Brightline Now Bidding To Connect Miami & Tampa With New Rail Line

Miami’s rail connection could be extended further to Tampa.

Brightline has submitted a bid to build a high-speed rail line from Orlando to Tampa along Interstate 4, Governor Rick Scott announced Friday.

The bid was submitted to the Florida Department of Transportation and the Central Florida Expressway Authority, with a proposal to lease property owned by the two agencies.

In response, FDOT and the CFX have announced a Request for Proposals, with bids due 120 days after release

“This is an exciting opportunity for Orlando, Tampa and our entire state,” Governor Rick Scott said. “Through private investment, we ensure that this major project has zero financial risk to Florida taxpayers.”

The connection from Miami to Orlando is expected to be complete in 2021.

 

(photo: phillip pessar)

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Anonymous
3 years ago

Yes please!!!

Jesus
3 years ago

If only Governor Scott had gotten the money from Obama to build that connection, he could have given it to Brightline. I know it was years ago but since there is always pointless planning taking place, then they still would have had the money. Either way, great news. I hope they also make a connection to Tally, Jacksonville, and Gainesville.

Anonymous
3 years ago

And maybe another connection all the way up to Pensacola.

William
3 years ago

Are you kidding? Are you listening to the boondoggle of that money in California? Private investment is the only way to get this done. Brightlines success so far is amazing. GO BRIGHTLINE!

Anonymous
3 years ago

Esp when done with tax exempted bonds, so huge federal subsidy for them.

suomynona
3 years ago

A connection to Gainesville might be difficult. I would imagine Brightline would use it’s existing FEC tracks to go from Orlando to Jacksonville, which obviously completely bypasses Gainesville.

And CSX doesn’t go directly through Gainesville either, although there is a connection via an out-of-the-way spur (~90 miles out of the way, round trip). I suppose they could always use Waldo or Hawthorne as the de facto “Gainesville Station”, but I’m not sure what train company is going to be interested in doing real estate development there. And laying new tracks just to make a more direct connection with Gainesville sounds cost prohibitive. I just see Gainesville being an unfortunate loser in Brightline expansion.

There’s already a CSX line that runs from FEC’s terminus near downtown Jacksonville, through downtown Tallahassee and into downtown Pensacola. So that would help keeps costs down even if they have to double-track some portions.

And I’d like to eventually see a line from Tampa down to Fort Myers/Naples, too. But I don’t expect any of this to happen over night.

Tallaman
3 years ago

Actually CSX wants to sell the line from Jax to Pensacola, so maybe that’s an opportunity for Brightline. Not a lot of residents there compared to SE FL or the I4 corridor.

suomynona
3 years ago

Yep, CSX has announced they’d like to sell the line. My first thought was about FEC potentially purchasing it for future Brightline expansion. I have no information on how the sale of that line is going.

I assume any expansion into northern Florida would include less frequent trains (only a few trains per week as opposed to ~20 per day?), and be particularly tailored to when the Legislature is in session, home football weekends, and the college calendar (move-in, move-out, graduation, homecoming, etc).

It’s also why I think both the Tallahassee and Pensacola train stations being in their downtown areas presents a good opportunity for real estate development, too.

suomynona
3 years ago

But yes, the population is lower in north Florida and Brightline would have to alter their business model accordingly.

Anonymous
3 years ago

I found a system map for CSX, and they actually have tracks that stop a block behind Northside Shopping Center

suomynona
3 years ago

Right.

I said CSX doesn’t have a “direct” line into Gainesville. It requires a 45-mile “spur” from Starke that loops back into Gainesville. From the existing Waldo station, it requires an additional 55 miles of travel. And from a (doesn’t actually exist) Hawthorne station, it’s an extra 70 miles.

Then you have to double all of those distances to account for the trip back towards – presumably – Tampa. That seems like an unnecessarily excessive distance for a destination that will likely see light ridership. I’d go so far as to call it a gross waste of resources.

I say it would be a Tampa-Gainesville route because currently there is no line going north from Orlando directly to Gainesville. It currently requires traveling southwest from Orlando to Lakeland before actually traveling north towards Gainesville (and its 45-70 miles of excess tracks). A 2-hour, 120-mile drive from Orlando International Airport to Northside Shopping Center in Gainesville turns into a 250-mile, who-knows-how-long train ride. This out-of-the-way path also would hold true for anyone traveling on Brightline to Gainesville from south Florida. But it wouldn’t have much impact on anyone traveling from Tampa to Gainesville.

It matters that Gainesville is isolated on this CSX spur. Future Orlando/south Florida to Jacksonville travel is almost assuredly going to be on FEC’s tracks. They’ve already publicly said they want to do that. And if FEC wins the rights to build the Orlando to Tampa line like they’ve already put in a bid for, all Tampa riders would use those same FEC lines, bypassing Gainesville.

So it would be up to CSX to implement its own Brightline. They certainly could. They have a more direct line from south Florida to Tampa than FEC does (bypassing Orlando). That could then extend that north from Tampa/Lakeland to Ocala/Gainesville and then Jacksonville. But I don’t know if CSX has interest in that. Maybe we will find out when we see who bids on the Tampa-Orlando line. And I also don’t know if the there are enough riders to support dueling “high speed rail” systems in the State. But I’d certainly be in favor of finding out if they wish to invest their private dollars.

Anonymous
3 years ago

Um, after Obama’s legacy of “shovel-ready projects,” no thanks… Frankly, Scott killing the original HSR proposal was good because its creative destruction of FECI raising their hand and also utilizing existing infrastructure closer to density, instead of another railroad along I-95 creating a bigger construction nightmare. Besides, I bet construction wouldn’t have even started. Look at California’s HSR, and that was in planning since the 1970s!

Anonymous
3 years ago

I agree the HSR proposed would of have been another trirail not connecting urban cores.

Anonymous
3 years ago

California’s plan was approved for implementation by the voters just a few years ago, not 40+ years ago as your comment suggests. Additonally, their plan is for true HSR (220 mph) which requires complete separation of tracks from at grade crossings. The first phases of the project are under construction, so im not sure why you’re whining so much about it (unless you were one of the nimbys opposing the project). Brightline’s service, at least right now, does not offer any meaningful benefits to prospective riders from a cost (tix wont be cheap), time (no faster than a car) or covenience (Orlando’s station is at the airport) standpoint. If it had one of those boxes checked, id say that it would have a lot of potential. FECI is just using Brightline is an excuse to secure preferential loans from the feds to bolster its real estate portfolio.

Tallaman
3 years ago

Brightline is private (no taxpayer money), it is an express service that does not stop in every little town, it connects to many local mass transit systems, and 79 to 125 mph is faster than cars on interstates. I’d say those are meaningful benefits.

Anonymous
3 years ago

As much as I like the Brightline, just wait until the midterm elections are finished and you will see the how it Florida Taxpayers will have to bail it out.

suomynona
3 years ago

It doesn’t average anywhere near 79 mph in south Florida. Those speeds are only once it is north of the south Florida metro area, and even then, those higher speeds are only on the portion of track from Cocoa to Orlando where it doesn’t pass through a single small town.

Just to be completely transparent.

Anonymous
3 years ago

California’s HSR was planned for decades. The vote wasn’t until recently.

Funny, you call me a NIMBY, but promote a conspiracy theory like people in Martin County claiming Brightline was a ruse to build a second track for freight.

Tallaman
3 years ago

That money was for a different type of rail to be built and operated by the government. It would have costed taxpayers millions to build and operate. Brightline is entirely private and much better for taxpayers.

MiamiArchi
3 years ago

I just did the train this weekend from Miami up to Ft. Lauderdale and back. It was truly amazing. Also I was pleasantly surprised to see that it was packed full of people, both trains were almost 100% full.
Can’t wait for the connection to Orlando and now Tampa.

Tallaman
3 years ago

and eventually Jacksonville.

Anonymous
3 years ago

We experienced a wonderful trip to the Norton Museum of Art + lunch in WPB. A great way to expend a very relaxing Sunday afternoon left Miami at 11:00 AM were back home at 6:30.

Angelica
3 years ago

Finally, a safe, efficient, environmentally safe option to being stuck in your car. Brightline was able to accomplish what the state could not.

Anonymous
3 years ago

Florida is so behind the rest of the US and the world on transportation, it’s a joke

Anonymous
3 years ago

If it’s a joke to you, then you haven’t been to that many parts of the U.S. or the world.

Anonymous
3 years ago

Best news of the day! I-4 is worse that I-95

Anonymous
3 years ago

I-4 is worse than I-95?.. um, no.

Anonymous
3 years ago

I-4 is the most dangerous interstate in America. Google it.

Anonymous
3 years ago

You’re trying to compare a highway that’s 132 miles long (I-4) against a highway that’s 1926 miles long (1-95).

Anonymous
3 years ago

Why would you consider the entire length of I-95 when the conversation here is clearly about local Florida traffic?

Anonymous
3 years ago

I didn’t do that. The poster wrote “I-4 is worse that I-95.”

Now, does that quote mention in what category it’s referring to?

Anonymous
3 years ago

yes it is! I-4 is a nightmare! connect Miami to Orlando first, more use than Tampa

suomynona
3 years ago

Uh, Orlando to Tampa is “phase 3”, essentially. But there’s no reason it can’t be under construction while phase 2 from south Florida to Orlando is being finished. Nobody was arguing to bypass WPB to ORL with TPA to ORL.

Anonymous
3 years ago

No way – not as bad as I 95 in tri-county South Florida

suomynona
3 years ago

I-4 has been notoriously bad for decades. I-95 in south Florida also sucks.

Arguing over who has worse traffic just means you both have crappy traffic. Nobody is a winner in that discussion.

SRS
3 years ago

It is a no brainer!!! Do it!!

Anonymous
3 years ago

Governor Rick Scott has been getting kickbacks from Brightline since he rejected Obama’s funding and pushed them through the courts and onto south Florida residents. Pretty obvious that they will receive the winning bid since the RFP was released around their request and they have the Governors backing.

Anonymous
3 years ago

What kick backs ? what proof do you have if that ?

Tallaman
3 years ago

Alarmist liberals making stuff up…

Anonymous
3 years ago

And you really think that calling someone a Liberal is offensive?

Anonymous
3 years ago

Libtard, go move to Cuba or Venezuela.

Anonymous
3 years ago

Shrinking FL will benefit everyone!!

Anonymous
3 years ago

Guessing miami key west will never come back eh? Think that may have some ppl even if it only ran Friday to Monday.

Anonymous
3 years ago

Great service and amazing stations. I will take this train Anytime and everywhere it goes! Bye bye car!

Anonymous
2 years ago

Thank you brightline, florida really need you!! Just keep going up north

Anonymous
3 years ago

A stop at OCCC would be ideal. $1 says they’re already eyeing property somewhere in that area.

suomynona
3 years ago

I hope not. They already have a built station for Brightline at the airport just waiting for tracks to be laid. Orlando should expand its current rail system if they want it to hit up the amusement parks/I-4/OCCC corridor. It’s not like Brightline will directly drop people off in Miami Beach, American Dream Mall, Wynwood, etc.

Brightline is INTER-city transit, not INTRA-city.

suomynona
3 years ago

And make Disney and Universal pay for their own “Sun Rail” stations if the city/county/state/whomever is going to pay for the lines.

RustyTRUMPet
3 years ago

I watch the MIA to FLL train every morning.. I have counted 0 people on the train at least 3 times.

Anonymous
3 years ago

lol Do you have good eyesight ? Even the 7:30pm train I could see plenty of passengers on it.

Anonymous
3 years ago

This only works for people who can walk from the train to their office or their apartment. Otherwise you are stuck takin uber? how to move around? It is a good idea just very green.. lots of work to be done.

Anonymous
3 years ago

they’re next to major bus stops and have partner with lyft.

Anonymous
3 years ago

what does “partnerning” with lyft really mean? that you get a free ride with your train fare once you get off the train? If its not, whats the point of it?

Anonymous
3 years ago

Me too. I am often at the crossings. These trains are empty nearly all the time.

A. Nonymous
3 years ago

It can take time to build ridership. New York built their Airtrain to JFK, and it was sparsely used at first. Last time I took it it was full.

Anonymous
3 years ago

how is airtrain (which is. glorified people mover) remotely comparable to brightline?