Trains On The Florida East Coast One Step Closer
In accordance with Section 210 of the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008 (PRIIA), Amtrak has developed and commenced plans to improve the performance of five of its Eastern long-distance routes: the Silver Star, Silver Meteor and Palmetto (collectively the Silver Service), the Crescent, and the Lake Shore Limited. The study indicates that, not only should restoring rail service between Jacksonville and Miami be Amtrak's top prioity, but that the route would actually turn a profit.
The Florida East Coast Railway (FEC) connects Jacksonville and Miami via the population centers on the eastern coast of Florida. The FEC, which was historically the primary passenger rail route between Jacksonville and Miami, is shorter and faster than the current Amtrak route through Orlando on CSX, and serves a significant intermediate travel market along Florida’s rapidly growing east coast.
Amtrak evaluated several alternatives for extending or routing existing Silver Service trains over the Florida East Coast. Preliminary analyses suggest that the most promising alternative would be splitting the Silver Star at Jacksonville and operating a separate section of the train to Miami via the FEC to supplement the Silver Star’s current Jacksonville-Tampa-Miami service. Operating a section of the Silver Star over the FEC is projected to attract over 100,000 new Silver Service riders, and increase revenues by $7.9 million annually. Since projected revenues would slightly exceed the anticipated additional operating costs, the route’s financial performance would improve as well.