Discussion about Florida passenger rail operations including proposals. Official web-sites:
Miami/Dade Metrorail, Sunrail (Orlando), and Tri-County Commuter Rail Authority
For Virgin Rail/Brightline: Virgin Trains Worldwide (includes Brightline)

Moderator: Kurt-Trirail

  by Jeff Smith
Sun-Rail Tie-ins? First I've read about it, but I'm sure our board denizens are more knowledgable:

http://www.myfoxorlando.com/dpp/news/la ... ake-county
MOUNT DORA, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - The City of Mount Dora is joining a host of cities, plus Orange and Lake counties, in an effort to get commuter rail service that would tie into SunRail. SunRail is the rail line which will ultimately connect DeLand to Poinciana.

The push includes an investment of more than 16 million of your tax dollars into a track upgrade for lines that run between Orlando and Tavares. After the upgrades are completed, a private company will still own the tracks, even though they will only pitch in a little more than a million dollars of the cost to improve the line.


Here are the stops that would be planned if there is commuter service: Orlando, Apopka, Eustis, and Tavares.

The big name missing from that list is Mount Dora, the most popular destination in Lake County for tourists. We walked among the antique shops in the quaint town and ran into Skip Neely. His father and grandfather worked on trains, and he once ran a passenger train in Mount Dora. He had many of the same questions the Mayor did.

Read more: http://www.myfoxorlando.com/dpp/news/la ... z1plp5LgXN
  by Ocala Mike
This first hit the news last June, before SunRail was officially given the go-ahead by Gov. Scott:

http://www.wesh.com/news/28160897/detai ... z1Od453HJn
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Local train service could be rolling sooner than first expected, and its name is not SunRail.

U.S. Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., announced a commuter rail service called the Orange Blossom Express, which could be up and running before SunRail begins operation and serves Lake and Orange counties from roughly Tavares, through Apopka and into downtown Orlando, with a spur to Winter Garden.
I hadn't heard any more about it until now.
Last edited by mtuandrew on Thu Mar 22, 2012 1:09 am, edited 1 time in total. Reason: Moderator's Note: Added a fair-use quote.
  by mtuandrew
Ocala Mike wrote:This first hit the news last June, before SunRail was officially given the go-ahead by Gov. Scott:

http://www.wesh.com/news/28160897/detai ... z1Od453HJn

I hadn't heard any more about it until now.
All I can say is, I hope they don't still want to use Colorado/US Railcar products :wink:
  by electricron
mtuandrew wrote:All I can say is, I hope they don't still want to use Colorado/US Railcar products :wink:
Well, they (Orange Blossom) could use the same Bombardier rolling stock SunRail will be using, or they could use Nippon Sharyo DMUs, depending upon how many weekday riders are projected. Of course, it'll be hard to beat SunRail to service now because it takes time for manufacturers to build railcars and SunRail has already order theirs.
  by Gilbert B Norman
Mt. Dora??? Oh please.

The only reason I even know that sleepy little town exists is because I drove through it during January en route from Bellview and a lunch meet up with Ocala Mike to Auto Train. Yes, they have a "psuedo quainty oldy downtown' with some antique shops, but I doubt if that can justify rail commuter service.

Oh and Sorrento will of course contribute a lot of traffic as well HAHAHAHA.
  by Jeff Smith
So do we need a separate topic for Orange Blossom Express? ;-)

Nah. I'll just expand this one as "Central Florida" and put SunRail and Orange Blossom in the title.
  by Jeff Smith
A additional fair-use quote from Mike's link above regarding rail cars:
"I like to catch people by surprise," Mica said. "You can’t stay stuck in neutral when it comes to transportation initiatives."

Mica is doing just that, delivering news on the Orange Blossom Express, a commuter train that would share tracks owned by Florida Central Railroad, a freight company.

A new company, U.S. Railcar, bought Colorado Railcar, and said it could cheaply, quickly, begin shuttling folks between Tavares, Mt. Dora and Apopka to downtown Orlando.
"It’s already to go, and so it would take us anywhere from 18 months to 24 months to produce the cars," U.S. Railcar Chairman Barry Fromm said.

Read more: http://www.wesh.com/news/28160897/detai ... z1pqrX7fk3
Not for nothing, but Mica, Amtrak-nemesis, seems like it's not so much that he's anti-rail as good business; or perhaps he's just playing the political game like everyone else is. Perhaps credit should be given where credit is due?

An additional news item: http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/201 ... peed-train
Moving freight faster

Originally laid in the early 20th century, the tracks stretch from northern Lake to Orlando. Some sections today are in such poor condition that trains are not allowed to travel faster than 25 mph.

The track improvements — estimated at $18.4 million — would stretch nearly 60 miles, including spurs to Mount Dora, Winter Garden and an industrial complex near Silver Star Road in Pine Hills. The tracks would have to be replaced on about a 22-mile segment between Eustis and Plymouth to allow trains to travel up to 60 mph.

In the short term, faster-moving freight trains would spur industrial and manufacturing growth near the rail line, creating a boon for the area's economy, supporters say. In the long term, the track upgrades would allow passenger trains.

Supporters point out that the state Department of Transportation has already agreed to pay $13.8 million of the costs needed to upgrade the tracks. In addition, Florida Central Railroad — which owns the tracks — has committed $1.2 million. Governments along the route would have to come up with the remaining $3.4 million.

Last week, Lake County commissioners agreed to chip in $900,000 toward the improvements. Tavares, Mount Dora, Winter Garden, Ocoee and Eustis also have agreed to contribute. Orange County commissioners are scheduled March 8 to discuss Orange's share of up to $650,000. Apopka and Orlando will likely vote in coming weeks.
Some resources:


http://www.lakesumtermpo.com/regional_i ... press.aspx
The Orange Blossom Express is a proposed 36 mile commuter rail project that extends from the City of Eustis in Lake County to Downtown Orlando. The Orange Blossom Express would provide significant new transportation choice for the region, support economic development at proposed station areas and provide an alternative to the already congested roadway corridors for commuters traveling to downtown Orlando for jobs. At the same time, the tracks would continue to provide freight service to the region.
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Orange-B ... 8988760788
The Orange Blossom Express is a proposed 36 mile commuter rail system in the Central Florida (Orlando) area. It would connect Eustis, Tavares, Mount Dora, Apopka, and downtown Orlando. In Orlando, connections would be available to Amtrak and to SunRail trains.

The line is currently owned by Florida Central Railroad, who transports freight along the line.


Local support for the Express hinged on the approval of the SunRail project, which was approved by the state Senate in December 2009. The system is projected to cost $55 million.

External links

http://www.lakesumtermpo.com/regional_i ... press.aspx
http://www.lakesumtermpo.com/pdfs/maps/ ... _11x17.pdf

http://www.lakesumtermpo.com/pdfs/newsl ... ly2010.pdf

• Along the existing Florida Central Railroad tracks that run along the US 441 corridor from Lake County to Orange County


• Eustis, Tavares, Mt. Dora, and Lake Jem in Lake County and Zellwood, Lockhart, Apopka, Rosemont/Ben White, and Orlando in Orange County


• Service could begin in three to five years


• The trains will travel at speeds of up to 60 miles per hour


• Nine station locations have been proposed for consideration. Of those locations, key intermodal hubs are proposed for Tavares, Apopka and Orlando
  by Jeff Smith
FDOT looking for Orange Blossom consultants. Anyone here want to apply?

http://www.bizjournals.com/orlando/news ... range.html
The Florida Department of Transportation is looking for a consultant to oversee the study of transit options through Lake and west Orange counties, a study required to move forward with a proposed $55 million commuter rail line known as Orange Blossom Express.


The proposed 36-mile Orange Blossom Express rail line would travel from Eustis to downtown Orlando and offer a connection to Central Florida’s $1.3 billion, 61-mile SunRail commuter rail.

Discussions began on this project last summer, prompted by the July 1 funding approval of SunRail. Partners on this project would include Lake and Orange counties, along with the cities of Apopka, Eustis, Mount Dora, Ocoee, Tavares and Winter Garden.
  by Jeff Smith
Orange Blossom process moving forward: http://www.bizjournals.com/orlando/blog ... tions.html

Brief, fair-use quote (from a brief article):
Central Florida is a step closer to getting its proposed northwest rail system — the 36-mile, $55 million Orange Blossom Express.

The Florida Department of Transportation last month selected Vanasse Hangen Brustlin Inc., which locally operates as VHB MillerSellen, as the consultant for what’s known as the U.S. Highway 441/Orange Blossom Express alternatives analysis. The study, which will look at transit options through Lake and west Orange counties, is required by the federal government if project partners want to seek federal money.

The contract includes project development and environmental studies, as well as corridor planning, land planning and engineering along the route, which would run from Eustis to downtown Orlando and tie into Central Florida’s $1.3 billion, 61-mile SunRail commuter rail.
  by Jeff Smith
Plan Ahead for the Christmas Cannonball Express
Each holiday season, families gather on a depot platform in Lake County, tickets clinched firmly in hand. In order to get on this magical ride, you'll need to slow down long enough and get a ticket as a trip on the rails comes to life.

"It's not a duplicate, it's not a reproduction, it is the real deal," says an excited Neil Bagaus, dressed in his train conductor's uniform.

The real deal is called the Orange Blossom Cannonball. On weekend nights in Lake County, holiday past becomes the present aboard this steam engine, still hugging the tracks.

"It just brought it to life. Brought the Christmas Spirit back here," says Cathy Napier passionately.

Families climb aboard the wood-fired engine built in 1907 by the famed Baldwin Locomotive Works in Philadelphia. Once rolling, Conductor Bagaus punches tickets in the festive coaches covered in lights.

"It is literally like stepping back into 1915 in the coaches when these cars were built," he exclaims.
  by Jeff Smith
https://www.orlandoweekly.com/Blogs/arc ... -to-fix-it

Although it looks like it's a LONG way off, and anything into Lake County is dead.
A line heading into Lake County, known as the Orange Blossom Express, would’ve connected downtown Eustis, Mount Dora and Tavares with Apopka, Winter Garden, the Packing District and downtown Orlando. After pushback from leaders in Lake County, that project now looks dead.

However, Wilder stated some officials of Orange County communities, including the former mayor of Apopka, are still hoping to eventually realize at least the Orange County section of that route. But Wilder clarified any such expansions to SunRail are still far off as the focus right now remains on the DeLand and airport connections.