FEC passenger rail “Not likely” to return


400-AMTRAK-ST-AUG-FECHistoric City News has learned that National Association of Railroad Passengers, holding their national meeting in Jacksonville this weekend, are pushing rail carriers to restore discontinued service and establish new stations in Florida — including the Florida East Coast passenger routes.

FEC is working to set up passenger service between Miami and Orlando. The Association is slated to hear from “All Aboard Florida” representatives, including Husein Cumber, executive vice president of Florida East Coast Industries.

“There’s a lot of tourists who live in East Coast communities well served by Amtrak that would love to visit communities along Florida’s east coast that are not being served,” said Sean Jeans-Gail, vice president of the Association, in a published interview in the Jacksonville Business Journal. “If it were set up, it could be a boon to tourism with visitors taking trains down from up north.”

The passengers group wants the Miami to Orlando line extended to Jacksonville, but All Aboard Florida has said that’s unlikely any time soon.

The National Association of Railroad Passengers is meeting in Jacksonville because it’s a “key battleground state” when it comes to rail issues, Jeans-Gail said — although many of those projects are simply talked about, not implemented.

“Florida is a leader in doing studies on passenger rail corridors,” according to Jeans-Gail. “Unfortunately, there has not been the follow-through.”

Also in the Association’s cross-hairs, restoration of passenger train service between New Orleans and Jacksonville. The Sunset Limited was washed out by Hurricane Katrina.
CSX soon got the tracks back in shape for freight trains; but, Amtrak has said it doesn’t have the money to repair its passenger stations. “It’s baffling to us that there hasn’t been more of an effort to secure some sort of funding to restore those,” Jeans-Gail told reporters.