Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Disappointing news from All Aboard Florida: Cost overruns and delays

Not even private passenger rail is immune as All Aboard Florida service is pushed back two years and $500 million more

Passenger rail line company All Aboard Florida got the go ahead Tuesday to begin negotiating a lease so it can build the northern portion of its $1.5 billion Miami to Orlando speed train.
The speed train could begin construction as early as next year. The proposal given to the agencies includes documents that indicate its completion is slated for the end of 2015, which means it wouldn't be up and running until the following year, at the earliest. Originally, All Aboard Florida officials had projected they would be done by the end of 2014.
The train would have stations in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach and a station at Orlando airport.
The Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach stations would be completed by August 2015, while the Miami station, which is envisioned as being larger and could include commercial development, wouldn't be finished until December 2015.
All Aboard Florida is a newly launched subsidiary of parent company Florida East Coast Industries.
"This is a major step forward for the project," said Husein Cumber, Executive VP of Corporate Development for Florida East Coast Industries. "AAF will begin negotiations with FDOT to determine the lease terms that will allow our $1.5 billion private investment to move forward quickly so we can enhance Florida's transportation network and begin to create thousands of new jobs in our state.”

I'm not terribly surprised at the time delay; 2014 was always an extremely ambitious schedule and this delay lets them take more time with construction of the railcars as well. The increase in cost is disappointing, though well in keeping with American tendencies towards 50% overruns. My suspicion is that cities are asking for more grade separations, improvements, or other traffic improvements in connection with the stations than was initially budgeted for.

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