FEC Miami Port Line - Downtown Spur

Discussion relating to the FEC operations, past and present. Includes Brightline. Official web site can be found here: FECRWY.COM.

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Noel Weaver
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Re: Why no direct service to Port of Miami

Post by Noel Weaver »

The double track crossing (both railroads are double track at this location) is known as IRIS on both railroads. It is an automatic interlocking with all signals normally displaying "STOP". Whether it is an FEC freight train or a Tri-Rail commuter train, the first one to hit the approach circuit will automatically get a signal to cross the diamond. If for amy reason the signals are not properly working there are rules in both timetables and rulebooks that apply and will be followed in order for the train to continue. Incidentally, there is no actual track connection with the two railroads at this location, in order to accomplish that, a train has to use the FEC/CSX connection at Oleander which is near the southside of the Miami Airport. When I rode the Amtrak Inspection Train last year it took us just over an hour to go from the CSX/Tri-Rail to the FEC at this location with a brief stop at the FEC Yard enroute.
Noel Weaver

Noel Weaver
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Re: Why no direct service to Port of Miami

Post by Noel Weaver »

Although this is about the FEC in general rather than the Port of Miami in particular, it still has much to do with rail in Miami and South Florida so I am going to post it here rather than open up something more new.
Following is a link to an article in the Sun-Sentinel for Sunday, April 10, 2011 regarding the Florida East Coast written by its President, James Hertwig, I hope you find this interesting as well as refreshing to read.

http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/outloo ... 4563.story

Noel Weaver

JasW
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Re: Why no direct service to Port of Miami

Post by JasW »

Noel Weaver wrote:Although this is about the FEC in general rather than the Port of Miami in particular, it still has much to do with rail in Miami and South Florida so I am going to post it here rather than open up something more new.
Following is a link to an article in the Sun-Sentinel for Sunday, April 10, 2011 regarding the Florida East Coast written by its President, James Hertwig, I hope you find this interesting as well as refreshing to read.

http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/outloo ... 4563.story

Noel Weaver
Nice. Although it makes me wonder why they are building the Port Tunnel to and from the MacArthur Causeway if the rehabbing of the rail connection to the port is going to eliminate truck traffic between the port and Hialeah. During the debate over whether to build the tunnel, I distinctly recall the rail connection being raised as a decidedly less expensive alternative. Obviously, there will be some truck traffic out of the port that is not rail bound, but how much can that be? Enough to warrant this tunnel being built?

Gilbert B Norman
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Re: Why no direct service to Port of Miami

Post by Gilbert B Norman »

Well, even if this piece is more Opinion than it is news, it is refreshing to see a well written piece appearing in a Tribco paper, albeit not by a Staff Reporter. Any wonder why when "I'm down', I just seem to walk or drive by the numerous street vendors peddling the Sentinel on my way to get my morning "fix' of The New York Times?

Obviously Mr. Hertwig is writing a piece favorable to the interests of his road (after all, didn't I note earlier the FEC is not run be some band of amateurs), but if the Port of Miami has "visions" of handling tonnage (and value) in scope approaching that of Los Angeles/Long Beach, then there could well be resistance from other Miami interests such as real estate. I highly doubt that someone paying top $$$ for a Bay view condo in Downtown Miami will be too thrilled about the prospect of looking out over a busy maritime port. Sure the Love Tubs are one thing; but looking out and seeing that 'dreadful looking boat with all those little boxes stacked on its deck' is something else. LA/LB is far removed from any prime residential real estate; so for that matter is Savannah and Charleston.

True, scuttling the term PANAMAX is going to revolutionize maritime trade with East Coast ports being beneficiaries (but hopefully not too much at the expense of West Coast ports), but considering the "big picture' far beyond the well-run railroad whose affairs we gather here to discuss, I have to wonder to what extent the Port of Miami can become a "big time player'.

Noel Weaver
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Re: Why no direct service to Port of Miami

Post by Noel Weaver »

While the figures that I have are far from current, I do not think that either Miami or Port Everglades will reach the tonnage handled by either Long Beach or Los Angeles. There is lots of room for an increase in traffic without approaching LB or LA which are among the busiest ports in the US. Even a 20 per cent increase in tonnage would still not put Miami or Port Everglades in the same league as Los Angeles or Long Beach but it would certainally increase rail traffic here in South Florida. This is a very positive development for the Florida East Coast as well as the two ports plus the Port of West Palm Beach which handles much less and got less mention in the article.
Noel Weaver

NellieBly
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Re: Why no direct service to Port of Miami

Post by NellieBly »

Somehow I managed to miss this thread when it was active. At this point, the rehab of the FEC "Port Lead" is old news, of course, but the implications are still interesting. I haven't been able to find a project map, but the proposal is to run "shuttle trains" between the port and Hialeah. That's where the "logistics park" will be located. Dodge Island doesn't have a lot of space, so the port hopes to move containers directly from ship to train and get them off the island as quickly as possible. That makes sense. Once at Hialeah, containers can be grounded, re-loaded onto through trains, drayed to nearby warehouses, or put on chassis and trucked.

To run the shuttle trains, the south leg of the wye at Little River will have to be re-installed (double track is still there; switches have been pulled). If this is done, and the port lead is rehabbed, then there's an opportunity to add a connection from Tri-Rail to FEC at Iris and maybe run commuter and perhaps Amtrak trains to the site of the former FEC station (which is now a parking lot). This idea, oddly, doesn't seem to have occurred to anyone in Miami. But probably the greatest disadvantage of Tri-Rail is that it doesn't reach downtown. You have to transfer to the Miami Metro.

One article I saw mentioned trains of 200 containers, which would mean ten five-well stack cars per train. This train would shuttle back and forth (don't know how many times a day, but FEC moved about 250,000 containers/trailers to/from Miami last year -- they didn't all go to the port, but say half did, that's 125,000 boxes or about 620 trains a year, say 12 a week -- you wouldn't need anything like hourly service, so grade crossing blockage should not be a major issue).

I agree with Mr. Weaver that this is very exciting. All sorts of good things could happen here.
Randy Resor, aka "NellieBly" passed away on November 1, 2013. We honor his memory and his devotion to railroading at railroad.net.

Noel Weaver
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Re: Why no direct service to Port of Miami

Post by Noel Weaver »

Although new welded rail has been dropped along the "Downtown Lead", work begins soon if it has not already begun. A groundbreaking ceremony will take place in downtown Miami this Friday, July 15th. I suspect a special passenger train move will be involved as office cars Azalea and St. Augustine came down last night on train 101 for this event. I will report more Friday or when I have more details. Lots of interesting things happening here.
Noel Weaver

Noel Weaver
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Re: Why no direct service to Port of Miami

Post by Noel Weaver »

Following is a link to a TV news clip regarding the Port of Miami Rail Project. Official groundbreaking occurred today but work has already begun downtown. I saw it with my own eyes today.

http://news.yahoo.com/video/miamicbs4-1 ... 52090.html

What is the cost and where is the money coming from:
Approximately 50 million dollars from
US Department of Transportation $22,767 million
Florida Department of Transportation $10.9 million
Florida East Coast Railway $10.9 million
Port of Miami $4.8 million

US Senator Newson and Transportation Secretary LaHood were on the scene and spoke as well as Mr Hertwick the president of the Florida East Coast and various officials from the city and county. It attracted a decent number of people but I'll bet I was one of the few to reach this event by rail. Tri-Rail and Metro-Rail got me to within a couple of blocks from the tent and I saved gasoline as well as the drive in to downtown Miami. The FEC had their two business cars (Azalea and St. Augustine) on the scene as well as a couple of double stack containers.
Here is the railroad that is "Going Places in Florida"

Later edit, here is another link of interest:

http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/07/14/2 ... ected.html

Noel Weaver

JasW
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Re: Why no direct service to Port of Miami

Post by JasW »

Fifteen acre yard at the port -- that's fairly sizable on an island that size.

Gilbert B Norman
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Re: Why no direct service to Port of Miami

Post by Gilbert B Norman »

I agree, Mr. Weaver, this is exciting news. Next time "I''m down below", I hope there will be something tangible for you to show me. Perhaps Jas W would care to join.

As I noted in an earlier post, I am surprised that other Miami commercial interests, such as real estate, have not sounded off. I can only hope they have chosen to "forever hold their peace", but somehow that is not always how the the movie script called "Life" is written. The thought on an "eleventh hour" injunction after the construction work is done, but just before the "ribbon is cut' by the first train, cannot be dismissed.

Scuttling PANAMAX with a canal that can handle any vessel afloat or on a naval architect's drawing board (whoops, computer screen nowadays) was simply inevitable. The Eastern roads are the winners at the expense of their Western counterparts and the 2200 mile line hauls. According to Mr. Weaver, the FEC does not favor NS over CSX and vice versa so long as they recognize that on the FEC a timetable is just that.

All told, I haven't had much reason to be in Miami since 9/11 (always enjoyed watching the cruise ships "get outta Dodge" as well as having sailed on one or two in the past - suffice to say you don't do that no mo), but with the advent of this rail project, there just may be reason to "go on down".

NellieBly
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Re: Why no direct service to Port of Miami

Post by NellieBly »

Actually, the impact of the Panama Canal expansion may not be as large as East Coast ports hope, for a variety of reasons. I'm working on a paper now that covers what is forecast to happen, and it's not clear that the big ships will go to New York, much less to Miami.

As for container volumes, both Miami and Port Everglades are under a million TEU (20 foot equivalent units) per year, whereas Long Beach and LA together handle about 12 million TEU, so Florida ports have a long, long way to go. Port Newark is at about 5 million TEU, Norfolk and Savannah about 2.5 million each, Baltimore and Charleston between one and two million, and that's all the big East Coast ports. All of them, together, are smaller than LA/LB, and on the West Coast we've still got Oakland, Tacoma, and Seattle.
Randy Resor, aka "NellieBly" passed away on November 1, 2013. We honor his memory and his devotion to railroading at railroad.net.

Gilbert B Norman
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Re: Why no direct service to Port of Miami

Post by Gilbert B Norman »

While neither railroad transportation nor the Port of Miami is directly addressed within this article appearing in Today's New York Times, it certainly appears to have relevance to the discussion at this topic:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/17/scien ... ml?_r=1&hp

Brief passage:

  • COCOLÍ, Panama — For now, the future of global shipping is little more than a hole in the ground here, just a short distance from the Pacific Ocean.

    Ah, but what a hole it is.

    About a mile long, several hundred feet wide and more than 100 feet deep, the excavation is an initial step in the building of a larger set of locks for the Panama Canal that should double the amount of goods that can pass through it each year.

    The $5.25 billion project, scheduled for completion in 2014, is the first expansion in the history of the century-old shortcut between the Atlantic and Pacific. By allowing much bigger container ships and other cargo vessels to easily reach the Eastern United States, it will alter patterns of trade and put pressure on East and Gulf Coast ports like Savannah, Ga., and New Orleans to deepen harbors and expand cargo-handling facilities.

    Right now, with its two lanes of locks that can handle ships up to 965 feet long and 106 feet wide — a size known as Panamax — the canal operates at or near its capacity of about 35 ships a day. During much of the year, that can mean dozens of ships are moored off each coast, waiting a day or longer to enter the canal.

    The new third set of locks will help eliminate some of those backlogs, by adding perhaps 15 passages to the daily total. More important, the locks will be able to handle “New Panamax” ships — 25 percent longer, 50 percent wider and, with a deeper draft as well, able to carry two or three times the cargo.
That there is no mention of Miami could suggest that to the ocean shipping community, the Port will simply be a bit player. However the FEC certainly, and in view of that relatively little of their own $$$ has been committed to the Port's expansion project has much to gain and little to lose. However, I might think that "un-TEA Party" Warren ("I'm not taxed enough") might start to wonder if he made a bad bet (he has made 'em in the past: case in point USScare) on BNSF (did this author make one with UNP?). I too must wonder if the Kansas City Southern's 'bet' on developing Mexican ports could go to the house, but CSX and NS look like they will be 'in the money'.

NellieBly
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Re: Why no direct service to Port of Miami

Post by NellieBly »

Well, there are lots of issues here, but let me try to summarize briefly my thoughts on the impact of the Panama Canal expansion.

1) There has already been some shift of lower-value cargoes to all-water routing (either Panama or Suez) between the Far East and the US East Coast
2) Higher-value cargoes are unlikely to shift because, especially with "slow steaming, all water from China to, say, New York takes on the order of 27 days. Via the US West Coast and rail, time is 19 days.
3) Any assumed large-scale shift assumes two things: railroads will make no competitive response when threatened with the loss of traffic, and liner shipping companies will give all the savings from larger ships away in the form of lower rates. Neither of these things is likely to happen.

The most convincing analysis I've yet seen was done by Jean-Paul Rodrigue of Hofstra University for Canada's Van Horne Institute. He saw the larger ships going into a round-the-world service, stopping in the Caribbean and Mediterranean to transload to smaller ships in north/south service. This seems likely to me. Transloading in the Caribbean is cheaper than in US or Canadian ports, and evades US Jones Act requirements. Lower-value cargoes can probably tolerate the extra time required to transload, and will benefit from lower all-water rates. The very large 12,000 TEU vessels won't find enough cargo to fill their slots on many routes, so a round the world service will keep them full. Meantime, somewhat smaller Post-Panamax vessel strings can cover Asia to West Coast US.

Any shift, however, will take a lot of time. Currently two-thirds of China-US trade moves over the West Coast. A lot of investments have been made to move goods that way, and they won't be unmade in a year or even five years. So I still think Mr. Buffet made the right decision when he bought BNSF.
Randy Resor, aka "NellieBly" passed away on November 1, 2013. We honor his memory and his devotion to railroading at railroad.net.

carajul
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Re: Why no direct service to Port of Miami

Post by carajul »

Hi all. I was in Miami this week and decided to take a drive around the downtown/port spur. You could imagine my horror when I saw all the ties and rails ripped out! My first thought was "oh no another railroad ripprd out".

However upon further exploration westward I noticed lenghts of new rail, ballast stone piles, and cement ties everywhere just waitting to be installed!

Looks like a new top notch rail line is going to be installed. Great news. Also the grade xing equipment on the secondary streets is being replaced!

On a side note the neighborhood the rail line runs thru just west of Rt 1 is EXTREMELY dangerous. There are literally dozens of homeless, drug dealers, gangbangers lining every street and sidewalk. I wasn't about to get out of my car to take pics. They were selling crak and smoking pipes in broad daylight. 50 black guys on every corner.

freightguy
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Re: Why no direct service to Port of Miami

Post by freightguy »

On a side note the neighborhood the rail line runs thru just west of Rt 1 is EXTREMELY dangerous. There are literally dozens of homeless, drug dealers, gangbangers lining every street and sidewalk. I wasn't about to get out of my car to take pics. They were selling crak and smoking pipes in broad daylight. 50 black guys on every corner.

Kind of goes with the territory. Having worked freight most was in run down urban areas, atleast costumer base. No hump yard in Greenwich, CT :0)
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