Now, not to sound like I'm encouraging going onto ANY railroad's property, but, keep in mind that for years the FEC has had a reputation as being very quick to "remove" anyone on their property. The company has a long history of being wary of trespassers, dating back to bitter labor disputes in the 1960's that turned violent on a couple occasions. When I lived in Jacksonville in the 1990's, even the most dedicated FEC fans that I knew of wouldn't dare consider driving into Bowden Yard's main entrance off of Route 1. This included railfans who (in the pre-9/11 days) would be willing to drive into paved parking lots at other yards (if the lots where on the perimeter, and not across yards tracks, etc.).
That said, there are several roads near the north and south ends of the yard where I often got a good view of the action. get yourself a good street map, and you will see how you can drive all the way around the yard via Phillips Hwy. (US 1), University Blvd. on the North (SR 109), Baymeadows Rd. on the south (SR 152), and Old Kings Road and Powers Ave. on the west side. When I was living there, there were a couple of small side streets off of Powers Ave., south of University Blvd., where you could go right to the end of the street and be at the tracks. One of these is right at the start of the north end of the yard, and you'll see the north end yard switchers, and transfer moves in and out of the north end. )Looking at Google Maps, I believe this is Morton St.) Also, there is a stub of the old University Blvd. (before the bridge over the RR) (creatively called Univ. Blvd. Ct. -- enters off of Powers Ave.) remaining under the highway bridge to serve businesses...this goes right down to the tracks as well. These might be better evening/weekend locations, when the businesses are closed...some of them have a lot of trucks going in and out.
I believe there are sidewalks on both the Univ. Blvd. and Baymeadows Rd. bridges, and failing that, a drive across either gives you a good look up into the yard to see what's moving about.
South of the yard, the first grade crossing is at Sunbeam Road, and just north of there the double track goes to single. There are side roads just west of the railroad that go off of Sunbeam (listed on mpas as "Historic Old Kings Road"). The last time I was there, there was just about 25-35 feet of wide open grass between the road and tracks, and pulling off on the side of the road to photograph was easy. Back when the FEC liked to put their GP-9's on road trains, the old units would often put on a good smoke and sound show as southbounds notched it out as they passed Sunbeam Road. You will sometimes also see a southbound waiting north of Sunbeam for a northbound to arrive.
Assuming schedules are the same, the evening hours usually have a parade of southbounds leaving Bowden. I used to live about 3 miles from here and could hear them every night.
The next siding south is Bayard, in souther Duval County, then the next is in St. Augustine. The FEC and US1 are close all the way to St. Augustine, but chasing is tough...the FEC has well maintained track, and they use it well. You won't be able to outrun anything (legally) unless it goes in the hole at Bayard or St. Augustine.
Finally, the FEC Bridge in downtown Jax. is easily visible from numerous locations on the north bank and southbank. If you're downtown, you can usually hear the siren on the bridge going before it lowers for a train. Usually gives you 5-10 minutes to get into position to see it.
Hope this helps.
Wondering if I'll see the Western Route double-tracking finished before I retire...
Photo: Melbourne W7 No. 1019 on Route 78, Bridge & Church Streets, Richmond, Victoria. 10/21/2010