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#41 Anderson

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Posted 30 July 2012 - 09:50 PM

Another update

It looks like AAF is trickling out the news releases, but my gut says that engaging architects means that the go/no-go report came back positive, or at least isn't leaning towards a negative response.

I'm wondering if there are any thoughts on the two firms. I've never heard of either of them, so I don't know if the selections are an indication of cringe-worthy designs or decent ones.

Finally...I think there will be a decent amount of "local" (i.e. Floridian) business on the line. It won't be leisure trips, necessarily, but I think there's a leg up to be had on the business side (since you can spend the whole three hours working rather than having blobs of time taken up at security or sitting on the tarmac...not to mention the unreliable nature of south Florida driving). In this vein, I would point out that you have four options with this for a Miami-Orlando business trip:
-Drive. Roughly 4:00 each way, 230-240 miles if you use the Turnpike (plus toll costs). Cost to business: $250-ish in mileage expenses plus tolls (assuming $.56/mile).
-Drive. Roughly 4:20-4:30 each way, 245 miles if you shunpike. Cost to business: $275-ish in mileage expenses plus tolls.
-Fly. Assume 1:00-1:15 en route, 45 minutes for security/check-in/boarding, 15-20 minutes for getting out of the airport/getting a rental car, and about 25 minutes on each end getting to/from the airport. Roughly 3:00 total. Cost: At least $152 (AA's lowest advertised rate) plus car rental.
-Train. 3:00-ish en route, about 10 minutes less travel time to/from the airports. Cost: $100-120 plus car rental based on the estimates I've seen tossed about.

So...from what I can tell, the train has a narrow edge on cost over flying and a major one on driving versus billable mileage. I believe that the train is expected to cost around $50-60ish each way.
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#42 railbuck

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Posted 31 July 2012 - 01:13 AM

It looks like AAF is trickling out the news releases, but my gut says that engaging architects means that the go/no-go report came back positive, or at least isn't leaning towards a negative response.

I'm wondering if there are any thoughts on the two firms. I've never heard of either of them, so I don't know if the selections are an indication of cringe-worthy designs or decent ones.

SOM is, as the press release says, a well-established, solid firm. They should do a fine job with a touch of class, though perhaps not with the panache of a starchitect like Calatrava.

#43 Anderson

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Posted 31 July 2012 - 02:11 AM


It looks like AAF is trickling out the news releases, but my gut says that engaging architects means that the go/no-go report came back positive, or at least isn't leaning towards a negative response.

I'm wondering if there are any thoughts on the two firms. I've never heard of either of them, so I don't know if the selections are an indication of cringe-worthy designs or decent ones.

SOM is, as the press release says, a well-established, solid firm. They should do a fine job with a touch of class, though perhaps not with the panache of a starchitect like Calatrava.


That's good to hear. My main concern is always that you get "well established kooks", so to speak...firms that have been around for a while but that throw out some strange designs (such as some of the World Trade Center replacement proposals, including several versions of what was ultimately chosen).
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#44 The Davy Crockett

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Posted 31 July 2012 - 04:54 AM

Finally...I think there will be a decent amount of "local" (i.e. Floridian) business on the line. It won't be leisure trips, necessarily, but I think there's a leg up to be had on the business side (since you can spend the whole three hours working rather than having blobs of time taken up at security or sitting on the tarmac...not to mention the unreliable nature of south Florida driving). In this vein, I would point out that you have four options with this for a Miami-Orlando business trip:
-Drive. Roughly 4:00 each way, 230-240 miles if you use the Turnpike (plus toll costs). Cost to business: $250-ish in mileage expenses plus tolls (assuming $.56/mile).
-Drive. Roughly 4:20-4:30 each way, 245 miles if you shunpike. Cost to business: $275-ish in mileage expenses plus tolls.
-Fly. Assume 1:00-1:15 en route, 45 minutes for security/check-in/boarding, 15-20 minutes for getting out of the airport/getting a rental car, and about 25 minutes on each end getting to/from the airport. Roughly 3:00 total. Cost: At least $152 (AA's lowest advertised rate) plus car rental.
-Train. 3:00-ish en route, about 10 minutes less travel time to/from the airports. Cost: $100-120 plus car rental based on the estimates I've seen tossed about.

So...from what I can tell, the train has a narrow edge on cost over flying and a major one on driving versus billable mileage. I believe that the train is expected to cost around $50-60ish each way.


If they were really after the 'local' business north of West Palm, they would sacrifice total run time for at least a couple of intermediate stations. Are there 'locals' in South Florida who will use it to get to Orlando and vise-versa? Sure, but having NO stations between West Palm and Orlando is a long stretch of track. It certainly doesn't fill the need for better non-automotive transportation options up and down the east coast of Florida.
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#45 jis

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Posted 31 July 2012 - 07:23 AM

If they were really after the 'local' business north of West Palm, they would sacrifice total run time for at least a couple of intermediate stations. Are there 'locals' in South Florida who will use it to get to Orlando and vise-versa? Sure, but having NO stations between West Palm and Orlando is a long stretch of track. It certainly doesn't fill the need for better non-automotive transportation options up and down the east coast of Florida.

The service is designed to be for travel only from MIA/FLL area to Orlando. It is not designed for local use and it will hardly be used as such for that reason. It is sort of like the Amtrak plan for the Super Express service on the NEC serving only Washington, Philadelphia, New York and Boston. Not meant for local travel. Fortunately NEC has lots of other options, and will have even more options going forward. Unfortunately, apparently Florida will have no other options. So people will just continue to use cars.

#46 Anderson

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Posted 31 July 2012 - 10:37 AM


If they were really after the 'local' business north of West Palm, they would sacrifice total run time for at least a couple of intermediate stations. Are there 'locals' in South Florida who will use it to get to Orlando and vise-versa? Sure, but having NO stations between West Palm and Orlando is a long stretch of track. It certainly doesn't fill the need for better non-automotive transportation options up and down the east coast of Florida.

The service is designed to be for travel only from MIA/FLL area to Orlando. It is not designed for local use and it will hardly be used as such for that reason. It is sort of like the Amtrak plan for the Super Express service on the NEC serving only Washington, Philadelphia, New York and Boston. Not meant for local travel. Fortunately NEC has lots of other options, and will have even more options going forward. Unfortunately, apparently Florida will have no other options. So people will just continue to use cars.


Yes and no. It depends on what happens with the Amtrak FEC plans in particular. I know there's also substantial speculation on a Cocoa station (either now or once the project starts moving along...it is probably going to be necessary if they extend the plans to Jacksonville). A distinct possibility is that FEC does the longer-distance travel while Amtrak handles the local stuff on both Silvers running down the corridor and/or an added corridor train or two. I'm willing to speculate that FEC doing service to Orlando might actually help Amtrak in this regard. Of course, God help everyone involved if Amtrak's operations on the line are substantially profitable...if I had to guess, Silvers aside that will trigger a real food fight since FEC is going to want those profits for themselves and you'll at least get a war over access fees.

The other thing: If business is brisk enough (always a big "if"), once Amtrak fires up their service at FEC-owned stations (presuming they do) it seems possible that FEC might add one or two stops along there into a few schedules (not unlike the Acelas that add, for example, Metropark or Trenton). This is probably going to require the operation to be profitable and them to be willing to swap about 10-12 minutes on runtime (for two added stops, for example), but it seems quite possible as a trick for "off hour" trains. This strikes me as more of a possibility if they go for the Jacksonville extension, however.
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#47 George Harris

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Posted 31 July 2012 - 12:08 PM



If they were really after the 'local' business north of West Palm, they would sacrifice total run time for at least a couple of intermediate stations. Are there 'locals' in South Florida who will use it to get to Orlando and vise-versa? Sure, but having NO stations between West Palm and Orlando is a long stretch of track. It certainly doesn't fill the need for better non-automotive transportation options up and down the east coast of Florida.

The service is designed to be for travel only from MIA/FLL area to Orlando. It is not designed for local use and it will hardly be used as such for that reason. It is sort of like the Amtrak plan for the Super Express service on the NEC serving only Washington, Philadelphia, New York and Boston. Not meant for local travel. Fortunately NEC has lots of other options, and will have even more options going forward. Unfortunately, apparently Florida will have no other options. So people will just continue to use cars.

It is not necessary or even desirable that all trains make all stops. If you look at the Taiwan high speed railway as an example, 210 miles end to end: Every hour there is a one-stop train, an all stops north of Taichung, no intermedate stops south, an express to Taichung, then all all stops south, then an all stops train. The fastest, 1:35, the slowest 2 hours flat.

#48 jis

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Posted 31 July 2012 - 12:28 PM

It is not necessary or even desirable that all trains make all stops. If you look at the Taiwan high speed railway as an example, 210 miles end to end: Every hour there is a one-stop train, an all stops north of Taichung, no intermedate stops south, an express to Taichung, then all all stops south, then an all stops train. The fastest, 1:35, the slowest 2 hours flat.

I agree. However, FEC plans at present do not call for such. They mention only three stops for whatever service. That is what I was commenting on.

As for Amtrak may or may not do etc. I have no clue. But my point was that the currently planned FEC service is not designed to serve areas like Brevard or Indian River County at all. No stops between WPB and Orlando planned as of this moment. Of course all that could change, but I don't have a clear enough Crystal Ball to comment on that at present.

#49 Anderson

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Posted 31 July 2012 - 04:23 PM


It is not necessary or even desirable that all trains make all stops. If you look at the Taiwan high speed railway as an example, 210 miles end to end: Every hour there is a one-stop train, an all stops north of Taichung, no intermedate stops south, an express to Taichung, then all all stops south, then an all stops train. The fastest, 1:35, the slowest 2 hours flat.

I agree. However, FEC plans at present do not call for such. They mention only three stops for whatever service. That is what I was commenting on.

As for Amtrak may or may not do etc. I have no clue. But my point was that the currently planned FEC service is not designed to serve areas like Brevard or Indian River County at all. No stops between WPB and Orlando planned as of this moment. Of course all that could change, but I don't have a clear enough Crystal Ball to comment on that at present.


My understanding with the FEC's plans is that they have been looking into Cocoa as an additional stop. This may or may not happen in the short term; if they are serious about the Jacksonville extension (which is suggested in the plans), I think it will be inevitable so as to allow transfers between ORL-MIA trains and MIA-JAX trains (especially since I suspect that running lots of ORL-JAX trains in addition to the other two sets might be inefficient...not that there won't be any, but I don't think there would be the business for a dedicated hourly service on both lines at the moment).

I suspect that the best argument against lots of stops, at least on the first batches of trains, is avoiding short-distance traffic crowding out long-distance traffic. Density and traffic are likely such that at least on the "first go", traffic from Miami to various locations along the coast could block out MIA-ORL traffic.
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#50 jis

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Posted 31 July 2012 - 05:10 PM

I suspect that the best argument against lots of stops, at least on the first batches of trains, is avoiding short-distance traffic crowding out long-distance traffic. Density and traffic are likely such that at least on the "first go", traffic from Miami to various locations along the coast could block out MIA-ORL traffic.

A capable outfit manages such things by managing inventory. Not by simply not stopping at all.

#51 George Harris

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Posted 31 July 2012 - 05:44 PM


I suspect that the best argument against lots of stops, at least on the first batches of trains, is avoiding short-distance traffic crowding out long-distance traffic. Density and traffic are likely such that at least on the "first go", traffic from Miami to various locations along the coast could block out MIA-ORL traffic.

A capable outfit manages such things by managing inventory. Not by simply not stopping at all.

That area seems to need some work. Maybe it is better now, because my experience was in 1995, but I spent a few months working off and on in Newark NJ with nNorthern Virginia as teh alternative. I would get the "sold out train" out of Newark and then leave as early as I could using the NJT-SEPTA method. At Philadelphia there would be a masive bailout of the trains out of New York leaving it little mroe than half full going south. So . . . How many longer haul passengers were turned away because the trains was filled with short hauls on only part of the trip?

#52 Anderson

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Posted 31 July 2012 - 06:12 PM


I suspect that the best argument against lots of stops, at least on the first batches of trains, is avoiding short-distance traffic crowding out long-distance traffic. Density and traffic are likely such that at least on the "first go", traffic from Miami to various locations along the coast could block out MIA-ORL traffic.

A capable outfit manages such things by managing inventory. Not by simply not stopping at all.


Ehh...yes and no. "Not stopping" is a form of inventory management (namely, setting the inventory option for the skipped stop to zero), albeit potentially a crude one.

Let me step into the shoes of FEC's management. I'm looking at a report that says I can get a fairly high load factor on these trains at a rate of one per hour. I need to get service to within a given range of times (that is, I want trip times to be in the three-hour range) in order to attract business, meaning that I need to limit my stops as much as is practical. So I limit the stops I make as much as possible.

Moreover, those stops add to trip time...and adding too much trip time can force me to add a set or two to the route. Assuming an eight-hour cycle for a train (3 hours NB, an hour at Orlando, 3 hours SB, an hour at Miami), adding more than about 10-15 minutes to the schedule might force me to add one or two sets to the mix to make my desired hourly service. Those sets cost money (possibly $20m or more apiece, depending on the manufacturer and so on); further, those added stations also cost money. Of course, they'll also bring in additional revenue...but I might run into a space squeeze (through traffic being blocked out because of asymmetric short-haul traffic on one side of one stop or another), and simply put I might not be able to add enough additional passengers without lots of additional expense to make things worthwhile.

If I'm in FEC's shoes, I'm going to do the following:
-Miami-to-Orlando will be as we have it now, with a possible added stop in Cocoa. The problem with a Cocoa stop is that it's almost assuredly going to be a net addition for trains headed to/from Miami but not to/from Orlando, potentially gutting out a decent amount of traffic heading to/from Orlando. So I'm going to hold off there.
-If I find that there is room on the "shoulder" trains and/or off-hour trains, I'll add Cocoa but for Cocoa-Miami space almost as if it were Orlando-Miami space. Also, Cocoa won't be a stop on some of the peak-hour trains (again, managing inventory to zero on those trains). I'll probably need to have at least half of the trains make this stop to justify building a new station, etc.
-If the trains are completely full enough of the time, I'm going to have to weigh extending the sets (i.e. adding 1-2 cars), adding frequencies (which, aside from a possible "extra" at peak hours, is something I'm going to be averse to unless the operation is gushing money...I've got freight to ship, after all), or just not serving Cocoa.
-With respect to the possible Jacksonville extension, I'll add local stops on those since the Jacksonville metro area simply isn't as large (or growing as fast) as the Orlando area, let alone Orlando+Tampa...and that's probably going to force my hand on some of these trains. However, if I'm also adding Tampa, I'll probably be having to revamp my sets and order new ones to deal with added capacity issues, so I'm going to assume some sort of overhaul at this point anyway.

Finally, a worthwhile question: If the Tampa and Jacksonville extensions go in, what are the odds that Florida and the FEC seriously look at some commuter options in the relevant metro areas (with state/local subsidies to cover costs)? They're seriously looking at conneting Deland to Orlando as it is...why not Daytona and St. Augustine to downtown Jacksonville or Orlando/Kissimmee to Tampa and vice-versa? I know this is a long way off, but it does come to mind, especially given the chatter about Trirail options on the FEC.
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#53 afigg

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Posted 09 August 2012 - 11:14 PM

Saw this Reuters news story link on rr.net on the FEC announcing that they will go ahead with the $1 billion project. Some excerpts.

Reuters) - A Miami real estate and transportation company announced Wednesday that it plans to go ahead with a $1 billion project to build a privately run passenger train service between Miami and Orlando to begin operations by the end of 2014.

Florida East Coast Industries said its "All Aboard Florida" project is financially viable without any need for federal and state grants or subsidies.

"After completing our due diligence we have decided to go through with it," said Husein Cumber, vice president of corporate development at Florida East Coast Railway, which operates the company's existing freight line.

Construction would begin in early 2013, Cumber said, and when completed the new service would be the only privately run, non-subsidized passenger rail link between two major cities in the United States. A similar private scheme has been proposed in Texas to link Houston and Dallas.


10 trainsets?

The $1 billion cost includes a set of 10 diesel-powered trains with a 400-seat capacity offering an hourly service with First-class and Business-class seating, gourmet dining and Wi-Fi, as well as new tracks and stations in downtown Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and the Orlando airport.

The trains would make the journey in 3 hours 3 minutes traveling at speeds of up to 110 mph at a "cost competitive" price compared to the cheapest round-trip airfare of $140-160 or the roughly $120 cost of car travel, Cumber said.

Still many questions to be answered and specifics to be filled in such as 1) where they would build and how they would fund the extension to Orlando Airport; 2) Would Amtrak run a Jacksonville to Miami Central Station corridor service train OR would Amtrak only run LD trains on the FEC while the FEC runs all corridor trains?

#54 The Davy Crockett

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Posted 10 August 2012 - 09:11 AM

Still many questions to be answered and specifics to be filled in such as 1) where they would build and how they would fund the extension to Orlando Airport; 2) Would Amtrak run a Jacksonville to Miami Central Station corridor service train OR would Amtrak only run LD trains on the FEC while the FEC runs all corridor trains?



The only real choice, AFAIK, for the routing of the line from the coast to MCO is along, or in the median of, Route 528 (formerly known as The Beeline). I know nothing about the funding, but as I believe jis brought up: If they use part of Rt. 528's ROW, and don't pay fair market value for the right, are they not getting a subsidy from the state?

Whether Amtrak or the FEC runs corridor service, is a good qustion. For the FEC, it probably depends on whether they think they can make money directly, or indirectly through real estate holdings, by doing so. In either case, hopefully the new Miami-Orlando service will generate enough interest along Florida's Atlantic coast to expedite the start of some type of corridor service before the 'newnwss' starts to fade.
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#55 afigg

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Posted 10 August 2012 - 10:46 AM

An August 9 Miami Herald article on the latest announcement from the FEC on their plans.

I remain very skeptical about starting service to Orlando airport in 2014. They are going to build 40 miles of new tracks with the land and ROW acquisitions, EIS documents, building permits in 2 years? Has to be a catch somewhere. And 4 new stations as well?

If the FEC says they plan to acquire 10 trainsets with a capacity of 400 each, no time like the present to start speculating on what equipment is the FEC planning to buy and where they can get it by 2014!

#56 MikefromCrete

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Posted 10 August 2012 - 11:50 AM

An August 9 Miami Herald article on the latest announcement from the FEC on their plans.

I remain very skeptical about starting service to Orlando airport in 2014. They are going to build 40 miles of new tracks with the land and ROW acquisitions, EIS documents, building permits in 2 years? Has to be a catch somewhere. And 4 new stations as well?

If the FEC says they plan to acquire 10 trainsets with a capacity of 400 each, no time like the present to start speculating on what equipment is the FEC planning to buy and where they can get it by 2014!

Well, there's two Talgo sets already built, looking for an owner. Talgo would probably be glad to crank out another eight sets to help pay for that Milwaukee manufacturing plant, they likely would be willing to negotiate a good price. The building of 40 miles of new track in less than two years seem problematic. It's unclear if the new track would use a brand new right of way or follow a utility alignment. Either way dirt should start flying pretty soon, although Florida does have a climate for year-round construction (except when hurricanes come whipping through. )

#57 The Davy Crockett

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Posted 10 August 2012 - 12:03 PM

Let the speculation games begin.

Isn't 397 the number of passengers the orphaned Talgos are designed to carry?

Hmmm...

Edited by The Davy Crockett, 10 August 2012 - 12:04 PM.

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#58 Anderson

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Posted 10 August 2012 - 04:12 PM

First of all, I am extremely happy to see this. Yes, the times are changing.

For good or ill, If I had to guess, any attempt by Amtrak to run separate corridor trains on the FEC is going to turn into a world-class punch up when all is said and done. The LD trains won't be a problem, but a strictly corridor operation is going to cause a headache. For one thing, if the service is likely to be profitable, FEC would want those trains. Moreover, if it's not profitable, current law will require Florida to back it...which FEC is probably going to try and get them not to do.

With that said, I think the solution is probably going to be that FEC cooperates on through-ticketing and might be willing to let Amtrak.com book the trains...but manages them in-house (since FEC would be handling the dispatching, probably the scheduling, and quite possibly the crewing). This would actually be the best situation for Amtrak and a local train if Amtrak could get a small commission for handling those bookings.

One thing I'm wondering: They're mentioning financing the operation with a combination of debt and equity...I wonder where the equity (i.e. stocks) will be sold, since if nothing else I do want to make something of a "symbolic purchase" of a share or two to show support.
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#59 jis

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Posted 10 August 2012 - 04:21 PM

Let the speculation games begin.

Isn't 397 the number of passengers the orphaned Talgos are designed to carry?

Hmmm...

They just need to add 3 jump seats by the toilets and Voila! 400! :lol:

#60 afigg

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Posted 10 August 2012 - 05:50 PM

Well, there's two Talgo sets already built, looking for an owner. Talgo would probably be glad to crank out another eight sets to help pay for that Milwaukee manufacturing plant, they likely would be willing to negotiate a good price. The building of 40 miles of new track in less than two years seem problematic. It's unclear if the new track would use a brand new right of way or follow a utility alignment. Either way dirt should start flying pretty soon, although Florida does have a climate for year-round construction (except when hurricanes come whipping through. )

Remember that because FEC is privately funded, they do not have to comply with the Buy American act or buy the rolling stock from US located assembly plants. So the FEC can buy the rolling stock from who ever and where they want. The news I recall reading about the Talgo facility in Milwaukee is that Talgo was shutting it down in stages as the 4 train sets were being completed.

What the FEC could do is to buy the 2 Talgo sets from Wisconsin for so much on the dollar and then order 8 more FRA compliant identical trainsets to be built by Talgo in Spain or where ever Talgo has a suitable manufacturing plant. It costs money to start up a new plant for a limited production run. Talgo likely lost a fair amount of money on setting up the Wisconsin plant in order to comply with the US based manufacturing requirements that federal and state public agencies are subject to with the goal of getting a foothold in the US market. If FEC does buy the 2 Wisconsin Talgos, those 2 train sets should get a nickname - the Walker discount specials or something better than that.

If FEC does buy the coach cars from overseas, the cars can be delivered right to the port of Miami and the FEC tracks. A few cars would have to go to Pueblo for testing, but direct shipment to Miami would likely save the FEC a few bucks.

Edit: forgot to add this. About the route to Orlando airport, look at State toll road 528 on Google Earth (or equivalent). It is a limited access highway with a large median strip that is remarkably straight with just a few wide curves. Rt. 528 passes right over the FEC tracks in Cocoa at a location with a lot of open ground. It then passes directly north of Orlando Airport. This has to be where the FEC is planning to build the extension to the airport. Then you can see where Rt. 528 runs to I-4 which then goes to Tampa - over the route that was going to be used for the Tampa to Orlando HSR line. If the FEC builds it, we can be sure that the FEC will lock up ownership of the tracks and control of the ROW, so any future HSR line in Florida over that route in FL would be under the control of the FEC. I suspect Gov. Scott won't have any qualms about signing away the ROW and future rights for many decades to a private company.

Edited by afigg, 10 August 2012 - 06:03 PM.





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