Commuter rail on FEC

Discussion relating to the FEC operations, past and present. Includes Brightline. Official web site can be found here: FECRWY.COM.

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Postby Noel Weaver » Tue Apr 18, 2006 5:50 pm

First off, the Florida East Coast has a huge container business right here
in Fort Lauderdale, they make up two through trains for Jacksonville on a
daily basis out of here and they need their facilities and only the FEC can
access the port as well.
Having said that, I do not think it would be justified to run commuter trains
on the Florida East Coast right now because of the huge cost of trying to
do this. They have spent a fortune on the former Seaboard Line in order
to upgrade the service and the job is almost finished. The downtown area
of Fort Lauderdale could be just as well accessed by a decent light rail line
on Broward Boulevard but our fearless leaders are doing little more than
talking about this one.
The one thing that could involve the Florida East Coast in my opinion is the
fact that Tri-Rail does not directly access downtown Miami and this could
be done with existing right of way. Just south of the 79th Street transfer
station with Metro-Rail, the Tri-Rail tracks cross the Florida East Coast
line running between Little River and Hialeah which is still double track for
this entire stretch. A connection could probably be built at Iris but the
FEC right of way would need two more tracks for Tri-Rail operation
between Iris and Little River where there is a wye and the trackage is still
intact to downtown Miami for the most part. They can still access the port
but rarely do. The existing line goes within a very few short blocks of the
site of the old Miami passenger station and probably could be put back in.
It would be an expensive project but nowhere near as expensive as trying
to build up the FEC right of way all the way up to West Palm Beach or even further for commuter service.
There are some areas on Tri-Rail where business has come close to the
railroad such as Cypress Creek where there is not much along the FEC
but much development has taken place in the area of Tri-Rail. The same
seems to be happening in Boca Raton as well.
We only need one major north - south corridor and we have that now but
we surely need a system of light rail lines on the east west streets as well
as some of the major north south streets as well. There is too much foot
dragging to think that anything like this will happen anytime soon.
Another problem that I see with the Florida East Coast is that their
business has increased over the past few years and I can only see more
increases in their operations in the coming months and years. They also
handle a decent amount of local freight business down this way too.
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FEC Commuter Service

Postby NellieBly » Wed Feb 07, 2007 10:14 am

Mr. LI Loco:

It's fun to read this thread. The study team has just finished Phase I of the analysis, and they've basically come up with what you just suggested in your post -- only they needed considerable government $ to do it! Maybe some of you fans should offer yourselves as consultants!

I changed jobs, so I'm no longer involved with the study, but basically the consensus opinion is to run some sort of light rail service on the FEC ROW (but on adjacent, not shared, trackage) to handle shorter trips without cannibalizing the Tri-Rail commuter traffic. The segment from Miami to Ft. Lauderdale offers the most promise.

On the north end, the plan would be to extend Tri-Rail to Jupiter by building a new connection to the FEC north of Mangonia Park (there are several possible alignments under consideration). The terminal would actually most likely be at Tequesta, north of Jupiter Inlet, because of space constraints.

On the south end, we vainly tried to get Tri-Rail interested in running to downtown Miami via a connection at "Iris" and restoration of the south leg of the wye at Little River. Because, I think, of rivalries between Miami Metrorail and Tri-Rail (which are both now supposed to be under the umbrella of South Florida RTA), there was little interest in this idea. Instead, they're looking at light rail on the FEC paralleling Biscayne Blvd. This has been rolled into the larger transportation study.

So we'll just have to see what emerges.

By the way, re-routing FEC freights to the South Florida Rail Corridor (former CSX) really wouldn't work, because there is much more local freight business on SFRC than on FEC. The FEC traffic is (with the exception of traffic to and from Port Everglades) primarily through from the north to/from Hialeah. The combination of all this through traffic with Tri-Rail and Amtrak, plus local freight, would congest the SFRC. So the FEC through trains will stay where they are.

I riled everyone up by suggesting a through freight bypass that would run from Hialeah up US 27 to Belle Glade, FL and then use the former FEC branch to Ft. Pierce. There wasn't a lot of interest in that idea either, but I felt it should at least be considered. It would have involved about 60 miles of new track (not in ANYBODY's back yard), plus an upgrade of the FEC branch.
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Postby LI Loco » Wed Feb 07, 2007 11:25 am

LOL

Where do I send my resume.

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to observe the peaceful coexistence of light rail and freight when I took a trip on NJ Transit's River Line from Trenton to Camden. Although this route handle far less freight traffic than FEC, it demonstrates that it can be done.

It might be beneficial to reroute freight off the FEC south of W. Palm Beach, but the postings here suggest it is impractical. Maybe Tri-Rail should focus on how to generate more demand for its existing service first. They've gone to a lot of trouble in order to run three-car trains.
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Postby lakeshoredave » Mon Mar 19, 2007 10:21 pm

FEC trains are not going on a different route anytime soon....and hopefully this recent NS Business Train on the FEC had nothing to do with a buyout.
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Postby rrobserver1 » Sat Jan 19, 2008 10:53 pm

I've just heard that the planning is very much underway for the 85 miles from Miami into Martin County for passenger service. The plan is to have 4 tracks, 2 for FEC and 2 for Tri-rail.

Check out this site: http://www.sfeccstudy.com/faq.html
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Postby Noel Weaver » Sat Jan 19, 2008 11:21 pm

rrobserver1 wrote:I've just heard that the planning is very much underway for the 85 miles from Miami into Martin County for passenger service. The plan is to have 4 tracks, 2 for FEC and 2 for Tri-rail.

Check out this site: http://www.sfeccstudy.com/faq.html


This is "great", they hire more consultants to tell them what can be done
but there are a lot of factors that they do not really cover in that study.
Certainally they have said little about how they will raise funds for a
project of this nature and it will take a fortune in funds to do anything
like this.
On another side, the Florida East Coast will have a lot to say about this
scheme, they run a successful business here in South Florida, that is
carrying freight of all kind.
There are areas where the ROW is wide enough for four tracks but there
are also areas where it is not and some of these areas are quite
critical especially right here in the Fort Lauderdale area where they are
dealing with their yard right next to the airport and a drawbridge right in
the center of the city.
Item, the only airport that is anywhere near the Florida East Coast is the
Fort Lauderdale Airport, West Palm Beach is west of the Tri-Rail tracks
while Miami is served almost directly by Tri-Rail today with only a very
short bus ride from Tri-Rail to the MIA terminals.
I won't say that it won't happen eventually but 2012, NO WAY, believe me.
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Postby GOLDEN-ARM » Sun Jan 20, 2008 6:03 pm

There's not enough money to justify doing this, nor is there adequate right of way to make this happen. Think there's even a rider base to support this? Interesting to "imagine" making all those single track bridges, and drawbridges into a four track mainline. Never mind the places where Dixie highway is so close to the railroad, you can shake hands with crew members on passing trains, from your auto....... :P
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Re: Commuter rail on FEC

Postby NellieBly » Tue Mar 10, 2009 12:45 pm

The Phase II study is now underway. Most likely options are:

1) An extension of Tri-Rail to Jupiter (or across the Loxahatchee River to Tequesta) via a mostly FEC routing

2) Commuter rail on FEC from downtown Miami to Pompano Beach with an across-platform connection to the existing Tri-Rail service at that point.

Fortress Investments is in dire financial condition, and appears to have lost interest in both RailAmerica and FEC. FEC, in turn, has become a lot more interested in selling/leasing ROW for passenger rail service. So that may speed the process up.

As for room on the ROW for additional tracks (should light rail or something like it be the choice), FEC has an almost entirely 200-foot ROW throughout the corridor. Lots of room for almost anything you might want to put on it. And of course, FEC was once entirely double-track (in fact, as Noel Weaver has noted, it remained double track south of West Palm Beach into the early 1980s).

It will be interesting to see how Phase II turns out.
Randy Resor, aka "NellieBly" passed away on November 1, 2013. We honor his memory and his devotion to railroading at railroad.net.
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Re: Commuter rail on FEC

Postby jtbell » Sat Mar 14, 2009 12:27 am

NellieBly wrote:FEC has an almost entirely 200-foot ROW throughout the corridor.


More like 80 to 100 feet through Fort Lauderdale. I scrolled along the ROW on Google Earth, from just south of downtown up to Oakland Park Blvd., to refresh my memory and measure several spots.

Four tracks looks like a tight squeeze in a lot of places. Three tracks, probably OK.
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Re: Commuter rail on FEC

Postby Noel Weaver » Sat Mar 14, 2009 3:59 am

NellieBly wrote:The Phase II study is now underway. Most likely options are:

1) An extension of Tri-Rail to Jupiter (or across the Loxahatchee River to Tequesta) via a mostly FEC routing

2) Commuter rail on FEC from downtown Miami to Pompano Beach with an across-platform connection to the existing Tri-Rail service at that point.

Fortress Investments is in dire financial condition, and appears to have lost interest in both RailAmerica and FEC. FEC, in turn, has become a lot more interested in selling/leasing ROW for passenger rail service. So that may speed the process up.

As for room on the ROW for additional tracks (should light rail or something like it be the choice), FEC has an almost entirely 200-foot ROW throughout the corridor. Lots of room for almost anything you might want to put on it. And of course, FEC was once entirely double-track (in fact, as Noel Weaver has noted, it remained double track south of West Palm Beach into the early 1980s).

It will be interesting to see how Phase II turns out.


There is no location in Broward County (including Pompano Beach) where the Florida East Coast trackage is within walking
distance of the CSX/Tri-Rail trackage. The Pompano Farmer's Market Spur goes west off the controlled siding in Pompano
but the spur is a trail point switch for northbound moves and it may not be possible for a proper connection to be put into
place at that location and in addition there is quite a bit of freight business on that spur. I am not positive just exactly
how close the two lines are in the area of the market tracks but if you try to put a passenger facility there, what do you
do with the existing stuff (the market)? I don't imagine either railroad wants to lose that freight business.
I don't think the state would do anything even if it was delivered on a "silver spoon". Right now we need to try to keep
what he presently have.
Don't get me wrong, there is nothing that I would rather see than passenger trains running on the entire Florida East Coast.
Both Amtrak and Tri-Rail should have been there in the first place. As I have said previously both here and elsewhere, the
State of Florida would prefer to spend money on highway projects all over the place than rail where it is badly needed.
Unfortunately the highway lobby is very strong all over Florida.
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Re: Commuter rail on FEC

Postby Noel Weaver » Sat Aug 27, 2011 9:49 am

This was in the Sun-Sentinel for Saturday AM. I think it is rather interesting that the Florida East Coast would actually consider passenger commuter service for a price. The big one is that they would be the operator of such service and I think that would be a big plus as it would eliminate one whole layer of organization. Will anything come of this? Who know? It will be interesting to follow these things as they come along.

http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/florid ... 6384.story

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