Discussion about Florida passenger rail operations including proposals. Official web-sites:
Miami/Dade Metrorail, Sunrail (Orlando), and Tri-County Commuter Rail Authority
For Virgin Rail/Brightline: Virgin Trains Worldwide (includes Brightline)

Moderator: Kurt-Trirail

  by Jeff Smith
Tampa Bay Online
Next commuter rail concept: share tracks with freight trains

Tampa remains trainless — alone with Detroit among major U.S. metropolitan areas — but local planners now think they might have a workable concept that differs from both light rail and SunRail's heavy commuter trains powered by diesel locomotives.

"The time for light rail in Tampa may be over," said Ray Chiaramonte, executive director of the Hillsborough County Metropolitan Planning Organization and the Hillsborough City-County Planning Commission. "We are looking for lower-cost ways to start rail transit, like Austin, Texas and San Diego."

For the past two years, MPO planners have quietly researched the possibility of a pilot project for a Diesel Multiple Unit train — a heavier version of light rail used in Texas, California, Oregon and New Jersey — to link the University of South Florida and downtown Tampa.

The plan would cost $20 million to $40 million a mile compared with more than $60 million a mile for light rail.

That's because the trains meet Federal Railroad Administration safety guidelines, enabling them to share freight train tracks. Light rail doesn't.
  by electricron
More from the linked news story:
A report by the Connetics Transportation group for the Hillsborough MPO plotted two scenarios for stops along CSX track between 50th Street in Temple Terrace and Marion Street in downtown Tampa. One scenario would have eight stations, the other 13.

While I think DMUs, either light or heavy, can be good choices, I don't think they will be for this corridor. The corridor is only, at best, 6 miles long. 6 miles/13 stations = < 0.5 miles between stations; 6 miles/8 stations = 0.75 miles between stations.
DMUs can never accelerate to top speed with stations spaced so close together. With spacing that close, they'll be better off with light rail or streetcars.

An interesting link to an entirely different rail proposal in another state that may never get built, but this Feasibility study did a great job explaining what is the best train with different station spacing. It's a great read. It will take a while to download the whole report. Start reading at Chapter 4 on page 52 for train modal selections....
http://www.co.hidalgo.tx.us/DocumentCen ... View/14006

For the light rail mode (LRT), [a minimum spacing of 0.6 mile is appropriate to account for alteration of the speed profile to allow for gradual approaching and departing of vehicles at station platforms. The design operating acceleration and deceleration rates for light rail trains are in each case 3 mph/sec.

Reported acceleration and deceleration rates of diesel locomotive hauled coaches in commuter rail mode (CRT) were both 1.3 mph/sec, yielding a theoretical minimum station spacing of 1.07 miles to reach a running speed of 50 mph. A minimum spacing of 1.25 miles was used to account for alteration of the speed profile to allow for gradual approaching and departing of vehicles at station platforms.

Design characteristics of DMUs (Diesel Multiple Units, or diesel-electric motor-equipped passenger cars) were obtained from design work for the Capital Metro (Austin, TX) Leander service. The vehicles, manufactured by Stadler Bussnang AG for Capital Metro, have design acceleration and deceleration rates of 2.0 mph/sec respectively. This will result in a theoretical minimum station spacing of 0.69 mile to reach a running speed of 50 mph. A minimum spacing of 0.85 mile was assumed to account for alteration of the speed profile to allow for gradual approaching and departing of vehicles at station platforms.

That was using 50 mph as the top speed of your train, pretty close to Tampa's MPO 45 mph. If your proposed trains are expected to reach a top speed of 60 mph, or even 79 mph, you're going to need larger stations spacing.

NJT's Riverline runs in a similar station spacing within Camden, so DMUs can do this close spacing, at the proposed 25 mph top speed without difficulties. But the Riverline trains upon leaving Camden have far longer station spacing that takes advantage of the train's top speed.
  by Penn Central
While commuter rail between Lakeland and Tampa would be feasible, there is no funding for such projects. Hillsborough tried to pass a 1% sales tax increase in 2010 to fund light rail and other transportation projects and it was defeated by a large margin, although the measure actually passed within the city of Tampa. CSX would not want any more passenger traffic on their tracks. Anyone who thinks that this proposal has any chance of becoming reality is dreaming.
  by Jeff Smith
Movement by CSX to sell two lines: Tampa Bay Times
CSX's offer finally opens the door to commuter rail in Tampa Bay
It is now. At last month's meeting of the Tampa Bay Transportation Management Area Leadership Group, a gathering of the region's transportation planners, CSX said it's willing to sell two lines.

One of the rail lines offered by CSX is the "Clearwater line." It stretches from downtown St. Petersburg, climbs northwest through Pinellas County to downtown Clearwater, veers to Oldsmar, then runs east past Tampa International Airport and ends near downtown Tampa, in Ybor City.

The second route is the "Brooksville line." It starts in Tampa, juts north from the first line, passes by USF, cuts through Land O'Lakes in Pasco County and finishes in central Hernando County, near Brooksville.
And a blog discussion: http://www.tampabay.com/blogs/baybuzz/o ... il/2248477" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

that has a nifty map!:
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.
  by Rockingham Racer
CSX is really willing to divest low performing lines, apparently. They're also willing to sell some lines in metro Miami for commuter rail, while retaining the rights to run on them.
  by NIMBYkiller
Assuming a light rail line from downtown to University of South Florida is built, what do you guys think is more important for service on the Clearwater Line in the Tampa area:
a. Turning down the spur towards the airport, somehow cutting through the airport and then down to 275, then presumably down the median of 275 into downtown (possibly connecting into Teco???)
b. Continuing along the Clearwater Line to the point where it meets the line running to University of South Florida and running downtown in tandem with that service?
c. A loop that covers both lines

Also, in my opinion, light rail makes more sense for these 2 lines. Is there really a need to go much further north than the university (IE, all the way to Brooksville)? It doesn't seem all that dense north of Bearss Av.

Also, I'm curious to know the acceleration rate of the TECO streetcars compared to the light rail previously mentioned in this thread. And finally, which cost more to operate on average? FRA requires a min 3 person crew, correct? What does FTA require, just 1?
  by Jeff Smith
New bridge being built will accommodate LRT: St. Pete Catalyst
New Howard Frankland Bridge to handle rail – but not Brightline

Hundreds of workers are pouring concrete and installing beams for the new $865.3 million Howard Frankland Bridge project. The new bridge will replace the current crossing, and include a section designated for potential light rail.

“I’m really proud of the work they’ve [construction crews] made. We’ve been fortunate the weather has been cooperative this year. It’s a tough project to build out there on the water after winds get too high and cranes have trouble, but they’ve been able to make great progress,” David Gwynn, District 7 secretary of the Transportation for Florida Department, said at the Nov. 15 Pinellas County Commission meeting. “We have set up the middle of it to be strong enough to accommodate light rail in the future, should that be something that materializes.”

The new bridge, which has been under construction since 2020, will have eight lanes: Four general use lanes and four express lanes; two lanes from St. Petersburg and two lanes from the Tampa side. Plus a separated bicycle/pedestrian pathway, and a centered lane for light rail, on both north and south bridges.