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 D.Carleton
One step closer: http://www.orlandosentinel.com/business ... 5329.story
SunRail back on track after Amtrak backs down
By Dan Tracy, Orlando Sentinel
Amtrak backed off its demands Wednesday for an ironclad insurance deal with SunRail, clearing the tracks for the Central Florida commuter train to roll again toward a startup in 2013.

The national carrier dropped its opposition to the $1.2 billion project during an hourlong meeting in the office of U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. Among those in attendance was U.S. Rep. John Mica, R- Winter Park, soon to be chairman of the powerful transportation committee that oversees funding for Amtrak.

"I think with a change in the winds … it avoids a lot of heartburn," Mica said.
  by goodnightjohnwayne
Ocala Mike wrote:Bumping this old thread to report the latest from our Gov. (King?):

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/pol ... 0846.story
It looks like a smart move; heading off cost overruns by demanding price guarantees from contractors. The 5-6 month delay is also a wise move, considering that the entire proposal dates from the desperate days of former governor Crist's failed senate campaign. Crist was a big booster for Sunrail and look what happened to his political career? It makes sense to takes some time to reexamine this proposal, and there aren't very many jobs on the line since very few unemployed Floridians have the specialized skills involved in modern, mechanized track work.

In truth, it might be cheaper to buy each an every prospective Sunrail rider a brand new Toyota Prius than to initiate this dubious commuter rail service. Of course, is the governor hadn't stepped in to curb cost overruns, a per passenger cost equivalent to a Prius might have turned into a Chevy Volt.
  by Gilbert B Norman
It appears that Sun Rail has won a victory, of sorts:

http://www.rtands.com/newsflash/florida ... -3962.html


  • After Congressional approval of the FFGA, Florida's Governor Rick Scott will make the final decision to move forward with SunRail.
Somehow, I don't think that train hating Gov Scott, is going to blithely sign-on, as he surely holds that his anti-train positions have carried him into and will keep him in office for his second and final term that would expire during 2019.
  by F-line to Dudley via Park
Lucky for him Florida doesn't have recall elections in its state constitution.

He might want to privately decline the second term 3 years in advance if he doesn't want the indignity of being an exceedingly rare incumbent knocked out convincingly in the primary, not even surviving to the general. It's going to take a fast halt to and penance for this scorched-earth policy, even after only 6 months in office. This is the kind of across-the-board destruction that voters are going to I.O.U. him for the rest of his term and not be year-to-year fickle about even if things are a little better in '14. Transportation and salting the earth on any federal investment is only a small piece of the pie on some of his baffling moves.

Oh, well, sucks for setting back rail for the rest of the decade. The silver lining is that if it gets so bad that literally all of the blame gets put on him alone, the voters boot him in '14, and the next Gov. enters making sincere conciliatory overtures from Day 1...the Feds will quickly begin reinvesting. This would counterintuitively move them UP the priority chain if the attitude in the next admin were a complete 180 from Scott's, almost as if it were natural disaster aid for the costly disruption of so many projects. As for appropriations now, it's no skin off anyone's back if funding is just embargoed in a holding pattern until FY2015.
  by Gilbert B Norman
To expand upon the reportage within the Times' article Dan immediately notes:

1) Sun Rail rates very low in expected cost-effectiveness.

2) Rep. John L. Mica (R-FL7) has been the receipient of campaign contributions from interest groups favoring Sun Rail. Sun Rail will pass through much of Mr. Mica's district.

3) CSX will have a "payday"; they get to sell 61 miles of railroad, yet will continue to have useof such.

I would have been inclined to hold that with Sun Rail directly serving Downtown Orlando from two directions, the project would "pull its weight'. While I'm sure the 'typical tourist' coming to Central Florida for the family rite of passage (homage unto that rodent and his vassals) will remain "fly and rent', there are many a worker (whoops, "cast member') who could benefit from the rail service, provided that a station with a bus connection was convenient. The same applies to KMCO - and the Tri Rail model would suggest there would be a convenient transfer from Sun Rail, even if such was more used by workers than passengers.

Nevertheless, it is time for a little "we report, you decide".

Finally, related of sorts, another Times article appearing today, would suggest five months into his term, Florida Gov. Rick Scott already is in political trouble (funny, but why do I think that hotel conference room pictured is rather sparsely populated?);

  by chrsjrcj
"Gov. Rick Scott approves SunRail"
http://www.cfnews13.com/article/news/20 ... es-SunRail

Well it looks like it is a done deal now, thanks to Governor Rick Scott....surprisingly. Would have rather see him approve HSR but thats all in the past now, unfortunately. Guess the gov. does care about his low approval ratings after all more so than the backing of the Tea Party which of course opposed the project.
  by electricron
It's difficult for a governor to end a project after the state legislature and the previous governor had already appropriated all the money for it. I believe only money already appropriate and allocated by the state is going to be spent on this project, no additional state funds not appropriated or allocated, although there will be much more local funds spent on it for years to come.
  by neroden
goodnightjohnwayne wrote:In truth, it might be cheaper to buy each an every prospective Sunrail rider a brand new Toyota Prius than to initiate this dubious commuter rail service. Of course, is the governor hadn't stepped in to curb cost overruns, a per passenger cost equivalent to a Prius might have turned into a Chevy Volt.
Yeah, but then all those would-be riders would have been *stuck in traffic*. This particular line of bull can be debunked in my sleep.

On the other hand, if you have evidence that there is never any traffic congestion in Orlando parallel to the SunRail route, be my guest, bash away. It may be a terrible route, it may be a good route, but the "buy everyone a car" argument is just stupid.
  by Gilbert B Norman
The linked material appearing in the Ocala Star Banner, and prepared by a Staff Reporter, would suggest that SunRail is certainly a "done deal" and with operations set to be "launched" during 2014:

http://www.ocala.com/article/20110727/A ... newsletter

Brief passage:

  • After years of legislative wrangling and controversy, SunRail, the commuter rail line serving Orlando, has pulled into the station.

    That happened last week when U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood formally released almost $179 million in funding for the project.

    But SunRail's arrival means additional freight-train traffic through Ocala, beginning two years from now.
However, Ocala Mike, an apparent advocate of Amtrak Long Distance trains writes at another site that while "more positives than negatives overall, and I'm glad it's going through my particular locale (Ocala) is a big loser in all of this. No positives for Amtrak riders in this area during the last (and presumably) next decade at all."

The author continues to note:
1. We lost rail service through Ocala in 2004.
2. We lost service through Lake City E/W on the Sunset Limited in 2005.
3. Now we'll be facing even longer waits at RR crossings in our cars while CSX rakes in more dough."
I too agree that this development makes any restoration of passenger service through Ocala difficult to envision, however I must ask, if SunRail is to move forth, what other alternate routings are there available for CSX freight traffic other than the Seaboard Jax-Coleman? Is it reasonable to expect that an investor owned concern is going (likely forced) to "reserve" track capacity to enable a possible revival of a mode of passenger transportation which, at this time, Florida voters clearly do not want?

Considering that SunRail will do what Tri-Rail does not, namely serve the core Downtown of the largest on line community, as well as serve the perimeter of Mickey and his various consorts' fiefdoms providing at least the 'serfs' with a low-cost means to get to work at such (the "vassals" will continue to "fly and rent"; SunRail or not), I'd like to think the System will have greater presence in the region than Tri-Rail enjoys within its own - and despite this negative, Tri-Rail, if not a "blockbuster", at least "hasn't done that bad".

Disclaimer; this author holds long position CSX
  by The EGE

I just made a geographic map for Wikipedia last night; it's up on the SunRail Wikipedia page. I may have to tweak the dates now.