Sorry to dredge up an ancient topic, but...
The REAL reason why the amendment got killed in 2004 was because the parties involved with making FOX a reality cooked up a plan that was SO outrageously expensive relative to real-world benefit and shamelessly pandered to Disney at taxpayer expense, that even railfans
and HSR Supporters
couldn't fight back that sick, queasy feeling any longer and keep supporting it. Under FOX, the taxpayers of Florida were metaphorically lined up to become the favorite bitches of Fluor-Bombadier and Disney, and collectively rose up at the last moment and told them, "Go to hell."
FDOT seems to have eagerly come back to its senses, and appears to be moving forward with its original passenger rail plan that got derailed by FOX. Phase 2, in particular, can basically be summed up as, "Improve and mostly double-track the CSX line between West Palm Beach & Winter Haven, do the same for the line between Tampa and Orlando, and run frequent trains with reliable service at average speeds of 80mph from Miami to Tampa & Orlando, and vice-versa (using straight 100+mph runs between WPB and Sebring to boost average speeds)".
It gets even more encouraging when you look at the capital costs involved: probably somewhere between $3-5 million per mile for the track upgrades. For comparison, the double-tracking of the CSX line from Miami to West Palm Beach cost about $7 million/mile... but that figure is inflated by a major bridge, rolling stock acquisitions, massive station reconstruction, and some expensive ROW acquisition through urban areas.
At $5 million/mile and with a paltry 1,000 total passengers per day traveling from Orlando to Miami, Miami to Orlando, Tampa to Miami, and Miami to Tampa combined
, it would cost about $85 per passenger per trip to fully-amortize the construction cost within 25 years. I'm not claiming a thousand riders a day would mean financial solvency, but rather trying to point out that even with minimal ridership, the track costs are shockingly reasonable. Boost ridership to 5,000 passengers per day traveling between central Florida and South Florida, and the per-trip track amortization drops to less than $20/trip... less than a quarter of what a reasonable first-class ticket would cost (~$89/each way), and less than half of what a reasonable coach ticket would cost (~$39-49/each way). At that rate, it actually has the potential to earn a profit
for the State. At least, until the state decides to start expanding it beyond the obvious low-hanging fruit and starts extending into areas with substantial demand, but absolutely zero pre-existing infrastructure to leverage (ie, southwest Florida). Of course, the feds would likely end up subsidizing part of that (bringing the per-passenger costs even lower).
The truth is, the billion dollars (more or less) it would cost to double-track CSX from WPB to Winter Haven, & Tampa to Orlando, is almost pocket change to FDOT. With even the tiniest bit of support from the state legislature, it's cheap enough to do even if the feds don't give us a cent
Ask anyone from Miami... there is
a real market for convenient cross-state travel that's at least as fast as driving. NOBODY
in Miami likes driving to Orlando. We do it because there's really no other viable choice (Amtrak is a joke, and flying takes almost as long as driving due to security grief... at MIA, most airlines will cancel your reservation if you don't check in 45 minutes before departure). Tampa is a tougher call between driving and flying due to gridlock on I-75 south of Fort Myers, but even people who fly grit their teeth over spending $200+ for a stressful, deadline-ridden 3 hour trip vs a hellishly boring 5-6 hour drive that, during the winter, occasionally includes urban gridlock that starts literally in the middle of the Everglades and just gets worse and worse as you head further west (it took me about 7 hours to drive from Miami to Tampa last Thanksgiving due to bumper-to-bumper traffic literally every inch of the way).
Give us ~3-hour trains to Orlando & Tampa, with onboard internet access and convenient departure times, and the railroad's biggest problem will be NIMBYs adjacent to the tracks screaming about 89-110mph passenger trains roaring by every 20-30 minutes along tracks that were practically abandoned and torn up back when they bought their houses (but of course, by then it'll be too late for them to do anything about it)
For anyone who's interested, here's their latest plan. The title says '2004', but it's actually fairly recent and appears to have been mostly written in late 2005. -- http://www.dot.state.fl.us/rail/Publica ... ntFull.pdf