High Speed Rail looks like a go from Miami to Orlando

It looks like high speed rail is going to become reality even without Rick Scotts approval (and for the fact that he turned down government money to help). There is a company vying to build Florida’s  first privately owned intercity passenger rail line struck a  critical deal on Thursday, leasing the final piece of the  230-mile (370-km) route between Orlando and Miami and clearing  the way for work to begin by the end of this year.

All Aboard Florida said construction on the $1.5 billion  project could last about 18 months and said the rail line is  slated to open up sometime in 2015.

With Thursday’s agreement , the company secured the right of way  to utilize a strip of land alongside State Road 528 linking  Orlando and Cocoa Beach.

“All Aboard Florida has now secured the critical right of  way needed for the project,” the company stated.

The company also finalized an agreement with Orlando  International Airport on Wednesday giving it the right to run  the trains onto airport property that will allow passengers to  make direct connections to flights.

“Florida deserves and visitors want transportation options that are  flexibile,” said Frank Kruppenbacher, chair of the Greater  Orlando Aviation Authority in a press release.

These trains will be running between Orlando and Miami would make it  in about three hours, traveling at speeds of up to 110  mph. No word yet on the routes and fees.

The new service is designed for tourists and business  travelers and would link two of Florida’s major urban centers.

The trip on the line would include stops in downtown Miami,  Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Orlando International  Airport. The service will utilize 200 miles (322 km) of existing  Florida East Coast Railway lines between Miami and Cocoa.  Thirty-five miles of new infrastructure will connect the  existing line to the airport.

Florida East Coast Industries, a subsidiary of New York  City-based Fortress Investment Group and owner of All  Aboard Florida and Florida East Coast Railway,  proposed the train service last year, pending negotiations to  secure the final link to Orlando.

The Orlando airport will seek a $200 million grant from the  state to pay for a station near the main terminal, according to  the Orlando Sentinel newspaper.

All Aboard Florida also wants to acquire land in downtown  Miami to build a train station and transportation hub, linking  with the local light rail and bus services.

Amtrak, the government-owned national rail corporation,  currently offers a twice-daily service between Miami and Orlando  taking five to seven hours.

In 2011, Florida Governor Rick Scott rejected a $2.4 billion  grant from the federal government to build a high-speed rail  line connecting Orlando, in central Florida, with Tampa on the  state’s west coast.

Florida East Coast Industries officials have said studies  show that about 50 million people travel between Miami and  Orlando every year, with 95 percent making the journey by car in  four to five hours.

The project will include a set of diesel-powered trains with  a 400-seat capacity offering an hourly service with first-class  and business-class seating, gourmet dining and WiFi.

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