Your Guru had the privilege of attending a community meeting and presentation for the new rail service called All Aboard Florida that will offer service between Miami and Orlando. Differing from our current Tri-Rail service, All Aboard Florida is envisioned as a high speed rail corridor whisking passengers in a premium level of comfort from Miami, to Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, and onward to Orlando.
The meeting was quite interesting as local residents of Fort Lauderdale assumed that they would be able to offer some sort of community input, and fully expected that this development would follow normal protocol for quasi-government construction. However in an interesting twist, All Aboard Florida is a completely privately funded venture. The company is a distant descendant of the original Henry Flagler Railway, now known as the Florida East Coast Railway. The new rail line will follow the existing railway that runs through the heart of Miami, the eastern cities, downtown Fort Lauderdale, downtown Oakland Park, and feature walkable rail stations in the communities where stops are planned.
Funding was completed in January of 2013, and construction began immediately. Rail service between Miami and West Palm Beach is scheduled to begin in late 2016, and service continuing onward to Orlando is scheduled to begin in early 2017.
The train station in Fort Lauderdale will be located to the north of Broward Boulevard, where 6 acres is being transformed into a transportation hub to meet additional buses and taxi service. The Miami station will be located by the American Airlines (Miami Heat) arena on the site of the original Henry Flagler Railroad Miami station.
Improvements to the single rail line will be the addition of another set of tracks, and in some sections, a third. Seamless single-rails will replace all existing track before service begins and All Aboard officials promise this will make the trains run much more quietly. New rail crossing systems are being installed already, and these modern crossing systems have gates that block the entire crossing on both sides of the track. This also allows trains (including current freight trains) to approach crossings without using their horns – another promised benefit to the upgrades. What no one can answer at the moment is what the additional 16 north-bound and 16 south-bound trains per day will do to traffic in areas like downtown Fort Lauderdale along major thoroughfares.
The luxury train sets are already being built by Siemens in California and are planned with quiet cars (no kids), Wi-Fi available (no word whether free or paid) and the Orlando hub will allow visitors to jump onto alternate transportation to Disney World and to Downtown Orlando.