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All Aboard Florida

Transportation Nation

Deal Reached for New Rail Link Between Orlando and Miami

Thursday, October 03, 2013

WMFE

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.

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Transportation Nation

The Passenger Train, Oldest New Trend in Orlando Transportation?

Friday, July 12, 2013

WMFE

A commuter train between South Florida and Orlando is in the final planning stages and it may change transportation in Central Florida as we know it.

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Transportation Nation

Mica Gets Transportation Subcommittee Posts

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

John Mica (photo by Matthew Peddie)

Representative John Mica (R-FL) will retain some influence in helping set transportation policy, even though Pennsylvania Congressman Bill Shuster has taken over as chair of the powerful House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

Mica was appointed to three subcommittees:  Highways and Transit; Railroads Pipelines and Hazardous Materials; and Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management. He was also named chair of the subcommittee on Government Operations under the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

The Winter Park Republican says he's proud of his legacy as chair of the Transportation Committee.

"My replacement is fortunate in that we passed a highway bill, we passed an FAA bill that was stalled for many years under the Democrats, we passed a Coast Guard reauthorization, we passed pipeline safety legislation, so most of the major bills have been passed," he says. "So [Shuster] has time to reassess and then move forward with a highway bill and find a responsible way to go beyond the next two years. "

But Mica says it will be a challenge to try to fix congested and crumbling highways. "Unfortunately it’s almost impossible to increase gas taxes, and that doesn’t really even solve your problem because people are using even less of the traditional gasoline."

"You have alternative fuels, you have plug in cars, and you have cars going much further on one gallon of gas."

 One source of revenue included in the current transportation bill allows for extra toll lanes to be built on existing interstates like I-4.

Mica says Amtrak -- which he labels a "Soviet style passenger rail system" -- also needs reform, and he favors allowing private operators to run the passenger rail system.

Meanwhile, Mica says he’s excited about the prospect of private passenger rail starting in the state - with All Aboard Florida proposing a Miami to Orlando service beginning in 2015. "It'll be a project that actually will make money and pay taxes with the private sector," he says. "That's the way we need to be going with passenger rail service across the country."

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Transportation Nation

Orlando International Airport Could Link with Private Intercity Rail

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Orlando International Airport (photo by Matthew Peddie)

Orlando International Airport officials are working out a deal over a private rail company's proposed commercial rail service to Miami.

The arrival of the intercity rail service -- called "All Aboard Florida" -- could mean the airport has to speed up plans to build a new train station.

A rail connection has been part of the airport's master plan for three decades, but with high-speed rail scrapped last year and no firm plans for a direct link to the SunRail commuter train, a private company may be the first to roll to the airport.

Florida East Coast Industries plans to create a passenger rail service from Miami to Orlando (a distance of about 240 miles) and it wants to link up with the airport by 2015.

Orlando International Airport executive director Phil Brown says they hope to have details worked out over the next two months.

“We have to come to a pretty rapid agreement on what it’s going to look like," he says, "where it’s going to come in, and who is going to be responsible for what parts of it."

Brown says the train station would be built at the site of the airport’s proposed South Terminal, and accommodate up to four rail systems -- including SunRail as well as All Aboard Florida.

"It's the same place where we envisioned a station for high speed rail," he said. "What's a little bit different is high-speed rail was coming from Tampa, this is coming from Miami, so there's a different access point."

The cost of the intermodal station and a new parking garage for rental cars has been pegged at $470 million.

To accommodate All Aboard Florida service, the airport would also have to fast-track construction of a people mover between the station and the North Terminal.

Whether the new South Terminal gets built or not depends on passenger numbers. Currently about 35 million people fly through the Orlando airport a year, and with some modifications the North terminal could take up to 45 million. International passengers numbers are growing, with an 8 per cent increase in April, but they only account for 10 per cent of the airport's customers.

Brown says an agreement would also have to be reached between the airport and airlines about who would shoulder which part of the cost of the proposed new passenger terminal.

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Transportation Nation

Private Rail Company Says Orlando to Miami Service Possible in Two Years

Friday, May 18, 2012

Amtrak's Orlando station (photo by Matthew Peddie)

(Orlando, FLA -- WMFE) The company that wants to begin a privately funded passenger rail service from Orlando to Miami says it expects to get millions of drivers out of their cars and riding the rails once it starts rolling.

Florida East Coast Industries executives are meeting with local authorities as they decide on the exact route of the service.

If the rail service starts as planned in 2014, it's expected to improve connections to regional transportation hubs in Central Florida.

FECI traces its roots back to Henry Flagler, one of the wealthy industrialists who created a network of railways and hotels throughout the state from the late 1800s.

The company already owns 200 miles of track needed for the route- it says it will cost a billion dollars to build the final 40 miles between Cocoa and Orlando, and modify the existing freight track to accommodate the new service, called All Aboard Florida.

Proposed route for a new intercity passenger rail service (Image courtesy of All Aboard Florida)

Spokesperson Christine Barney says there’s an appetite for intercity rail in Florida, but the failed high-speed rail project between Tampa and Orlando shows tax payers don't want to bear the risk.

This service isn't billed as high speed rail, but it would hit speeds of 100 miles per hour and more, allowing it to make the trip from Orlando to Miami in about 3 hours.

Barney says the company is confident it will get the funding it needs to start in 2 years time.

“We’re already looking at selecting the operators, picking the actual trains, you know, we’re moving very quickly," she says.

"We understand that if the project is going to move forward things have to happen quickly, but we think that’s a reasonable expectation.”

Barney says for the service to be a success, it has to run frequently.

"If you think about the successful rail corridors like in the North East, you can go from New York to Washington, and if you get to the station at 10.15, you've missed your 10, but there's another train at 11," says Barney.

She says the aim is to have between 12 and 14 trains running every day.

That could mean up to 3 million fewer cars on the road, but Barney admits it may be a challenge getting drivers to change their habits.

“It is going to be a learned behavior because people haven’t had this option before. But our initial studies indicate that there are enough people that don’t like the delays that occur, the traffic that occurs, the cost, wear and tear on cars, gas, and the difficulties of driving.”

The train will stop in West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale, and Barney says there could also be the potential to link up to airports and seaports, including Port Canaveral and Orlando International Airport.

Stan Thornton, project Liaison Manager for the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority, says the airport is ready to connect to rail- whether it's the SunRail commuter train set to start rolling in 2014, light rail, or an intercity service.

"We've always had rail in our master planning," says Thornton.

"When high speed rail was getting serious we went ahead and laid out how some of the different types of rail would get into here."

Thornton says the airport is talking to Florida East Coast Industries about their plans.

He says the proposed rail service could increase passenger traffic by giving people better connections to the airport.

“People have a tendency of how far they’ll drive before they’ll fly. We have people who come down from Jacksonville, we know that from our garage traffic, so it’s what we call a catchment area and we think that could increase by up to 50 per cent.”

A private company could soon be competing with Amtrak for these passengers (photo by Matthew Peddie)

All Aboard Florida is not the only passenger rail service that could be rolling on the east coast. Amtrak, which already has an inland service running from Jacksonville to Miami twice a day in both directions,  is also exploring another service along on the same stretch of track. Amtrak has a ridership study underway, but no date on when that will be finished.

Florida East Coast Industries says Amtrak and All Aboard could both use the track without any conflict.

The company says it will have a better idea of the final route of the train and the timeline for completion once ridership, engineering and environmental studies are finished in the next few months.

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