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Amtrak FEC?

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With the new more Amtrak friendly administration coming in and Brightline improvements underway to the FEC North of West Palm Beach are the chances of Amtrak coming to the Florida FEC looking brighter?

Going back to splitting the Silver Star and Silver Meteor at Jacksonville and running half down the A line to Orlando and Tampa and the other sections down the FEC to Miami (rejoining the existing route in West Palm Beach) would really boost Amtrak's ridership in the Sunshine State. The FEC route would cut down travel times to South Florida, and stations such as Daytona Beach, Melbourne, Cocoa Beach, Vero Beach, Stuart would really go a long way to increasing passenger numbers vs. the current inland stops at Sebring and Okeechobee.

The other benefit of splitting the trains into East Coast and West Coast sections would be that the East Coast sections would be shorter and thus be able to be accommodated at the Miami Intermodal station without blocking any intersections.
 

crescent-zephyr

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With the new more Amtrak friendly administration coming in and Brightline improvements underway to the FEC North of West Palm Beach are the chances of Amtrak coming to the Florida FEC looking brighter?

Going back to splitting the Silver Star and Silver Meteor at Jacksonville and running half down the A line to Orlando and Tampa and the other sections down the FEC to Miami (rejoining the existing route in West Palm Beach) would really boost Amtrak's ridership in the Sunshine State. The FEC route would cut down travel times to South Florida, and stations such as Daytona Beach, Melbourne, Cocoa Beach, Vero Beach, Stuart would really go a long way to increasing passenger numbers vs. the current inland stops at Sebring and Okeechobee.

The other benefit of splitting the trains into East Coast and West Coast sections would be that the East Coast sections would be shorter and thus be able to be accommodated at the Miami Intermodal station without blocking any intersections.
Cutting Orlando out of any long distance Florida train doesn’t seem like a smart idea to me.
 
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It wouldn’t, splitting the trains in Jacksonville with half going to Orlando and finally Tampa and the other section down the FEC from Jacksonville to Miami.
 

jis

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Someone has to agree to fund and build those proposed stations. None are funded at present. Only two are proposed, one at Fort Pierce or Stuart, and another at Cocoa-Rockledge.

There will never be a station at Cocoa Beach since the railroad does not go anywhere near there any closer than Cocoa which is two towns away across two rivers and an island between them.

Any Amtrak service down FEC is at least 5 years away, and possibly more like ten.

A member of FECRS and Florida Rail Passenger Coalition living in Melbourne speaking here.
 

railiner

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The FEC route would cut down travel times to South Florida, and stations such as Daytona Beach, Melbourne, Cocoa Beach, Vero Beach, Stuart would really go a long way to increasing passenger numbers vs. the current inland stops at Sebring and Okeechobee.
Not necessarily...looking at old FEC vs SAL timetables, there was very little difference between the two, as far as speed goes, if they could get CSX to run the Meteor on its former route thru Florida
 

jis

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Not necessarily...looking at old FEC vs SAL timetables, there was very little difference between the two, as far as speed goes, if they could get CSX to run the Meteor on its former route thru Florida
Then again, if it actually runs on Brightline trackage it should be able to operate at 110mph for a substantial part of the distance, which the CSX trackage is unlikely to support. And for all practical purposes the route via Ocala is lost to passenger service for the foreseeable future. It is more or less a given that JAX - ORL - TPA will be via Palatka and Deland given that Deland to Poinciana is FDOT property maintained and operated by SunRail and Deland to Palatka is Amtrak's. Only Paltka to JAX, and Poinciana - Tampa remains CSX on that route.
 
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jis

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Are you saying that Amtrak own's and maintains that segment? I never knew that...I had thought the only Amtrak owned trackage in the 'south' was around the New Orleans terminal....🤔
Yes. It was transferred over the last year. Funding was included specifically for acquiring it in the 2019 Appropriation IIRC.

Incidentally Amtrak also used to dispatch West Palm Beach to Miami under contract. I am not sure what its status is now.
 

railiner

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Yes. It was transferred over the last year. Funding was included specifically for acquiring it in the 2019 Appropriation IIRC.

Incidentally Amtrak also used to dispatch West Palm Beach to Miami under contract. I am not sure what its status is now.
So does Amtrak employ MOW forces and equipment for the Deland to Palatka segment? Do they dispatch that, as well?

I would imagine that Tri-Rail dispatches the WPB to Miami, since I believe they own it and operate their own trains...?
 

jis

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Here is the thread where the Amtrak takeover of the Deland - Palatka segment is discussed:


So does Amtrak employ MOW forces and equipment for the Deland to Palatka segment? Do they dispatch that, as well?
I don't know if they use their own staff or they have contracted it to someone like Herzog for track maintenance.

They do dispatch it from CNOC in Delaware the last I heard.
I would imagine that Tri-Rail dispatches the WPB to Miami, since I believe they own it and operate their own trains...?
After Tri-Rail (actually FDOT) acquired WPB to Hialeah, they contracted with Amtrak to dispatch it, after fumbling around for a while. It was a little bit of extra cash in Amtrak's pocket I suppose.


They may have taken it in house since then though I have not heard of it specifically. I have not kept track. In contrast SunRail built their own dispatch center in DeBary from the getgo.

Amtrak used to and still does a lot of maintenance and dispatching outside the NEC, sometimes at pretty odd places. For example, ven before Amtrak took over maintenance and dispatching of Poughkeepsie to Hoffmans on the Empire Corridor, they used to maintain (actually they did not do much of it since it was always in miserable shape) and dispatching of the Post Road that connects Albany station to CSX (ex-B&A) to Boston, in addition to, of course the Albany station area and the LAB Bridge.
 
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neroden

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Then again, if it actually runs on Brightline trackage it should be able to operate at 110mph for a substantial part of the distance, which the CSX trackage is unlikely to support. And for all practical purposes the route via Ocala is lost to passenger service for the foreseeable future. It is more or less a given that JAX - ORL - TPA will be via Palatka and Deland given that Deland to Poinciana is FDOT property maintained and operated by SunRail and Deland to Palatka is Amtrak's. Only Paltka to JAX, and Poinciana - Tampa remains CSX on that route.
How popular *is* Okechobee and Sebring service? (Oh, I know the passenger numbers, I've looked it up.)

I see Amtrak service to Tampa disappearing when Brightline gets there. I fully expect Brightline to end up with a Lakeland station; despite that new station not being downtown, Lakeland seems pretty car-oriented, so most passengers will switch to it if possible. All Tampa passengers who can will take Brightline. This will include the entire Tampa/Lakeland to Miami and Tampa/Lakeland to Orlando traffic. From Tampa to points north, it will probably end up being faster to take Brightline and Sunrail to catch the Silver Meteor than it will to take the Silver Star direct to points north. I simply don't see the remaining level of demand for Amtrak Tampa service being viable.

It may well be faster to get off the Silver Meteor at Orlando and take SunRail and Brightline to Miami than to take the Silver Meteor all the way. Though some will prefer the "one-seat ride", the horrendous car-dependent location of the Miami Amtrak station will drive more traffic away from it, and Amtrak's idiot brain-dead management seems intent on retaining this location so as to drive away customers.

If Brightline makes it to Jacksonville, this will render the Amtrak service even less competitive.

This means that, once Brightline gets properly going (not sure when that will be), Amtrak service south of Orlando is probably going to be primarily serving Okechobee and Sebring. And as a very long "shop move" to the badly located Hialeah shops, which should be relocated to the Northeast, but again, Amtrak management are not intelligent people.

Anyway, the critical CSX-owned segment on this Amtrak route is Poinciana-West Palm Beach, in which the Sebring and Okechobee stations are located. If this gets bought by a passenger operator, then the route is probably secure; if it doesn't, the possibility of Amtrak truncation back to Orlando, or even Jacksonville -- or rerouting of all traffic south of Orlando to the FEC -- becomes real. So the question I have is: how much political backing is there for Sebring and Okechobee service?
 
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