With More Federal Funding, Florida in Striking Distance of New High-Speed Line

» In sinking $800 million more into the Tampa-Orlando line, Obama Administration is making clear its interest in making this the nation’s model program for fast trains.

In terms of high-speed rail funding, the thinking of the current Department of Transportation is easy to understand: Of the dozens of projects proposed across the country, only one could offer true high-speed service and open before the end of President Obama’s second term, all within a relatively tight budget. That is Florida’s 84-mile Tampa-Orlando link, expected to be complete by 2015 at a cost of less than $3 billion. It is therefore no surprise that in the latest round of grants for fast train services, the project has been awarded enough money to virtually ensure its construction.

The DOT’s announcement, expected to be formalized on Thursday, will hand Florida $800 million of the $2.5 billion in total allocations from the Congress’ FY 2010 budget. The Sunshine State now has $2.05 billion in federal funds to complete its $2.7 billion project, including the $1.25 billion it received in January. A further $300 million is expected to follow in 2011 thanks to the $1 billion in additional funds expected to be earmarked for high-speed rail nationwide in the FY 2011 budget. This would be enough to pay for the whole line.

Of the remaining $1.7 billion to be allocated this week, $902 million will go to California, primarily for the construction of a new line in the state’s Central Valley, between Merced and Bakersfield; Iowa and Illinois won $230 million for a link between Chicago and Iowa City; Michigan received $150 million for the Dearborn-Kalamazoo line; and Connecticut landed $121 million for the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield connection. Several other projects, like Virginia’s Washington-Richmond corridor, Oregon’s Eugene-Portland line, and the Atlanta-Charlotte connection, won smaller planning grants. Of these projects, only Florida’s and California’s plans would produce true high-speed rail, operating at maximum speeds above 150 mph.

Unless Republican political foes of high-speed rail shut down these projects after November’s elections (likely in Wisconsin, possible in Ohio and Florida, unlikely in California), these funds are likely to be spent on actual construction, as were the $8 billion in funds distributed earlier this year. Once the DOT makes this week’s allocations official later this week, I will discuss their national implications.

But Florida is the biggest story here: In almost fully funding the state’s first line, the federal government is hoping to produce a model for the rest of the nation to eventually emulate. The Obama Administration, despite inducing a sea change in thinking about the role of intercity rail in American society, also has been rather incrementalist in its thinking. The government has steadily embraced the concept of high-speed rail but the Administration has not been particularly successful in making the issue big enough to ensure a massive Congressional allocation — yet.

Florida, because its project will be the first true high-speed rail line in the U.S. and will be done relatively soon, will be judged on its effectiveness and therefore serve as the standard for future U.S. fast train projects. That means the state has a particular obligation to ensure that the program is implemented with few or no cost overruns and that it is able to attract high ridership once it opens. If it is successful in the eyes of the media and the political class, increasing funding for this transportation mode will be virtually assured. Otherwise, far more ambitious schemes like California’s San Francisco-to-Los Angeles line, will likely remain on the sidelines.

The Florida line will include five stations, in downtown Tampa, Lakeland, the Disney resorts, the Orange County Convention Center (pictured at top), and the Orlando Airport, and is expected to attract 2.4 million riders in its first year. Though trains will accelerate to up to 168 mph, express trains between Tampa and Orlando Airport will make the trip in 50 minutes — roughly 100 mph on average. The majority of the line will be built in the median of Interstate 4 by a public-private partnership responsible for construction, rolling stock, and operations. It is expected to be chosen at the end of next year, after an RFP review beginning in March.

A future extension to Miami would come next; this week the federal government also provided Florida several million dollars to study that project.

As I’ve argued several times before, Florida’s high-speed line is far from perfect. Most problematically, it includes no station in downtown Orlando; its highway alignment also limits associated development possibilities in Lakeland.

Nevertheless, the Obama Administration is right in its focus on this project. Florida’s interest in attracting foreign investors in the line’s construction and operation means that the corridor is likely to be well-run and offer a surprising alternative to the mediocre (and under-funded) Amtrak intercity service too many Americans think is as good as it gets. The fact that this link will be operationally profitable won’t hurt, either. By ensuring that the state gets its corridor up and running as soon as possible, the Obama Administration will be providing a model for the quality and undeniably exciting benefits of true high-speed rail, no matter its limitations in this context.

Image above: Conceptual layout of Orange County Convention Center Station south of Orlando, from Florida High-Speed Rail

48 Comments | Leave a Reply »
  • JJJ

    I personally feel that the California news is more important. But that may just be because I’m posting from Fresno. The fact that the feds are telling the HSR authority to focus on the valley, and not to start up with their tiny expensive urban lines is big news. Instead of a useless line from LA to Anaheim or SF to San Jose (both of which have existing rail lines), it’s best to start in the valley where trains can reach their full speed.

  • Wad

    I’m a Californian as well. I’m with JJJ in starting Central Valley improvements sooner.

    One of the priority projects should also be connecting the Los Angeles-Bakersfield gap. Even though it’s a high-speed project, imagine if in the interim the San Joaquins can be routed to start in Los Angeles. It might not result in time savings, but the ridership boost would be substantial by eliminating the Thruway bus connection.

  • Adam

    PRAY that Rick Scott doesn’t win in Florida.

  • poncho

    get to miami asap

  • Nikko P

    They better not fudge the routing for this line. If they do this wrong, it will give HSR a bad name and hurt other projects around the nation.

    I also agree that California is more important but I think Obama is trying to get an HSR line actually built as soon as possible and Florida was short and cheap so he decided to focus federal funds there.

  • JJJ

    Wad, I’m also baffled on why LA-Bakersfield was not considered the launching point. Everybody knows its necessary. In fact, 5 years ago, Amtrak California even released a study about the best ways to close the gap. Even if HSR is a complete failure, it would be huge to finally connect LA and SF on an actually useful route (versus the 14 hour coast ride).

    • Starting with the Palmdale to Los Angeles segment as the very first segment would be a bit daft, considering that one the one hand it involves tunneling, and on the other hand there is a need to have a test track finished in order to certify the trains for operation, and the CV is far better for that than the tunnels south of Palmdale.

      • Wad

        My apologies for ignorance of railroading issues. My question is in earnest.

        Would it be a good use of money to close the Mojave gap, the area between Lancaster and Bakersfield where there is no passenger rail service available?

        • Nathanael

          It would be a good use of money, but if you plan to build *high speed* rail, it is wise to build a fast track from Bakersfield to Fresno first.

  • Alan Figgatt

    I agree that it makes sense to make the central valley the first segment of the CA HSR to start construction. Go for the max speed segment so it can be used for testing and which is less expensive to build. The SF to San Jose segment is hardly useless, but could be stalled for years with litigation and political battles. The Palmdale to LA segment is still in early study stages and will a engineering challenge to build. But if the SF to San Jose segment get stalled, LA to Palmdale to Fresno could possibly end up connecting to the DesertExpress line with LA to Las Vegas and LA to Fresno becoming the first major city pairs of the CA HSR system.

    But as someone who rides the NEC on a regular basis, I think there is an attitude held by some that lines with less then 150 mph max speeds are hardly worth it. While 220 mph lines should be built in many places, we can hardly afford to build them everywhere. And they will take decades to even get started on construction anyway. While the NEC should be faster, it gets good ridership numbers and marketshare with 125 to 150 mph electrified corridor service even with a lot of slow segments. Getting max speeds up to 90 to 110 mph and fixing the bottlenecks with 3-8 trains per day service will make a huge difference and can be done in less than 10-15 years.

    • On the contrary, Amtrak’s ridership is paltry by the standards of the TGV, AVE, ICE, KTX, THSR, and Shinkansen. Amtrak’s inability to compete with the highways and express buses on speed has prevented the NEC from growing much. In contrast, in the presence of robust high-speed rail, with average speeds near or above 200 km/h, the express bus market has been far smaller, and train ridership is much higher.

      • Tom West

        Acela’s load factors are extremly high, which implies the limiting factor is their capacity. (Wikipedia says Acela carried 8,272 riders per day on 20 trips, or about 414 per trip. Given the train sets have 303 seats, it implies that each seat gets sold 1.3 times for every simgle trip!)

        Amtrak’s ridership may be paltry, but is not due to the way Acela is run or marketed.

        • AlanF

          You have to include the ridership numbers for the Northeast Regionals when discussing the NEC ridership, not just the Acela. The Regionals can get very crowded as well, believe me. The Acelas will often get sold out for the peak morning and evening runs between DC and NYC. The FY10 ridership numbers were announced by Amtrak recently and the NEC had 3,2198,718 passengers on the Acela and 7,148,998 on the Regionals for a total of 10,375,209. Not small numbers IMO.

          The seating capacity of the Acelas will be increased a bit when the reconfigured café cars enter service over the next several years with 27 additional revenue seats. Amtrak has no easy way to purchase more coach cars for the Acelas or extend the consists, so adding seats in the cafe cars is the easier way to add some capacity.

          I would like to have seen Amtrak submit a bolder proposal on a plan for specific projects to be completed in the next 5-6 years to reduce the travel time between DC and NYC and NYC and Boston by 15 minutes each. The Niantic river bridge replacement is underway and the Portal bridge replacement is close to getting started, so those 2 improvements will/can in place in 5-6 years. Even modest 15 to 30 minute improvements in travel times combined with improved on-time reliability will let Amtrak better compete with bus, car, and air travel on the NEC.

          • Cullen

            One should also consider all of the various commuter rail agencies that Amtrak shares track with: MARC, SEPTA, NJ Transit, Metro North and MBTA. They all represent substantial numbers of rider using the same infrastructure.

          • 10 million is very small by non-US standards. It underperforms the LGV Sud-Est (18 million riders in 1988, the last year it was the only LGV), the KTX (37 million in 2009), THSR (32 million), and the Sanyo Shinkansen (65 million), even though the populations of the cities it serves are higher.

            The commuter railroads are irrelevant. They carry trivial intercity traffic; they aren’t included for the same reason Shinkansen, TGV, and KTX traffic numbers exclude the conventional lines they parallel.

            The seat load factor is not too relevant, either. If you go to page 62 on the latest monthly performance report, you’ll see data reported for each route per seat-mile and passenger-mile, from which you can compute an average load factor of 60% on the Acela and 45% on the Regional, both of which are within the normal range for HSR – the TGV, KTX, and more popular Shinkansen lines slightly outperform the Acela, and the ICE, THSR, and less popular Shinkansen line are on a par with or slightly underperform the Regional. This is not what you’d expect to see if the NEC were so popular relative to the capacity provided.

          • Tom West

            Alon Levy points out that Acela has an average laod factor of 60%, typical for HSR… but then says that Acela under-performs compared with other HSR systems. Pick one!

            If Acela’s load factor match other HSR systems, it implies it’s donig just as well at selling HSR service. So, if they/we want more Acela travellers, the only solution is more or longer trains.

          • Tom, the 60% load factor suggests the problem with the Acela is not insufficient capacity. If it were, first, the load factor would exceed other high-speed rail networks instead of matching them, and second, the Regional would inherit the high load factor.

            Selling has nothing to do with it. You’re not going to get the same ridership out of a train that averages 120 km/h as out of a train that averages 200.

            (Sorry, just saw this comment now.)

  • I hope that Scott Walker, should he win ( which appears likely ), is stymied and fails in his attempt to terminate the first segment of the *Chicago to Saint Paul* ( aka “Madison – Milwaukee”) passenger rail improvements.

    Hearing and being exposed to so much anti rail opposition, so vocal, makes me discouraged, though.

  • Donk

    “In almost fully funding the state’s first line, the federal government is hoping to produce a model for the rest of the nation to eventually emulate.”

    I hope this is not a model for the rest of the nation. FL is not even putting in a nickel of its own money. The only thing this will do is encourage other states to try to freeload on the federal govt.

    I am very worried that this line will be a failure and will doom many of the other HSR or quasi-HSR projects in the nation. Not only is it only a tourist train, but I don’t even hear any enthusiasm about it. I have followed many articles about HSR and never see any comments from supporters from FL. Does anyone care about this line?

    • AlanF

      “I hope this is not a model for the rest of the nation. FL is not even putting in a nickel of its own money.”

      The FY2010 applications required a minimum of 20% matching funds from the state. So for Florida to get $800 million in these go around, Florida had to put up $200 million (or get other sources to kick in to help cover the 20%). Now hopefully if Scott is the next FL Governor, he won’t work to kill or sabotage the project.

      Unfortunately, it appears that the $250 million Florida FEC corridor application was not funded, although it likely to be submitted again next year. Or get some parts of the upgrade work started such as design and construction for stations funded from other sources of funding while working towards a larger federal & state grant.

    • HeartofFlorida

      Of course we Floridians care. However, HSR supporters are skeptical as we’ve been here before and it’s one of those “I’ll believe it when I see it” scenarios.

    • Florida has not delegated funds to this because of the opposition to the rail system itself. No plans are laid out for transportation once the train arrives at teh station. The voters voted this down twice but they move ahead because of the alliance between US HSR and AIF. Whatever the business world wants they get and we get to pay for it whether it is in our state or not.

      Also contracts going to state legislators who voted for this Agenda 21 fraud ranks of the normal Florida cronyism in Tallahassee. Add to that payment for this monster will come stright out of our yearly transportation money – first and foremost they government will get paid. So if you have roads and bridges that need fixing – too bad.

      This high speed rail boondoogle is not AmTrack – there will be no bailouts ever from anyone – LaHood said that up front so hold on to your wallets because they are about to not only separate this country into regions but take your wallet on a “HIGH SPEED RIDE”.

  • M

    This is for Donk:

    Yes, many people in Florida do care about the line and are excited about it, myself included. Opponents are calling this a tourist train, but that is an unfair criticism. If you have ever driven in Florida, you know this line will be successful and even more so when (God willing) it is extended to Miami. I recently went to a meeting about transportation held by the Florida Dept of Transportation and they acknowledge that highway expansion is Florida will not happen. There is no more room or money, and therefore investments in other modes are necessary. I also want to point out that Florida is contributing money to this line, though not much, about $300 million according to the Miami Herald.

    • Donk

      I agree that this will be viable when extended to Miami. However, FL better start building the leg to Miami soon before the Tampa-Orlando leg opens, or else the poor performance of the starter line will doom the construction of the Miami leg.

      • poncho

        complete agreement, it is essential it gets to miami as soon as possible, that is what will make this short demonstration line into a fast well-traveled workhorse.

    • Thad

      There are a lot of people in Florida, especially in Miami who care about having the high speed line and better transit options, they just don’t really get online to comment and sing its praises. I as well as many of the people I know travel between Miami, Orland, and Tampa regularly whether it is for leisure or business. It’s funny that people berate it as a tourist train when tourism makes up the largest chunk of our economy, so it wouldn’t be a failure if you the millions of tourist in the area were using it. As long as it is faster than driving and cheaper than flying, people will use it.

  • Yon

    This construction of a limited and outdated train system will prove to be a great waste of money and time just to look good politically in the eyes of the public.

    A much better and logical alternative is the ET3 (www.et3.net) / Aqua=Terra (www.invention.net/aquaterra) project that provides for a hyper-speed (350-4,000+ mph) system that would connect east, west , north and south with an airless (vacuum) tube link system to cover the entire nation and where everyone in all regions would benefit by the mass employment demand of this Aqua=Terra / ET3 undertaking.

    Additional information is available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=92dK_yxaKvk&feature=related
    and
    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Aquaterra-A-SUPER-FAST-PLANETARY-TRANSPORT-SYSTEM-/106199809419664?ref=ts

    China and Korea have already been working on this airless tube system for the past five and three years respectively and have an operating system. Isn’t time for America to re-claim itself as the world leader in innovations.

    The above websites are worth seeing and sharing with all of those in Florida, California and other locations considering this limited speed, inefficient, environmentally damaging, and climatically exposed meglev train system as is being proposed.

    Time to form our future with a transportation-based infrastructure model that is based on a single standard operating system, as is the foundation for the internet system we all use daily and that will serve us all regardless of our location.

    Thanks for your support.

    • poncho

      and why build ET3 when we can have teleportation?

    • AlanF

      So what is the energy cost & operating cost of evacuating and maintaining the vacuum in very large tubes 100s of miles long? Without having even bothered with a back of the envelope calculation, my guess is this would make Maglev look cheap on a per mile basis. If China and South(?) Korea have been working on the airless tube system for 5 and 3 years, why is China spending 100s of billions on steel wheel HSR?

      Yea, why not build teleportation transportation systems!

      • aw

        They should reduce the cross-section of the tubes and use it for small package delivery. It worked back in the 30s, and still does for bank auto-tellers.

  • Andrew D. Smith

    This Florida alignment mystifies me. The speeds/distances/densities seem to negate all the possible advantages of premium rail service. Yes, there’s doubtless big demand for easy public transit from the airport to the convention center and Disney. But I can’t see the point of extending this to Tampa or making a semi-high-speed line out of what should be a 10-mile shuttle between the Orlando airport and the area’s two big attractions.

    Tampa and Orlando simply aren’t dense enough to support this sort of mass transit, particularly when the distances are so short and the speeds so slow. No one lives or works within walking distance of either station, so everyone who isn’t coming from and going to one of three places — airport, Disney or convention center — will have a car ride on either end of the train ride.

    When you factor the car time, getting to and from the train station and the extra few minutes you need to make sure you don’t miss your train, it will almost always be faster to simply drive in your own car from your point of origin to you eventual destination. It will also be cheaper because you won’t have to pay for the train ticket or the rental car/taxi.

    I mean, take the Tampa to Orlando airport route. It may get some ridership from affluent people who don’t want the hassle of driving, but the 50 minute trip speed sucks once you add in the time it takes to get to the station and wait for the train. I’ve driven that in 75 minutes, door to door, which is better than anyone will do on the train.

    Who will pay a fair amount of money (ticket + car park at the station) for a train that will be slower than a car (except at rush hour)? When would it make sense to do Tampa to the convention center or Tampa to Disney, let alone Tampa to some place in the Orlando area that isn’t right at a train stop?

    • poncho

      get the disney monorail to the HSR station and it will help greatly.

    • Adirondacker12800

      The people headed to Disney or the other resorts southwest of Orlando leave their cars back in the Northeast or Midwest. The courtesy bus from their hotel will pick them up at the train station. Just like the courtesy bus currently picks them up at the airport.

  • Ben

    “If it is successful in the eyes of the media and the political class, increasing funding for this transportation mode will be virtually assured.”

    I wish this was the case but it looks like the GO(B)P will gain 50-60 seats this November and Agent Orange/John Boehner will become Speaker, just as the House begins debating a new surface transportation reauthorization bill. The Republican’s Pledge to America’s Corporations calls for discretionary spending to be cut to 2008 levels (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/09/22/AR2010092204767.html). If you want to see funding for high speed rail and transit it is absolutely essential to vote for Democrats on November 2. If you live in a district or state with a competitive election, which is pretty much everywhere this election cycle, also think about helping with Get Out the Vote activities this weekend if you have extra time.

    • I agree with Ben. I doubt that everyone in this forum shares the same politics, nor should we have too. But the sad part is there used to be plenty of Repubs who worked with Dems to build national transportation infrastructure. The only politics involved were, where are the freeway routes or airports going, which states get the most funding per person, and which states get it sooner.

      Now Republican leadership is acting clueless about the linkage between sustainable transportation and the impact of reduced mobility on our economy in the oil-depleting 21st century. No nation with transportation (and education and energy) infrastructure drifting into 2nd class status can remain #1 for long.

  • Ocean Railroader

    I’m worried about this high speed rail funding in that the two places I really didn’t want to get funding got it such as Calfironia and Floridia got and they got 900 million and 800 million out of only 2.5 billion which worries me. What worries me about this is that Calfironia’s high speed rail system is stuck in a maze of endless studies and lawsuits and they haven’t broken ground on any high speed rail line in the state or at least the Caltrain Eletric conversion project. Floridia hasn’t broken ground on this 80 mile high speed rail line and I’m also worried about the 80 mile high speed rail line in that I think Amtrak could have built a cheaper eletric shuttle train using a cheaper version of this rail line. I think Floridia could build a really nice cheaper 110 mile on hour train on the East Coast Railway tracks down to Miami using the new 800 million they got instead of putting all these funding eggs in one small 80 mile section of track. What this 80 mile section of track will give birth to is the Son of the Washingtion DC catenary Anomily in that when you ride 80 miles on it you have to spent 40 minutes changing trains to go north or south once you get off it.

    I don’t like how the rest of the states many of them with a stronger rail riding culture got table scraps out of the 2.5 billion dollars. The only long term thing they could do to fix this is to add another 3 billion to this funding pot to make more room for other states to get funding. Floridia’s 80 mile high speed rail line worries me the most in that it has the highest chance of failing.

  • Cali

    Well We (Cali) and Fla got the funding because we are actully building HSR..something that keeps getting watered down with all this standard rail speed grants taken out of “HSR” bills..Im all for rail upgrades thou place them in a grant focused just for those projects..thats why all this HSR money gets labled as pork because it is going to upgrade 79MPH rail routes..California got almost 200 million from this funding not for the HSR project but to improve current rail.Regrading this ground breaking comment that I have seen posted other places,why do people think that something as large as the CAHSR project would be under construction just 1 or2 years after approval? tho it will happen next year much of the planning so far has been very prelimary and mostly CEQA work

  • Ocean Railroader

    At the least they could start building out a small ten mile section of high speed grade line by starting construciton at one of the existing Amtrak Stations and then building outwards from it by ten miles by removing all the railroad grade crossings for this ten mile section with railroad overpasses. Such as with San Fransico they could start out on Caltrain Amtrak San Fransico station widen the existing Caltrain line to four tracks wide and remove all the railroad grade crossings on a ten mile section starting out from the existing San Fransico station. That way instead of taking on the whole thing all at once the Tax payers can see something getting built right away. Also if this project goes belly up do to lack of funding or while it is being extended beyound the new ten mile section the existing Amtrak trains could run on the new section of passanger only track.

    • OR-Cascades

      “At the least they could start building out a small ten mile section of high speed grade line by starting construciton at one of the existing Amtrak Stations and then building outwards from it by ten miles by removing all the railroad grade crossings for this ten mile section with railroad overpasses.”

      The existing Amtrak 150 mile per hour segment in the Northeast Corridor is about 10 miles long. It doesn’t do too much to increase average line speed though. Really, the money would have been better spent eliminating all the local speed restrictions that impact the line a whole lot more.

  • Cali

    Re: A test section and something the taxpayers can see.. That’s exactly what this funding will do.. it’s going to build a 110 mile section between Bakersfield and Fresno that connects for the time being to the BNSF.. in the unlikely and very disappointing scenario that high-speed rail will never be built.. the San Joaquin’s will have the nations fastest right of way.

  • Andrew Lynch

    So now that most funding is secured, when does Florida break ground? What’s the time line for the project?

  • Good news for both Florida and California. These are the two US hsr project locations that will actually demonstrate the value of hsr. It is essential that work on both lines get underway as early as possible to generate a ground swell of public support that will create a roadblock merely driven by political ideology.

    As a lead planner and project manager for 3 years for the Midwest HSR system, I can certainly attest to the motivation of many, if not all, participating states. The issue with the Midwest is the distance between stations and the operating schedules. Stations are too close together, while in comparison those in California and in Florida fall in the distance category to support and demonstrate the value of HSR.

    The Midwest definitely needs to upgrade its passenger rail system, however, the use of Class I RR tracks will impede the full impact of high speed. Also, the train schedules are focused on the most attractive time to reach Chicago, as they should. This means that people wanting to take the train in southern Indiana or Ohio will still need to board a train at 3am to 5am in the morning.

    California and Florida will benefit from high speed. The midwest will benefit from Higher speed service and not High Speed Service. Let us first spend our federal funds where the true benefits of the program’s objectives will be experienced. Let the US Government think again about upgrading tracks which are owned by Freight RRs and not the states and also take a hard look at the station spacing and begin planning these routes using sound transportation planning standards. The result will be rapid completion of the Calif. and Fla. HSR and the implementation of a system of Midwest train service that will fall short of what elected officials envision and what the expectations of Midwest travelers.

    Alan

    • John W

      Silly question perhaps, but why don’t they have services that only cover segments of those routes, so that you’d have, for instance, a daily return between Cincinnati and Indianapolis? It’s 3.5 hours each way, so you could get two round trips a day at hours that people would actually want to use it.

      And is ridership so low that there couldn’t be a second Indy to Chicago train that doesn’t leave at the crack of dawn or roll in at midnight? Not everyone needs to be in Chicago for a full business day. The schedules do also give a bus (faster!), but c’mon – I count 21 departures from Glasgow to London on the same day (about half direct, but even with changing trains it’s about the same trip time as Chicago-Indy for more than twice the distance).

      • Nathanael

        The scheduling on the Cardinal (for example) is a bit of a monstrosity. Amtrak has repeatedly been starved of funds so it has been unable to pay the freights for access for more trains… but worse, it doesn’t have the equipment to *run* more trains even if it *was* able. Extra worse, the Congressional enabling legislation currently prohibits it from running shorter-distance trains unless they get state government support.

        Which Indiana refuses to provide. Then end.

  • FIU student

    As a Floridian and Miamian who travels consistently around the state, I can say that this is a great project, and it’s really exciting. Definitely needed for our state. However, for high-speed rail to be successful in Florida, the Miami leg needs to be built.

    The Miami region has about 40% of the state’s population, and Miamians travel frequently to Tampa and Orlando. This leg needs to be built for it be successful. Otherwise, I fear, it’ll fail, and it’ll doom HSR for the rest of the nation.

    • Ocean Railroader

      Would Florida consdering using the new 900 million they got to extend Amtrak down to Mamai to have a feeder line for the 82 mile high speed rail line? Or the reverse would most likely happen and that the 82 mile high speed rail line would become a feeder line for the Amtrak Mamai Line.

      • Nathanael

        Under current plans the HSR line will totally fail to intersect the Amtrak route at Orlando. Perhaps Florida could at least put some money into rectifying that. :-P

  • Floridian

    I think it is high time Floridians start thinking globally and how to increase the quality of living in FL. It is very important for us to have this high speed train to attract variety and lot of businesses in the state thus increasing the revenue of this state besides tourism.

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