Posts Tagged ‘Miami’

Virgin to Build Miami Station for Cruise Ship Transfers

November 1, 2019

Virgin Trains USA this week said it would launch a $53.3 million station project in Miami that will steer passengers toward cruise ships and trains bound for Disney World.

To funnel cruise ship passengers, Virgin will build a station on land owned by PortMiami.

But taking passengers to Disney World will hinge on completion of an extension to Orlando that Virgin USA President Patrick Goddard said is expected to be completed in about three years.

The new station in Miami for cruise ship passengers is expected to cost $14.4 million and have 20,500 square feet.

Miami-Dade County will invest $5.4 million into that project and in return expects to receive $49 million in rent and passenger fees over 30 years.
Virgin said that in preparation for the expansion to Orlando it will spend $35 million to buy another trainset.

In a related development, Virgin is also planning to replace Florida East Coast’s single-track, 94-year-old drawbridge over the St. Lucie River at Stuart, Florida, with a double-track lift bridge.

The new bridge will cost $100 million and be 180 feet in length. The existing bridge is 50 feet.

The longer length will allow boats to pass each other in each direction beneath the bridge.

The vertical clearance for marine traffic when the bridge is closed will be 18 feet. The clearance of the existing bridge is 6.5 feet.

The additional clearance is expected to reduce the need to raise the bridge for pleasure boats.

The new bridge is expected to open around the time the extension to Orlando is completed.

Funding Approved for New Virgin Trains Station

October 20, 2019

The commissioners of Miami-Dade County in Florida have approved $76 million for construction of a Virgin Trains USA station at the Aventura Mall.

The new depot will be built at 19700 West Dixie Highway and could open in 2020.

The location is about halfway between the MiamiCentral and Fort Lauderdale stations.

Among the elements of the project is a pedestrian bridge over the highway to connect to the Aventura Mall.

Funding for the station will come from sale taxes. Although Virgin Trains will develop the station, the county will own it.

The funding approval came only after Virgin Trains agree to build workforce-housing units at the site, which typically charge below-market rates.

Some commissioners indicated they would rather have seen commuter rail run to the mall site, saying intercity service will be too expensive for everyday use by locals looking to access jobs and services in Miami and Fort Lauderdale.

“How many people are we actually going to serve here? Because it’s not a commuter rail,” said

Commissioner Joe Martinez. “The fares, I think, will be out of the reach of a lot of people.”

A one-way fare between Aventura and Miami will cost $9.75.

However, the commissioners decided there is not enough political support to extend Tri-Rail commuter service to Aventura.

“We have been talking for years,” said Commissioner Rebeca Sosa. “If we sit down and do nothing, nothing will ever happen in this county.  So it’s time for us to step up and start.”

Virgin Rolls Out New Look in Miami

April 9, 2019

Virgin Trains USA showed off last week its plans to rebrand the former Brightline service in Florida during a ceremony at its rail station in Miami.

Officials said the service will be rebranded in stages throughout the year starting with giving the Miami station a makeover.

The most visible result of that was to change Brightline yellow to Virgin red.

Virgin executives also wore red tee shirts with streaks of yellow, hinting at a new look for the trains that operate between Miami and West Palm Beach, Florida.

Among the VIPs in attendance were Virgin Group founder Richard Branson, Virgin Trains USA President Patrick Goddard, South Florida Regional Transportation Authority Chair Esteban Bovo Jr. and Miami Mayor Francis Suarez.

They spoke of how the Miami Central station will connect passengers using Metrorail, Metromover, Brightline and in the future Tri-Rail.

“Virgin MiamiCentral is the only destination that connects Miami-Dade County through its various transit systems, and with the combination of Brightline and Tri-Rail, connects the entire southeast region,” Goddard said. “Mobility continues to be key as our region and population grow — and we are meeting the demand.”

Branson said he foresees Virgin someday providing connecting service with cruise ships docking at the Port of Miami, which is already served by the Florida East Coast Railway.

Brightline Now Serving Miami

May 21, 2018

Brightline began service to Miami on May 19 and has reached an agreement with rideshare provider Lyft to provide transportation to and from Brightline trains.

The launch of service to Miami also coincided with the implementation of quiet zones at grade crossings in West Palm Beach.

Fares for Brightline service are $10 Smart/$15 Select to Fort Lauderdale, and $15 Smart/$25 Select to West Palm Beach.

The quiet zones also affect Florida East Coast freight trains passing through West Palm Beach. The zone extends from from downtown to the southern city limits.

A quiet zone also begins on May 21 in Lake Worth, but other cities in Palm Beach County are decided about whether to allow quiet zones.

The county spend $7 million to create the crossing modification plans for quiet zones and Brightline contributed $60 million for traffic signal coordination and crossing upgrades necessary to gain Federal Railroad Administration approval.

Brightline Begins to Miami on May 19

May 14, 2018

Brightline will begin service to Miami on May 19.

The service will initially be eight northbound and eight southbound trips to and from MiamiCentral, the new Brightline terminal in Miami.

Weekday trains will depart from MiamiCentral beginning at 7:05 a.m., leaving every two hours until 8:05 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and until 11:05 p.m. on Fridays. On weekends, trains will depart every two hours from 9:05 a.m. until 9:05 p.m. and until 11:05 p.m. on Saturdays.

Introductory fares from Miami to West Palm Beach will range from  $15 for “Smart” service to $25 for “Select” service.

Fares for travel between Miami and Fort Lauderdale will cost between $10 and $15.

Brightline Runs Test Trains to Miami

April 11, 2018

Brighlight has been running test trains to its Miami terminal even through it remains under construction.

The first of the test trains operated on March 29. Brightline has yet to announce when service will begin to its Miami Central facility but has said it will be within the next several months.

In the meantime, workers are finishing interior station construction and track work.

Brightline currently operates between Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, Florida, over tracks of the Florida East Coast Railway.

The privately-operated passenger carrier has added an additional Friday evening round-trip that coincided  with the Tortuga Music Festival.

The new trains duplicate existing Saturday and Sunday night schedules, with the last northbound train out of Fort Lauderdale set to depart at 10:55 p.m.

Brightline to Start Revenue Service Jan. 13

January 11, 2018

Brightline will begin revenue service on Jan. 13 between Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach,  Florida.

Fares include a “Try Our Train” fare of $10 per segment for basic service and $15 for Select service with larger seats and snacks and beverages. A segment is one way between West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale over tracks of the Florida East Coast.

Service will initially be 10 daily weekday roundtrips and nine on weekends. The end-to-end trip will take 35 minutes with trains leaving as early as 6 a.m. and as late as 11 p.m. Schedules will vary between weekday and weekend service.

In an announcement, Brightline said it expects to expand into downtown Miami in the coming months.

Brightline also said it has shaken up its management team, promoting Patrick Goddard to president in replacement of Chief Executive Dave Howard, who was hired in March 2017.

Trains will operate at a top speed of 79 mph operation on the 67-mile section between Miami and West Palm Beach. Trains are projected to operate at up to 110 mph in the next 133-mile phase of the project to Cocoa Beach.

Remembering Amtrak’s SDP40Fs

April 17, 2017

Amtrak first new diesel motive power was the SDP40F locomotive built by EMD and which took to the rails in June 1973 between Chicago and Los Angeles.

The big cowl units also initially pulled trains between Chicago and Houston, and on some segments of the route of the Empire Builder.

Amtrak bought 150 of the locomotives and between 1974 and the late ’70s they were ubiquitous on the point of long-distance trains. They also were assigned to some corridor service during that period of time.

Some railroads thought the SDP40F was derailment prone and didn’t want them on their rails. By the late 1970s, E units had made a comeback on some routes, particularly on Conrail, and the SDP40Fs were traded in for new F40PHs.

One of the last strongholds for the SDP40F was between Washington and Florida where they continued to pull trains through the early 1980s.

In this photograph above, it is Dec. 13, 1979, at the Amtrak station in Miami. I am waiting to board the northbound Silver Star and I took the opportunity to photograph No. 645 from the platform.

It would be the last time that I saw an SDP40F in revenue service still wearing the Phase I paint scheme that is still a favorite of mine.

Miami Amtrak Station Platform Built Too Short

January 30, 2017

The opening of Amtrak’s new station near Miami International Airport is not only late, but it has a size problem.

The platform is too short to accommodate the length of the Amtrak trains that will use it.

Amtrak 4Officials in the Florida Department of Transportation say that an engineering error in designing the platform means that the Miami Intermodal Center will not open until late 2017.

“FDOT is in the process of finalizing an operations and maintenance agreement with Amtrak to provide their passenger service at the MIC Central Station,” said FDOT spokesperson Ivette Ruiz-Paz in an email to the Miami Herald.

Ruiz-Paz said Amtrak will continue to use its Hialeah station for the New York-Miami Silver Star and Silver Meteor.

The design error means that the platform at the station is short by about 200 feet. Trains would be forced to block Northwest 25th Street.

Officials say the error was the result of confusion between FDOT and Amtrak. The designers were expecting shorter trains than Amtrak typically operates on the route.

Rather than extend or rebuild the platform, FDOT has decided to live with trains blocking 25th Street and reconfigure nearby streets to accommodate traffic detours.

“A crossing has been developed and constructed from NW 28th St. connecting to NW 37th Ave.,” Ruiz-Paz said. “Other roadway elements have also been added to improve connectivity to the infrastructure.”

Amtrak is one of four rail services at the Miami Intermodal Center, or MIC.

Also using it will be Metrorail, Tri-Rail and the elevated trains to the airport.  There will also be bus terminal and rental car center.