The Train Has Arrived – and it’s bringing economic prosperity to Florida

Tim Suereth

Floridians have long been denied a passenger train service that serves travelers from all across Florida, but in 2016 a new set of highly efficient, comfortable and wi-fi equipped train cars will be rolling down the rails to re-open the Florida east coast railway to passenger trail travel and help re-establish Florida as America’s top travel destination.

The all new, All Aboard Florida passenger train service will soon be zipping passengers all across Florida, beginning with the Orlando/Miami routes, then Jacksonville, Tampa, and beyond…

Tim Suereth

Henry Flagler, the founding father of Florida, once had a vision to provide a statewide passenger railway system that would connect south, central and north Floridians for leisure, business and personal transportation. A freight line was added as a compliment to the original passenger train service, which eventually overtook the operations of the passenger service, at a time when gas was cheap, less cars were on the roads and air travel was also less complicated. Those days are long gone. Today, gas is expensive, raodway travel is congested and transportaiton by any means seams to be too complicated to want to cope with. With the ever increasing demand on Florida’s already strained transportation infrastructure, it is critical that alternatives to the states overused and underfunded automobile transportation network be developed to lessen the tax and personal burdens placed on Florida travelers.

Flagler’s vision has now been realized. The company he founded to expand freight and passenger rail service in Florida, Florida East Coast Industries, is investing over $2 billion of their own money to improve the aging railroad track infrastructure, build new state of the art train cars, improve safety at existing railroad crossings and construct multi-use residential and retail communities around each newly built train station in Miami, Ft. Lauderdale and Palm Beach counties. Florida East Coast Industries will construct, finance and operate the all-new, All Aboard Florida passenger railway without any government give-a-ways or subsidies. It’s a refreshing indication of the dedication the company has to producing a high quality product, that not only adds transportation options to the state but also adds billions in tax revenues, thousands of new jobs and millions of square feet of residential and commercial real estate and business venues that will drive more tourists through each community along the train track.

Tim Suereth

All Aboard Florida is the first privately owned, funded and operated passenger train service in America. The historic Florida company that Flagler founded is planning to offer a quick and comfortable high-quality and high-speed travel experience that will carry passengers to/from Miami/Orlando faster than any other means of ground based transportation. Total travel time will be under 3 hours.

Florida East Coast Industries is currently converting their existing freight lines into passenger rail lines to stitch together a 235 mile continuous train route from Miami, through Ft. Lauderdale and Palm Beach with a final destination in Orlando, with hourly round-trip tickets available at each location to shuttle thousands of daily passengers from central and south Florida, and thereby eliminating an estimated 3 million cars from the roadway, each year.

The local communities of Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Martin, Indian River, St. Lucie, Brevard and Orange county, that are situated along the train routes, are expected to benefit by more than $2 billion in positive economic impact during the construction phase of the railroad project. In fact, an economic impact study was recently conducted to weigh the overall benefits of the trail project to Florida and the local communities along the tracks. Former U.S. Undersecretary of Commerce and Chief Economist at the Washington Economics Group, Dr. J. Antonio Villamil concluded that Florida will see a total economic impact of over $6 billion over the next 8 years, through the construction and operation of the newly established All Aboard Florida passenger train service.

Dr Villamil stated in the report, “The All Aboard Florida passenger rail system is of significant importance to the State of Florida’s economic development and to all of the regions serviced by the multimodal mass transportation of All Aboard Florida operations. The benefits accrued to the State and to the counties serviced along the corridor go beyond the quantifications of economic impact by encouraging further business development and providing support to key Florida industries such as travel and hospitality, while also improving the mobility of the labor force.”

Tim Suereth

The passenger train study concluded that the state of Florida would receive a total positive economic impact of $6.4 billion from the new train service, through 2021, comprised of $3.4 billion from Rail-Line Construction, $887 million from Rail-Line Operations, $1.8 billion from train station development, and $284 million from train station commercial operations.

All Aboard Florida unveiled their plans for the new Miami train station last week among a group of exuberant city officials and proud company executives of Henry Flagler’s famed railroad company.

The Miami plan calls for the development of two adjacent plots of land near the metro-rail station in downtown Miami. The Miami substation will consist of over 3 million square feet of commercial and residential real estate which will include restaurants, retail shopping, office and a residential community.

Roger Duffy, a lead designer on development of the Miami train station stated, “the station will be 1,000 feet long with architecture that will appear to shimmer and lean towards the sun.” Duffy’s company will also be designing the Ft. Lauderdale and Palm Beach train stations.

The economic impact study of the passenger train service also concluded that the Miami station alone would generate a total economic impact to Miami of more than $1.3 billion by 2021.

The Chief Marketing Officer for All Aboard Florida, Julie Edwards, announced the creation of an estimated 1,897 new jobs during the initial construction phase of the new train station, and then the company would add another 408 full time employees once the trains begin full-time operations in 2016.

The total project is expected to contribute over $2.4 billion in income to Florida workers, thousands of new jobs and more than $600 million in tax revenues for local and state governments.

As Dr. Villamil from the Washington Economics Group explains, “The investments made by All Aboard Florida, a privately owned and operated company, will deliver significant economic benefits to the State in the form of increased jobs, labor income, and Federal, State and Local tax revenues. These impacts will be realized in all of the counties along the corridor through the construction spending and continued operational maintenance activities that will occur in the communities.”

Florida East Coast Industries, and its affiliate company All Aboard Florida are leading Florida into the future of high-speed train travel through their self-funded, self perpetuated ambition to see all Floridians served by inexpensive, comfortable and convenient travel options – which in 2016 will include passenger rail service between Orlando and south Florida.