Category Archives: All Aboard Florida

After 1OO+ Years, Private Industry Will Build Rail Infrastructure

The last time a private American company built rail infrastructure was more than 100 years ago. But this summer’s launch of Brightline service, connecting downtown Miami with Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, could propel private passenger rail forward.

The trio of southeast coastal-Florida cities, which comprise the destinations in the first phase of the $3 billion, 235-mile project, are well suited to testing a privately funded rail revival. “We have to challenge the monopoly of the car and adapt to changing trends of millennials,” says Brightline president Mike Reininger, referring to the dual desires of young adults to settle in cities and do without cars. Between 2000 and 2012, this demographic increased in population 24.7 percent around Brightline’s service corridor, 118 percent around Miami alone, while auto congestion in the area consistently ranked among the world’s worst traffic. Brightline uses the century-old Florida East Coast Railway corridor, on which its parent organization ships freight, although the right-of-way access still had to undergo extensive community review.

The company’s new investments should yield benefits for passengers and the wider public. Perhaps most significant, its Miami terminal links three different commuter lines while its groundfloor retail space stitches together four downtown neighborhoods, says Roger Duffy, design partner of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill in New York. The firm designed all three stations in association with Miami-based Zyscovich Architects.

The terminal is noteworthy visually as well. “The architectural expression is in the base structure,” says Duffy, who adds that visible V-bracing and multimodal connections at the smaller Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach stations unify the three. Rockwell Group was responsible for Brightline’s colorful branding, including exterior train graphics and car interiors.

The project’s second phase, which is slated to open with the completion of the Intermodal Terminal Facility at Orlando International Airport in 2018, will connect coastal South Florida to that city.

Ferromex’s owner nears deal to acquire Florida East Coast Railway

The owner of Ferrocarril Mexicano (Ferromex), Mexico’s largest railroad operator, is nearing a deal to acquire Florida East Coast Railway for more than $2 billion, including debt.

The potential deal shows that Ferromex’s parent, Mexican mining conglomerate Grupo Mexico , is now seeking to apply its railroad operating expertise to foreign assets after dominating the railway freight sector. The acquisition would come at a sensitive time for relations between the United States and Mexico, following a pledge by U.S. President Donald Trump to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement and tighten immigration controls. Grupo Mexico has prevailed in an auction for Florida East Coast Railway and is now negotiating final terms with the U.S. regional railroad’s owner, Fortress Investment Group LLC

If the negotiations are completed successfully, a deal could be announced as early as this week, the people added, asking not to be identified because the sale process is confidential. Fortress declined to comment. Ferromex, Grupo Mexico and Florida East Coast Railway did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Based in Jacksonville, Florida East Coast Railway operates a 351-mile (565-km) freight rail system located along the east coast of Florida. Fortress took Florida East Coast Railway private in 2007 for $3.5 billion. Fortress, an investment firm with $69.6 billion in assets under management as of the end of December, agreed last month to sell itself to Japan’sSoftBank Group Corp for $3.3 billion.

Grupo Mexico, one of the world’s largest copper producers, together with Kansas City Southern de Mexico and Ferrovalle, control more than 72 percent of the Mexican rail freight market. Grupo Mexico and Kansas City Southern de Mexico together have a 75 percent stake in Ferrovale. Earlier this month, Mexico’s antitrust watchdog criticized Grupo Mexico and Kansas City Southern de Mexico for using their rail freight market share to fix prices, restrict supply and impede access to their networks.

First finished Brightline train, now steaming to South Florida

Siemens workers gather as the first completed Brightline train gets set to roll from the manufacturing facility in Sacramento, Calif., bound for South Florida.

The train, consisting of two diesel-electric locomotives and four coaches, all decked out in Brightline Blue, arrived in West Palm Beach on Wednesday after a 3,000-mile journey from the Siemens manufacturing hub in Sacramento to South Florida. By rail, of course.

The train will now begin undergoing testing along the Florida East Coast Railway line between West Palm Beach and Miami, the company said.

Brightline’s parent company, Florida East Coast Industries subsidiary All Aboard Florida, is scheduled to start regular express passenger service between West Palm and Miami, with a stop in Fort Lauderdale, next summer. The company intends to add service to Orlando in 2018.

Fortress Exploring Sale of Florida East Coast Railway

FOrtress Investment Group is exploring a sale of Florida East Coast Railway Corp., the coastal freight operator it took private in 2007.

Asset manager Fortress is working with Barclays and Morgan Stanley to weigh options for Jacksonville-based Florida East Coast Railway. The company is likely to attract interest from other private equity firms, infrastructure firms and railway operators.

The holding company of Florida East Coast Railway — Florida East Coast Industries Inc. — was taken private in 2007 by funds managed by Fortress in a transaction valued at about $3.5 billion. The fund later spun off the railway operations into a separate company, leaving real estate, logistics and telecommunications assets under the FECI umbrella.

Fortress, based in New York, had about $70.2 billion in assets under management as of June 30, according to its website. Florida East Coast Railway can trace its roots back to 1895, when industrialist Henry M. Flagler bought the Jacksonville, St. Augustine, Halifax, and Indian River railroads to create a transportation route along the state’s coastline.

Railroad tracks back in service after Hurricane Matthew

Railroad tracks in St. Augustine that were underwater during Hurricane Matthew were back in service Tuesday, according to a spokesperson with Florida East Coast Railway.

Crews went out Saturday and put more rock around the tracks and made repairs.

Some railroad signals in Flagler and Brevard counties are out because of the power outages there, and generators have been put in those locations to power the signals until power is restored.

MOVE TO A SHELTER What A Horrid Choice In A Hurricane!

A hurricane is a HORRID thing!

What should I do?

“Leadership” like governors tell me to go to a shelter.

Common sense tells me I should stay with my property.

News media just excites the situation.

“Shelters” have a bad name. Leave your belongings for 30 seconds and somebody will steal.

Stay at home COULD be dangerous.

Thank God I don’t have to make this decision!!!!!

Museum Explains Role OF Florida East Coast Railway in Florida Keys

Stories of the Upper Keys is the latest permanent exhibit to be presented by the Keys History & Discovery Center in Islamorada.

It encapsulates several significant aspects of history. In addition to subjects like Henry Flagler’s Florida East Coast Railway and the 1935 Labor Day Hurricane, the exhibit explores the people who carved niches for themselves and their families from a considerably more inhospitable string of islands than the paradise we live in today.

The exhibit includes storyboards, more than 50 historic images, touchscreen monitors filled with more images and more stories as well as a video component with directional sound focused downward by audio domes to reduce the impact on surrounding exhibits. The first video available is an interview with President Herbert Hoover after a fishing excursion from North Key Largo’s Angler’s Club. Also featured in the exhibit are a smattering of artifacts on loan from the Flagler Museum in Palm Beach and Upper Keys history guru Jerry Wilkinson.

“Stories of the Upper Keys is presented as seven individual panels spanning roughly 30 feet of wall space,” says curator Brad Bertelli. “While each of the seven panels is offered as an individual piece and can be appreciated that way, because of the interconnectedness of this collection of panels, the exhibit as a whole tells a larger story.”

The exhibit was designed by Bruce Merenda at Studio B Concepts, fabricated by S&L Millworks and made possible through grants and donations.

The Discovery Center is a museum, theater and gift shop offering lessons in Keys history. It’s at the Islander Resort, mile marker 82 and open Thursdays through Sundays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. General admission is $12. Admission for seniors is $10 and children 13 and under are free. Annual memberships with a range of benefits are available.

Florida East Coast Railway Named Highest Value Rail Provider

Florida East Coast Railway (FECR) has a long history of providing value through flexible, safe and reliable rail transportation, and has been named the highest valued rail service provider in America by Logistics Management magazine by earning their 2016 Quest for Quality award.

The Quest for Quality award is regarded as one of the most important measure of customer satisfaction and performance excellence. Transportation service providers are rated on the areas of on-time performance, value, information technology, customer service and equipment and operations.

For over 100 years, FECR has been known for its innovative culture and early adoption of railroad technologies. The railroad continues to implement the latest equipment, processes and technology to ensure the highest level of safety and reliability while providing a broad variety of equipment and scheduled services that allows flexible, tailored shipping solutions.

“Our goal is to provide employees, customers and the communities in which we operate the benefits of being the safest and most reliable railroad in America,” said Adam Bridges, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Strategic Planning at Florida East Coast Railway. “We continually enhance our operations with groundbreaking technology to provide on-time performance with the utmost safety, and dependability across all our operations.”
FECR currently uses both Centralized Traffic Control (CTC) and Automatic Train Control (ATC) signal systems to provide overlapping layers of protection and safety. FECR is in the process of incorporating Positive Train Control (PTC), to ensure efficient, safe train operations.

FECR also incorporates advanced locomotive technologies, such as Trip Optimizer and Wi-Tronix, which provide awareness of human and environmental factors with train operations to help optimize movements and ensure the safest trip possible.

The company stays connected to its customers via their online web portal FECR Connect, delivering added value through features such as ‘order entry’ and real time equipment tracking. Also, creating EZ Buy, an online price quote and booking system for transactional door-to-door freight between South Florida and Southeast U.S. markets — offering a unique price negotiation capability to customers.

Additionally, FECR has launched the FEC Railway app, providing up to date information to customers, employees and communities. The app is now available on iTunes and Google Play app stores.
About Florida East Coast Railway

The Florida East Coast Railway (“FECR”) is a 351-mile freight rail system located along the east coast of Florida. It is the exclusive rail provider for PortMiami, Port Everglades, and Port of Palm Beach. FECR connects to the national railway system in Jacksonville, Fla., to move cargo originating or terminating there. Based in Jacksonville, Fla., FECR provides end-to-end intermodal and carload solutions to customers who demand cost-effective and premium quality. For additional information download the FEC Railway app, or visit http://www.fecrwy.com.

3 Things to Know: Brightline rail upgrades, train expected this fall

Crews for All Aboard Florida work upgrading tracks at 3rd Street and Quadrille Boulevard on the Florida East Coast Railway in West Palm Beach on September 6, 2016. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)

Locomotive tested on rails in California

All Aboard Florida’s Brightline announced Thursday it has completed initial testing of its first locomotive at a manufacturing plant in Sacramento, California.

The company said the locomotive, which is powered by a diesel-electric engine, was tested on a quarter-mile-long track at the Siemens manufacturing facility in California.

As part of the announcement, Brightline posted a video on its YouTube channel showing a driver operating the locomotive for the first time.

“After several years worth of effort the first of the train parts are coming together, and we are nearing the end of the manufacturing process for the first of our exciting new train sets,” Brightline President Michael Reininger said in the video.

The initial testing marks a milestone for the passenger rail service, which plans to run 32 trains a day along the Florida East Coast Railway tracks with stops in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, WestPalmBeach and Orlando. The company plans to launch service between Miami and WestPalmBeach in mid-2017.

In addition to the engine, Brightline officials said they tested 45 other areas on the locomotive, including the air and braking systems, the doors, the fire detection system and warning devices.The initial testing marks a milestone for the passenger rail service, which plans to run 32 trains a day along the Florida East Coast Railway tracks with stops in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, WestPalmBeach and Orlando. The company plans to launch service between Miami and WestPalmBeach in mid-2017.

In addition to the engine, Brightline officials said they tested 45 other areas on the locomotive, including the air and braking systems, the doors, the fire detection system and warning devices.

Brightline’s passenger trains are comprised of two locomotives and four stainless steel passenger cars.

“The operation of the locomotive and its passing of the initial track testing has demonstrated Siemens’ engineering expertise and given us a high degree of confidence that the Brightline service will be exceptionally reliable,” said Gene Skoropowski, senior vice president of railroad operations for Brightline. “Brightline will be the only passenger rail service in the country to have such dynamic and modern trains that will offer Americans a new and modern experience in train travel.”

Train expected in the fall

Brightline officials have said the first passenger train is expected to arrive in West Palm Beach this fall. The train will be housed at the company’s rail repair facility currently under construction just north of downtown.

“Once in the facility, it will undergo several months of static and dynamic testing,” Brightline said on its website. “When the dynamic testing begins, the train will be running on a short “test track” between West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale.”

Brightline began construction on the rail repair facility in January.

The facility will be used to repair, maintain, clean and store Brightline’s trains, All Aboard officials said. About 50 people will work out of the 12-are site at 601 15th Street, which is also expected to serve as an office for the company’s conductors, engineers, and on-board service staff.

Initially, five Brightline trains will be housed at the site, officials have said.

Martin County continues to challenge project

Martin County commissioners last month said they planned to continue to fight to block the rail line’s expansion north through the Treasure Coast.

Martin officials declared a “major victory” in the battle last month, after a federal judge denied motions to dismiss a lawsuit challenging All Aboard Florida’s ability to sell $1.75 billion in tax-exempt bonds to help pay for the project.

U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper last month found that the bonds are key to AllAboardFlorida’s ability to complete the second phase of the rail line

Martin and Indian River counties filed federal lawsuits last year against the U.S. Department of Transportation challenging whether AllAboardFlorida is eligible for the private activity bonds. AllAboardFlorida is an intervenor in the suit.

By Jennifer Sorentrue – Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Port Everglades and the Panama Canal Authority Renew MOU of Long-standing Relationship

Port Everglades joins the Panama Canal Expansion Celebration in June with Chief Executive Steve Cernak (middle), joined by Port Tampa Bay CEO Paul Anderson (right), presenting a plaque on behalf of the Florida Port’s Council for a presentation to Oscar E. Bazán V., Executive Vice President, Planning and Business Development, Panama Canal Authority (left).

BROWARD COUNTY, FL – Port Everglades and the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) have renewed their long-standing Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to promote trade opportunities for another five years.
This renewal will extend their strategic alliance to 2021. The MOU solidifies both entities’ dedication to growth and best customer practices. The ACP and Port Everglades first signed an MOU in August 2009.

Areas of cooperation between the ACP and Port Everglades include joint advertising programs, data interchange, and competitive market analyses of the shipping industry. This alliance will also continue to promote the route to the West Coast of South America as well as the “All-Water Route,” the route from Asia to the U.S. East Coast via the Panama Canal.

The MOU encourages collaboration between Port Everglades and the ACP, which translates to providing our South Florida residents and visitors increased access to the growing global economy,” said Steven Cernak, Port Everglades Chief Executive & Port Director. “We continue to share information on our modernization efforts that complement each other and to discuss ways to pursue joint marketing activities.”

Port Everglades Chief Executive & Port Director Steven Cernak attended the recent grand opening ceremony of the Panama Canal Expansion Project in June. At that time, the Panama Canal Administrator Jorge Luis Quijano provided an update on the Expansion Program and its impact on U.S. East Coast ports. The Canal Expansion drew worldwide attention to the significance of global trade and the critical need for infrastructure investments to handle today’s modern fleet of larger cargo ships.

The Panama Canal Expansion involved the construction of a third lane of traffic allowing the passage of bigger vessels, which doubles the Canal’s capacity and has an important impact on world maritime trade. It has been the largest enhancement project since the Canal’s opening in 1914.

Port Everglades, a leading container cargo port in the United States, provides service to more than 150 ports in 70 countries and is the number one U.S. gateway for trade with Latin America. The Port has the shortest, straightest entrance channel on the Southeast U.S. Atlantic coast, which saves ships fuel costs and time. The Florida East Coast Railway (FEC) opened an Intermodal Container Transfer Facility (ICTF) on the Port two years ago to provide even greater ship-to-rail connectivity from South Florida to points throughout the United States. Cargo can reach 70 percent of the U.S. population from Port Everglades via rail in four days.