The service should provide a boost to business and tourism for both Orlando and Miami, Nero said. Tourists who often now visit one city or the other, but not both, will for the first time have a direct and convenient connection between the two, while business people could jump on the train for a meeting in the morning and be back home by evening, he said.
“It’s too close to fly and too far to drive, but this is a very happy medium. It’s terrific,’’ Nero said. “I can see tourists who might otherwise decide only to go to Disney, who now might decide to go to Miami for a day or two as well.’’
Amtrak now provides twice daily service from Miami but can take longer than five hours to reach Orlando.
The All Aboard Florida passenger trains — 10 new diesel-powered locomotives with cars carrying 400 passengers — will use the FEC freight rail line’s existing right-of-way, which will be double-tracked, Cumber said. A new rail spur will be built from the existing line, which runs north to Jacksonville, to a new terminal at Orlando International Airport, the service’s endpoint.
With the opening of Metrorail’s new Orange Line service to Miami International Airport, the new service could also make it possible to travel from the Miami airport to Orlando’s airport, and to the city’s famed resorts and theme parks, without a private car. The FECI downtown Miami property runs along the Metrorail downtown line between the Overtown and Government Center stations.
The new station would be only a small part of an extensive new development on the property that would bring new life to the western portion of downtown Miami, Cumber said.
“Everything’s on the table. We’re looking at everything from residential to office and retail and hotel,’’ Cumber said, pledging that whatever the company builds will mesh with downtown Miami. “You want to make sure that what you build has a lasting impact on a community, but also fits into the fabric. You want to make sure what you build is something the community embraces.’’