Last Friday in August Developments in Florida Rail

Keeping out tradition of going over developments with All Aboard Florida, Florida East Coast Railway and Tri-Rail. One would think end of August would be quiet, but no, we have some good stories for you.

The Miami Herald has a big story “Work begins — finally — on Miami-to-Orlando fast train”

Preliminary work has begun for construction of a $2.5 billion express passenger train between Miami and Orlando.

In preparation for the project, 35,000 linear feet of new steel rails have been laid on the ground alongside existing freight train tracks at two sites in Palm Beach County just west of North Dixie Highway in Boca Raton.

Parking lots that for years were packed with vehicles next to the Miami-Dade County Hall building and Metrorail tracks in downtown Miami are now empty, closed for coming construction of the train’s Miami station.

The shuttered parking lots and the new steel rails mark the first physical work on the future service since the ambitious project was announced in March 2012.

All Aboard Florida, as the project is called, is expected to begin operations in two phases: first between Miami and West Palm Beach in 2016 and then between West Palm Beach and Orlando in 2017.

It won’t be as fast as the French TGV, but at 125 mph, it won’t loaf along either. Details of the trainsets are not finalized, but they will be Made In U.S.A.

First passenger trains since the 1960’s along the East Coast that was originally developed by Henry Flagler.

Four good pictures and a recap of the grade crossings and other issues.

Florida Governor Rick Scott
Florida Governor Rick Scott

Next we have even more All Aboard Florida opponents who want ‘open and honest’ response from Governor Scott

The story in TCPalm says this group will get their “moment in the Sun” with Scott’s staff. CARE FL — an acronym for Citizens Against Rail Expansion in Florida — is all from “upscale” communities in Palm Beach County. Concerns about property values and blocked access.

TriRail Train
TriRail Train

 

A plan to expand Tri-Rail service would deliver commuters smack in the center of downtowns from West Palm Beach to Miami. A proposed Tri-Rail service, called the “Coastal Link,” would use the train tracks running through coastal downtown communities such as West Palm Beach, Boca Raton and Fort Lauderdale. The trains would be added to the Florida East Coast Railway tracks that run along Dixie Highway, but would not replace Tri-Rail service on the tracks along Interstate 95.

 

The Sun-Sentinal has written an expanded article that answers a lot of our questions.

Laying the groundwork for the “Coastal Link” has been underway for the last few years. But plenty of planning, construction and funding still has to happen. Consider:

Fees to use the tracks are being negotiated between Tri-Rail and the Florida East Coast Railroad, which owns the coastal tracks.

The estimated cost to get Tri-Rail Coastal Link started is between $720 and $800 million. That money would cover stations, a third track, and bridge improvements. A final cost will be nailed down after the Florida Department of Transportation‘s two-year study is complete.

Money to run the trains still has to be found. An estimated $100 million would be needed annually. Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties would have to pitch in, and possibly some cities as well.

Right now, Tri-Rail service starts and ends north of West Palm Beach. Using the coastal tracks, Tri-Rail would reach to Jupiter and connect some 28 coastal communities by train.

The new Tri-Rail system would then have three main routes:

The red line would run from Mangonia Park to downtown Miami with trains traveling on the western tracks Tri-Rail currently uses and switching over at Pompano Beach to the coastal tracks.

The blue line would run from Boca Raton to Miami International Airport, using the same route Tri-Rail uses now.

The green line would run from Jupiter to downtown Fort Lauderdale on the coastal tracks.

Trains would run every 30 minutes or every hour. About 20 to 22 stations are being considered for the service.

The new service would provide people with access to more entertainment and recreation options and would be more than a way “just to get to work,” said Amie Goddeau, a mobility development manager for the state’s transportation department.

If All Aboard Florida, the high-speed rail between Miami and Orlando, continues as planned, the private company will add a second track to the coastal line, which Tri-Rail trains could also use. Even with that second track, a third track also may be built to prevent train traffic jams.

Earlier this year, Tri-Rail and All Aboard Florida reached an agreement on how the two services would operate. Basically, they agreed not to compete with each other, leaving Tri-Rail as the local commuter service and All Aboard Florida as a limited-stop service.

Two construction projects critical to Tri-Rail’s coastal service are in the works. Work on two additional connections that link the coastal railroad to the tracks near I-95 should begin within a year. Those connections would allow Tri-Rail trains to travel between the two railways.

One connection is north of downtown West Palm Beach at 25th Street. The other connection is in Miami.

The three counties are looking at various ways to come up with the money, including using a transportation sales tax, gas tax or rental car surcharge.

Anybody remember this? “A collection of articles about Railroads and Transit in Florida. Tri-Rail was created to head-off an often-quoted scenario in which I-95 would have to be widened to 44 lanes to handle increased traffic expected along certain stretches by the year 2020.”