A transportation company plans to go ahead with a $1 billion project to build the first private unsubsidized passenger train service between Miami and Orlando, according to Reuters:
Florida East Coast Industries said its “All Aboard Florida” project is financially viable without any need for federal and state grants or subsidies.
“After completing our due diligence we have decided to go through with it,” said Husein Cumber, vice president of corporate development at Florida East Coast Railway, which operates the company’s existing freight line.
Construction would begin in early 2013, Cumber said, and when completed the new service would be the only privately run, non-subsidized passenger rail link between two major cities in the United States. A similar private scheme has been proposed in Texas to link Houston and Dallas.
Amtrak, the government-owned national rail corporation, currently offers a twice daily service between Miami and Orlando, taking five to seven hours.
The announcement comes after Florida Governor Rick Scott rejected federal funding in 2011 for a high-speed rail service linking Tampa, Orlando and Miami, saying the state could not afford it.
The new service is designed for tourists and business travelers and would link two of Florida’s major urban centers, Cumber told members of the Beacon Council, a public-private partnership to promote business development in Miami-Dade County.
The $1 billion cost includes a set of 10 diesel-powered trains with a 400-seat capacity offering an hourly service with First-class and Business-class seating, gourmet dining and Wi-Fi, as well as new tracks and stations in downtown Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and the Orlando airport.
The trains would make the journey in 3 hours 3 minutes traveling at speeds of up to 110 mph (177 kph) at a “cost competitive” price compared to the cheapest round-trip airfare of $140-160 or the roughly $120 cost of car travel, Cumber said.