Henry Fagler’s descendant company aims to repeat history in an attempt to revive private intercity passenger-rail service. Florida East Coast Industries, owned by Fortress Investment Group LLC, will start construction on a $2.3 billion passenger-train called All Aboard Florida.
The train ride will provide a three-hour ride connecting Miami and Orlando with stops in West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale. Although there is positive backing for the new train system, the project faces challenges including an environmental review, residents’ opposition and uncertain federal backing. But even with this opposition, FECI believes the project will fill seats due to the clogged highways, long airport waits and low cost.
FECI is not just looking to connect the beach city to the family tourist destination. The company plans to invest in real estate by using a train station to house shopping, apartments and commercial space. If FECI completes the project with the rail system and real estate project, All Aboard Florida will be among the nation's boldest transit oriented developments.
The first phase of the project will consist of upgrading existing tracks between Miami and West Palm Beach and building three train stations. The second phase includes building 40 miles of track next to a highway to connect Orlando. Phase Two is still under environmental review. Even if the project is completed, there are concerns whether the train will be able to have enough customers to make the venture profitable. FECI believes the first trains will begin running by 2016.