Category Archives: Florida

Remember When: Honorary citizen of StAugustine, Florida, 1938: Col. Fulgencio Batista,

PenneyVanderbilt

Because we follow Florida East Coast Railway and All Aboard Florida so closely, we run into some other amazing stories about Florida/ This one came from the St. Augustine WebSite StAugustine.com

The connection of Florida and Cuba was around for a long time before the Castro “problem”, which we hope is on a way to a solution.

 

 

Contributed by James Banta Col. Fulgencio Batista, Cuban army chief, became an honorary citizen of St. Augustine on Nov. 21, 1938. Mayor Walter B. Fraser presented Batista with an inscribed scroll during the ceremony which took place during a brief stop of the Florida East Coast Railway train he was on. Pictured from left to right is Jim Banta, Mrs. Collins, General Collins, Fraser, Batista and Mary Louise Ponce. Every Monday we are running a photo to remind readers of what St. Augustine was like in the past. If you have…

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Let’s Talk About Florida East Coast Railway and the Obama Cuba Policy

PenneyVanderbilt

The new U.S. policy that may open up trade opportunities with Cuba would make FEC a very attractive stock, because the 351-mile railroad that starts in Jacksonville is the only rail line that connects to the port of Miami. Actually, it makes FEC attractive as a buyout candidate even if it doesn’t go public.
Back when Florida East Coast Industries Inc. was a public company, its stock was always sensitive to hints that trade may be opening up with Cuba. Of course, that never panned out.

Port of Miami Port of Miami

One investment manager who constantly talked up FEC was Thomas Herzfeld of Miami Beach, who runs a mutual fund called the Herzfeld Caribbean Basin Fund.
The Herzfeld fund invests in companies with economic ties throughout the Caribbean, but its particular focus is Cuba. The fund’s ticker symbol is “CUBA.”
Herzfeld began buying shares of FEC in the early 1990s and its…

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Florida East Coast Railway Runs Inaugural Of New GE Tier 3 ES44C4 locomotives

JACKSONVILLE, Fla.,  Nov. 26, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — On  Friday, November 21 st, Florida East Coast Railway (FECR) completed the inaugural run of its first two new GE ES44C4 locomotives.  Locomotives FEC 803 and FEC 804 provided state-of-the-art Tier 3 locomotive power to FECR Train 101; the company’s most expedited through-freight train, transporting automotive, carload and intermodal freight from    Jacksonville to Miami.

 

FECR team members worked to prepare the locomotives for the first run, ensuring smooth operations for the historic inaugural trip.  According to   David Kobryn, FECR Locomotive Superintendent, “Within days of these units arriving in    Jacksonville, our Mechanical Team had completed standard service procedures, equipped the units with WiTonix, and they were ready for service.”

 

The new locomotives also got positive reviews from the FECR operations team.”The new locomotives are quiet and comfortable in the cab.  Overall I was impressed by the way they handled,” said   Donald Wolff, FECR Locomotive Engineer.

 

Mark Baker, FECR Conductor, similarly said, “The new GE locomotives are quieter with a comfortable ride and loud horn.  The radio on the conductor side of the cab is a definite plus and good to have for emergencies.”

 

“What a thrill it was to be able to be part of the crew for this historic event with the new GE additions to the FECR fleet,” said   Eric Usina, FECR Road Foreman of Engines.  “These new GE locomotives exceeded my expectations in every way on this first run.”

 

Fran Chinnici, Senior Vice President of Mechanical, Engineering and Purchasing was onboard this inaugural run with his key staff members and GE personnel.  He said, “I am extremely pleased with the initial performance of these new locomotives and look forward to the many benefits these units provide, including fuel efficiency and reduced emissions.  This exciting time for FECR was made even more special by all the FECR rail fans waving and taking pictures up and down the route.”

 

Part of GE’s Evolution Series, the ES44C4 locomotives are designed using advanced engine technology that lowers fuel consumption while also controlling NOx and particulate matter (PM) emissions. The company will receive a total of 24 ES44C4 locomotives from GE Transportation before the end of the year.

 

“As we continue to grow and expand, it is critical that we have dependable and efficient horsepower to support the transportation of intermodal, carload, auto and port business.  With these new Tier 3 locomotives, we are well positioned to handle current and future customer needs,” said   James R. Hertwig, FECR President and CEO.

 

  About Florida East Coast Railway
 

 The Florida East Coast Railway (“FEC”) is a 351-mile freight rail line located along the east coast of Florida.  It is the exclusive rail provider for    Port Miami, Port Everglades, and Port of    Palm Beach.  FEC connects to the national railroad network in Jacksonville,    Florida, and provides carload and door-to-door intermodal solutions across    North America to customers who demand cost-effective and premium quality service. 

 

I’m sure  FEC founder Mr.Flagler is proud to see this.

As  a  former GE employee, I am glad too

 

 

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Streetcars of Florida’s First Coast by Robert W. Mann

This is a companion to all the Florida rail issues we write. Great to know about the streetcars of Florida too.

Overview

In the late 1800s, a new method to power streetcars ushered Florida’s First Coast cities into the modern era. Earlier travelers moved around town on hay burners, but after the very first electric-powered trolley cruised up Jacksonville’s Main Street in 1893, railways cropped up throughout the region. When the new railroad terminal opened in 1919, it handled millions of passengers, becoming the hub of the streetcar system and the largest railroad station in the South. With almost sixty miles of track, the Jacksonville Traction Company was the largest streetcar system in Florida. Award-winning author and historian Robert W. Mann chronicles the story behind Florida’s bygone streetcar epoch and the dramatic history of city builders, financiers, organized labor, civil rights, fire, fever, nabobs and railway men.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781626197077
  • Publisher: History Press, The
  • Publication date: 11/4/2014
  • Series: Transportation
  • Pages: 224

Meet the Author

Robert Mann is a co-publisher of metrojacksonville.com, which is partnered with Jacksonville’s channel 4, and a semi-retired transportation consultant who grew up in Jacksonville’s historic Ortega neighborhood. He is co-author of “Reclaiming Jacksonville.” Bob owned his own small trucking business in Los Angeles and then launched his local transportation career at Jacksonville International Airport with Piedmont Airlines.Glorious is a well-known motivational speaker and former professor. Johnson earned her bachelor’s degree in music education from Jacksonville University and has two master’s degrees, one from Nova University in school administration and supervision, and the other from Columbia University’s Teachers’ College in educational administration/organizational leadership. She works as a mental health therapist with her certification in psychology from Edward Waters College.

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Two Votes Could Clear The Way For All Aboard Florida

Miami-Dade and Brevard county commissioners are scheduled to vote this morning on policy changes that will help All Aboard Florida pursue a portion of the $1.75 billion in tax-exempt bonds it hopes will pay for the construction of its Miami to Orlando passenger rail service.

The change in Brevard County was still being negotiated late last week between county officials and the Florida Development Finance Corporation, according to emails included with the agenda item.  Sticking points included how many years All Aboard Florida will pay for crossing maintenance and whether the corporation will share its fee for acting as the conduit issuer of the bonds.

A Friday memo from Brevard County Attorney Scott Knox says the corporation is willing to pay $100,000 to the county, and assume maintenance of the county’s crossings for seven years. Brevard was seeking a 10-year reprieve.

Today’s votes will pave the way for All Aboard Florida to move forward with its $2.5 billion project. Brevard must increase a $7.5 million cap it has on allowing the corporation to issue bonds for capital projects. The proposal would increase that to no more than $375 million. Miami-Dade  must increase its cap to $325 million.

Brevard’s agreement also “removes any All Aboard Florida responsibility to pay for the costs of quiet zones if federal funding is not available.”

Controversial crossing agreements that All Aboard Florida has been pushing since late December could also be part of Brevard’s deal. The agreements would add All Aboard Florida as a third-party beneficiary to the agreements between municipalities and the Florida East Coast Railway.

All Aboard Florida is seeking funding through private activity bonds to supplement or replace the $1.6 billion Federal Railroad Administration loan it had previously applied for. The bonds issued in Brevard County will be used for rail infrastructure in that county, according to the corporation.

Bill Spivey, executive director of the Florida Development Finance Corporation, said Oct. 7 in an interview with the Palm Beach Post that Palm Beach County does not need to change its agreement with the corporation to issue the private activity bonds.

Miami-Dade County is the only other county that needs to increase its bond cap.

All Aboard Florida and its opponents have been trying to get people to today’s meeting to voice their support or concerns. All Aboard Florida sent a tweet out yesterday encouraging supporters to attend, while Florida Not All Aboard advertised the meeting on its websites and pleaded for Brevard officials to deny the company’s crossing agreement proposal.

“This is the most valuable bargaining chip Brevard County has in its negotiations over costs with All Aboard Florida,” the group wrote. “Until Brevard knows all costs that will be incurred as a result of AAF’s project, it would be irresponsible to concede this critical point of leverage.”

Earlier this month, All Aboard Florida President and Chief Development Officer Michael Reininger said the bonds will allow the railroad to begin construction on the second phase of the line between West Palm Beach and Orlando more quickly than if it waited for the approval of a $1.6 billion Federal Railroad Administration loan.

Reininger thought the U.S. Department of Transportation may approve the bonds by the end of this month.

Private activity bonds are designed to encourage companies to invest in projects that are beneficial to the public and local economies.

There has been $15 billion set aside at the federal level for private activity bonds. As of Sept. 17, the US Department of Transportation has issued $4.8 billion for 13 projects. Another $5.4 billion has been allocated for seven projects. None of the projects are in Florida.

If All Aboard Florida’s $1.75 billion request is approved, it would be the highest amount allocated in the program for a single project.

Brevard County, with its mostly coastal communities such as Palm Bay, Melbourne, Cocoa Beach and Titusville, has not had the same intense opposition to All Aboard Florida that Treasure Coast communities have.

But the relationship has been testy.

In July, County Attorney Scott Knox wrote a 12-page legal analysis of All Aboard Florida and Brevard’s crossing agreements with its parent company Florida East Coast Railroad. The summary includes the suggestion that some, or all, of the decades-old crossing agreements could be void and unenforceable under the Florida Constitution.

That spurred a July 31 letter from All Aboard Florida General Counsel Myles Tobin.

“I am concerned that you have received some uninformed factual and legal advice, which has caused you to develop an analysis fraught with misinformation and tenuous conclusions,” Tobin wrote.

Information from Palm Beach Post

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Comments and Concerns About ALL ABOARD FLORIDA

Citizens Against Rail Expansion, a group opposed to the All Aboard Florida project, is held a press conference  where first responders discusse what they believe are negative impacts of the passenger rail service.

The press conference was held at the Jupiter Medical Center

Speakers included John Couris, president and CEO of Jupiter Medical Center, Michael Collins, medical director of emergency services, and Tequesta Police Chief Christopher Elg. Tequesta Mayor Abby Brennan has said she is concerned about emergency vehicles being delayed by the increase of 32 trains per day on the Florida East Coast Railway tracks. All Aboard Florida is expected to begin service between Miami and West Palm Beach in 2016, with an Orlando leg opening in 2017.

“Because of the way we are surrounded by water, one train can block all three of our crossings,” Brennan said earlier this year. “Our assisted living facilities are all on the east side and we are worried that with all these extra trains ambulances may get stuck waiting.”

In other news:In less than two years, train horns will no longer be blaring along the coastal tracks that parallel U.S. 1 from Miami to West Palm Beach.

But after being turned down for a federal grant, the region won’t be getting hoped-for maximum safety upgrades – above and beyond what’s required to silence the horns – at many of the crossings on the Florida East Coast Railway.

All Aboard Florida plans to relocate or replace warning devices at every crossing, as it begins to build the first phase of its passenger rail service slated to start running in late 2016.

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