelers and tourists and a one-way ticket could cost about $100.

Passenger rail company All Aboard Florida expects to spend a total of about $2.4 billion to connect Miami to Orlando by private train and to develop the real estate along the track.

That total includes about $320 million spent on real estate development alone, according to sources who asked not to be named. The commercial development is expected to include offices, retail, residences and entertainment.

The real estate piece is particularly important to All Aboard-parent Florida East Coast Industries, which expects to generate revenue, in part, by leveraging its expertise in developing and managing commercial real estate. FECI also has separate companies that plans to leverage the rail to generate additional revenue. FECI subsidiaries will offer various services including locating cell phone towers along the right of way; and third-party management to government and private companies with land and resources on and around the right-of-way.

If it comes to fruition, All Aboard Florida will be the first private intercity passenger rail service in America since 1971, when government-subsidized Amtrak took over passenger train operation nationally.

For the first time in eight years, Florida East Coast Railway has an operational, direct rail line into PortMiami, opening the door for retailers, which can now reach much of the U.S. market in no more than four days.

PortMiami has been without on-dock rail service since 2005 when Hurricane Wilma destroyed the Port’s rail bridge. But thanks to a federal grant the tracks have been upgraded and regular service is scheduled to begin next month.

The new PortMiami-FEC partnership will allow shippers to reach 70 percent of the U.S. population in four days or less by linking the Port to the national railway system. The connection is part of an overall plan to maximize the growth in freight business projected as part of the Panama Canal upgrade to be finished in 2015.