Category Archives: Florida East Coast Railway

BrightLine Testng Trains In State Park

All Aboard Florida’s Brightline is testing its BrightBlue train on a 3-mile stretch of track in Jonathan Dickinson State Park, the company said Thursday.

A Palm Beach Post reporter spotted the train, named for the color of its passenger cars, traveling north near the area of County Line Road in Tequesta Thursday afternoon.

A company official said the park offers a section of track that does not have any rail crossings. The testing plan has been approved by the Federal Railroad Administration, she said.

In recent weeks, Brightline has also tested the BrightBlue train along a 9-mile-stretch of track that runs between Park Place in West Palm Beach and Central Boulevard in Lantana. That section has multiple rail crossings.

Brightline last month launched a safety campaign designed to warn students and those living near the FEC corridor about the dangers of walking along train tracks.

The company has asked cities along the route to help promote the campaign, part of a national program called Operation Lifesaver, which is designed to reduce collisions, fatalities and injuries at highway-rail crossings and prevent trespassing on or near railroad tracks.

Brightline has said it will start “pre-season” service between West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale in late July. Service between West Palm Beach and Miami is expected to begin in August.

A grand opening of the rail project is planned for mid-September, the company has said.


Looking for work? Brightline begins hiring for passenger train service

All Aboard Florida’s Brightline is accepting applications for roughly 200 positions it plans to fill as part of its plan to launch passenger train servicebetween West Palm Beach and Miami this summer along the Florida East Coast Railway tracks.

The company plans to hire 90 employees in the West Palm Beach area, Dave Howard, the company’s chief executive officer said Friday. Jobs include security officers, train attendants and guest service agents.

Those interested in applying should visit the company’s website, gobrightline.com/careers, to view a current list of openings, he added.

RELATED: Brightline to start service in July between WPB and Ft. Lauderdale

Howard, an executive from the sports and entertainment industry who joined Brightline’s team in March, said the company is focused on customer service and creating a “culture of care” for its passengers.

“Hospitality has not met train travel,” Howard said. “It will here.”

Brightline has said it will start “pre-season” service between West Palm Beach and Ft. Lauderdale in late July. Service between West Palm Beach and Miami is expected to begin in August.

A grand opening of the rail project is planned for mid-September, the company has said.

The company has yet to release its ticket prices, but a Brightline official told members of the county’s Metropolitan Planning Organization last week that the rates will be “competitive to the cost of driving your car.”

Brightline plans to eventually extend the service to Orlando.

Track work for the second phase of the project, which runs between West Palm Beach and Orlando, has not yet begun. Treasure Coast leaders are challenging that stretch of the project, and have filed a federal lawsuit to block bonds that the company had planned to use to pay for the construction.

Brightline officials have said it will take about 2 years from the start of construction for the company to complete the West Palm Beach to Orlando leg.

In South Florida, work on Brightline stations in West Palm Beach and Ft. Lauderdale is nearly complete. Construction crews are expected to turn over the properties to Brightline officials within the next week or two, Howard said.

Testing on the company’s first two trains is underway. Two more trains are expected to arrive in West Palm Beach in the coming weeks.

RELATED: Two more Brightline trains expected to arrive in WPB together

Meanwhile, Brightline officials said work continues on a plan to implement a “quiet zone” to silence train horns along the FEC tracks.

Brightline officials have said the first phase of the quiet zone will be installed along an 11-mile stretch of track that runs from West Palm Beach to Lantana. The company has been testing its first train, called BrightBlue because of the color of its passenger cars, along that section of rail.

Brightline officials said Friday the quiet zone is expected to be in place between West Palm Beach and Boca at the time the company begins service this summer.

Work to install a quiet zone from West Palm Beach north to the county line won’t start until Brightline begins construction on its second phase, which will extend the passenger service to Orlando.

Brightline this month launched a safety campaign designed to warn students and those living near the FEC corridor about the dangers of walking along train tracks.

The company has asked cities along the route to help promote the campaign, part of a national program called Operation Lifesaver, which is designed to reduce collisions, fatalities and injuries at highway-rail crossings and prevent trespassing on or near railroad tracks.

Brightline’s safety and security team is also planning to hold a meeting with local police and fire officials in the coming weeks.

BRIGHTLINE’S Second Train Arrives, Limited Service To Start In July

Brightline this week heralded a milestone — arrival of its second train — and at the same time announced an apparent setback: When passenger service commences in July it will be even more limited than previously announced.

Instead of carryingpassengers between West Palm Beach and MiamiCentral, a sprawling downtown-Miami rail station with commercial, retail and residential space, Brightline in late July will begin service only between Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach.

Service is to expand to Miami in late August, when work on MiamiCentral is complete, according to Brightline. Stations in West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale are “nearing completion,” Brightline said in a news release.

The project’s second phase, full service to Orlando, is at least several years away, with service commencing in 2019 at the earliest, the company estimated in January.  On Monday, Brightline said it is “currently finalizing permitting and will have a better idea of timing to Orlando after operations begin this summer.”

The project has faced opposition from Treasure Coast residents who say the railroad would endanger the public and the environment. It is facing lawsuits by Martin and Indian River counties.

Meanwhile, BrightPink, Brightline’s second completed passenger train, on Monday afternoon rolled through the Treasure Coast on the final leg of its trip from California to the railroad’s maintenance facility in West Palm Beach.

The four-car, two-locomotive train — named for its vivid hue — passed through Vero Beach at 3:45 p.m. and Stuart at 4:25 p.m. The passenger railroad’s first train, BrightBlue, was delivered Dec. 14, but rolled through the region in the early-morning hours.

BrightPink and BrightBlue are the first in Brightline’s five-train fleet that will run along the Florida East Coast Railway tracks, eventually between Miami and Orlando.

BrightRed, BrightOrange and BrightGreen are to be delivered from manufacturer Siemens’ Sacramento plant every six weeks, with all five trains assembled in West Palm Beach by early July, according to Michael Cahill, president, Rail Systems Division.

Brightline said it will hold a grand opening and official launch of the railroad in September.

The locomotive legacy of U.S. Sugar

A piece of Florida locomotive history has come home to the sunshine state after being away for nearly half a century. Steam Engine No. 148 arrived in Clewiston late last year, although not under its own power. The engine and its tender (fuel and water car) arrived from Colorado strapped to two railroad flat cars. Well, most of it arrived by rail.

“We were able to gather and collect most of the pieces that were already removed from the locomotive,” said Ted Dobrie, chief mechanical officer for U.S. Sugar, “and we crated and cataloged all that equipment and shipped all that back by truck. We’re just missing a couple of minor pieces that we’re going to have to track down.”

So, what does a 97-year-old steam locomotive engine have to do with a company in the business of growing and refining sugarcane? Quite a bit, actually. Founded in 1931, U.S. Sugar needed a way to transport sugarcane from about 187,000 acres of fields to its sugar mills.

“When we were started back in the early ’30s, rail transportation was how freight was moved, and there were very few roads of any sort out here,” said Judy Sanchez, senior director of corporate communications and public affairs for U.S. Sugar. “There certainly wasn’t a reliable network for moving sugarcane from the fields to the mill, so our company made a decision at the beginning to put in an industrial private railroad that linked our fields and mill.”

Faced with the same transportation problem that challenged cypress logging companies in Florida, U.S. Sugar pursued the same solution. The company installed about 120 miles of rail across its fields for its internal rail line. Then, to transport its products out as well as haul agricultural equipment and supplies in, the company began operating a short-line freight railroad called the South Central Florida Express, which connects with commercial freight railroads CSX Transportation at Sebring and the Florida East Coast Railway (FEC) at Fort Pierce.

Between the internal and external lines, the company currently operates nearly 300 miles of rail. A decision originally made for expediency, the rail transportation infrastructure has turned out to provide efficiency for U.S. Sugar’s operations.

“Our trains are one of the things that set U.S. Sugar apart from our colleagues and competitors in the sugar business in the United States,” Sanchez said. “It’s been a transportation method, but over the years it’s become more a transportation advantage because we’re not having to put all that cane into tractor-trailers and haul it out on public roads. It’s much more efficient as well since you can haul up to 100 boxcars of cane behind a locomotive, and that one locomotive is the only part of the train using fuel.”

u-s-sugar-team-locomotives-1930s

“Our CEO is a history buff,” Sanchez said. “He has a love of machinery and of anything historical, so to him it’s fascinating.”

The search eventually led to Monte Vista, Colorado, where No. 148 had been taken for repairs with the intention of operating it, once again, for tourist excursions. However, the 2008 economic downturn stalled the entire tourist railway project and work on the partly disassembled steam engine stopped. U.S. Sugar purchased the legacy locomotive and brought it back to its Clewiston shop for its own locomotive team to restore, using historical diagrams and photos from Bramson. Dobrie said some parts of the project will also require help from engineering consultants who specialize in steam engines.

Dobrie said the restoration could take up to a year and a half. After restoration, Sanchez said U.S. Sugar intends to obtain some period passenger cars and offer excursion rides to draw tourists to Clewiston.

“It’s going to be not only an amazing project, but it’s going to attract marvelous goodwill and bring national attention to United States Sugar,” Bramson said. “Not only do you attract thousands of people out to see the steam engine, but you generate an enormous amount of positive publicity for your company. What they’re doing is for very positive reasons, being most of all a major contribution to the incredible history of United States Sugar, Florida East Coast Railway and the state of Florida itself.”

BRIGHTLINE LeadsThe Charge of Changes In Florida Rails

The first phase of All Aboard Florida’s passenger-rail service is slated to launch in 2017. In the past year, crews have made progress on construction of the Brightline stations in downtown West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale and Miami. Train car manufacturer Siemens also delivered the first train set to Brightline’s maintenance facility just north of West Palm.

This service could be a game-changer for jobseekers looking for work in one of the three station-holding cities, but who don’t necessarily want to live there. The relatively short commute on Brightline could make working in downtown Miami and living in downtown West Palm Beach seem a lot more appealing, when that commuter is facing traffic congestion along the I-95 corridor.

“Starting in 2017, Brightline will transform travel in southeast Florida,” said Brightline CMO Julie Edwards. “The new express passenger rail service will allow more people to live in West Palm Beach and work in Fort Lauderdale and Miami, or vice versa, seamlessly connecting the three cities in less than an hour and without the hassle of dealing with traffic.”

Critics say the increase in rail traffic along the Florida East Coast Railway corridor could create safety and traffic issues. FEC, sister company to All Aboard Florida, is partnering with state and local agencies to implement quiet zones and awareness campaigns along the line.

Bottom line: In the short-term, Palm Beach County will see more train traffic and a push to use Brightline as a commuter service. In the long-term, we could see more of Miami-Dade and Broward counties’ residents moving north to the West Palm Beach area to escape congestion.

Port Everglades Container Terminals Equipped for SOLAS Weight Verification

BROWARD COUNTY, FL – Terminal operators at Broward County’s Port Everglades say they are already equipped to help shippers handle the new international container weight verification requirements that go into effect on July 1, 2016.

Certified scales are available at several locations throughout Port Everglades to use to weigh export containers. Ocean shippers are encouraged to confirm availability and fees with their contracted marine terminal operators for compliance with the new verified gross mass (VGM) requirements.

“On-port scales, which have already been certified by the state, should help shippers meet the new requirements without services delays,” said Port Everglades Chief Executive & Port Director Steve Cernak. “There are still concerns about the new requirements, but the availability of scales at Port Everglades should not be one of them.”

The International Maritime Organization approved new container weight verification rules to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) that go into effect on July 1, 2016. The new rules require the shipper of a packed container, regardless of who packed the container, to verify and provide the container’s gross verified weight to the ocean carrier and port terminal representative prior to it being loaded onto a ship. A verified container weight is a condition for loading a packed container aboard a vessel for export. The vessel operator and the terminal operator are required to use verified container weights in vessel stowage plans and are prohibited from loading a packed container aboard a vessel for export if the container does not have a verified container weight.

At the crossroads of north-south and east-west trade, Broward County’s Port Everglades is Florida’s leading container port, handling more than one million TEUs (20-foot equivalent units, the industry standard measurement for container volumes) and serving as a gateway to Latin America, the Caribbean, Europe and Asia. Located within the cities of Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood, and Dania Beach, Florida, Port Everglades is in the heart of one of the world’s largest consumer regions, including a constant flow of 110 million visitors statewide and 6.7 million residents within an 80-mile radius. Port Everglades has direct access to the interstate highway system and the Florida East Coast Railway’s 43-acre intermodal container transfer facility, and is closer to the Atlantic Shipping Lanes than any other Southeastern U.S. port. Ongoing capital improvements and expansion ensure that Port Everglades continues to handle future growth in container traffic. A world-class cargo handling facility, Port Everglades serves as an ideal point of entry and departure for products shipped around the world.

By: AJOT | May 17 2016 at 09:05 AM | Ports & Terminals

Florida East Coast Railway Christmas Train

JACKSONVILLE, Fla., Nov. 23, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — This year marks the sixth annual Christmas Train operated by Florida East Coast Railway (FECR) in coordination with the U.S. Marine Corps Toys For Tots Foundation.  The 2015 FECR Christmas Train will run along the railroad’s 351-mile mainline on the east coast of Florida, offering its employees, their families, customers, and suppliers an opportunity to contribute to the communities that FECR serves.  The train, departing Saturday, December 12 in Jacksonville with Miami as its final destination, will make 8 stops along the way, during which Santa Claus will be on hand to deliver holiday cheer.

At each stop representatives from Toys For Tots will be present to accept donations from the FECR Christmas Train, and will work to distribute the toys to children in need throughout local communities. The FECR Christmas Train is a 501c3, so anyone can donate and receive a tax deduction.

Since the program’s inception five years ago there has been significant yearly growth. “Last year alone we were able to donate more than 40,000 toys and we hope to surpass that goal this year,” said Jim Hertwig, FECR President & CEO. “This event is, and will continue to be a favored tradition for the FECR family. We are proud to be able to once again work alongside the Toys For Tots foundation to contribute to those in need during the holiday season,” he said.

The FECR Christmas Train will stop at the eight railroad crossings listed below, during which strict safety procedures will be in place for the security and enjoyment of everyone in attendance:

City

RR Crossing Location

Times (approximate)

Jacksonville

Mussel Acres Road – West

7:10 AM

St. Augustine

San Sebastian View – East

8:10 AM

New Smyrna Beach

Canal Street – East

10:05 AM

Cocoa

Rosa L. Jones Drive – West

11:45 AM

Fort Pierce

Orange Avenue – West

1:30 PM

West Palm Beach

36th Street – East

3:00 PM

Fort Lauderdale

SW 17th Street – West

4:25 PM

Miami

NE 87th Street – West

5:15 PM

About Florida East Coast Railway
The Florida East Coast Railway (“FECR”) is a 351-mile freight rail system located along the east coast of Florida. It is the exclusive rail provider for PortMiami, Port Everglades, and Port of Palm Beach. FECR connects to the national railway system in Jacksonville, Florida, to move cargo originating or terminating there.  Based in Jacksonville, Florida, FECR provides end-to-end intermodal and carload solutions to customers who demand cost-effective and premium quality.  For more information, visit www.fecrwy.com.

Photo – http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20151123/290366