Tag Archives: florida east coast railway

All Aboard Florida begins track work in Palm Beach County

All Aboard Florida this week started installing a second line of track along a section of the Florida East Coast Railway corridor in southern Palm Beach County, marking a key milestone for the express passenger rail service.

Crews on Monday began upgrading a section of rail near Gateway Boulevard that had served as a siding for slower rail traffic. The upgrades will allow the rail section to serve as a second track on the corridor’s main line, which will serve AllAboardFlorida’s passenger trains

With ‘quiet zones’ funded for Miami-Dade, All Aboard Florida moves ahead

The project to build an express passenger train from Miami to Orlando has cleared a major milestone.

Members of a Miami-Dade transportation board recently approved a plan to help fund construction of so-called “quiet zones” for the project between Miami and the Broward County line. Quiet zones are special security upgrades for rail crossings that make it OK for engineers to not sound locomotive horns as they approach intersections.

Approval of the quiet zone funding program by the Miami-Dade Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) is important because it will give communities along the Florida East Coast Railway the long-awaited quiet zones when the $3billion project becomes operational.

The first phase of the project, service between Miami and West Palm Beach, is expected to start operating in late 2016. The second phase, West Palm Beach to Orlando, is expected to be completed by early 2017.

Quiet zones have been a significant and controversial component of the project. Without quiet zone upgrades, the train engineer must sound the horn, according to federal regulations.

Approval of the quiet zone funding program came during the Dec. 18 MPO meeting at County Hall in downtown Miami. The MPO approved a $1.5million allocation to upgrade rail crossings to the level of a quiet zone.

According to federal regulations, quiet zones can only be requested by local municipalities or authorities that have jurisdiction over the roadways that intersect rail crossings. All Aboard Florida is not required to set up quiet zones. But project managers said the considerable amounts that the company is spending on rail crossing safety upgrades will reduce the communities’ funding needs for quiet zones.

“The significant investment being made by All Aboard Florida for safety improvements at each grade crossing will drastically reduce the cost of improvements otherwise associated with the introduction of quiet zones,” said Mike Reininger, president of All Aboard Florida.

Reininger also provided an update on the overall progress of the project.

Late last year, All Aboard Florida picked Suffolk as general contractor for the MiamiCentral station that will rise alongside the Government Center Metrorail and Metromover station downtown.

“Site clearing and demolition on the nine-acre station site began in November and was completed at the end of 2014,” Reininger said. “In the first quarter of this year, piling and foundation work will be underway.”

Reiniger said actual construction of the station is expected to begin at the end of the first quarter.

Meanwhile, in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, demolition of existing buildings at future station sites has been completed and construction of the new stations is expected to begin at the end of the first quarter, the company said.

FloridaEastCoastGradeCrossing2

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Florida East Coast Railway Runs Inaugural Of New GE Tier 3 ES44C4 locomotives

WOW! Those must be some locomotives

Ancien Hippie

JACKSONVILLE, Fla.,  Nov. 26, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — On  Friday, November 21 st, Florida East Coast Railway (FECR) completed the inaugural run of its first two new GE ES44C4 locomotives.  Locomotives FEC 803 and FEC 804 provided state-of-the-art Tier 3 locomotive power to FECR Train 101; the company’s most expedited through-freight train, transporting automotive, carload and intermodal freight from    Jacksonville to Miami.

FECR team members worked to prepare the locomotives for the first run, ensuring smooth operations for the historic inaugural trip.  According to   David Kobryn, FECR Locomotive Superintendent, “Within days of these units arriving in    Jacksonville, our Mechanical Team had completed standard service procedures, equipped the units with WiTonix, and they were ready for service.”

The new locomotives also got positive reviews from the FECR operations team.”The new locomotives are quiet and comfortable in the cab.  Overall I was impressed by the way they handled,” said   Donald Wolff, FECR Locomotive Engineer.

Mark Baker, FECR Conductor, similarly said…

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Florida East Coast Railway begins to take delivery of GE locomotives

Locomotive above is going to BNSF, others are going to Florida East Coast.

Florida East Coast Railway (FECR) is about to take delivery of the first of 24 new Tier 3-compliant locomotives ordered from GE Transportation, the regional announced yesterday.

The locomotives will be used on the railroad’s 351-mile mainline between Jacksonville and Miami. FECR expects to place the remainder of the units in service by year’s end.

Part of GE’s Evolution® Series, the ES44C4 locomotives are designed to meet the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Tier 3 emission requirements via advanced engine technology that can control nitrous oxide and particulate matter emissions, as well as reduce fuel usage.

“These locomotives will be utilized to [provide] the efficient horsepower needed to support the transportation of intermodal, carload, auto and port business for the growing Florida economy,” said FECR President and Chief Executive Officer James Hertwig in a press release.

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It Is Florida Rail Friday In Our Newsroom

WOW, this high speed rail / Florida East Coast thing is even getting into the Governor’s Mansion. NEXT CITY has a big story on: High-Speed Rail Muddies Florida Governor’s Race.

High-speed rail has a complicated history in the Sunshine State. Florida’s current governor Rick Scott was one of several Republicans to refuse federal funds ($2.4 billion) earmarked for high-speed trains in 2011. According to the Tampa Bay Times, his decision elicited “cheers from his tea party base, and harsh criticism from leading Florida Republicans and Democrats.”

Fast-forward three years, and a high-speed project is in the works — with cautious support from Scott. But All Aboard Florida, as it’s cheerfully titled, is different from the project Scott refused for one simple Tea Party-pleasing reason: It’s privately owned and operated by Florida East Coast Industries. And Scott is quick to point that out.

All Aboard Florida is a 100 percent private venture,” he said in a TV interview in June. “There is no state money involved.”

The train is expected to connect Miami to Orlando in less than three hours with stops in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. It will be the slowest of the three proposed U.S. rail projects (others are Texas and California), maxing out at 125 mph.

Check out their article to see the political implications.

 

Jacksonville, Florida
Jacksonville, Florida

 

Now Jacksonville, who is not officially yet involved with All Aboard Florida has gotten into the news. The Jax Daily Record had a good article on “Better Transit Systems For Downtown Is Key To Growth”.

Getting Jacksonville’s Downtown better connected through public transit would lay the groundwork for regional high speed rail and help lift urban core real estate.

 

That was the takeaway of an industry panel that discussed the future of infrastructure in Northeast Florida.

The panel was part of an event that unveiled the Urban Land Institute’s 2014 infrastructure report. The report focused on how infrastructure investments could shape cities for global competitiveness.

The industry panel took a local view, though, by asking which investments would promote Jacksonville the best. Downtown public transit connectivity was considered one of the missing puzzle pieces.

It’s one of the things holding back All Aboard Florida, a privately funded high-speed rail initiative that will connect Orlando with Miami. Jacksonville is not yet included in that plan.

The initiative is first targeting cities that have local routes in place to take riders from high-speed rail stations to their final destinations, said Husein Cumber, executive vice president of Corporate Development for the Florida East Coast Railway, the parent company of All Aboard Florida.

Orlando is one such city. It has been investing in its public transportation system for decades.

To compete, Jacksonville would have to have routes in place so a rider could get from a high-speed rail station to places like EverBank Field for a game, to the airport, San Marco or Jacksonville Beach, Cumber said.

Read more of this article on Jacksonville.

 

Proposed West Palm Beach Station
Proposed West Palm Beach Station

 

South Florida Business Journal has a story involving two U.S. Congressmen.

In separate letters to the Government Accountability Office, U.S. Reps. Patrick Murphy, D-Jupiter, and Bill Posey, R-Rockledge, said an independent review of the All Aboard project is needed before federal officials decide whether to give the company the loan, The Palm Beach Post reports.

Read more on this story about the Congressmen.

Florida East Coast Railway Grade Crossing
Florida East Coast Railway Grade Crossing

 

TC Palm has the story on Indian River County rejectingAll Aboard Florida’s plan to maintain rail crossings

The Horror Behind Curtain No 2
The Horror Behind Curtain No 2

 

The Sunshine State News has a story on “The Horror Behind Curtain No. 2”.

All Aboard Florida (AAF) is like a rigged “Let’s Make a Deal” TV experience. 

They tell you the Big Prize is the shiny new passenger train service. But no matter which curtain you choose, you’re going to get what’s behind curtain No. 2 — the freight-train nightmare from hell.

Florida Is Buzzing With News About All Aboard Florida and Florida East Coast Railway

About the neatest story, especially for the big critics is that All Aboard Florida is paying for bulk of rail crossing improvements in South Florida. There is a video and a great story in Sun Sentinal.

Officials say those improvements, such as new lights and gates – should put municipalities in a good position to qualify for quiet zone status at 115 crossings in Palm Beach County, 67 in Broward and 19 in Miami-Dade.

The company is adding a second track to the Florida East Coast Railway and rebuilding dozens of South Florida crossings to safety levels needed for passenger trains.

Cities will still have to pay for smaller upgrades that All Aboard Florida’s project won’t cover. That could mean something as simple as a $100,000 raised median to prevent cars from jumping into opposing lanes at crossings.

The private company expects to spend about $800 million to build the first phase of its passenger rail service, with stops in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. It plans to run 32 trains daily – 16 each way – starting in late 2016.

Miami-Station-Design-4-jpg

Miami-Dade officials approve All Aboard Florida’s Miami station plan

The Miami-Dade County Commissioners approved All Aboard Florida’s land use plan to construct a nine-acre multi-modal station and transit-oriented development in downtown Miami.

The transportation hub will include a mixed-use development with residential, office and commercial uses, and a retail concourse, and will serve as a connector between All Aboard Florida’s passengers and Miami’s existing public transport systems, All Aboard Florida officials said in a press release.

The company selected Boston-based Suffolk Construction for pre-construction and construction management services for the station, which will be located in the downtown’s western area. Construction is anticipated to begin in late fall.

The passenger-rail system will be elevated 50 feet to align with existing public transportation systems and with retail spaces located beneath the track. The design will allow through-streets to remain open to traffic and create an atmosphere of walkability, All Aboard Florida officials said.

“This is definitely a project we want to see happen in the core of downtown. We are optimistic that the project will take us to the next level of urban living,” said Miami-Dade County Commissioner Bruno Barreiro.

All Aboard Florida is a Miami-to-Orlando passenger-rail project being developed by Florida East Coast Industries Inc.

West Palm Beach Station
West Palm Beach Station

 

The Sun-Sentinal talks about the new West Palm Beach station for All Aboard Florida

All Aboard Florida’s modernistic new train station is expected to help revitalize a ragged stretch of downtown between Clematis Street and City Place, officials said Monday as plans for the new stop were unveiled.

Renderings show a 60,000-square-foot complex with lots of glass, an elevated lounge above the tracks and signature V-shaped trusses at the station, located west of the Florida East Coast Railway tracks between Evernia and Datura streets. The design complements stations underway in Fort Lauderdale and Miami. A fourth station is planned at Orlando International Airport.

Then We Have An Editorial from a Realtor About How A “Transportation Workshop was Bogus

What was falsely advertised as a Transportation Vision Workshop on July 10 in Viera was nothing more than trolling for comments so railroad promoters could adjust their sound bites and sell their boondoggle to taxpayers.

Real workshops build good policy using the interplay of group expertise. In contrast, the Space Coast Transportation Planning Organization hosted a marketing presentation, not a discussion. Its plan promotes an ill-conceived 110-mph passenger rail blasting through Brevard, increasing congestion at U.S. 1, and diminishing property values along Indian River. As we Realtors know, buyers say that Brevard’s potential will be stifled until the railroad moves west.

Crowley's Port Everglades Terminal
Crowley’s Port Everglades Terminal

Finally we have a story about how Crowley Customers are Realizing Benefits of New FEC Intermodal Container Transfer Facility in Port Everglades

The opening of Florida East Coast Railway’ s (FEC) new, state-of-the-art intermodal container transfer facility (ICTF) adjacent to Crowley Maritime Corporation‘s Port Everglades, Fla., terminal is providing Crowley customers with more efficient cargo handling and faster deliveries now that containers no longer need to be trucked via interstate highways to and from an off-site rail terminal. Additionally, the strategic location of the 43-acre, near-dock station is allowing Crowley to handle bigger, heavier break bulk and out-of-gauge cargo more efficiently and cost effectively because of the shorter distance required for transit to the railhead.

All Aboard Florida and Florida East Coast Railway News

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Building a new passenger rail system in the United States is a delicate balancing act. The public’s transit needs, the cost and financing, the impact on the environment and the repercussions for the taxpayer create a complicated puzzle of challenges that require a careful give-and-take approach to achieve an effective project that satisfies all the parties involved.

Some rail systems never work without huge costs to the taxpayer, and Southeast Florida’s Tri-Rail is a good example. Most business leaders in this part of Florida have come to realize that Tri-Rail is a bottomless pit that gobbles up public money like black holes gobble up stars.

But now, Florida has a significant rail company with a familiar name that has jumped into the competition, and it has the experience and the potential to get it right. That company is Florida East Coast Railway, and its project is called All Aboard Florida. It is a very different animal from TriRail.

The project has Florida East Coast Railway planning a major expansion to create a new passenger service from downtown Miami to Orlando, with two stops in between — in downtown West Palm Beach and in Fort Lauderdale.

The biggest plus: All Aboard Florida is a private-sector initiative, so all decisions will be based on free-enterprise economics and top-quality business planning, without being a drain on taxpayers. The new rail line will create a significant economic impact for affected counties, in terms of jobs, construction and operations. Tax revenues to local and state governments are estimated at $200 million over six years.

Financing will include a mix of equity and debt. A chunk of the initial capital is expected to come from a federal Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement loan, which would be backed by private equity collateral. The long-term loan would be repaid over time, with interest, from revenues generated by the rail system.

The Federal Railroad Administration has already found that the most concentrated point of the rail line will have “no significant impact” on area communities, and All Aboard Florida expects the line to relieve about 3 million cars from Florida roads each year.

Read more

 

What Will the Panama Canal Do For Florida East Coast Railway?

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The 48 mile-long international waterway known as the Panama Canal allows ships to pass between the Atlantic Ocean and Pacific Ocean, saving about 8,000 miles from a journey around the southern tip of South America. A project is underway to build new locks as well as wider and deeper channels that is expected to double the canal’s capacity. This will allow megaships to move through the Canal.

Though traffic continues to increase through the canal, many oil supertankers, huge container ships and aircraft carriers can not fit through the canal. There’s even a class of ships known as “Panamax,” those built to the maximum capacity of the Panama canal and its locks. the Panama Canal expansion project will allow ships double the size of current Panamax (“Post-Panamax”) to pass through the canal, dramatically increasing the amount of goods that can pass through the canal.

The expansion project is a little off target and will not be completed until April 2015. What does this expansion mean? The Panama Canal will then accommodate post-Panamax vessels that carry 12,600 containers, compared to today’s ships carrying 4,500 containers.

Shipping containers through the Canal on these larger ships could reduce costs by as much as $75 to $100 per container per voyage, which adds up quickly! When such ships are able to pass through the Panama Canal, business will consequently pick up along both the U.S. Eastern and Gulf coast ports because the ships can take an “all-water” route from Asia to the U.S. East or Gulf coast—bypassing West coast ports and the roads and railways now used to transport goods across the U.S. However, these ships require depths of up to 50 feet of water to navigate. As a result, port authorities along the U.S. Eastern seaboard and Gulf coast are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to dredge the bottoms of their bays and river bottoms to deepen harbors to accommodate the larger ships.

Progressive Railroading has been covering the East Coast ports plus the connecting railroads. As the $5.25 billion Panama Canal expansion nears its 2015 completion to allow supersize, Post-Panamax cargo ships to pass through on their way to markets farther north, eastern U.S. ports and a number of railroads are gearing up for an anticipated increase in international intermodal traffic in the coming years. East and Gulf Coast port authorities are developing and deepening their harbors in preparation for the influx of giant ships, and eastern railroads are building or expanding on-dock rail facilities, building intermodal centers or advancing other plans to accommodate an expected increase in freight traffic.

Among railroads anticipating a bump in intermodal traffic after the bigger canal opens is Florida East Coast Railway L.L.C. (FEC), the only rail provider to south Florida’s ports. Based in Jacksonville, Fla., the 351-mile regional is working with PortMiami and Port Everglades to build on-dock rail facilities as part of their expansion programs, which FEC execs view as a big part of the railroad’s strategy to grow intermodal traffic. “By summer 2014, we’ll have the on-dock rail facility fully operational, which means that from PortMiami we can hit 70 percent of the American population in a matter of days,” says PortMiami Director Bill Johnson. “It will allow us to double stack containers directly to Jacksonville in under nine hours, and connect to Norfolk Southern Railway (NS) and CSX directly to the heartland of America.”

FEC is partnering with both Port Miami and Port Everglades (Fort Lauderdale) to build on-dock rail facilities to provide faster and more cost-effective service to intermodal customers. In addition, the Port of Miami is engaged in the FEC Rail Reconnection Project. The Project has four phases: (1) reconstruction of the Florida East Coast Railway (FEC) Port Lead, (2) rehabilitation of the bascule bridge that connects Port Miami and FEC, (3) the construction of an on-port rail facility, and (4) modifications to FEC’s Rail Yard to accommodate the increase in intermodal traffic. The rail reconnection project is actually part of a larger infrastructure investment program taking place at Port Miami. The other two projects are the Miami Access Tunnel and the 50-foot dredge.