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Jan 23, 2007
West Melbourne, FL
On the 3:15 NB out of Poinciana headed to Debary. HEP went out before we left the station.

Don't know why they have the mid level seats behind the cab blocked off.

Security is their excuse.

Just left Winter Park. Looking for PennyK...
I live closest to the Lynx Central station. I was outside at a park this morning practicing yoga with a group and we saw several SunRail trains go by. I love it. I hope your trip improved after the HEP issue.
Today was a nice day in Orlando (nice meaning below 90 degrees).
Never did get the HEP back up. Was a nice cool 84 degrees outside when we got off at DeBary.

I'll wave at the Lynx bus station when I pass back to the south. :)

Between sitting on the SB at DeBary for 25 minutes. PTC on the Cab is out. But we have AC...
I have not experienced any HEP problems when riding SunRail
Apparently they aren't used to it going down either.

I don't know if they knew what they were taking about, but the crew said the HEP was supplied by the driving engine rather than a separate diesel engine. They would reset it at a station stop, but as soon as the traction motors put a load on the generator as they departed, the ac and lights died.
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So overall, it was an interesting trip. I will say that I enjoyed the ride south of Orlando much more than the northern part. The northern portion of the trip felt much more like a transit ride with stops so close to each other we rarely seemed to go much faster than what felt like 30 mph, though the scenery was much more interesting.

The Southern five stops seemed much further spaced apart, allowing for some good runs at 60-65 mph.

Since I wanted the full length experience, I stated and ended in Poinciana. If I ever had occasion to ride again, I would pick Kissimmee.

Total non-discounted round trip fare was $9.50. Not bad for 4 1/2 hours on the train, even though 1/2 was without AC.
My brother and I did a day-trip prior to Covid. We took Amtrak to Kissimmee and had pizza. Then we rode SunRail south to the end (Poinciana) and then north to the end (DeBary) - then we rode back to Winter Park so we could catch Amtrak back home.

We had a delay heading back to Winter Park that gave us a bit of worry because we didn't want to miss our train home. The delay was due to vehicle accident. The track was cleared in plenty of time for us to make Amtrak with time to spare.
Wish they ran on weekends. Even on 2-hour headway.
It is actually a wonder that it runs at all! It is even a greater wonder that FDOT has decided to build it out to Deland over the lack of enthusiasm of Volusia County. I suspect it will get weekend service in a couple of years.
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I will say that the (typical) 30 minute headways makes it real convenient for commuters. My trains never got more than about 1/3 full. I expected that on the Northbound because I was well ahead of evening rush hour. But was surprised that it was pretty uncongested on my 5PM Southbound (delayed to 5:30). That would have been in the peak of rush hour on a Friday afternoon and it was no more crowded.

The entire length is scheduled for about an hour and half to cover about 52-ish miles. That's around 35 mph average. 16 stops has a lot to do with that, I'm sure. For comparison, the Trinity Railway Express travels around 38 miles and takes an hour. I guess that's not much different and the TRE only has half the stops.

So - let's see if the station stops make a difference on average speeds. Between Kissimmee and Winter Park, the Silvers have a timetable distance of 23 miles in one hour. That includes a 15 minute layover in Orlando. 23 MPH. Ooof. Sunrail makes the run in about 45 minutes - almost exactly the same if you take out the layover time in Orlando for Amtrak.

No conclusions. Just some comparisons.

Again, to my dismay, the decline of American rail etiquette was evident with people on both my Sunrail runs having onboard self proclaimed DJs or children incapable of using headphones. At least I didn't experience someone actively smoking like I have on DART and Miami's metrorail...

As can be seen, to go from Sanford would require traversing Lake Monroe. However, since Sunrail already goes to DeBarry and is supposed to extend to Deland, it would make more sense to extend from Deland - which was the original plan for Sunrail.

If such an extension was made by Sunrail, maybe Brightline could use it to extend to Jax
As can be seen, to go from Sanford would require traversing Lake Monroe. However, since Sunrail already goes to DeBarry and is supposed to extend to Deland, it would make more sense to extend from Deland - which was the original plan for Sunrail.
It would be nice, especially for those of us that live in that area. But, not sure that would be any faster and certainly far less expensive just to take existing Brightline at higher speed from Orlando to Cocoa (only 30+ miles) and build a connection there to the northbound FEC/Brightline to JAX. Sunrail from Orlando to Sanford runs through a congested area with quite a few grade crossings.
Florida Department of Transportation - I4 and SR 557 Interchange Design in Polk County, Florida

links to the Polk County CR557 @ I-4 interchange project web page and the FDOT wildlife crossing video.

The new interchange will have 2 roundabouts at each end of the CR557 overpass. It will also be built to the I-4 Ultimate design standard. This standard includes HSR in the median at this location.

The new wildlife crossing, which is really needed in this area, will be immediately to the east of the interchange. Between CR557 and US27 is the last really remote and somewhat wild section of land along I-4 (edit: at least west of Orlando, not sure of east of DeBary). This wildlife crossing is critical for the Florida panther and bear populations to grow and expand territory. As the video says, there are numerous wildlife crossing in Southwest and South Central Florida already built.

Brightline was required to build a wildlife crossing along SR528 west of the St John's River Bridge as well.
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I have a big concern about Lake Monroe. The single track Sun Rail bascule bridge over the river just next to the Lake appears somewhat rickety. The bridge was rebuilt by Sun Rail before servic started but ----? The bridge has a very long reach and is actual truss for part. Watched it lower in a strong wind and operator had a dificult time getting it to lock. Did not time it but seemed about 10 minutes. Note it was very busy waterway on a weekend. Boats were held out about 30 miutes for Auto Train to pass as well.

It would be expensive but the clearance there is set by I-4 going over the river. A passenger flyover bridge IMO could be built between the Bascule and I-4. Leave the draw in for freights. Much like TriRail's bridge a Ft.Lauderdale.

EDIT: If Brightline did use the route combining Brightline and Sunrail assets would get both to service Daytona.
It is all speculative, but I would be very surprised if Brightline ever uses that routing unless someone else pays for the entire upgrade thing. They already have a very good and fast route from Orlando to Daytona and JAX which does not have to go through highly urbanized area with 30-45mph speed limits.

I also suspect that they will not build a northwest quadrant connector at Cocoa, and instead use the easy reversibility of their trains for any Orlando JAX service, reversing direction at the Cocoa station.
View attachment 28585

As can be seen, to go from Sanford would require traversing Lake M https://corporate.sunrail.com/wp-co...ation-Full-Build-Concept-2021a-Draft.pdfonroe. However, since Sunrail already goes to DeBarry and is supposed to extend to Deland, it would make more sense to extend from Deland - which was the original plan for Sunrail.

If such an extension was made by Sunrail, maybe Brightline could use it to extend to Jax
Sunrail's " https://corporate.sunrail.com/wp-co...nd-Station-Full-Build-Concept-2021a-Draft.pdf " now shows the proposed new Sunrail station NOT in the City of Deland proper, unlike earlier proposals to actually put a station IN Deland, but instead to co-locate it with the existing Deland Amtrak station, as they did in Winter Park next to the WPK Amtrak station. I don't know if that is still current thinking, but it was the latest that I found on the corporate website tonight when I went looking. That would put it roughly 3.5-4 miles from downtown Deland and Stetson University, which is right along the main N-S Highway through town according to Google Maps. That's a long way from the actual City of Deland
. Personally, once they go to Deland, I'd like to see them put in a station at Blue Spring State Park, which is RIGHT NEXT to the main line they will be using on the way North from DeBary to Deland. Properly executed, it would give Orlando area families, schoolchildren, and Seniors a very nice and easy way to get to Blue Spring from their local Sunrail station. I know this is a Brightline thread, but it talks about this subject, with graphics and details, so I put it here to add to this ongoing discussion..
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I recently heard from @jis that the contract had been finalized to start work on its Northern Expansion from the current northern station for Sunrail at DeBary to DeLand, an Amtrak stop, a distance of about 12 miles. I contacted our local Community Development Director who confirmed it is scheduled to be completed first quarter of 2024.

I stopped by this morning and a survey crew was on the property to begin their work. The first photo was taken looking north with the highway behind me. I've also attached the plan (although this version was shown as conceptual) for the station. It's the pdf file at the bottom. The out of service track on the left will become the SunRail track where the train will terminate. It will obviously be upgraded and be a stub track. A platform will be constructed between it and the main line track next to the station. In the distance is a switch for an active siding where I've seen AutoTrain hold for the northbound Star.

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This photo is also taken looking north at the north end of the station. The grass field and beyond will become a parking lot for SunRail and Amtrak with a cross walk to access the new platform. Hopefully this will include upgrading the existing platform that extends next to the bushes and is difficult for passengers to use because of its low level and being quite narrow. In the photo you can see the surveying equipment and the old Atlantic Coast Line milepost. That's the distance from Richmond. The switch in the foreground is where the wye begins that leads to the spur that goes downtown, about 3 miles.

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The DeLand station has quite an interesting history as described in this excellent review from Amtrak's Great American Stations. While it'll be great to hop on SunRail for a trip to Winter Park or Orlando (and eventually the OIA airport and theme parks, I'm afraid it will lose some of its small town charm. Some of the land in the area is already being cleared for development. Such is progress.

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  • DeLand-Station-Full-Build-Concept-2021a-Draft.pdf
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