Posting in Transportation
It's not quite high-speed rail, but a new 100 m.p.h. passenger train in Florida will transport riders across the state.
Florida may have missed out on its chance for high-speed rail, but residents of the Sunshine State might still soon be able to travel from Disney World to South Beach without hopping in the car or buying a pricey plane ticket.
Beginning in 2014, a privately funded passenger rail will offer service up and down the coast of Florida between downtown Miami and Orlando International Airport with stops in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. Launched by Florida East Coast Industries (FECI) and titled the All Aboard Florida project, the $1 billion plan will also include the development of a massive new train station in downtown Miami.
Running at speeds of 100 miles per hour, the new trains won’t quite qualify as “high-speed,” but passengers should expect to make it to Miami from Orlando in just over three hours—about an hour less than the time it would take to drive the distance.
The new train, which was announced by FECI last week, will presumably fill the void left by Florida Governor Rick Scott’s 2011 decision to reject $2.4 billion in federal stimulus money for a high-speed rail. While Scott deemed the project too costly, FECI seems to think a cross-state line could actually make money.
The Miami Herald reports:
After months of study, FECI concluded the new passenger service — to be built and operated without public money — would be not just technically feasible but also profitable, given that some 50 million people travel between Miami and Orlando every year, virtually all of them by car.
The studies found substantial “pent-up’’ demand for train service connecting the two, Cumber said. The service would be pitched primarily to business travelers and tourists.
Developers hope that the new passenger train will be a boon to both tourism and business, providing an easy link between two of Florida’s most popular destinations. And with the recent debut of Miami’s Orange Line service to the airport, the new rail could make it possible to travel from airport to airport without ever hopping in a car.
[via Miami Herald]
Aug 17, 2012
The overall distance end point to end point is just over 310 miles. Traveling from Orlando south bound the first stop would be at about 200 miles. Right at the low end of HSR cost effective range, but in the sweet spot for regional rapid rail to stomp on the competion of cars and buses. The next stop is about 45 miles and the final leg into Miami is about 70 miles. Not too close together as to negate the speed advantage of the trains. If they had hourly trains scheduled they could do stops in Melbourne and Fort Pierce on every other run. That would expand the service area to 6 stops without altering the schedule on the final destinations. Alternating schedules would also keep the train moving. Too many stops too close together can kill a fast train. At 100mph this is not that much slower than the earlier proposed Florida HSR with a planned speed of only 168 mph. At $1 billion it is fast less costly than the shorter 85 mile Orlando to Tampa HSR service that had been projected at $2.4 billion. The cost per mile to setup is far lower than HSR. And this is a private venture not entirely funded by the taxpayer. It looks like it could be a great project if politics and NIMBY stay out of the way.
Their site has some good info. The fact they are going with clean diesel electric engines helps explain the lower price tag compared to the Florida HSR project. Besides, the Florida power grid is already tight on a hot summer day. It probably cannot support operating hundreds of miles of electrified rails without new power stations. http://www.allaboardflorida.com/