Finally, a rail project Rick Scott can't kill: a Coral Gables company is planning a new privately owned, operated and maintained passenger train service that will connect Downtown Miami and Orlando by 2014.
Florida East Coast Industries' $1 billion 'All Aboard Florida' rail project will bridge the 240-mile route with 200 miles of existing tracks the company owns between Miami and Cocoa, adding 40 miles of new track to reach Orlando.
(In other words, Miami, get ready for even more tourist dollars!)
The company said in a release that the route could eventually be extended further to Tampa and Jacksonville. Best of all: trains would travel through the downtown areas of South Florida cities -- not, say, the edge of Hialeah -- and come equipped with Internet access.
"The system will include business- and coach-class service with advance purchase reserved seating, gourmet meals, Wi-Fi, and the ability to work productively throughout the entire trip," FEC said in a statement. "In addition, stations in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Orlando mean convenient transfers to Metrorail, Metromover or SunRail, allowing passengers to reach their final destination."
FEC said All Aboard Florida will not only accommodate the 50 million people who currently travel annually between South and Central Florida, but also create 6,000 jobs in the project's construction and another 1,000 for maintaining the railways.
The company has also proposed privatizing South Florida’s Tri Rail service, putting Tri-Rail trains to use on All Aboard Florida tracks, the South Florida Business Journal reports.
Currently, travelers wanting to take public transportation between Miami and Orlando must use AmTrak and Greyhound buses, which can take up to 10 hours to complete the trip.
The need for a more expansive Florida rail system has been a topic of conversation for years, even FEC's tracks in particular.
“Providing passenger rail service on the FEC is really a no-brainer and will make the South Florida region more competitive," Felipe Azenha wrote on advocacy blog Transit Miami blog in September 2011. "For some reason, that is beyond my understanding, our Miami Dade elected officials can’t seem to figure this one out.”