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Miami To Orlando Rail May Mark Promising Return of Private US Passenger Rail
Cynthia Shahan | Clean Technica

Massive MiamiCentral train station would be a new urban hub downtown. Credit: Miami Herald

On September 18, 2014, All Aboard Florida announced news about the plans and structure of an extensive new downtown train-station complex. Supporters of this new transit community say this is a substantial step in Miami’s quest to arrive as one the world’s great urban centers.


The start of service set for 2016 will find All Aboard Florida running 32 rail departures a day between Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, and Orlando. It sounds encouraging. “Gov. Scott said he believes the Legislature will approve the project because it will create jobs and increase tourism,” Bay News 9 reports. “Officials said the current project doesn’t have much in common with the big-ticket rail project that was shot down in 2011.”


MiamiCentral, the name chosen for the complex by All Aboard Florida, is ambitious. What the Miami Herald call’s an “all-at-once marriage of heavy infrastructure with urban revitalization that would turn a drab stretch of downtown into a bustling fulcrum of transportation and human activity — including a food market, shops, restaurants, offices and two residential towers with that increasingly rare commodity, 800 rental apartments affordable to people who work in the neighborhood.”


This is a terrifically planned change for Miami. The Miami Herald continues:


“We’re going to dramatically change what downtown Miami looks like 24 to 36 months from now, and in an unprecedented way,” said All Aboard president Michael Reininger.


“It’s what you’d expect to see in a vibrant downtown,” Reininger said. “Because of where it is, it needs to be a beautiful work of civic infrastructure. It’s going to be an iconic, photogenic place.”


City Lab continues with more specifics: “With a maximum speed of 125 miles per hour, the trains will complete the 240-mile journey in less than three hours. In South Florida, around the three initial stations, the company will develop 4.2 million square feet of real estate. In Orlando, the terminus will be located at the airport and connect to a new commuter rail line at a sparkling, state-funded $215 million transportation hub.”


There is a grande theme to this with a deep historical context. It is over 30 years since a private intercity passenger rail line has operated in the United States. There is an absence of fresh services for intercity rail further back than 30 years. City Labcontinues: “You’d have to go back over 100 years to find a significant investment in private intercity rail in the US,” says David Levinson, a transportation analyst at the University of Minnesota.