A Coral Gables development company expects to have a study completed next month that could determine whether it builds a privately funded $1 billion train linking Miami with Orlando.I'm somewhat surprised that this study is now, rather than before, but I believe I've remarked upon that in the past as well. I would be tremendously surprised if they did not find enough demand to build the line.
If the ridership study finds enough demand, Florida East Coast Industries could begin construction next year, Husein Cumber, executive vice president of Florida East Coast Railway, an affiliate of FECI, said Monday.
"Everything right now is trending in the right direction," he said.
Cumber spoke to a gathering of Central Florida government and real estate officials at the offices of MetroPlan, which sets transportation policy in Orange, Seminole and Osceola counties.
So far, Cumber said, four stops appear certain for the train that has been dubbed All Aboard Florida: Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Orlando. The exact locations remain uncertain, except for Miami, where FECI owns nine acres downtown.
Missing as a possible stop is Cocoa, where the proposed train would veer west for Orlando. Bob Kamm, director of the Space Coast Transportation Planning Organization in Viera, said Brevard County officials want to know if they will have any involvement with the system.
"All we would see is the negatives … if you are just blowing through and waving as you go by," Kamm said.
Cumber said the ridership study would determine if there is a Cocoa stop, but he added that the train's biggest appeal is that it would be faster to ride it to Miami or Orlando than drive a car. The projected travel time is three hours and two minutes, he said, compared with about four hours by auto.
More importantly, three hours and two minutes is the fastest time I've yet seen officially quoted for All Aboard Florida, and it indicates that the train will do most of its traveling at 90-110mph qualifying it as high speed rail by American definitions, poor as they are. Upgrading the grade crossings for that will take a fairly decent chunk of change however and will likely be where the FEC asks governments to step in (as has been noted: The $1 billion cost is only mostly privately funded, not entirely, leaving open the door for some government construction subsidies).