WMFE - Orlando —
The private rail company All Aboard Florida says its on course to start a passenger rail service from Orlando to Miami by early 2016. The company announced Wednesday it had reached a deal to connect the rail service to Orlando International Airport.
By 2016, All Aboard Florida says tourists and business travelers who don’t want to drive or fly between Orlando and Miami will have an alternative.
Company president Michael Reininger says the privately owned and operated train will take just under three hours to make the journey. “Our service we think will certainly impact the way people travel throughout the state, but we think it will do much more than that," Reininger says. "We think it will have significant impact on the economy of central Florida as well as the state.”
The agreement with the airport includes use of a new multi-modal station, and the lease on a rail maintenance yard. Trains will also be housed at the airport.
Greater Orlando Aviation Authority chairman Frank Kruppenbacher says it took 17 months to hammer out the deal. “We think this clearly defines our community as the hub of the state,” he says.
Thirty-five miles of track will be built alongside the Beachline Expressway from Cocoa to the airport, and the Orlando Orange County Expressway authority still has to sign off on a land use agreement.
All Aboard Florida says it will begin construction on the $1.5 billion project before the end of the year.
Reininger says $400 million worth of infrastructure will be built in Central Florida. The Expressway Authority is due to vote on the land use agreement Thursday.
Florida has a rocky history of ambitious rail projects
. The state nearly launched a plan for a high-speed train from Orlando to Tampa in 2011 but governor Rick Scott rejected more than $2 billion in federal funding for the project, ending it's chances of construction.