All, See the article below. This is precisely the kind of approach that's needed in Ohio. And, one may react that Florida's congestion problems are much worse than Ohio's. But heavily traveled I-95 from Orlando to Miami that's expected to see some congestion relief from this plan has 11.5 million vehicles, while I-71 from Cleveland to Columbus has 9.5 million. Yes, we have less traffic, but not as much as I would have expected, especially compared to tourist-rich Florida. KJP ------------------------------------------------------------------ The Palm Beach Post WEST PALM BEACH - Amtrak is proposing to connect Florida's cities like never before with greatly expanded passenger train service and new stations over the next three to 20 years. Four trains would run a four-hour leg daily between West Palm Beach and Orlando, compared with two trains now. More trains would carry travelers along two other corridors - Miami to Tampa and Tampa to Orlando. And new stations would pop up in Daytona Beach, Stuart and other towns between Jacksonville and Miami. Amtrak's plan, submitted at the request of the state Department of Transportation, would cost an estimated $354 million to $485 million by 2005. The rail agency wants the state to split that bill for track, station and crossing improvements and extra locomotives and coach cars. DOT administrators are expected to review the plan next month. The intercity passenger rail proposal comes a year after Gov. Job Bush derailed a proposed $6.3 billion bullet train connecting Miami, West Palm Beach, Orlando and Tampa. The extra service depends on Amtrak negotiating agreements with the state and freight carriers CSX Transportation and Florida East Coast Railway, and commuter rail agency Tri-Rail. "It's doable," Amtrak spokesman Kevin Johnson said. "It's going to take a lot of work, especially with getting the equipment to provide additional service, but we feel we can do it." Amtrak has already struck partnerships with nine other states, including New York, Pennsylvania and Illinois, to expand passenger rail service as a way to reduce highway congestion, increase economic development and provide another alternative for commuters. The plan for Florida outlines improvements in four phases. In the next three years, Amtrak will restructure its long-distance passenger service to the Northeast. Three Silver line trains now run once a day between New York and Miami. Between West Palm Beach and Jacksonville, the trains travel through Orlando and Ocala and bypass some cities along the coast. Under the new plan, one of the trains would switch to the FEC rail in Jacksonville and continue south along the east coast to South Florida. The train would make six or seven stops, including St. Augustine, Daytona Beach and Stuart. Amtrak has been negotiating for years with the FEC Railway about sharing its line with freight carriers. FEC officials said Wednesday they remain hopeful an agreement can be reached. According to FEC spokeswoman Jane Covington, the negotiations center on three issues - safety, capacity and compensation. "Whenever you mix passenger trains and freight trains, that has to be an area of concern. And we want to ensure we have the capacity to grow our own business," Covington said. "We've made significant progress in working through these issues." The second phase, set for 2005, would increase daily service on the Miami to Orlando, Miami to Tampa and Tampa to Orlando routes. Amtrak projects 625,000 passengers would ride the Miami to Orlando train in the first year. This is about 7.2 percent of the 11.5 million people that, according to DOT estimates, will make the trip this year by car or plane. "What we hear and see is congestion on the highway is getting to the point where people are fed up," Johnson said. "Using the airlines often is no better." After 2005, Amtrak would make improvements to the three rail corridors to add more daily round trips and new stations. The improvements would allow trains to increase the maximum speed from 79 mph to 110 mph, cutting travel times. By 2020, several new routes would be added, including Orlando to Port Canaveral, Fort Lauderdale to Naples and Jacksonville to Pensacola. No cost estimates, travel times or ridership projections have been developed for these projects. end ------------------ When in doubt, empty your magazine.