Will Virgin Trains Allow Tri-Rail On Its Tracks For Coastal Link Service? The Company Won’t Answer, But Is Moving To Provide Its Own Service

Tri-Rail has been planning a Coastal Link train line to run through the most densely populated parts of the Miami area, but it may not be granted access to the Virgin Trains/Brightline tracks needed to begin service, according to the Herald.

Virgin Trains is now in negotiations for government funding to build new stations in Aventura, Boca Raton, and PortMiami, among other places. Those were all potential station locations for Coastal Link.

A Virgin spokesperson says that any potential negotiations to allow Tri-Rail to use the new Aventura station would take place in a “separate conversation.”

Tri-Rail Coastal Link was planned to run through 27 downtown areas, and would have attracted far more passengers than the current 4.3 million annual passengers who use Tri-Rail service. Tri-Rail’s existing line now passes through more sparsely populated western areas of Dade, Broward and Palm Beach, leading to much lower demand.

Recent letters from Tri-Rail’s executive director to both Miami-Dade and Boca Raton requesting access to the new Virgin stations have been ignored , and FDOT stopped funding Coastal Link studies in 2017 after Virgin’s parent company said they weren’t interested in providing access to the rail line.

Tri-Rail’s service would likely have provided more stops and offer far lower ticket prices subsidized by government funding. Virgin’s advantage is the privately run company will likely offer faster service and a better passenger experience.

Should Coastal Link ever move forward, it would cost over $800 million in public money, according to an article last month in Law.com.

Tri-Rail still may get a stop in downtown Miami (at least for its current westerly route) – but even that station is dependent Virgin, which is late on delivering it.

Local governments gave around $70 million in taxpayer money in 2016 to Virgin’s parent company for space at MiamiCentral for a station, but Virgin still hasn’t completed the safety system known as Positive Train Control needed to begin service. Tri-Rail now says it won’t happen until next year, with the 2020 start date still “a moving target.”

 

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marc

It’s simple, No Tri Rail access=No taxpayer money.

Anonymous

This is a train service unaffordable to many daily commuters. Its billionaire owner can afford to pay for its own station unless they get a rock solid contract allowing Tri-Rail rail access.

Anonymous

They want taxpayers money to exclusively serve Aventura, one of the wealthiest areas in Miami Dade.

Anonymous

This area has super high density. The money on a per capital basis is quite low. To only look at it from a wealth perspective is wrong. We would never have rail in downtown or the financial districts using that mentality.

RustyTRUMPet

What does the wealth of a specific area have to do with density and need for alternative transportation? You are polarizing something that need not be. No Tri-Rail Access, No Taxes.

dan

Agreed. I’m glad they built this line but the government should have taken care of this before developers took advantage of public transportation.

William

If I owned private property and wanted to offer a service to make money, why would I allow another client to use it? This is not corruption. This is just a valuable asset that is being leveraged by smart business folks. As long as the service is being provided, I’m sure the government entities can subsidize the tickets at much less risk to public dollars without the huge schedule issues they always seem to endure.

This is probably a good thing even though the liberal psychobabble train is on this news outlet and will likely slam anything for any reason.

Anonymous

BullS**T…they got tax payer money. Stop being a corporate groupy. Slave!

Anonymous

obviously not, it is a private company and they will decide who to lend the railroad; also seems like nobody wants to support and help Tri-Rail; and it’s amazing how other third world countries have better transport systems than we do, is a real shame…

Anonymous

Third world countries generally have far lower capital costs and generally do not worry about things such are right-of-way considerations.

Anonymous

FDOT stopped funding Coastal Link studies in 2017 after Virgin’s parent company said they weren’t interested in providing access to the rail line. !!!!!!!???????

Tri-Rail’s service would likely have provided more stops and offer far lower ticket prices subsidized by government funding. Local governments gave around $70 million in taxpayer money in 2016 to Virgin’s parent company for space at MiamiCentral for a station, but Virgin still hasn’t completed the safety system known as Positive Train Control needed to begin service. Tri-Rail now says it won’t happen until next year, with the 2020 start date still “a moving target.” ***** so… they’re happy to take taxpayer money only to then screw the riding public multiple ways to ensure maximum PROFIT for themselves ???!!!!!!

Anonymous

Welcome to America in 2019…pure corrupt oligarchy

Anonymous

It’s been the same in America for ten years. It’s been the same in Miami for fifty.

Anonymous

>FDOT stopped funding Coastal Link studies in 2017 after Virgin’s parent company said they weren’t interested

Yes, 100% true. You can read that yourself on FDOT’s webpage. I’ll find the link in my history file and post it.

Anonymous
Anonymous

why… I just saw all I needed to see and I quoted from the article above ?!

Just a City Dude

Virgin/Brightline has Positive Train Control (PTC) — however, it is not the same technology adopted by TriRail. Therefore, two different types of PTC are required. And TriRail must adapt to several types… the locomotives that will transit the new corridor to the FECR/AAF/Brightline/Virgin tracks into Miami Central must comply to what I read 3-types. Before Mr. Branson became involved, Brightline proposed to build-out the Coastal-Link. And, in true Miami & SoFL fashion drug their feet, internally argued a lot, never made a commitment to AAF. Then Virgin stepped-up investing their money… and a new “Make More Money Now” mantra that wasn’t present in the previous business model. Therefore, an about-face change. You can’t blame Virgin Trains, USA as the only boogie man here. This mess SFTRA, MTA, and the TPO’s created themselves! VTUSA want’s to move forward. And working “with” MTA & SFTRA would only slow things down. The biggest problem is that the Miami Central proposed price to Aventura is unjustifiably high… stupidly high! Virgin will probably never create stations for Wynwood, Kennedy Causeway, NE123rd, NE163rd or anywhere in the middle! It’ll never pay for itself>>EVER! And, due to the Banana Republic of Miami Dade’s bureaucracy — we might… Read more »

Anonymous

Hold their feet to the fire and get access.

Anonymous

If our leaders had any vision or spine they would tell Virgin to pound sand until Tri Rail is granted access.

Anonymous

Corruption to the core

Anonymous

All these complaints… but the truth is none of us ever get involved enough to either vote our “leaders” out or file class action lawsuits directed at the agency’s or companies responsible for all these delays and decisions that never help the average citizen . It’s hard because we all work and money is tight… but somehow when I was younger I had youthful enthusiasm that the right things would get done…it’s clear that the common man or woman is not a consideration that’s days

Anonymous

Don’t say “none”. There are probably more than just me who get involved in community affairs in an impactful way.

Anonymous

Welcome to the New America.
It’s sad.

Anonymous

Virgin is dragging their feet until they get close to opening the Orlando segment. They want all that revenue from west palm beach to downtown miami all for themselves until then.

Anonymous

They were dragging their feet until they got the West palm and Fort Lauderdale stations open, then it was the Miami station, now it’s orlando, then it will be Aventura and Boca have and always will be dragging their feet when it comes to the public’s interest. A true private company with a screw you public mentality.

Anonymous

How are they screwing you over again? They are providing a service (Brightline) that did not exist before.

Anonymous

Easy solution;
1-Compete with Virgin Rail by rezoning ALL the areas around the TriRail stations along the I-95 Corridor to allow high-density development and increase the number of potential tri-rail passengers, this will help the Metrorail profitability and reduce traffic.
2- Screw Virgin Trains and invest in a light-rail train in the NE corridor.
(combining Biscayne Blvd and The NE 2nd Ave Corridor)
3- F.ck Virgin trains by Rezoning the entire NW 7 Ave Corridor, negotiate with developers the funds to build on a second light-rail train along the corridor.

Anonymous

Nice try but you proposed how many new trains? Deny Virgin ANY TAX DOLLARS unless Tri-Rail is allowed to use the station and speed up the TR hookup to Downtown Miami.

Anonymous

And Gimenez wants to give them another 70 million for the Aventura station. Forget coastal link. Just extend Metrorail up N. Miami avenue at this point. Heck, I would even take a bus lane.

Anonymous

Ed: Can you please post the letters (or links) from Tri-Rail execs?

Anonymous

Governments should require linking station subsidies with coastal link issue. If Virgin has a vision for commuter service great – tell us what it is.
If the new stations will only be part of the existing high speed service, maybe they don’t deserve taxpayer funding.

Boing Boing

Virgin can not possibly provide comparatively slow commuter service and operate high-speed, long-distance trains along a single pair of tracks. South Florida’s pols will finally acknowledge this fact. They will also “realize” that three stops servicing well-heeled cruise passengers, mall shoppers, and Palm Beach bum wannabes falls far short of the region’s commuter needs. A second track alignment will be required. If you’d like to know who will pay for Virgin’s second pair of tracks — and for the fleet that will glide along their rails, just look in the mirror. Talk about getting railroaded!

Just a City Dude

Truer than you know! (you’re not mentioning the FECR’s several times a day mile-long freight trains!)

Anonymous

When Tri-Rail begins service to Miami Central it also needs a stop in Wynwood. That’s where everyone is going.

Anonymous

It is ridiculous that tri rail wasnt on the FEC ROW to begin with

Anonymous

That’s the problem with government run entities compared to private companies- it takes forever for the government to arrive at any decision.

Del Boca Vista

The Virgin train station should not happen in Boca. The Tri-Rail functions perfectly in Boca. 20 minutes your are in WPB, 20 minutes south and you are in downtown lauderdale, 45 minutes and you are in Miami. Why slow the Virgin train down from the major commerce points of Orlando, WPB, Aventura, Downtown Miami, and Port of Miami?

Anonymous

I am not a fan of the Boca station (or any other station) that slows down the express-serivce oriented Brightline.

Now, if they provide local and express service on the tracks, then I am all for it. It just needs to happen already.

Anonymous

This is why south Florida needs a true regional transportation authority to oversee all public mass transportation. The 3 county system doesn’t work, tri-rail sucks and has no initiative, and the mpo’s are a joke. South Florida needs a powerful RTA or else 10 years from now while we are still fighting over coastal link some new private company will be building the sawgrass link

Anonymous

Honestly it should be a combined Miami Dade and Broward entity. Palm Beach is way too sleepy.

Anonymous

Virgin should be required to have a $2 fare to Aventura and charge whatever the others going to Disney.

Anonymous

Virgin trains is simply bankrupt. They have no money and massive debts. They will die soon

Anonymous

Truth, bad concept. No real demand for what they are trying to do

Anonymous

Are you kidding me, they have a booming business milking the taxpayers of Miami-Dade every year.

Anonymous

obviously not, it is a private company and they will decide who to lend the railroad; also seems like nobody wants to support and help Tri-Rail; and it’s amazing how other third world countries have better transport systems than we do, is a real shame…

Anonymous

Private entities will ALWAYS be better than government run ones. This is how Japan does it and so should we. Tri rail could completely dissolve for all I care.

Anonymous

They should expand the Metromover to the Keys instead.

Anonymous

Metromover to Cuba

Anonymous

And shore power it!

CryMeaRiver

I remember the days where we could see the Bahamas from the top of Panorama Tower. Now, we can’t even get to the Keys by MetroMover. #FirstWorldProblems