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
So while the southern leg to Poinciana progresses, Deland will not be funded this go-round:

In "the 11th hour," the Florida Department of Transportation decided not to seek a $25 million grant for the long-awaited DeLand SunRail station.

On Tuesday, a department spokesman attempted to explain why it prepared an application, which was to have been accompanied by some 180 letters of support, only to reach "consensus" in meeting with the Tallahassee office on Friday that it should not go forward.

Meanwhile, DeLand officials said they were "puzzled" and disappointed that the decision leaves the community "further and further behind" as more than $3 billion worth of transit-oriented development along the SunRail corridor has occurred — none of it in Volusia County.

A week after SunRail officials celebrated the start of construction of a 17.2-mile extension of the line south into Osceola County, department spokesman Steve Olson explained that the pursuit of a TIGER grant was not the best course of action for the other planned 12 miles of track going north to just west of DeLand.
Beacon Online
Davis said his frustration also stems from the fact that Volusia County has done everything required of it — including setting aside $34 million a year and a half ago to cover its share of maintaining the system — to try to make the extension happen.
“At this rate, SunRail is not going to DeLand,” he said. “We can’t afford it. It would cost something like $120 million and Volusia County government doesn’t have it.”
If SunRail ultimately doesn’t go north from DeBary, Davis said there are provisions that could result in Volusia County’s share of the system’s costs being decreased.
“We’ve already had that discussion with FDOT, and told them that if it’s not going to DeLand, we’re not going to pay,” he said. “FDOT agrees. Somewhere in the documents is a statement that we might get an adjustment on our share of the costs” if the DeLand leg is not built.
Expanding SunRail northward involves laying a parallel 12.1 miles of tracks in the CSX rail corridor between DeBary and DeLand, as well as construction of a DeLand SunRail station, improving at-grade road crossings, and installing signalization along the route.
The price tag for all of that is now estimated at $70.3 million, or about $1.3 million higher than the 2015 estimate of $69 million for that Phase 2 North segment.
  by Jeff Smith
http://www.aroundosceola.com/new-date-f ... mmer-2018/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
New date for SunRail: summer 2018?

SunRail’s appearance in Osceola County may be delayed — again.

At Monday’s Osceola County Commission’s meeting, Commissioner Viviana Janer, who also sits on the Central Florida Rail Commission, relayed that she was told trains may not start running south out of Orange County until possibly June or July 2018.

That is a delay from the last quote of February 2018, which is still two years later than the promise of seeing the white, yellow and orange trains in Kissimmee and Poinciana in 2016, when state and federal funding to the tune of $93 million was secured for the project back in 2014.
The rail commission, which will take over operation and funding of the rail line from the Florida Department of Transportation in 2021, still held out hope of starting service “early” in 2018.
  by adamj023
I am surprised it took so long for commuter rail to arrive in Orlando considering how long Disney World has been out and how the community has grown and evolved over the years and considering Disney World already had a monorail in place.

The Phase 2 South makes sense considering what usage would be. But the Phase 2 North which is stalled doesn’t seem to make much financial sense given the low traffic on the corridor which is why it has been stalled.

With gas prices as they are, I am more than sure that Phase 2 South will be a success with high utilization as more people are aware of the stations and Sunrail.

Commuter Rail in metro areas is making more sense than ever.
  by chrsjrcj
Too bad the south extension is still miles away from Disney World.

Unfortunately, Florida's development pattern does not support good transit. We seem pretty content on continuing to sprawl, and destroying local habitats in the process.
  by adamj023
Real estate prices in Orlando are not cheap anymore in nice areas. Was looking at land prices online. Expanding Sunrail probably will factor into higher pricing as well. It seems odd that Sunrail doesn’t have any weekend or holiday service even in the new enhanced schedules. That is contrary to other transit agencies which actually have increased services on holidays and have full weekend service. Perhaps that will change.

All Sunrail does is add a second track on the existing train lline and right of way. Considering Phase 2 North to Deland can’t evne get funded, it doesn’t look like Sunrail will expand further anytime soon.
  by NIMBYkiller
Has there been any talks of extending SunRail out to Tampa, or any type of commuter rail service between Orlando and Tampa? It's long since time something be done between the two, maybe run it Sanford-Orlando-MCO-Tampa skipping some of the SunRail stops while coming through Orlando area and then making some intermediates between Kissimmee and Tampa? What barriers, other than political and financial, exist to getting this done? CSX issues? What else?
  by electricron
There has not been many discussions extending Sunrail to Tampa because they are in two different independent federal planning council areas ; East Central Florida Regional Planning Council and Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council. Each planning council is more attuned into making transportation better within their areas than they are to making it better to neighboring areas. Sunrail main supporter is ECFRPC, TBRPC may wish to implement an entirely different solution for its own commuters. The different solutions do not have to meet, and if they ever did be compatible with each other.

Too many people are unaware of the importance of the regional planning councils with the distribution of allocated federal funds to most transportation projects in America. There is usually two to three times more requests for funding than there are funds t distribute. So they keep a list, where they priorities which projects they wish to fund first. Therefore, few projects extending beyond the borders of one planning council reamains at the top of any list for long.

If you are expecting intercity train services between Tampa and Orlando, Amtrak already provides it and Brightline might provide a high frequency service in the future. There is no reason at all for these local planning councils to fund one. But they have planned for one, reserving a mass transit (rail/bus) corridor within the median of Interstate 4. It’s this very corridor Brightline is hoping to use to extend its trains to Tampa.

Now, if Brightline or someone else fails to build this rail line, there is always a chance these two independent councils could agree to fund more trains. But they would have to join forces and agree upon a design, agree to match percentages, get an environmental review completed, form or contract with a transportation provider, and get federal funding allocated for a project; all of which can take 10 years or more to do - during which time the political winds both locally and nationally can shift. It is very difficult for one planning council to keep faith with a long term project, it is even more difficult for two planning councils to do so. The likelihood two different planning councils would remain 100% behind such a project for that long a time diminishes conversely with the time required.
  by NIMBYkiller
This seems like a pretty low hurdle to get over for a rather important connection. Existing Amtrak service is next to nothing and Brightline is years away at best. Given the consistency with which I-4 is a shit show between the 2 cities I'd say a frequent rail connection would be pretty important. Not to mention Brightline only intends on serving a Lakeland area station between the two while there are plenty more areas that contribute to the mess on I-4.

Another thing I was thinking about, and this is specifically as a SunRail extension...is digging a tunnel in central Florida just an all out no go? Otherwise I'd propose using the former branch that cuts through Southport and dive under the runway, turn south right about the current MCO terminal, and then come back up along the corridor that Brightline will be using to access the airport as well. It would run along with Brightline into the new station at MCO and could then continue out to Lake Nona via the existing track just south of the airport. But again, not sure if tunneling in Central Florida is feasible. If possible, I'd even suggest looking into possibly running this as a 2nd SunRail route whose northern terminal is Apopka or even the Tavares/Eustis area
  by electricron
What a great question, is tunneling in Central Florida viable?
Central Florida's land consists mostly of limestone covered by sand.
Tunneling in both sand and limestone is best accomplished using TBM (Tunnel Boring Machines).
The largest concern with any construction projects in Central Florida are sink holes, which can happen just about anywhere.
  by NIMBYkiller
So then I guess it's just as viable as the elevated highways in that the ground is somewhat unstable but probably can be stabilized enough? My concern was more with flooding given the seemingly swampy nature of the region but perhaps I've got an inaccurate idea of the geology in the Orlando area. So if a tunnel is physically possible, I'd definitely push for a branch off the line into MCO (passing under the runway) that merges with brightline and then can continue on to Lake Nona
  by RRspatch
Tunneling in Florida ... I seriously doubt it. With a high water level and porous limestone I'd guess keeping water out of a tunnel or even a tunnel under construction would be a major problem. Remember Disney World (the area we're talking about) is actually raised up with the public attractions on the second level. The ground level is service "tunnels" (called Utilidor's), store rooms and cast member staging areas.
  by NIMBYkiller
So one person says no because "limestone" and the other person says yes because "limestone" so which is it here you guys?
  by electricron
Limestone isn’t difficult to tunnel in. The Big Dig in Boston was dug in limestone, even under the Bay.
The difference in opinion arises from how wet that limestone is. That’s why I mentioned TBMs earlier, where an outer shell of concrete to limit the amount of leakage into a tunnel, which will of course increase the expense to build and maintain.

So, tunneling is possible, but it may not be practical depending upon actual soil conditions.

How much money that is available for Sunrail will ultimately answer your question. Boston threw lots of money into the Big Dig, maybe Orlando will not be so willing.
  by NIMBYkiller
Big Dig was also a significantly larger undertaking, where as this project would be just getting under 1 runway and the existing central terminal.