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JWM

Lead Service Attendant
AU Supporting Member
Joined
Oct 3, 2021
Messages
271
Location
Sarasota, Florida
Ok, I am thinking positive and Brightline will be profitable and grow. Amtrak could learn from Brightline. Customer service, equipment, catering, etc. A rational reorganization of Amtrak Florida service would add the long ago discontinued "Silver Comet" (yes, I know it went to Birmingham under SAL over fifty years ago) to St. Petersburg via Tampa using the former SAL tracks from Tampa over to Pinellas County. The "Silver Star" could be spilt at Jacksonville with the Florida west coast section as above and the east coast down to Miami on the FEC. The "Silver Meteor" would be a NYP-MIA train only and the "cream of the crop" also down the FEC to Miami. Brightline would eventually take care of the cross Florida traffic. Dreaming? Yes, perhaps, but I think it would certainly work.
 
Ok, I am thinking positive and Brightline will be profitable and grow. Amtrak could learn from Brightline. Customer service, equipment, catering, etc. A rational reorganization of Amtrak Florida service would add the long ago discontinued "Silver Comet" (yes, I know it went to Birmingham under SAL over fifty years ago) to St. Petersburg via Tampa using the former SAL tracks from Tampa over to Pinellas County. The "Silver Star" could be spilt at Jacksonville with the Florida west coast section as above and the east coast down to Miami on the FEC. The "Silver Meteor" would be a NYP-MIA train only and the "cream of the crop" also down the FEC to Miami. Brightline would eventually take care of the cross Florida traffic. Dreaming? Yes, perhaps, but I think it would certainly work.
So you think Orlando, which served the highest number (19%) of non-Auto Train passengers in 2019, should be abandoned by Amtrak? (And that percentage doesn't include the other 2 Orlando metro area stations: Kissimmee & Winter Park.)

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I guess if we are going to call Amtrak "Welfare Transportation" - we should extend that term to the Interstate Highway System ... since it is free to drive on it.

As for Brightline and/or Amtrak expanding further north in Florida - why not add a daily Jacksonville/Tallahassee train - as long as there is a way to turn a train in Tallahassee (There is in JAX)
 
So you think Orlando, which served the highest number (19%) of non-Auto Train passengers in 2019, should be abandoned by Amtrak? (And that percentage doesn't include the other 2 Orlando metro area stations: Kissimmee & Winter Park.)

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So you think Orlando, which served the highest number (19%) of non-Auto Train passengers in 2019, should be abandoned by Amtrak? (And that percentage doesn't include the other 2 Orlando metro area stations: Kissimmee & Winter Park.)

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Ok, should have clarified. The Gulf Coast portion split at Jacksonville should go via Orlando, of course. I am not discounting the passenger potential for that route nor the attraction of Orlando. In my plan they would get to long distance trains a day each way to New York. The "Star" and the "Comet".
 
Ok, should have clarified. The Gulf Coast portion split at Jacksonville should go via Orlando, of course. I am not discounting the passenger potential for that route nor the attraction of Orlando. In my plan they would get to long distance trains a day each way to New York. The "Star" and the "Comet".
Oh, when you said Seaboard, I thought you were advocating for the line through Waldo & Ocala.
 
There's nothing wrong with both the Star and the Meteor going through Orlando, even if a third train (Comet) also served Orlando. It would be nice if one of the Silvers (Star or Meteor) would go through Ocala/Waldo on the way to JAX instead of both going through PAK.

I know, contract restrictions/agreements are in place that don't allow this - but it would be nice if those restrictions could be removed. After all, the tracks are still there (unlike the track through Gainesville) since the Silvers and the Auto Train were diverted to that route after the AT derailment a couple years ago.
 
FDOT is actually in very preliminary exploratory talks with Amtrak regarding two intra Florida service akin to the Silver Palm v1.0. Essentially a MIA-JAX service via Tampa or some variation of that theme. This is using FRA funding to start it up and then gradually take the funding over as stipulated in the Infrastructure Bill.
 
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I'm finding the Tampa and Orlando ridership numbers quite interesting - is there dominance in the numbers due to Miami area ridership due to that region having multiple stations?
 
yes I have observed a large number of passengers off and on at Orlando for south Florida. The reports about Tampa is that Star has more passengers off and on to south Florida. If Brightline ever gets to Tampa they will get a lot of passengers to south Florida especially cruise passengers as Star does not meet cruise ships. It leaves Mia before arrivals of cruis and arrives Mia after cruise departures.
 
I'm finding the Tampa and Orlando ridership numbers quite interesting - is there dominance in the numbers due to Miami area ridership due to that region having multiple stations?
I think a good part of that is caused by the Tampa backtrack rather than having two sections: service to Miami is 3+ hours slower than it should be, and has created a sizable incentive for passengers to/from southern FL to get off in the Orlando area rather than waiting, and probably driven away whatever Miami-Jacksonville local traffic there once was.
 
Three offhand comments from a former Florida resident (I lived there for 34 years before moving back to Georgia):

1. The Silver Comet was a SAL New York-Richmond-Atlanta-Birmingham train and should be remembered that way. It should never go to Florida. Bring back The Silver Palm if you have to.
2. The Silver Meteor had for several decades two sections--one to Miami and one to Tampa--and was, I believe, very a successful operation in that incarnation. It had that very interesting (and probably very expensive) split and make-up in Auburndale FL which I drove to many days just to watch.
3. Some of these new wished-for changes have about as much chance in my lifetime (admittedly I am 74) as Amtrak operating south from Jacksonville to Miami on the FEC; or a train from Atlanta to Florida. Of course I said that once about a train NOL-JAX-MIA and was proven wrong--at least for a little while.

Again, just an offhand observation and totally in my opinion.
 
The FRA analysis is based on building an entirely new railroad for most of the distance on routes that can be operated at a profit. My analysis is that this would be something in excess of 6000 route miles nationwide. This is nothing like the 24,000 plus miles that China has built to date.
 
The FRA analysis is based on building an entirely new railroad for most of the distance on routes that can be operated at a profit. My analysis is that this would be something in excess of 6000 route miles nationwide. This is nothing like the 24,000 plus miles that China has built to date.
Despite being a larger nation size wise, China's huge population probably requires that.

My take on the route from Chicago to the SE is it would be busy enough with the right routing since it would be serving some large potential population centers and the intermediate markets.

This is probably getting off topic now, but how has rail fared with the blackouts in China?
 
yes I have observed a large number of passengers off and on at Orlando for south Florida. The reports about Tampa is that Star has more passengers off and on to south Florida. If Brightline ever gets to Tampa they will get a lot of passengers to south Florida especially cruise passengers as Star does not meet cruise ships. It leaves Mia before arrivals of cruis and arrives Mia after cruise departures.
Hopefully nobody uses Amtrak to make same day cruise connections. Flying in the morning of a cruise is risky, trying that on Amtrak is a great way to guarantee missing the boat.
 
Three offhand comments from a former Florida resident (I lived there for 34 years before moving back to Georgia):

1. The Silver Comet was a SAL New York-Richmond-Atlanta-Birmingham train and should be remembered that way. It should never go to Florida. Bring back The Silver Palm if you have to.
2. The Silver Meteor had for several decades two sections--one to Miami and one to Tampa--and was, I believe, very a successful operation in that incarnation. It had that very interesting (and probably very expensive) split and make-up in Auburndale FL which I drove to many days just to watch.
3. Some of these new wished-for changes have about as much chance in my lifetime (admittedly I am 74) as Amtrak operating south from Jacksonville to Miami on the FEC; or a train from Atlanta to Florida. Of course I said that once about a train NOL-JAX-MIA and was proven wrong--at least for a little while.

Again, just an offhand observation and totally in my opinion.
I believe the split Florida service lasted until 1995 or 1996 when the Silver Palm was reintroduced as a NYP-MIA train. If memory serves, the Palm was the first Silver departure from NYP and the last from Miami and traveled via Wildwood and Ocala between Tampa and Jacksonville.

After Amtrak ended the Auburndale operation they split and combined trains in Jacksonville for a few years before the Silver Palm came along. There is a really cool video on YouTube showing the Auburndale split.
 
I believe the split Florida service lasted until 1995 or 1996 when the Silver Palm was reintroduced as a NYP-MIA train. If memory serves, the Palm was the first Silver departure from NYP and the last from Miami and traveled via Wildwood and Ocala between Tampa and Jacksonville.

After Amtrak ended the Auburndale operation they split and combined trains in Jacksonville for a few years before the Silver Palm came along. There is a really cool video on YouTube showing the Auburndale split.
blueman271: You know what I considered the best thing about the Silver Palm service was it offered a guaranteed connection to a bus to the Keys at the Amtrak MIA station. We did the trip I think 3 times SAV to Key Largo (we liked Key Largo). The arrival and departure times in SAV were a bit brutal, but it was a good trip.
 
I know, contract restrictions/agreements are in place that don't allow this - but it would be nice if those restrictions could be removed. After all, the tracks are still there (unlike the track through Gainesville) since the Silvers and the Auto Train were diverted to that route after the AT derailment a couple years ago.
Sorry for bumping the thread, but I can't seem to find the contract restrictions mentioned here and in other threads banning Amtrak from operating over the S-Line (excluding re-routes). Granted, I may have missed it, but I've been poring through the contracts available at SunRail's website and can't find anything. So can someone tell me what the actual wording is?
 
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Sorry for bumping the thread, but I can't seem to find the contract restrictions mentioned here and in other threads banning Amtrak from operating over the S-Line (excluding re-routes). Granted, I may have missed it, but I've been poring through the contracts available at SunRail's website and can't find anything. So can someone tell me what the actual wording is?
The agreement was between FDOT and CSX. It has nothing to do with SunRail. SunRail did not exist when the agreement was entered into as part of the transfer of the line to FDOT and eventually maintained and used by CFRC. It is not a contract anything. It was part of what amount to a Real Estate deal defining what which party gets what easements.

FDOT chose to agree to a "no passenger service" trackage rights, with the agreement of Amtrak. It is not included in the current FRA exercise by the SE Group, which I have been reviewing in support of the RPA folks involved in it. It did not make it through the prioritization exercise of all potential possibilities considered.

Of course anything can be re-negotiated if all parties agree. But the guess is that CSX might not agree easily since that is now their only through route to Florida that is rather heavily loaded. Then again there is always a money threshold that can change anyone's mind on almost anything, specially if a third track is part of the deal :cool:

The FRA analysis is based on building an entirely new railroad for most of the distance on routes that can be operated at a profit. My analysis is that this would be something in excess of 6000 route miles nationwide. This is nothing like the 24,000 plus miles that China has built to date.
FRA's latest slideset says that the current LD exercise is explicitly not about building new railroads. It is about using exciting railroads with minor tweaks if needed to restore discontinued routes and opportunistically add new routes, but all on existing railroads.
 
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FDOT chose to agree to a "no passenger service" trackage rights, with the agreement of Amtrak. It is not included in the current FRA exercise by the SE Group, which I have been reviewing in support of the RPA folks involved in it. It did not make it through the prioritization exercise of all potential possibilities considered.
Hopefully by "in support of" you mean you're for and not against S-Line service ;) It's a shame that it didn't make it through the initial prioritization, but things can always change right?
Of course anything can be re-negotiated if all parties agree. But the guess is that CSX might not agree easily since that is now their only through route to Florida that is rather heavily loaded. Then again there is always a money threshold that can change anyone's mind on almost anything, specially if a third track is part of the deal :cool:
I'm honestly not sure how easily CSX might agree or not. Their new CEO seems to at least be a bit more friendly to Amtrak (look at the Gulf Coast deal), and from personal observation, CSX only runs ~5-10 thru trains on the S-Line during daylight, and even then that's mainly morning and evening. So if the, in my opinion, optimal service of pre-1994 Meteor routing (east + west coast sections) is restored, I don't think it would impact CSX all that much, especially with all four former stations either having double track or a siding that can be used to run freights around the train at the station which either didn't exist or were lower quality track when Amtrak last operated.
 
Hopefully by "in support of" you mean you're for and not against S-Line service ;) It's a shame that it didn't make it through the initial prioritization, but things can always change right?
The "in support of" refers to helping the RPA team. It has nothing to do with S-Line.
Personally I am ambivalent about the S-Line. In a head to head choices between Gulf Coast and S-Line, I would probably prioritize Gulf Coast as the FRA document has.

Most of the locations served by the S-Line are no further from the A-Line than my home is, which is about an hour drive, whereas the Gulf Coast Line serves areas that are quite far from any rail service.

And then there is Lakeland to Fort Meyers - the West Coast service - which has not been addressed by the FRA but needs to be addressed somehow.
 
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