Florida East Coast Industries, Inc. announced to Historic City News this morning that they are developing a privately owned, operated and maintained passenger rail service to connect South Florida to Orlando, which will be operational in 2014.
“All Aboard Florida” will provide a high-quality experience for passengers and will be the first privately owned, operated, and maintained passenger rail system in the United States.
St Augustine has been hopeful that a partnership between its affiliate, the Florida East Coast Railway, L.L.C., and Amtrak would lead to re-establishment of passenger rail service utilizing FEC owned tracks all the way from Jacksonville to Miami.
Those hopes were encouraged when the legislature approved measures that would limit liability of railroads in certain cases; however, no mention of passenger service north of Cocoa in today’s announcement.
Headquartered in Coral Gables, Florida East Coast Industries, Inc., through its affiliate, the Florida East Coast Railway, L.L.C., has a rich history dating back over a century when Henry Flagler first established the company and became a pioneer in the development of Florida’s eastern coast. The company is the owner of Florida’s premier passenger rail corridor and was formerly headquartered in St Augustine.
“By connecting the most visited city in the United States with South Florida’s business and vacation destinations, All Aboard Florida is designed to serve Florida’s growing number of business travelers, as well as families and tourists traveling for pleasure,” a Florida East Coast Railway, L.L.C. spokesman announced.
The All Aboard Florida passenger rail project will connect South Florida to Orlando through a 240-mile route combining 200 miles of existing tracks between Miami and Cocoa and the creation of 40 miles of new track to complete the route to Orlando. Eventually the system could be expanded with connections to Tampa and Jacksonville.
More than fifty million people travel between South and Central Florida annually, largely over highly congested highways. All Aboard Florida is envisioned to transform the way people travel throughout the state, offering a faster, safer, and more enjoyable mode of transportation between Florida’s two largest metropolitan areas.
Targeted to begin service in 2014, the approximately $1 billion project will operate on a regular schedule throughout the day transporting business and leisure passengers between South Florida and Orlando in approximately three hours.
This new, convenient, affordable, fast and environmentally friendly intercity passenger rail service is expected to:
(1) CREATE JOBS AND GROW FLORIDA’S ECONOMY—approximately 6,000 direct jobs will be needed to construct the system and over 1,000 more jobs to operate and maintain it; new economic development opportunities also will be created for communities along the route;
(2) PROTECT THE ENVIRONMENT—the service will take millions of vehicles off Florida’s roadways, resulting in a reduction in auto emissions and allowing for a far more fuel-efficient alternative to the automobile at this time of escalating gas prices;
(3) ENSURE SPEED AND RELIABILITY—travel time between regions will be approximately three hours and train service will be frequent throughout the day;
(4) PROTECT EXISTING FREIGHT CAPACITY—the new passenger service will not affect freight capacity in the rail corridor, thereby supporting Florida’s role in international commerce and allowing more intermodal freight movements.
By adding an entirely new travel choice, the All Aboard Florida passenger rail service will provide a high-quality experience for travelers. The system will include business- and coach-class service with advance purchase reserved seating, gourmet meals, Wi-Fi, and the ability to work productively throughout the entire trip. In addition, stations in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Orlando mean convenient transfers to Metrorail, Metromover or SunRail, allowing passengers to reach their final destination.
A feasibility analysis for the project began several months ago. An investment-grade ridership study and engineering work to design the system are underway. Today’s announcement marks the beginning of working in depth with local, state and federal officials, as well as the communities along the route.
All Aboard Florida is an intercity passenger rail project that will connect South Florida to Orlando with intermediate stations in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. This rail service will give Floridians and visitors a viable transportation alternative to congested highways and airport terminals.