| ORLANDO, Fla.
ORLANDO, Fla. Dec 18 A Florida company cleared
a major hurdle on Tuesday to move ahead with a project to build
a new $1.5 billion passenger train service linking Orlando and
Miami that is being billed as the first privately run rail link
between two major U.S. cities.
The project, dubbed "All Aboard Florida" and slated to begin
service in late 2014 or early 2015, would operate passenger
trains on approximately 200 miles of existing track along
Florida's east coast owned by Florida East Coast Railways
(FECI), a Miami real estate and transportation company.
It also would include train service on an additional 40-mile
inland segment to be built from Cocoa Beach, Florida, to
FECI proposed the train service in March but the company
could not negotiate to operate on the inland segment without the
state of Florida first soliciting other proposals to lease the
No other bids were received so the state gave the company
the go-ahead during a teleconference on Tuesday.
The new service is designed for tourists and business
travelers and would link two of Florida's major urban centers.
The trains running between Orlando and Miami would make the
journey in 3 hours, 3 minutes, traveling at speeds of up to 110
mph, according to company officials.
Amtrak, the government-owned national rail corporation,
currently offers a twice-daily service between Miami and Orlando
taking 5 to 7 hours.
The trip on "All Aboard Florida" would include stops in
downtown Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Orlando
FECI officials have said studies show that about 50 million
people travel between Miami and Orlando every year, with 95
percent making the journey by car in 4 to 5 hours.
The project will include a set of diesel-powered trains with
a 400-seat capacity offering an hourly service with first-class
and business-class seating, gourmet dining and WiFi.