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
An interesting development: County seeks city help with east-west SunRail study

Looking to expand E-W to Daytona and New Smyrna Beaches? Interesting.
The Volusia County Council will soon ask its 16 municipalities to help fund $750,000 of a $3-million study to determine whether building an east-west leg of the SunRail commuter train between Orange City and Daytona Beach would be a boon or a boondoggle.


The first phase of SunRail, expected to start service in 2014, will stretch 31 miles from DeBary to just south of Orlando. A second phase will extend further north to DeLand and further south to Poinciana, amounting to 30 more miles of track.

The study would evaluate the feasibility of building a third station in West Volusia, by extending State Route 472 west to the CSX tracks near the largely undeveloped border of Orange City and DeLand. From there, the right of way heading east is already secured down the center of Route 472 to a budding development "activity center" at Interstate 4, where the train could travel northeast to Daytona Beach International Airport.

Congressman John Mica, the chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, said a consensus has to be achieved. He told West Volusia leaders last weekend that "you all have got to get your act together and decide where (the train) is going to go from here."


In East Volusia, where some envision the tracks to ultimately fork for stations in Daytona Beach and New Smyrna Beach, it's difficult to gauge how city leaders will respond to the funding request, since they haven't received an official solicitation yet.
  by Jeff Smith
http://www.news-journalonline.com/artic ... ompetition

Apparently, Daytona Beach and Volusia feel if All Aboard Florida stops in Cocoa, they won't get an extension.
"If Cocoa gets that station, my gut feeling is we'll never have SunRail come to Daytona Beach," Councilman Josh Wagner said Thursday. "We'll never show the (ridership) numbers" to warrant it.

"I think we have to be particularly aggressive in protecting our turf," added Councilwoman Pat Northey. "I'm just going to say it that way."

All Aboard will run along Florida East Coast Railway's existing tracks from Miami to the Space Coast, then turn west along new tracks that will reach Orlando. The company has plans to extend lines farther west to Tampa and north to Jacksonville.

The only stops planned are three in South Florida (Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach) and one in Orlando. All Aboard spokeswoman Ali Soule confirmed Thursday that "at this time All Aboard Florida will only have four stations."
  by Jeff Smith
and now we are talking Tampa extension: The Ledger

It is just on a list, though.
I-4 Corridor Passenger Rail Line Proposals Re-emerge

LAKELAND | High-speed rail may be dead in Florida, but the idea of building some kind of passenger rail line along the Interstate 4 corridor between Orlando and Tampa is not.

The project is tenth on a list of "high priority transportation initiatives" that is being circulated by a regional transportation planning group for comment.

The group, called the West Central Florida MPO Chairs Coordinating Committee, is scheduled to formally approve the list in March, based on the comments received between now and then.


The proposal, which still is in the conceptual stage, involves somehow extending the Orlando-based SunRail commuter rail system, which broke ground earlier year, along the Interstate 4 corridor using existing railroad lines.

"SunRail created a model for reusing freight rail corridors; it's something we cannot ignore despite what happened to high-speed rail," Pascoe said.
  by chrsjrcj
That's kind of silly for them to be concerned about. Driving from Daytona to Cocoa, then taking a short train ride to Orlando Airport, followed by ??? to downtown Orlando is circuitous.
  by FLRailFan1
I hope it will expand to Tampa. The High speed project they want is strange as it would start at Tampa International Airport to downtown Tampa (3 miles) to Plant City (6 miles) to Lakeland (5 miles) to Haines City (20 miles) to Disney then Orlando to.McCoy International. By the time it gets up to speed it would be home to stop.

I would like to see commuter rail succeed.
  by Jeff Smith
In the news: Biz Journals

Brief, fair-use quote:
Utility crews prep for SunRail Phase 2 construction

Construction is set to start on the next leg of SunRail by year’s end, and the Florida Department of Transportation is already clearing the way for that work to begin.

Heflin, Ala.-based LE Bell Construction Co. Inc. and Tyler, Texas-based Delta Drilling Co. kicked off $1.4 million in work earlier this month to relocate utilities along the 17.2-mile route that will become SunRail Phase 2 South, the expansion that will continue the $1.3 billion commuter rail from Sand Lake Road in Orange County into Poinciana in Osceola County. The extension is slated to be operational in 2017.

The utility relocation work being done along the route will include clearing and grubbing along the railroad corridor, and is expected to be completed in five months, FDOT said. The utility work also will accommodate parking lots and retention ponds, as well as add a second track to the existing freight railroad system in order to make the change to passenger rail.

The $187 million southern expansion of SunRail includes four new stations: Orange County’s Meadow Woods neighborhood; near the headquarters of Tupperware Brands Corp. (NYSE: TUP) on Osceola Parkway; in downtown Kissimmee; and Poinciana.
  by Jeff Smith
In the (somewhat older) news: News-Journal

Deland in jeopardy. Brief, fair-use quote:
SunRail fights for dollars for DeLand

Phase 1 of the commuter rail system began in May 2014, linking DeBary to Orlando. Phase 2 has always planned to extend the service south from Orlando into Osceola County, and north from DeBary to DeLand. However, earlier this year the federal government, which originally agreed to pay half the cost of construction for the lines, failed to include funding for the DeLand leg while covering its share of the costs of building to Osceola. Officials cited concerns that ridership from DeLand would not justify Uncle Sam spending the $35 million. The Federal Transit Administration projects the West Volusia town to provide only about 220 passengers daily, whereas the link to Osceola is expected to carry about 2,000 riders daily.

That has alarmed officials in DeLand, who view SunRail and its station as an opportunity to promote economic development, as well as in Volusia County, which in 2007 committed to spending $88 million over 25 years for SunRail service with the expectation that it would extend to DeLand.

All is not lost yet, though. SunRail recently submitted an application for $35 million in federal funds for the DeLand station, via an alternate route: a TIGER grant, which is a discretionary fund intended for transit projects that are judged to help improve an area’s economic, employment and educational opportunities.
  by electricron
As the news article stated, all is not lost. While it is important and helpful to qualify for FTA "New Starts" funding program, there are rail lines being built without it. CapMetroRail, WES, and DCTA commuter rail got no federal funds, SMART commuter rail is not getting any federal funds. I believe SunRail should be able to finance that last leg to DeLand with just local funds, although not as quickly as if it had federal funds.
Last edited by Jeff Smith on Sun Aug 09, 2015 4:34 pm, edited 1 time in total. Reason: Removed nesting quote from immediately preceding post
  by Jeff Smith
Catching up on my news feeds: Biz Journals

Discussion about the airport/phase III:
SunRail expansion to Orlando airport gains steam

FDOT may start an environmental impact study as early as next month on the 5.5-mile corridor needed for the expansion — incorporating 3.5 miles of existing track owned by the city of Orlando and 2 miles on a new alignment on airport property. The $5 million needed for that study was set aside last fall, as previously reported by Orlando Business Journal.

And this month, the transportation department will begin surveying employees of Orlando International Airport, to better recognize how to integrate the connection with the existing main line. The airport extension is expected to have its final station at the new $215 million Intermodal Transportation Facility.
  by Jeff Smith
Funding: Orlando Sentinel
SunRail gets $93 million grant to expand into Osceola CountyA collection of elected and government leaders signed a 10-foot-tall placard Monday signifying that $93 million in federal dollars soon will be spent in Osceola County expanding the SunRail commuter train as far south as Poinciana.

"Ridership will grow, spurring more demand," predicted Therese McMillan, the acting administrator of the Federal Transit Administration.

SunRail now stop just north of the Osceola line at Sand Lake Road, but construction should start in November on the four stations, plus new tracks for the 17-mile extension.

The new leg is supposed to be up and running by December 2017.
work on the south end is going at a breakneck speed. test trains are running several times a week, and there's a lot of prep going on at the operations center. a few months back, professional pollsters questioned customers at debary, to see how many came from "up north", to see if there was any actual demand for service. the numbers were in the low dozens, iirc. poincianna is happening, and the state is working on the airport proposal.
  by NIMBYkiller
Did Rt 44 used to have a rail line along it? If you look in New Smyrna there's a power line ROW that looks like it used to be a rail ROW (gentle curves) branching west off of Rt 44 right at Ingham Rd. It's labeled on google maps as the "New Smyrna Beach Multi-Use Trail." How about using that, which actually connects to the FEC. That way instead of having 2 branches, you have one line serving both New Smyrna and Daytona. I really don't see much of a point in serving Daytona Airport, especially if you sacrifice access to downtown Daytona for it. MCO is far more important.
  by Jeff Smith
There's really not much between I4 and New Smyrna, though, along 44, and for a divided 4-lane highway, it doesn't have much traffic. And New Smyrna, as far as I know, wasn't even a planned station stop on the Amtrak - FEC proposal. My former in-laws have a place there; New Smyrna is really kind of quiet and sleep as far as beach towns go.
  by NIMBYkiller
Nor is there much of anything along I-4 between Deland and Daytona. Running along 44 though allows it to be easily connected to the FEC tracks, where as a routing via I-4 would have a hell of a time securing a ROW between the Daytona Airport and the FEC. Honestly, I see Daytona as outside of the scope of Sunrail, but it certainly makes sense if they wanted to extend a Tampa-Orlando service to Jacksonville via the FEC instead of via Palatka