Passenger Trains and Fancy Yachts Compete for Bridge Time.

There’s a railroad bridge near Jupiter, Florida, that crosses the Loxahatchee River. It’s a drawbridge that sits in the raised position to allow pleasure boats to pass underneath and lowers into position for trains. It’s an old bridge and takes 12 minutes or more to go through the down-and-up cycle whenever a freight train passes over. 

But soon there will be All Aboard Florida trains operating between Miami and Orlando and they will be crossing that bridge, too … supposedly 32 trains a day, 16 in each direction. And – Oh, my! – the people who own all those power boats and sailing yachts are really upset!  (I confess I’m having a hard time feeling sorry for them.)

The passenger trains they say are going to ruin their QOYL (that’s “quality of yachting life”) are scheduled to begin service sometime this year and, unless I miss my guess, they’ll do well from the get-go. According to Florida East Coast Industries, the parent company of All Aboard Florida, 50 million people a year travel between Miami and Orlando. I’m willing to bet that a whole big bunch of those folks will figure out that it’s going to be more relaxing and a lot more fun covering those 240 miles by train than doing it by car … and in an hour less time, too.

I must say, however, I’m not looking forward to buffoons in Congress like Rep. John Mica (R-FL) inevitably holding up All Aboard Florida as a shining example of private enterprise being able to run passenger trains that makes money, and beating Amtrak over the head with that.

Of course, there’s a reason All Aboard Florida will be able to do that: their parent company owns the tracks, maintains the right-of-way, and will see to it that the AAF trains aren’t shoved off onto a siding while a half-dozen freight trains loaded with crude oil go lumbering by.
John Mica won’t bother to mention that.