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  • Tell us where you were and what you saw!
Tell us where you were and what you saw!

Moderator: David Benton

  by Noel Weaver
It seems to me that some people may well have questions regarding
railroad operations in south east Florida, especially Miami and Fort
Lauderdale so I though I might outline what you might look for in this
Passenger operations, Tri-Rail commuter trains operate every hour or
better between West Palm Beach (actually Mangonia Park) and Miami Airport and these trains connect with the Metro-Rail system at Metro-Rail
Transfer station. Less service on Saturday, Sunday and holidays but
they issue all day passes on these days. Tickets are sold via vending
machines at all stations and you had better be in possession of a valid
ticket before you get on the train as they are checked by guards and a
violation is quite embarassing and costly as well. The ticket to Metro-Rail
transfer will give you a free round trip on the Metro-Rail line to downtown
Miami and this runs frequently all day and until around midnight. There
are two stations in the downtown area where you can connect to the
Metro-Mover system which is totally automated and runs with single or
two cars over a fixed guideway over the streets, up and down grades,
through buildings and covers around three or four miles in downtown
Miami. It will generally get you very close to most places in the downtown
area and it is free to ride. Both Metro-Rail and Metro-Mover are entirely
elevated for the entire trip. Please be aware that Metro-Rail operates
through a rather run down area between Tri-Rail and downtown Miami so
if you need to get off between Tri-Rail and Government Center stations,
make sure you know where you are going and how to get there.
Amtrak runs two round trips between New York and Miami but their Miami
station has no link to either Tri-Rail or the Metro-Rail system and if you
are using Amtrak with the idea of connecting to Metro-Rail system, you
should get off probably at either West Palm Beach or Fort Lauderdale and
take Tri-Rail to the Metro-Rail Transfer station.
Freight operations are somewhat more varried and interesting. The CSX
runs one or two through freight trains north out of Hialeah on a daily
basis but they have a lot of local business both in the Hialeah area as well
as between Hialeah and West Palm Beach. They also run a local or two
out of Fort Lauderdale. As of today, CSX is responsible for the general
operation and dispatching of the Tri-Rail line but this is expected to change
sometime in 2008.
The big freight operation in this area is the Florida East Coast which runs
5 trains north out of Hialeah consisting of both vans, containers and
general freight, 5 trains out of Medley which are unit trains of limestone
for various destinations in Florida and two trains out of Fort Lauderdale
consisting of mostly containers but also one carries some mixed freight as
well. Most of the trains out of Medley operate five days a week but the
others generally run six or seven days a week. Weekdays are always the
best bet on the FEC. Good watching locations are the River Walk area in
downtown Fort Lauderdale where there is a normally open drawbridge
that will go down for every train so you usually get about a 15 minute
advance notice for every movement and there is food and all sorts of
facilities very close by. Trains do not go over 40 MPH through this area
but a good area to see them go by at a speed of around 60 MPH would be
north of Pompano Beach and my favorite spots are in Boca Raton for this
operation. The FEC is a single track operation with lots of sidings and a
double track stretch in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach as well as
leaving the yard area at Hialeah.
ESPECIALLY ON THE FLORIDA EAST COAST, they are reasonablly friendly
to photographers and observers as long as you are on public property and
away from the tracks.
There is easily enough operations to keep you occupied for a couple of
days around here. The Florida East Coast runs 12 or more through freight
trains on Monday through Friday with less on Saturday and Sunday.
I will review this entry occasionally and will answer any reasonable
questions if I can, be careful and enjoy yourselves.
Noel Weaver

  by David Benton
Thank you Noel , I'm sure that information will be helpfull to anyone wanting to railfan in that area .

  by lakeshoredave
FEC is an awesome railroad to railfan. They are a night railroad primarily, and they are hard to chase. The good thing is that US 1 or Alternate A1A parallels the tracks virtually the whole way from Jacksonville to Miami. Have a good scanner, look at the signals, and railfan near a drawbridge. If the drawbridge you're sitting near is down, then there is a train nearby. FEC has excellent track and they run most trains at track speed. Intermodal and Aggregates are the primary commodities that they ship. Don't look for many manifest freights on the FEC. Auto racks are not as important as they once were, but you can still see extras out of Miami with pure trains of auto racks. CSX runs very few freights in South Florida, and while the operation might be interesting, FEC runs more trains and is the main game in that region for freight operations.