Tag Archives: Florida East Coast

Florida East Coast Railway and All Aboard Florida: The “DoomSayers” are Coming Out of the Closet

All Aboard Florida would create ‘unavoidable’ traffic delays through Treasure Coast says TC Palm

Traffic delays at Seaway Drive and the railroad tracks in Fort Pierce — for motorists headed east to the barrier island — would nearly triple if All Aboard Florida begins running passenger trains through the Treasure Coast, according to traffic experts and the Federal Railroad Administration.

All Aboard Florida request delayed by West Palm Beach commissioners

West Palm Beach commissioners will wait until October to discuss All Aboard Florida’s request to close a section of downtown to build a rail station for its upcoming express passenger train service.

West Palm Beach Station
West Palm Beach Station

City commissioners were expected to take up the request at a meeting Monday, but officials said Thursday the item has been delayed and will not appear on the commission’s agenda, according to The Palm Beach Post.

The alley is located between Datura and Evernia streets to the west of the Florida East Coast Railway tracks.

Bridge closures on the New River in Fort Lauderdale would more than double under All Aboard Florida’s proposed passenger service. But the length of each closure would be shorter.

It’s a similar story on the Loxahatchee River in Jupiter, where bridge closures would quadruple though the duration for each would be less.

A draft study on the impacts of the proposed rail line found:

The New River bridge would be closed 30 times a day for an average of 13 minutes vs. 10 times a day currently for an average of 19 minutes.

The Loxahatchee span would be closed 42 times a day for an average of 12 minutes vs. 10 times a day for an average of 19 minutes.

 

Drivers can expect crossings to be closed 54 times a day or three times an hour, compared to once an hour now.

And here’s how the study says the impacts, which it labeled “minimal,” will be mitigated:

Faster speeds for both freight and passenger trains, thanks to the construction of a second track.

Coordinated train schedules so passing trains cross at the same time, and increased efficiency in how the bridges are raised and lowered.

There will be a set schedule for bridge closures and countdown timers or signals at each span to indicate when bridges will close and how long before trains will arrive.

There will be a tender at the New River bridge. The span currently is raised and lowered remotely by a dispatcher in Jacksonville.

All Aboard Florida plans to run 32 passenger trains a day between Miami and Orlando on the Florida East Coast Railway tracks at speeds of 79 to 125 mph. The FEC now carries about 14 freight trains a day, but that’s expected to increase to 20 a day by 2016.

Together with All Aboard Florida’s trains, that would mean 52 trains a day traveling through downtowns from Miami to West Palm Beach.

Some boaters say the impacts are understated.

“It is difficult to believe than an additional 32 trains plus 20 freight trains crossing the New River would not have any impact even if they actually manage to synchronize the passenger train crossings,” said John Dotto, a boater who lives west of the bridge.

“How can this possibly be considered no impact?”

The New River is the lifeline for Broward’s marine industry, home to about a third of the county’s marinas with the largest concentration west of the railroad bridge. The Loxahatchee River represents slightly less than quarter of Palm Beach County‘s marine industry.

The Marine Industries Association of South Florida has said one of its main concerns is making sure the New River drawbridge is up and the river open to boat traffic at least 40 minutes an hour.

The closures would impact about 36 percent of the 215 boats that pass through the New River bridge on average daily, up from 23 percent currently.

On the Loxahatchee River, the closures would impact about 47 percent of the 121 boats that pass through the bridge on average every day, up from 16 percent currently.

Residents and many elected officials from northern Palm Beach County to the Treasure Coast oppose the project and have grown louder in their opposition. They say their communities will suffer blocked crossings and noise but not get any benefit because the only stops are planned in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Orlando International Airport.

Passenger service in the three South Florida cities is expected to start in late 2016 with the northern leg to Orlando starting in 2017.

Florida East Coast Railway is preparing for completion of the Port of Miami’s harbor-deepening project in the fourth quarter of 2015 by purchasing new equipment and locomotives and offering expedited services to population centers in the Southeast.

South Atlantic ports anticipate increased container trade with Asia in early 2016 with the completion of an expansion project at the Panama Canal to allow vessels with capacities of up to 13,000 20-foot container units to transit the canal.

Ports such as Miami, Jacksonville, Savannah and Charleston are at various stages of deepening their harbors so they can accommodate the mega-ships on all-water services from Asia to the East Coast. Miami in late 2015 is scheduled to be the first South Atlantic port to complete a 50-foot dredging project.

When choosing a load center for their mega-ships, container lines look for ports with large local markets plus intermodal rail connections to population centers and cargo hubs outside of their immediate hinterlands.

Trans-Pacific carriers are showing increased interest in Miami as a gateway to both Florida, with its population of more than 19 million, and the entire Southeast via intermodal rail, Jim Hertwig, president and CEO of Florida East Coast Railway, said at a press briefing last week at the Intermodal Association of North America conference in Long Beach.

A deep harbor is only the price of entry into the competition for gateway status in this era of big ships and ocean carrier alliances. Load-center ports must also have excellent inland transportation infrastructure, intermodal rail connectors and highway access to cargo hubs in the interior.

FECR is South Florida’s intermodal connection to the Southeast region. Its 351-mile route connects the ports of Miami, Port Everglades and Palm Beach with Jacksonville, Florida, where it interlines with the Class I eastern railroads CSX and Norfolk Southern.

FECR will be ready in terms of equipment, locomotive power, on-dock rail capacity and expedited service to handle the additional intermodal volume that is anticipated from the Panama Canal and Port of Miami expansion projects, Hertwig said.

The rail carrier is increasing its intermodal capacity by acquiring 500 53-foot domestic containers, 100 chassis and 50 refrigerated trailers. The trailers and containers are equipped with GPS technology.

FECR is also acquiring 24 new locomotives designed to meet federal Environmental Protection Agency Tier 3 emissions requirements. The railroad is also considering the use of retrofit kits that would allow the locomotives to burn liquefied natural gas, Hertwig said. LNG offers increased mileage and lower emissions than diesel fuel.

The railroad has access to Miami’s on-dock rail transfer yard and Port Everglades’ near-dock rail transfer facility that offer reduced costs and enhanced time-to-market service for intermodal services.

FECR is improving its intermodal services to and from cargo hubs in the Southeast, with second-day services to Charlotte, Nashville and Atlanta, Hertwig said.

As carrier alliances expand their service offerings in the major east-west trades, the introduction of one or two weekly services with 10,000-TEU ships would be sufficient to make Miami a competitor for all-water services from Asia, he said.

Public meetings

The Federal Railroad Administration is holding a series of pubilc information meetings. In South Florida, meetings will be from 3:30-7 p.m. on:

Oct. 27 at Miami-Dade College’s Wolfson Campus, James K. Batten Room 2106, 300 NE Second Ave., Miami;

Oct. 28 at the Broward County Convention Center, 1950 Eisenhower Blvd., Fort Lauderdale;

Oct. 29 at West Palm Beach Marriott, 1001 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach.

PropaneFlorida

But anything to do FEC or AAF hits the news

The tank, which is about as large as a house, was “venting off,” said Nate Spera, district chief with the Fire District.

They’re designed that if the tank should heat up, it’ll let some gas escape and it’s supposed to close back off,” Spera said. “This one did not close back off, so when we got here it was about 55 percent full at the time.

 

Find out about Dreams and Fairpromise

CONNECTING THE DOTS: Global Warming, Florida Power & Light, Florida East Coast Railway, All Aboard Florida

Randy Schultz of the Sun-Sentinal  recently wrote about Global Warming from the political side: “A century ago, the most important company in what passed for South Florida was Henry Flagler’s Florida East Coast Railway. Today, Florida Power & Light comes closest to filling that role.

The region and nation plan to deal with climate change. Talk radio will rant on about uncertain science, but much of American industry — including FPL — already believes in the link between human activity and global warming. Last month, writing in The New York Times, former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson compared the potential failure to deal with climate change with the failure to regulate financial markets before the Great Recession.”

PanamaCanalLocks

More shipping will be coming to Miami area with the revitalized Panama Canal. A lot of what Florida East Coast Railway is doing will cut “nasty” emissions from hundreds of giant tractor-trailers growling up the Interstate.

Tractor Trailer Traffic Jam
Tractor Trailer Traffic Jam

All Aboard Florida will slow down the burning of jet fuel as Miami-Orlando planes spew it out to get up high enough to begin their descent. And then, less cars on the highway too.

Jet Plane Polluting
Jet Plane Polluting

So if we connect these three dots (Florida Power & Light, All Aboard Florida and Florida East Coast Railway, what conclusion do we see that will help the environment: AN ELECTRIC RAILWAY!!!

Electric Locomotive
Electric Locomotive

Electric Railroads only become cost-effective in high-traffic areas (like Europe, Japan or Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor). Listening to the NIMBY’s complaining about all the extra traffic on the railroads, I think it will qualify.

So, by “connecting the dots”, we get a WIN (for the environment), a WIN (for Florida Power & Light) and a WIN (for the railroads). And it all adds up to a WIN (for the people)

More Trains to Hit South Florida

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More trains rumbling through South Florida neighborhoods could be coming soon, and with them drivers sitting longer at railroad crossings.

The number of freight trains could more than double after a widened Panama Canal opens. The wider canal and new shipping lane will allow a massive new line of mega-ships to pass through in early 2016, increasing the amount of freight heading to South Florida ports.

After that, the ports likely would be expanded to handle the larger ships. And the goods from those ships would be transported by train.

Some projections estimate that 24 to 28 freight trains a day will travel on railroads in South Florida in the next five years compared to about eight to 11 riding the rails now.

That has many folks worrying about trains blocking roads as they drive to and from work, take their children to school or drive for any reason.

“Some of those freight trains seem extremely long,” said Glenn Smith, of Wilton Manors, who lives three blocks from the Florida East Coast Railroad tracks. “You can back up an intersection real fast with a big train.”

All those lowered railroad gates would back up traffic more often. With passenger trains such as the upcoming All Aboard Florida Miami-to-Orlando passenger service added to the mix, there could be as many 32 trains a day starting in 2016. Tri-Rail has proposed a commuter service on the Florida East Coast Railroad’s freight tracks that could bring as many as 26 to 50 trains a day. It’s unclear when Tri-Rail trains will be on the East Coast Railroad tracks, as the two sides are still negotiating.

To get ready for all those potential trains and delays, the Florida Department of Transportation already is looking at ways to ease the starting and stopping. Minor delays could be fixed with new technology to coordinate gate closings. The department also could align oncoming trains with traffic-signal patterns.

The transportation department is asking railroads to run freight trains at more varied times of the day or double-stack train cars to shorten them, said Jeff Weidner, a strategic development manager for the transportation department.

 

Read More About Southern Florida Trains

 

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.