Amtrak in Miami (Hialeah, Miami Intermodal Center/Airport)

Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.

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frank754
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Re: Amtrak in Miami

Post by frank754 » Sun May 15, 2011 4:16 pm

Here's an old SAL timetable from December, 1952 which I scanned at one point recently, besides the schedule itself, these were the days when the Orange Blossom Special still ran, and a good deal is still mentioned of Cuba, which was still a big destination. My parents went there in those days, before I was born, and brought back some posters and souvenirs. Though I've been on Amtrak to Miami in much later years, the only trip for me back in the old days, unfortunately, was by plane in 1961, when we flew on a 4-engine propeller job on National. But the influence of Cuba (Desi Arnaz in the jazz days), and Florida "Come on down", and Jackie Gleason, Anita Bryant, etc., was a big pull, and the majority of my family (from NY) eventually ended up settling there in their old age. On the NY radio stations in the 60's though, too, I remember a lot of radio ads for the "Florida Special" (ACL).

http://viewoftheblue.com/photography/ti ... 121152.pdf

peconicstation
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Re: Amtrak in Miami

Post by peconicstation » Mon May 16, 2011 11:24 am

During the Amtrak era, what was the highest number of trains that they had serving Miami ?

To the best of my knowledge it would have been (4), happening twice, once during the point in the 1990's when the Sunset ran to/fr Miami, and there was also the Silver Palm, in addition to the Star and Meteor. The other time being the 70's when The Champion ran during the peak season, in addition to The Floridian, the Star, and Meteor.

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JasW
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Re: Amtrak in Miami

Post by JasW » Wed May 18, 2011 7:42 am

The Champion ran to St. Pete, not Miami, in the 1970s. Or at least early to mid-1970s. That train was originally the ACL's/then SCL's West Coast Champion. The East Coast Champion ran to Miami on the ACL and the FEC until the FEC strike began in January 1963, but of course it went to the FEC Miami station, not the Seaboard station.

I'm not sure how long it lasted, but Amtrak did run the Florida Special to Miami in the 1970s, which ran express south of DC or Richmond until South Florida, and did NY-Miami in under 24 hours. I believe that was the descendant of the Havana Special, which ran on the ACL and FEC, and after the FEC strike began, on the ACL and SAL. So together with the Floridian between Miami and Chicago, and the Silver Star and Silver Meteor, Amtrak was indeed running four trains a day in and out of Miami in the 70s.

I don't think there were any more than three Amtrak trains to/from Miami at any one time in the 1990s. By the time Silver Palm service to MIami started up in '96 or '97, Sunset service had already been cut back to Orlando from Miami. (In its original 1980s Amtrak incarnation, the Silver Palm just ran between Tampa and Miami -- that service ended, though, before the Sunset was extended south to Miami.)

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Otto Vondrak
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Re: Amtrak in Miami

Post by Otto Vondrak » Wed Jun 08, 2011 8:35 pm

Quiz time! Is this Miami? or Tampa?

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Noel Weaver
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Re: Amtrak in Miami

Post by Noel Weaver » Thu Jun 09, 2011 3:05 am

It is pretty hard to be positive at least for me but my guess is Miami. The old downtown station in Miami has been shut down for a long time and Tampa is so changed today that an oldtimer might not even recognize the place.
I rode into the original SAL station in Miami back in the early to mid 60's but I don't remember much from that trip.
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Re: Amtrak in Miami

Post by JasW » Thu Jun 09, 2011 6:54 am

I'm pretty sure it's Miami, too, but mostly because of comparing the details from the platform pic of the Miami SAL terminal on the previous page, which are identical. I doubt that Tampa Union Station would have had the exact same details seeing as it was built jointly by the SAL and the ACL. Also, the light of the sky is coming from the right of the picture, which would be the south in Miami but the north if it were Tampa -- light would never be coming from the north.

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Re: Amtrak in Miami

Post by NellieBly » Thu Jun 09, 2011 8:30 am

That's Miami. That's a Seaboard-style canopy, and Tampa has different platform sheds than that.

I grew up riding SAL and ACL trains to Florida every winter, but never went south of Boca Raton before 1982, so I never actually saw either the SAL or FEC Miami stations. But I'm sure that's the former SAL station.

The "downtown branch" is still intact, and runs down along the Miami River toward downtown, so a station could be sited more or less on the location of the old SAL station, but you'd still have the problem of moving trains back and forth from Hialeah (as Amtrak will with the new Miami Intermodal Center -- which will also be on a branch off the existing subway line, making a trip to downtown quite circuitous).

There is zero interest, apparently, in siting a station at the location of the former FEC station, but the land is now occupied by a parking lot, the track is being upgraded as part of improvements to the branch into the Port of Miami, a south wye connection could easily be installed at Little River (the tracks are still in place, switches have been pulled), and there is space to build a connection to the former SAL at Iris (where FEC crosses Tri-Rail at grade). So a certain obvious idea suggests itself...both Tri-Rail and Amtrak could run right to downtown Miami -- but apparently no one is interested.
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Re: Amtrak in Miami

Post by Noel Weaver » Thu Jun 09, 2011 6:08 pm

At least Amtrak would be quite interested in going downtown in Miami over the FEC, that was the reason the inspection train covered that trackage last year. The problem is that there is just about zero interest on the state level for intercity rail service and as a result no money to do anything. A positive change in the future could still result in passenger trains again going downtown in Miami.
I am very glad that I had the opportunity to ride that line last year.
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Re: Amtrak in Miami

Post by JasW » Fri Jun 10, 2011 5:59 am

It'd be nice, but I don't think you'll ever see Amtrak going downtown. Or even Tri-Rail, which makes vastly more sense. Miami Central Station by the airport is going to be the foreseeable future, for better or worse.

MIami has a long history of shooting itself in the foot in connection with rail and mass transit. Remember, it was the city of Miami that wanted the FEC to get rid of the station downtown and build one further north at 36th Street (which station might well have been built but for the strike). Then we have Metrorail being built as a wacky political zigzag going northwest of downtown, and most recently the failure of the penny sales tax to fund any of the proposed Metrorail expansion beyond the spur back down to the airport from Earlington Heights well NW of downtown.

Had the east-west Metrorail extension as originally proposed been built -- from downtown to MCS and further west out to FIU -- it all might have made a bit more sense

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Re: Amtrak in Miami

Post by NellieBly » Sun Jun 12, 2011 6:31 pm

I'm astounded at the lack of interest in running Tri-Rail directly to downtown Miami. I was involved in the South Florida East Coast Corridor Study until I left the consulting business in 2006, and I can tell you that by far the largest number of Miami-oriented trips by car, bus, or rail are headed for downtown Miami. So why not provide a one-seat ride?

Especially now that the project to improve rail access to the port will require replacement of the south leg of the wye at Little River and upgrading of the "port lead", the cost to go to downtown for Tri-Rail trains would be trivial -- acquisition of land for a wye connection at Iris, and construction of a terminal on the parking lot in downtown.

The spur from Earlington Heights to the airport is an interesting bit of insanity. At this point, it's perfectly clear to everyone that on the north side of downtown, Metrorail should have either gone straight west or straight north along the US 1 corridor. The current route is slow and absurd. It was chosen because it served "economically depressed" neighborhoods, and it apparently never occurred to planners that those neighborhoods were poor because no one in them worked, hence no one would ride the trains -- and they don't.

So what does Metro-Dade do? Build a new terminal at the airport, well west of downtown, and an awkward, roundabout spur to downtown, meaning a two-seat ride, when a one-seat ride right to downtown (with a free Metromover connection) would have been easy to provide.

To change the subject, Amtrak operated four trains to Miami during the 1970s when the Florida Special operated (two winter seasons, I think) and again in the 1980s when (very briefly) both the Silver Palm and the Sunset went to Miami. The current state of Florida service is a disgrace. I've seen numbers that indicate Florida ridership is down 40% from the levels of the early 1990s. I'm not surprised. Amtrak in Florida is largely irrelevant.
Randy Resor, aka "NellieBly" passed away on November 1, 2013. We honor his memory and his devotion to railroading at railroad.net.

JasW
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Re: Amtrak in Miami

Post by JasW » Tue Jun 14, 2011 7:05 am

I don't think Miami Central Station (which is what they are apparently calling the rail component of the Miami Intermodal Center) is a horrible solution, at least from Amtrak's perspective. It's significantly closer to downtown, and at least there will be ready and convenient access to rental cars and taxis, which is certainly not the case now. Plus more convenient access to Metrorail, even if the route is circuitous, but Metrorail doesn't go anywhere most of the tourists arriving by Amtrak would be going. Presumably, the majority of them are headed for the Beach, and would be taking taxis or rental cars.

Noel Weaver
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Re: Amtrak in Miami

Post by Noel Weaver » Tue Jun 14, 2011 10:50 am

One thing that definately will not be an improvement will be parking, it is presently free at the present station but you can well bet that it will not be IF Amtrak decides to go there which I do not think is a given at this point.
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Greg Moore
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Re: Amtrak in Miami

Post by Greg Moore » Tue Jun 14, 2011 10:21 pm

Wait, you're making this sound like when the CDTA in Albany kept saying "parking at the new station will continue to be free" while they were busy putting in all the underground conduit for parking gates and the like. And funny how the minute the lots opened, they started charging.
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Noel Weaver
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Re: Amtrak in Miami

Post by Noel Weaver » Tue Jun 14, 2011 11:20 pm

At least the passengers in Albany have a nice station with indoor paring which is decent especially in bad weather which they get plenty of. It doesn't really result in higher operating costs for Amtrak either.
Miami, on the other had, will result in a substantial increae in operating costs with probably an additional crew in Miami needed to run the train back up to Hialeah, the new station area will probably be a "bottleneck"too with heavy Tri-Rail commuter service there as well as two long distance Amtrak trains. It will not be in a better part of town either and with pay parking the passengers will not benefit. Amtrak passengers for the most part will probably not use Metro-Rail trains either because they will not go where the passengers want to go without more transfer enroute. I will be quite surprised if Amtrak moves their two round trips to a different facility that will not benefit either Amtrak or its passengers.
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JasW
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Re: Amtrak in Miami

Post by JasW » Wed Jun 15, 2011 6:46 am

Actually, there are currently no plans to even offer parking at MCS, at least of the park and ride variety. Simply a small lot for dropping off and picking up passengers: http://www.micdot.com/private_passenger_vehicles.html. Also, a free lot would undoubtedly end up filled with people who want to park for free and fly, not park and ride, cutting into the lucrative $15 or so a day parking garage fees the county gets at the airport garages.

In any event, as a Tri-Rail stop, it's seen a destination and not a starting point for park-and-riders, although that's probably more true of the Metrorail Transfer Station a couple of stops north. (No doubt Tri-Rail riders coming from the north will continue to use the Metrorail Transfer Station rather than pointlessly journey on to MCS and transfer to Metrorail there.) Amtrak passengers wanting parking would be limited to those few traveling on a brief trip to Orlando or Tampa, I imagine. The lot at the current station Amtrak station never has more than a handful of cars parked there anyway. Indeed, if you look at the Hollywood station parking lot (probably a better indicator since it is used for both Tri-Rail and Amtrak), there are very few Amtrak spaces -- the vast majority are marked for Tri-Rail riders.

From what I have seen, Amtrak has every intention of using MCS. Amtrak's most recent (March 2011) Florida fact sheet, as well as the ones for the two preceding years, indicates as much, and indicates nothing to the contrary. Amtrak could balk at the last minute and stay put in Hialeah, I suppose, but that would lead to tremendous discord with FDOT and the county.

While it is conceivable Amtrak may use the FEC at some point in the future, it will, as discussed earlier, almost certainly be north of West Palm, with a switch being made to the current SAL tracks in West Palm. New stations would have to built in Miami, Hollywood, Lauderdale, Deerfield, Delray, and West Palm if Amtrak switched to (or stayed on) the FEC from West Palm south. That I don't see happening.

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