Florida’s High Speed Rail Project that had run into rough weather since it was put on hold by Governor Rick Scott, has got a fresh lease of life. Just recently the Governor approved the funding grant to move ahead with Sunrail – a commuter rail project tying four counties together in Florida. Though TriRail in Miami is Florida’s first commuter rail, experts believe that the success of Sunrail will determine the future of rail within the State of Florida. “Many counties and cities of Florida are following the ‘wait-and-watch’ policy on Sunrail before taking a final decision on pushing commuter or light rail in their own areas,” Danna Olivo of Transit Systems Design Group informed TrafficInfraTech. SunRail management is expected to issue a separate proposal soon to solicit a firm to create awareness about the benefits of taking to SunRail and also to attract ridership.
The firm is also expected to look at subsidiary revenue streams to ensure SunRail’s success. In the initial meetings Sunrail management has had with government officials, discussions have been held on ways “the state can tie together all public/private transportation venues, highway, rail, air and water into one unique technology platform shared across the entire state of Florida.”
Greater Orlando’s SunRail project of Florida that was earlier called Central Florida Commuter Rail, is a planned commuter rail system that will pass through Downtown Orlando and link Pincina with DeLand. On completion, this train system will have 17 stations along the CSX Transportation “A” Line. The $1.28 billion project has been in the pipeline since a decade and there had been a question mark on its fate owing to Scott’s aversion to the project. The major bone of contention in allowing the project to go ahead was the costs involved. The system is being financed by the counties, the state and central government. Governor Scott was not prepared to pay. Early July, Transportation Secretary of Florida, Ananth Prasad broke the news about the Governor’s green signal to the project. He said that road projects could be jeopardised if local governments couldn’t meet SunRail’s estimated costs. Prasad is reported to have said, “If we cannot make SunRail successful, probably there will be no more trains in the state of Florida. No more commuter trains. We have to make this train successful.” Governor Scott too admitted at a press conference that his attorneys had told him he couldn’t stop SunRail the way he had earlier stopped high-speed rail. “They said there was significant risk I would lose (a potential lawsuit),” Scott said. But even while issuing a go-ahead now, Scott has issued a rider that the state will not help cover operational costs after the first seven years.
The US Congress has already shown its support to the planned 61 mile long project that will run from Volusia County through Orlando and Southern Orange County. It is being said to be the only real cost-effective, near term solution for Florida’s highway congestion. Orlando based Transit Systems Design Group has developed a technology platform that is being introduced in Brazil and Florida soon to provide a platform for bringing all resources together into one environment for the end user to have easy access.
It is expected that the rail service from DeBary to Orlando will be ready by 2014. The project is expected to be completed by 2015.