bic

High-Speed Rail

281 posts in this topic

Let's use this thread for all things HSR-related. We can start with discussing this, a Calatrava-designed proposal for Polk County's HSR station in the middle of I-4 at the USF Polytechnic site:

bilde3871468.jpg

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gBi_9edw4LI

Link to article

It's not in Orlando and locating the station in the middle of a major highway isn't my idea of good planning but how cool would it be to have this sort of Calatrava architecture in Central Florida?

Edited by bic

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It's a nice video. Really nice. But I have no clue what I was looking at besides a pretty space-age structure going up in the middle of nature and then a train drives through it, but fortunately harms no one.

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It's a nice video. Really nice. But I have no clue what I was looking at besides a pretty space-age structure going up in the middle of nature and then a train drives through it, but fortunately harms no one.

Since the right of way is in the median, so too will be the stations. Since the University of West Central Florida is building a new campus in Lakeland and since there will be a station in Lakeland, I guess that's their pitch to build it at the campus.

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I have to admit that the prospect of a Calatrava in Central Florida is truly exciting. The juxtaposition of Polk's rural nature with a cutting edge, masterpiece (Calatrava is rather discriminating)would make for quite the experience along I-4. This looks like something out of Holland, not the US.

This would be the perfect statement to all the naysayers about Central Florida rail -- "we've arrived."

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I have to admit that the prospect of a Calatrava in Central Florida is truly exciting. The juxtaposition of Polk's rural nature with a cutting edge, masterpiece (Calatrava is rather discriminating)would make for quite the experience along I-4. This looks like something out of Holland, not the US.

This would be the perfect statement to all the naysayers about Central Florida rail -- "we've arrived."

and to think they also have the largest collection of Frank Lloyd Wright in one spot to boot (not to mention Bok Tower- who knew you could fuse Deco and Gothic?) - let's hear it for the bubbas of Imperial Polk County! :thumbsup:

Edited by spenser1058

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Don't get me wrong - I think it would be so cool to have a station designed by Calatrava that I would take the train just to go to the station. But I don't think this is going to do anyone any good. He has a reputation for being very expensive, and this is the type of things rail foes are going to salivate over the chance to bash.

I am not particularly enamored with the idea of going down the center of I-4. I see the idea of that being nice and convenient for construction, and somewhat cheap, but I think there are some serious problems, too. I-4 bypass too much all the important destinations, being in the middle of the highway makes getting to station difficult, and has soem serious security/safety issues as well. Most importantly it just plain doesn't accomplish anything more than a car does. I would much rather see it use the I-4 corridor for major stretches, but seek to get a little bit closer to the big destinations along the way.

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I would encourage this mode to have stops in dense or projected to be dense areas.

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Don't get me wrong - I think it would be so cool to have a station designed by Calatrava that I would take the train just to go to the station. But I don't think this is going to do anyone any good. He has a reputation for being very expensive, and this is the type of things rail foes are going to salivate over the chance to bash.

I am not particularly enamored with the idea of going down the center of I-4. I see the idea of that being nice and convenient for construction, and somewhat cheap, but I think there are some serious problems, too. I-4 bypass too much all the important destinations, being in the middle of the highway makes getting to station difficult, and has soem serious security/safety issues as well. Most importantly it just plain doesn't accomplish anything more than a car does. I would much rather see it use the I-4 corridor for major stretches, but seek to get a little bit closer to the big destinations along the way.

Well that is sort of what it does -- it starts in Tampa at the Ybor City station (not on the I-4 median), heads onto I-4 on it's way to Orlando, has the Polk County stop on the I-4 median, then works it's way into the 3 Orlando stops, which are not on I-4 (Disney, OCCC, and OIA).

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Well that is sort of what it does -- it starts in Tampa at the Ybor City station (not on the I-4 median), heads onto I-4 on it's way to Orlando, has the Polk County stop on the I-4 median, then works it's way into the 3 Orlando stops, which are not on I-4 (Disney, OCCC, and OIA).

The Disney stop is also in the middle of I-4, near Celebration.

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Interesting -- I wonder if the station will connect directly with the town of Celebration, which of course, is preferable.

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Interesting -- I wonder if the station will connect directly with the town of Celebration, which of course, is preferable.

According to the alignments posted, the Disney station will be on currently wooded land on Disney's property, west of I-4, east of the sports complex, south of Osceola Parkway -- basically catty-corner across I-4 and 192 from Celebration. This, I assume, is the 50 acres Disney donated to FDOT in order to build the station.

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Excellent article in today's Transport Politic:

Nation’s first true high-speed line, in Central Florida, will serve Lakeland on its way between Tampa and Orlando.

After receiving $1.25 billion from the federal government last month for its planned 84-mile high-speed line, Florida is virtually guaranteed to offer the first true fully high-speed rail service in the United States. The state’s project, which will cost about $2.6 billion to complete, will connect the state’s second and third largest metropolitan areas with frequent service along the I-4 corridor. About three million annual riders are expected by 2030.

Though the focus of the system has been on its Orlando and Tampa terminals, it will also serve Lakeland, which will account for about half of all intercity riders. Florida must focus closely on the specific design of its route and stations to ensure the success of the system. Thus, making the right decisions about where the Lakeland station will be located and how the surrounding area is developed is essential.

The choice to build the new rail system along the Interstate highway corridor will make the system relatively easy to implement; the state is unlikely to face delays caused by NIMBYism, since the route is already used by hundreds of thousands of drivers everyday. In addition, the corridor is already wholly owned by the public and a median will allow the construction of an elevated guideway on the majority of the route between downtown Tampa and Orlando International Airport.

The highway allows a fully independent right-of-way, unaffected by grade crossings and free from the Federal Railroad Administration’s rules restricting the use of fast trains in shared freight and passenger rail corridors. Heavier vehicles (such as the Amtrak Acela) are significantly more expensive and have diminished performance compared to their lighter European peers, which the FRA will only allow to operate in fully separated rights-of-way.

Yet the selection of the Interstate corridor has its own major negative consequences. For one, it means no direct access to downtown Orlando. According to Florida Rail Enterprise’s Chief Operating Officer Nazih Haddad, there is no room in the median of I-4 near Orlando to allow the trains to enter. Meanwhile, the use of existing freight tracks is impossible because it would require removing all freight service from the tracks because of the decision to use non-FRA compliant rolling stock.

Therefore, no connection to Orlando’s center city is planned until the system extends north to Jacksonville in the future. A connection south to Miami is prioritized for now.

Nor is a direct connection to downtown Lakeland planned, despite that city being just off Interstate 4. Florida could improve the existing tracks and run trains directly into the center city, but that solution would engender similar problems as those experienced in downtown Orlando.

As a result, Lakeland will get a stop, but it will be somewhere in the median of I-4. Exactly how it’s implemented will determine whether the network’s projected ridership will play out as expected, and whether trains will be able to induce the kind of spin-off development for which affected cities hope.

Transportation board members in Polk County — whose largest city is Lakeland — weighed in this week on the county’s planned station; it will get only one, at least for now. They agreed unanimously to prioritize a stop at the intersection of Interstate 4 and Polk Parkway, where the University of South Florida Polytechnic is planning a new campus, in the midst of what can only realistically be described as rampant suburban sprawl. The University’s master plan for its new campus won’t help matters much, as academic buildings will be surrounded by parking lots and walkable connections to the future rail station would be tenuous at best.

Commissioners argued in favor of the Polk Parkway stop claiming that it would be better for future development and that it was closer to the county’s other major population center, in Winter Haven.

Yet this approach would do little to leverage the high-speed rail station’s ability to concentrate density, as the area is far from any population centers and the University’s design will eliminate a large parcel of land from development options.

The commissioners’ second choice is a station at Kathleen Road, near downtown Lakeland. This area is already relatively well developed and has transit connections, unlike the other potential site. A high-speed rail station there could serve as a development catalyst, helping to extend the existing downtown, becoming far more than just a place where people catch the train.

But the approach of Lakeland area officials suggests that they wouldn’t take advantage of the ability to densify the neighborhood around that stop either — the board’s members seem secure in assuming that everyone will drive to stations anyway. With that kind of attitude, some of the advantages of the implementation of fast trains simply disappear. It could be a disappointing outcome for one of the major stations on the nation’s first high-speed line.

Florida is moving forward with its high-speed line quickly. According to Operating Officer Haddad, “We hope to be in the ground within an eleven month period,” with service starting in early 2015. But the federal government’s limited commitment thus far isn’t strong enough, and the state isn’t providing any more money; the conservative state’s willingness to endorse a rail program at all is a serious improvement over the anti-rail policies of former governor Jeb Bush.

Yet as Mr. Haddad puts it, “We’re building something from scratch… we can’t do half of it.” He remains confident that the FRA will find the funds over the next few years to guarantee the Florida system’s completion. Here’s to hopes that it can be done right.

http://www.thetransportpolitic.com/2010/02/26/how-does-lakeland-fit-into-floridas-strategy-for-high-speed-rail/

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Isn't there a spur that runs over to the Coal plant? I know this adding more trains, but why can't Sunrail offer trains that go south to Kissimmee, and trains that just go to the airport station along the spur? For that matter, trains that run from the airport to Kissimmee?

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Isn't there a spur that runs over to the Coal plant? I know this adding more trains, but why can't Sunrail offer trains that go south to Kissimmee, and trains that just go to the airport station along the spur? For that matter, trains that run from the airport to Kissimmee?

I suppose they're not sending a spur down that way because there probably is insufficient demand for a high-speed rail stop in Kissimmee. I imagine if they're going to try to send high-speed rail anywhere that it is not already planned it would be downtown Orlando. Plus, you might consider that the commuter rail will be heading through Kissimmee. We'll have to see.

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I suppose they're not sending a spur down that way because there probably is insufficient demand for a high-speed rail stop in Kissimmee. I imagine if they're going to try to send high-speed rail anywhere that it is not already planned it would be downtown Orlando. Plus, you might consider that the commuter rail will be heading through Kissimmee. We'll have to see.

Any discussion of spurs has to do with SunRail not HSR. It would be possible to put more SunRail routes on existing tracks if the demand is there. In the south, phase I ends at Sandlake Rd (about 1.5 miles from OIA). Phase II will extend it south to Poinciana, passing near Kissimmee. I've heard some talk of a lake county spur starting in Eustis, coming through Mt Dora, Apopka and merging with the main SunRail line near the Linx terminal in Orlando.

The HSR tracks are not existing rails, and if you add stops, it stops being high speed.

It is unfortunate that although the routes of HSR and SunRail do cross, there will be no common station. Currently passengers transfering from SunRail to HSR would have to get off at Sandlake and take a shuttle either about 1.5 miles to the OIA HSR terminal or a little farther to the Convention Center HSR terminal.

Edited by cwetteland

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This meeting confirms that SunRail will have a direct connection to the OIA terminal. Here are the conceptuals from the PDF:

exterior.jpg

OIA2.jpg

OIA.jpg

OIA4.jpg

OIA3.jpg

SunRail's connection to OIA/HSR:

aerial1.jpg

Orange County Convention Center stop:

IDrive-1.jpg

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That's some pretty impressive stuff they have envisioned for Orlando. However, I have a couple of questions:

1) What is the point of having a commuter rail spur to the airport as shown? Isn't that what the light rail line is for? To connect commuter rail to the airport?

2) We still have the problem of the commuter and high speed rail lines crossing each other without a station at their junction. Going from Downtown Orlando to Downtown Tampa would involve taking either light rail or the commuter rail airport extension to get from the commuter to high-speed rail.

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The proposed light rail line becomes redundant and a bit unnecessary with the direct commuter rail extension to the airport. I didn't like the light rail plan, as it was another connection needed from commuter rail in order to get to the airport, and I can imagine ridership would suffer as a result. With this plan, riders from anywhere along the commuter line now have a direct connect to the airport. They can then hop on high speed rail at the airport as well. Also, having commuter rail connect to the OIA terminal means a DIRECT connection to downtown Orlando -- and that is worth the whole thing in my eyes.

Edited by prahaboheme

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I wonder if the light rail line is specifically for the medical city...

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What is this from? I think there are some good ideas in there, but I also see a huge number of issues, among them a whole second airport terminal completely seperate, complicated routes, and a lot of new building. What is going to drive (and pay for) all of this?

Mind you, this idea stuff will eventually flush out some good ideas that CAN be adapted.

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I wonder if the light rail line is specifically for the medical city...

Agreed. Instead of heading west and serving mostly tourists, the initial LRT alignment should instead head east to UCF via Lake Nona, LockMart, and the Research Park. ROW acquisition would probably be cheaper too.

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The second terminal has been in the works for years. It was put on the back burner after the 2001 tourism slump. It will eventually get built... Probably about 20 years out. This will all make sense in the long term.

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Full-Speed Ahead for Bullet Train Construction Bids

Work can start without all funds in hand, DOT official says.

By Bill Rufty

LEDGER POLITICAL EDITOR

Published: Thursday, April 8, 2010 at 11:38 p.m.

TALLAHASSEE {sodEmoji.|} In January, President Obama presented Florida with $1.25 billion in high-speed rail stimulus money for the Orlando to Tampa bullet train.

It was about half of the $2.5 billion needed to get the project up and running, but that isn't slowing down the state Department of Transportation and its Florida Rail Enterprise.

Invitations to bid on preliminary construction along the Phase I high-speed rail corridor between Orlando and Tampa could be made by November, according to a Florida Department of Transportation official.

Actual construction on the main project could begin as early as November 2012 with the "bullet train'' operational sometime in 2015, said Nazih Haddad, the DOT official who has spent years overseeing development of passenger train services in the state.

Only one other state, California, is recognized by the Federal Railway Administration as having near ready plans for truly high-speed rail and that state probably won't have its system up and running until five years after the first fast train pulls out of the station in Florida, he said.

For almost three decades Florida officials have dreamed of and promoted high-speed rail with trains capable of more than 150 miles per hour.

Haddad told Ledger editors on Wednesday that he is confident the remaining $1.25 billion of the money will come shortly.

Congress just approved another large budget for high-speed rail.

Florida will either apply for enough to complete the project or the Federal Railway Administration may have other plans for funding the rest of the project, he said.

"Ours is a start-from-scratch project. The FRA recognized that they would have to provide additional money," he said.

If the state applies for the remainder of the money it would have to pay 20 percent of the additional money, which amounts to $200 million, unlike the $1.25 billion in stimulus money that required no matching funds.

That also won't be a barrier to the project, Haddad said, because during a special session in December the Legislature created a program to put $60 million annually into rail transportation development.

The planned preliminary construction or "early work" program - largely preparing the area for the major contractor by providing barriers along the intended path of the rail and other minor preparations - will provide some jobs early.

"We do not need all the money in hand before we begin," Haddad said.

The early work would create an "envelope" for the project from which the major contractor/operator could begin, and it will provide some jobs within months, Haddad said.

In the meantime, the department is completing revised preliminary engineering plans and cost estimates for the FRA and would-be builder/operators for the Orlando to Tampa route. A builder operator for the turnkey operation could be chosen in a little more than a year.

According to state Sen. Paula Dockery, R-Lakeland, there are three suitors on the horizon already to build the rail beds, provide train sets and operate the rail system.

Each is a consortium of various contractors and train operation firms from Korea, France and Japan, she said.

Both Korean and French consortiums propose a European-style bullet train with heavier equipment. The Japanese consortium, she said, would use the lighter and faster train system that was developed in that country.

---

http://www.theledger.com/article/20100408/NEWS/4085070/1134?p=2&tc=pg&tc=ar

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