St Augustine represented at passenger railroad forum

Historic City News was invited to hear a presentation by St Augustine Commissioner Nancy Sikes-Kline this morning as she conveyed our city’s “station story” before the Flagler Line Forum held in the City Commission Chambers of the Cocoa City Hall.

Leigh Holt coordinated the forum that brought together about 65 participants from the Florida Department of Transportation, AMTRAK and each of the eight station communities who are working to restore the operation of two round trip passenger trains, per day, from Jacksonville to Miami along the tracks of the Florida East Coast Railway.

The Space Coast Transportation Planning Organization sponsored this morning’s 10:00 a.m. meeting; where at least one presenter spoke from each of the eight station communities.

City of Cocoa Mayor Mike Blake welcomed the guests and introduced Fred Wise, State Rail Manager with the Florida Department of Transportation; who has been encouraging this service since 1998.

Presentations from the station communities included:

St. Augustine Station
Commissioner Nancy Sikes-Kline, City of St. Augustine

Daytona Beach Station
Jim Cameron, VP Government Relations, Daytona Beach Chamber

Titusville Station
Mayor Jim Tulley, City of Titusville
Mark Ryan, Titusville City Manager

Cocoa/Rockledge Station
John Titkanich, Community Development Director, City of Cocoa

Melbourne Station
Vice Mayor Kathy Meehan, City of Melbourne

Vero Beach Station
Phil Matson, Director, Indian River Transportation Planning Organization

Fort Pierce Station
Jon Ward, Director of Urban Development, City of Fort Pierce

Stuart Station
Mayor Jim Christie, Jr., City of Stuart
Chairman Edward V. Ciampi, Martin County Commission

All AMTRAK trains in Florida are operated exclusively on CSX-owned tracks, except for the Miami-to-West Palm Beach segment, where the State-owned South Florida Rail Corridor is used.

Currently, AMTRAK serves Florida with three long-distance trains: the Silver Meteor and Silver Star, from New York to Miami via Jacksonville and Orlando, and the daily, non-stop Auto Train, from Lorton, Virginia, to Sanford.

Approximately one million passengers traveled on Amtrak trains in Florida last year, with Florida passengers accounting for approximately 60 percent of all Amtrak passengers on these lines.

The meeting concluded with an update from Mike Latiff, Senior Officer, Station Program and Planning for AMTRAK, who has been working with all the stakeholders to restore service to the communities along the east coast of Florida — where passenger rail service was terminated in the mid 1960’s.

Photo credits: © 2012 Historic City News staff photographer

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