Pointers for Railfanning Tri-Rail

Discussion about Florida commuter rail operations including Miami/Dade Metrorail, Sunrail (Orlando), and Tri-County Commuter Rail Authority in southern Florida. All Aboard Florida (Brightline) is discussed here: Florida East Coast Railway).

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Pointers for Railfanning Tri-Rail

Postby njt/mnrrbuff » Sun Sep 04, 2011 10:46 am

There's a pretty good chance that I may be taking a vacation to the Miami area between the end of January and early Feb. One of the days that I'm there, I'm interested in spending time railfanning Tri-Rail. I'm not going to have too much, if any, access to a car. Which spots are good for railfanning Tri Rail? Thanks.
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Re: Pointers for Railfanning Tri-Rail

Postby Noel Weaver » Sun Sep 04, 2011 4:31 pm

njt/mnrrbuff wrote:There's a pretty good chance that I may be taking a vacation to the Miami area between the end of January and early Feb. One of the days that I'm there, I'm interested in spending time railfanning Tri-Rail. I'm not going to have too much, if any, access to a car. Which spots are good for railfanning Tri Rail? Thanks.


One great spot for train watching without a car is the station platform at Fort Lauderdale. You can easily reach it by Tri-Rail and there are benches, canopies to keep out of the sun, soda machines and facilities inside the Amtrak Station. The evening rush is the best time, between 5 and 7 PM you will get a parade of Tri-Rail stuff plus both southbound Amtrak trains provided they are on or close to schedule and they often are. If you stay off the tracks and out of the yard just to the south it is not likely that anybody will bother you either. I have spent more than one evening just relaxing by the tracks.
Miami is not as good as many of the areas are not in a decent part of town. Hollywood is OK but Fort Lauderdale is better.
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Re: Pointers for Railfanning Tri-Rail

Postby njt/mnrrbuff » Mon Sep 05, 2011 8:04 am

Yes, I heard a lot of the places in MIA that the line goes through are questionable. I may visit Ft. Lauderdale and Hollywood. In fact, I may be visiting a friend in Hollywood. That will be the only time I'm with someone who has a car there, but when I'm with him, my railfanning will be very limited though. There may be a few stops in passing.
The times that I railfan will be a bit after dusk to mid morning, and then in the afternoon. I believe that Tri-Rail runs their trains with the motive power facing south, right? Thanks.
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Re: Pointers for Railfanning Tri-Rail

Postby njt/mnrrbuff » Sat Oct 12, 2013 11:33 am

How are the stations in the West Palm Beach Area and Boca Raton for photography? I'm interested in getting pictures of trains crossing bridges as well. Thanks.
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Re: Pointers for Railfanning Tri-Rail

Postby Noel Weaver » Sat Oct 12, 2013 10:02 pm

njt/mnrrbuff wrote:How are the stations in the West Palm Beach Area and Boca Raton for photography? I'm interested in getting pictures of trains crossing bridges as well. Thanks.


Boca is a new station facility (relatively new that is) and I don't think it is particularly great for photos. West Palm on the other hand might be quite good as it is on curves, Amtrak stops there too and there are facilities and food nearby. The station could also be considered a safe location too. Outside of the overhead bridges at most locations I don't think there are any passenger stations that are really close to bridges over waterways etc. If you are riding the train, make sure you buy your ticket first, there are ticket inspectors on every train. I rode Tri-Rail today and both ways they were checking tickets. As a reminder on Saturday and Sunday you have hourly service all day and a $5.00 day pass gets you unlimited riding anywhere on the line all day and I think for you that would be a good deal.
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Re: Pointers for Railfanning Tri-Rail

Postby njt/mnrrbuff » Sat Nov 16, 2013 8:50 am

I saw the weekend pass, and it's definately a great deal. Unfortunately, I will be in Miami on weekdays, for the sake of purchasing the pass. As of right now, I'm probably going to photograph at the stations in Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood, and maybe a few in Hialeah, such as Miami Airport and the Metrorail Transfer Station.

Chances of going to WPB are pretty slim. It all depends on the time.
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Re: Pointers for Railfanning Tri-Rail

Postby HarryP » Mon Apr 07, 2014 6:26 pm

I am visiting Florida for the month of April and staying in the Pompano Beach area. I have access to an automobile and am interested in any pointers on good photo locations in Broward and Palm Beach Counties. I've checked out a few stations. Deerfield Beach looked pretty good, but I'm more interested in getting shots along the right-of-way b/t stations, including trestles and areas that are on public property. Any pointers would be appreciated.
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Re: Pointers for Railfanning Tri-Rail

Postby Noel Weaver » Wed Apr 09, 2014 1:22 am

The FEC is easier to drive along and park and photograph than Tri-Rail is but you can park in the stations and walk a short distance on public sidewalks to the nearest crossing for photos. Cypress Creek and Deerfield are two good examples. I still think you would do better to forget about the car, ride the line at least in the area you want to photograph and scout for a location that appeals to you. Sheridan Street is also pretty decent. I am speaking as a non-photographer, I stopped photography for the most part several years ago, I just have too many photos, videos and slides just laying around and photography is work. I prefer to simply watch them today.
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Re: Pointers for Railfanning Tri-Rail

Postby HarryP » Mon Apr 14, 2014 10:06 am

Noel Weaver wrote:The FEC is easier to drive along and park and photograph than Tri-Rail is but you can park in the stations and walk a short distance on public sidewalks to the nearest crossing for photos. Cypress Creek and Deerfield are two good examples. I still think you would do better to forget about the car, ride the line at least in the area you want to photograph and scout for a location that appeals to you. Sheridan Street is also pretty decent. I am speaking as a non-photographer, I stopped photography for the most part several years ago, I just have too many photos, videos and slides just laying around and photography is work. I prefer to simply watch them today.
Noel Weaver


Thank you for your reply. As suggested, I rode Tri-Rail from Pompano down to Hialeah (MIA Airport). Was disappointed, in that the airport station is still not open (shuttle bus to airport). I also rode Tri-Rail from Pompano up to West Palm Beach. Found some good locations, which worked out very well. Deerfield Beach is great for Amtrak (if its on time)! Sunday seems to be the best day for that. West Palm Beach is very good as well.

Any idea when the Tri-Rail airport extension will open?
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Re: Pointers for Railfanning Tri-Rail

Postby Noel Weaver » Wed Apr 16, 2014 9:42 pm

HarryP wrote:
Noel Weaver wrote:The FEC is easier to drive along and park and photograph than Tri-Rail is but you can park in the stations and walk a short distance on public sidewalks to the nearest crossing for photos. Cypress Creek and Deerfield are two good examples. I still think you would do better to forget about the car, ride the line at least in the area you want to photograph and scout for a location that appeals to you. Sheridan Street is also pretty decent. I am speaking as a non-photographer, I stopped photography for the most part several years ago, I just have too many photos, videos and slides just laying around and photography is work. I prefer to simply watch them today.
Noel Weaver


Thank you for your reply. As suggested, I rode Tri-Rail from Pompano down to Hialeah (MIA Airport). Was disappointed, in that the airport station is still not open (shuttle bus to airport). I also rode Tri-Rail from Pompano up to West Palm Beach. Found some good locations, which worked out very well. Deerfield Beach is great for Amtrak (if its on time)! Sunday seems to be the best day for that. West Palm Beach is very good as well.

Any idea when the Tri-Rail airport extension will open?


Knowing the way things are done here in Florida I think it will be later rather than sooner. The station looked to me to be nearly finished BUT again the right hand in this state does not work with the left hand so I guess it is anybody's guess. I am glad you liked Deerfield. West Palm Beach is another pretty decent spot and the station there is a gem.
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Re: Pointers for Railfanning Tri-Rail

Postby njt/mnrrbuff » Sat Apr 26, 2014 12:47 pm

The MIC, as the new terminal is known as, is still not open yet, and won't be open for several months though. I'm glad that you had fun.

When I was in Florida back in Jan, I photographed at Miami Airport Station, Ft. Lauderdale, Ft. Lauderdale Airport Station, and a little at Sheridan St. Unless if you are photographing at a station, you definately need a car along most of the Tri-Rail route. The streets around there are laid out for cars in so many areas, especially along the Tr-Rail/Amtrak/ CSX route.
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Re: Pointers for Railfanning Tri-Rail

Postby diburning » Mon Jan 23, 2017 11:40 pm

Hi, I'll be in Miami in a couple weeks, and would like a few pointers for railfanning Tri-Rail.

I will not have a vehicle, so I will rely on Tri-Rail to get around. Which stations are good for photos? Which stations can I sit at all day without getting thrown out? Does Tri-Rail share trackage with any freight, and if so, are there any stations where I can get a mix of Tri-Rail, Freight, and maybe Amtrak? Does any part of Tri-Rail operate over FEC?

Thanks!
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Re: Pointers for Railfanning Tri-Rail

Postby Noel Weaver » Tue Jan 24, 2017 10:34 am

Take a look at my entries back in April of 2014, at least for Tri-Rail not much has changed. You are not likely to have any problems as long as you stay on the platform and back from the tracks. Probably the best passenger station is still Cypress Creek then Deerfield Beach and Sheridan Street in that order. There is a lot of construction around the FEC but there is bus service on Broward Blvd east to the FEC crossing and the drawbridge will give a warning of a train. None of the Tri-Rail stations south of Sheridan Street are much good for photos and some of them are in dangerous territory as well. Finally decent food close to railroad stations is often difficult to find but on Metro-Rail at the last SB stopthere is a Shortys Bar B Q about 200 steps away and it has good food that's at Dadeland South station. Have fun and BE SAFE.
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Re: Pointers for Railfanning Tri-Rail

Postby njt/mnrrbuff » Wed Jan 25, 2017 8:47 pm

You will probably want to avoid Opa-Locka as that city has a lot of issues with crime. A lot of Hialeah is not very safe but stations like Metrorail Transfer are good. Miami Airport Station(I don't mean the MIC) is good for pictures). I like the stations in Ft. Lauderdale, although I think the one where Amtrak stops isn't in the best part of town but there is a lot of security.
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Re: Pointers for Railfanning Tri-Rail

Postby Noel Weaver » Thu Jan 26, 2017 12:18 am

You do not want to be around Metro-Rail Transfer with photographic equipment unless you don’t really care about your stuff. This is a dangerous area even in the daytime. Miami Airport is not very good for photos and you might well have police problems there too. Go somewhere where you are much less likely to have trouble with criminals or aggressive law enforcement people. The main station at FortLauderdale/Broward Blvd. has a good size homeless population around the OH bridge at the north end of the platform. I have lived in this area for 19 plus years and I rode these trains quite often, I know what I'm talking about.
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