Promoting passenger trains as a transportation alternative in Florida since 1983.  We are citizens who advocate for Amtrak, commuter rail, intercity rail and transit for Florida's future.

The Silver Rail Blog

  • 28 May 2009 4:58 PM | Deleted user

    This is just one of several recent articles on this subject.  Andy Healy

  • 28 May 2009 9:15 AM | Deleted user

    Silver Star ridership grows as overall Amtrak demand drops


    Published: May 28, 2009

    TAMPA - Despite a 10 percent decline in Amtrak ridership in March compared with a year ago, down to 2.2 million passengers, Tampa ridership on Amtrak's Silver Star gained 3.8 percent to 8,423.

    The number of Silver Star passengers rose 1.6 percent in March to 31,028, indicating that more than one in four passengers on the train between New York and Miami arrived at or departed from Tampa's Union Station.

    "The deepening economic recession, high unemployment, steep cuts in business travel and continued low gasoline prices are increasingly depressing Amtrak demand, and in particular, demand for most short distance trains," the Amtrak performance report for March stated.

    On-time performance improvements continue to offset the negative effects of the economy and low gasoline prices on long-distance trains such as the Silver Star, the report said.

    Ridership in Amtrak's Northeast region was off 15 percent compared with a year ago. Ridership on the Acela, which travels between Boston and Washington, declined 9 percent in March.

    Reporter Ted Jackovics can be reached at (813) 259-7817.

  • 25 May 2009 1:47 PM | Deleted user

    Good article in current edition of Passenger Train Journal. Split Sunset into two seperate trains; one from L.A. to Dallas and the other from Dallas to Orlando, on a daily basis. I believe the idea has some merit.

    The link shown below explains the concept.  Andy Healy

















  • 21 May 2009 11:22 AM | Jackson McQuigg (Administrator)

    Update on Contributions to Tampa Union Station Preservation Fund


    My thanks go to all of you who have contributed thus far to the Tampa Union Station Preservation Fund, the endowment fund for the ongoing restoration of Tampa Union Station at the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay.


    To date, nearly $25,000 has been raised through tax-deductible donations to the Fund.


    We are on our way to our goal! Once $37,500 in contributions have been made, the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay will award a $12,500 matching grant to the Fund.


    This will, of course, establish a permanent $50,000 endowment for the perpetual care of one of Florida’s railroad landmarks, Tampa Union Station.


    Please join me and other passenger rail advocates in this important cause by making a personal commitment to the Fund. And please tell others about it, as well!


    More details and a contribution form are available at the Friends of Tampa Union Station website:



    Jackson McQuigg

    Secretary and Board Member, FCRP

    President, Friends of Tampa Union Station

    Southern Division Council Leader, NARP

  • 20 May 2009 9:36 AM | Deleted user

    County officials endorse Amtrak project

    BUNNELL -- County commissioners Monday unanimously passed a resolution to support the reintroduction of Amtrak passenger rail service between Jacksonville and Miami, despite one commissioner's reservations.

    "I think this is a waste of public money," said Commissioner Alan Peterson.

    He didn't oppose the resolution that offers up local support for a state project that would be completed using federal stimulus funds. But he said his experiences in northern U.S. states led him to worry that reintroducing the rail service could bring more problems than benefits. Peterson also said he couldn't envision the service being a moneymaker for rail officials.

    "I fail to see how they're going to get much business running from Jacksonville to Miami," Peterson said, adding that service between Jacksonville and Orlando might be more worthwhile.

    He also pointed out that no boarding stations are planned between Daytona Beach and Jacksonville in the railway proposal so the service would be "of limited value" to residents in Flagler County.

    In other business at the meeting:

    · Commissioners approved a new contract for bulk fuel purchases for county fleet vehicles. The contract will be signed in conjunction with Volusia County Council, Volusia County School Board, Votran, South Daytona, New Smyrna Beach and Port Orange.

    County Administrator Craig Coffey said the newly negotiated fuel and delivery rates will save taxpayers greatly in the coming years. Fuel prices are calculated daily under the agreement, using a published daily fuel price index. The contract that commissioners approved is for one year with the ability to renew the contract each year for the next four years.

    · The commission accepted a $76,000 federal stimulus grant to purchase a new wheelchair-accessible bus for the county's public transportation system.

    · Commissioners also accepted two grants from the Florida Department of Transportation. The first grant -- $680,000 -- will allow officials to install new sidewalks and complete partial sidewalks along State Road 100 between Belle Terre Parkway and Bulldog Drive. The work will enhance safety for pedestrians and students at Flagler Palm Coast High School, Coffey said.

    The second grant -- $1 million -- will pay for the design and construction of a new turn lane and traffic signal at the intersection of U.S. 1 and Royal Palms Parkway.

    · Commissioners approved the purchase of 97 acres of land at Sweetbottom Plantation along Bulow Creek for $2.5 million in a divided vote. The approved purchase is nearly $900,000 more than the most recent appraisal done on the property. Peterson and Commission Chairwoman Milissa Holland voted against the land buy, saying the difference between the seller's bottom line and the assessed value of the property was simply too great.

  • 20 May 2009 9:16 AM | Jackson McQuigg (Administrator)

    Amtrak breaks ground on
    new Sanford station

    Updated: Monday, 18 May 2009, 11:41 PM EDT
    Published : Monday, 18 May 2009, 3:23 PM EDT

    SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - A groundbreaking ceremony was held in Sanford Monday for a new $10 million Amtrak auto train station.

    It will be in the same location as the current building. The old one was damaged during the 2004 hurricane season. When the new station is finished it will be about four times the size of the current building.

    Last year some 235,000 passengers traveled on the Auto Train, which takes passengers and their vehicles to the Washington D.C. area. The auto train has operated between Sanford and Lorton, Va., since 1983.

    The new station is scheduled to be complete in the fall of 2010.

  • 19 May 2009 12:57 PM | Deleted user

    Published: Tampa Tribune

    May 19, 2009

    TAMPA - Hillsborough County's Transportation Task Force is backing a high-speed rail plan linking Tampa and Orlando.

    The task force approved a motion Monday to formally endorse the project, one of several across the nation that emerged after the federal government proposed that $8 billion in stimulus funds go toward high-speed rail.

    The Federal Railroad Administration is holding workshops across the country to gauge support for high-speed rail projects.

    The motion by task force members comes as the railroad administration is set to meet Thursday in Orlando to consider Florida's plan to connect Tampa, Orlando, Miami and Jacksonville.

    The first leg of that plan, Tampa to Orlando, would cost about $2 billion.

    Ray Chiaramonte, executive director of the county's Metropolitan Planning Organization, said the Tampa-Orlando leg is farther along than others across the nation and could begin in 18 to 24 months if funding is in place. About a dozen other states are floating their own proposals.

    "We have an advantage for a short period of time over the other proposals with the work that has already been accomplished," he said.

    In addition, Chiaramonte said the system could complement a future light-rail program in the Tampa area.

  • 14 May 2009 3:41 PM | Jackson McQuigg (Administrator)
    Supporters scramble to salvage SunRail

    Despite the Florida legislature's repeated rejection of a 61-mile central Florida regional rail service, dubbed SunRail, Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.) and the Florida Department of Transportation continue to explore ways to keep the proposal alive.

    “We've got to explore all of our options and see if we can move forward. There may be a delay in the service,” Mica said. “We've invested eight years. We have $100 million in public hearings and planning."


    For its part, FDOT “is already working to save the regional rail system,” FDOT District 5 spokesman Steve Olsen said. “Our official position is, we're in the process of looking at the options. We're talking with our funding partners.”

    FDOT, acting on behalf of the state, was to purchase right-of-way from current owner CSX between DeLand and Poinciana, at a cost of about $615 million. Legislators objected to several issues but especially the portion of the proposed agreement absolving CSX from any liability on the route, even if CSX was involved in any incident.

    Adding moral support to the SunRail effort was DOT Secretary Ray LaHood, who said,  “Commuter rail for Central Florida is important to the state and the nation.”

    But the clock continues ticking. At a meeting hosted by the Railway Supply Institute in Washington May 7, CSX Director of Federal Affairs Stephen Flippin said time was running out for SunRail, and CSX’s deal with the state was set to expire on June 30.

  • 11 May 2009 8:37 AM | Stephen Sayles (Administrator)

    I apologize for not mentioning all the awesome assistance that NARP gave us once again. Bob Stewart did a great job again this year as emcee and we could not have been as effective without their help.

    Thank you NARP!!

    Stephen Sayles

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