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Florida Trains and High Speed Rail
Brightline Continues Work on Miami to Orlando Fast Train Project
The Brightline railroad company currently operates trains from West Palm Beach to Miami, Florida. In addition it is in the process of building a rail line from West Palm Beach to Orlando that is expected to be completed in 2022. When completed this will allow high speed travel from Miami to Orlando by rail. Based on current estimates it will take about three hours of travel time by rail, but as new stations are being added along the way, this time will increase. Additionally, speed predictions have yet to be tested in real time with trains travelling through the heavily populated east coast corridor of Florida.
Currently, travel from Miami to Orlando is limited to airlines, buses, and cars. Travel by car or express bus takes about four hours using the Florida Turnpike. Air travel time is about 45 minutes in the air but does not include early arrival for check in.
The cheapest method of transportation from Miami to Orlando is by bus which is around $39.00 a person. Next cheapest is travel by personal car, with gas and tolls. Next would be a rental car that would include rental fee, gas, and tolls. Air fare can run anywhere from $89 per person to $300 per person.
Early indications are that Brightline plans to charge $95 per person for a one way trip from Miami to Orlando. Thus, a family of four would spend $400 with arrival at a station at the Orlando International Airport. Local transportation would be additional cost.
It remains to be seen whether the billions invested in tracks and stations will ever be recovered even without consideration of the competition the railroad will be facing in the next ten years.
Longer term plans call for a link from the Orlando airport to somewhere in Tampa. Along the way their would be a stop at Disney Springs, right outside of Disney World. This will require agreements with the State of Florida for using right of way along the I-4 corridor. It will also depend on Brightline being able to raise the money needed. That might not be easy without a significant improvement in its present financial performance.
Money Given Back
In the early days of former Governor Scott's administration, the US Government had offered $10 billion to the State of Florida to fund a mono rail from Tampa to Orlando. For some unknown reason, the money was turned down by Scott and was reallocated to the State of New York. Had that money been spent, Florida today would have a mono rail along that same corridor. It would have been finished about eight years ago. Now the traffic on I-4 between Orlando and Tampa is untenable despite past widening efforts. Any new railroad will be years away and depend on private funding which may not available.
With the imminent advent of electric cars, busses, and trucks we can look forward to a cleaner environment. It is apparent that in the next ten years there will not only be electric vehicles dominating the roads, but self driving vehicles as well. This will increase automotive travel safety, reduce noise and air pollution, as well as negating the advantage of rail travel.