|This article is outdated. (January 2015)|
Tri-Rail (reporting mark TRCX) is a commuter rail line linking Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach, Florida, United States. It is managed by the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority (SFRTA) along CSX Transportation's former Miami Subdivision, the line now wholly owned by the Florida DOT. The 70.9-mile-long (114.1 km) system has 18 stations along the Southeast Florida coast, and connects directly to Amtrak at numerous stations, and to Metrorail at the Tri-Rail and Metrorail Transfer Station and at Miami Airport station.
A second Tri-Rail line on the Florida East Coast Railway corridor, dubbed the "Coastal Link", is being planned, to be operational by 2020. The planned line will operate between Jupiter and Government Center in Downtown Miami, and add passenger rail between the downtown areas of West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, and Miami. Combined with the existing Tri-Rail line, the Tri-Rail system would have a daily passenger ridership of almost 30,000; or approximately 9 million passengers per annum, doubling Tri-Rail's current ridership.
- 1 History
- 2 Extensions and upgrades
- 3 Operations
- 4 Rolling stock
- 5 Station list
- 6 Ridership
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 External links
1920s: Seaboard-All Florida Railway
The line on which Tri-Rail operates was built by the Seaboard-All Florida Railway (a subsidiary of the Seaboard Air Line Railroad) for intercity passenger rail service in the early 1920s. The line was inaugurated on January 7, 1927. Intercity rail service by Seaboard operated the Orange Blossom Special service from New York City until 1953. Amtrak continues to offer passenger rail service with the Silver Star and Silver Meteor trains from New York City. Today, the original 1920s Seaboard stations are used by Tri-Rail for service at West Palm Beach, Deerfield Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood, Though no longer in use, the Seaboard stations at Delray Beach, Opa-locka, and Hialeah are still standing.
1980-1990s: Planning and inauguration
Planning for a new commuter rail line began in 1983, and building the organization began in 1986. The current system was formed by the Florida Department of Transportation and began operation January 9, 1989, to provide temporary commuter rail service while construction crews widened Interstate 95 and the parallel Florida's Turnpike. Tri-Rail was free from opening until May 1, 1990, at which time the fare became $4 round trip.
Due to higher than expected ridership, Tri-Rail outlasted its temporary status, adding more trains and stations in the process. Line extensions have enabled Tri-Rail to serve all three South Florida international airports: Miami International Airport, Fort Lauderdale – Hollywood International Airport, and Palm Beach International Airport. The state's original plan was to use the more urban Florida East Coast Railway (FEC) line, but FEC declined the offer as it wanted freight to be their top priority. In 1998, the initial 67-mile-long (108 km) route was extended north from the West Palm Beach Station to the Mangonia Park Station, and south from the Hialeah Station to Miami Airport (at an earlier station on the site of the current station). Construction of the extensions began in 1996; which added nearly 4 miles (6.4 km) to the system.
2000s: New stations, more service
In the early 2000s, Tri-Rail received a budget of $84.8 million for double tracking, building extensions, improving stations, establishling a headquarters, and linking to buses.
In 2002, Tri-Rail began to upgrade its grade crossings to include raised medians and/or four quadrant gates to prevent cars from driving around them in an attempt to beat trains. This decreases accidents and allows the cities they run through to petition for them not to use their whistle between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. They also decreased headways to 20 minutes during rush hours.
In 2007, a project to upgrade the full length of the line from Mangonia Park to Miami Airport with double track was completed with the opening of a high-level fixed bridge over the New River near Fort Lauderdale. During the 2000s, most of the stations were completely rebuilt to accommodate for double tracking and include dual platforms, elevators, pedestrian bridges over the tracks, large roofs over the platforms, and better facilities.
In March 2006, Tri-Rail went from 30 passenger trains a day to 40 trains; the completion of the New River rail bridge, the double-tracking project, and the addition of a second Colorado Railcar diesel multiple unit (DMU) ushered in sweeping changes to Tri-Rail's operational timetables. Tri-Rail added several more trains during peak weekday commuting hours in June 2007, increasing to the current 50 trains per day, as well as increasing weekend service. During "rush-hour," trains ran every twenty to thirty minutes rather than the previous schedule of every hour. This change comes at quite a fortuitous time in Tri-Rail's operation history. With gasoline prices at record highs—particularly in South Florida's sprawling metropolis—Tri-Rail saw a double-digit percentage increase in ridership in mid-2007. Over 4.2 million passengers rode the line in 2009, a record number for the year. This was also the time during which work was being done on I-95 to add the express lanes from the Golden Glades Interchange to the Airport Expressway near downtown Miami.
2009–present: Growth and Coastal Link
In 2009, Tri-Rail service was nearly cut drastically, with the threat of being shut down altogether by 2011,  even as ridership was at a record high, as Palm Beach County withheld its funding of the system and looked to cut its funding from $4.1 million to $1.6 million per year. This would mean that Broward and Miami-Dade counties would also have had to cut their support to $1.6 million each to match. The state, which was also running a budget shortfall and did not pass a rental car tax increase to help fund Tri-Rail, would have had to cut its support as well. This would have caused an immediate cut from 50 to 30 daily trains and a complete cutting weekend service, followed by additional cuts and possible shut down two years later.  Schedules were decreased slightly, but service was never cut altogether, as dedicated federal funding was attained through the $2.5 million grant as part of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009.
After a 25% fare increase in mid-2009, annual ridership dropped by 15% (about 600,000) in 2010.  However, in 2011, Tri-Rail again saw increasing ridership due to sustained high gas prices, averaging about 14,500 riders per weekday by the end of year. Throughout the year, ridership increased at a rate of about 11% per month, paired with a decline in automobile travel  and an increase in employment, with 285 companies and 2,829 individuals joining in the discount program.
In 2011, the dilapidated Pompano Beach station received a $5.7 million federal grant, to be redone as a "green station," generating more than 100% of its energy demand through solar power, with the excess to be sent to the grid or stored for nighttime lighting. Construction will start in spring 2012 and is expected to take 18 months to complete, with the station to remain open during construction.  The crossing of Race Track Road and the Tri-Rail line near the Pompano Beach station has been rough for several years, and will be repaired in 2012.
Total ridership on the system fully recovered to earlier high levels in fiscal year 2013, to 4.2 million. Tri-Rail wants to double ridership by 2021 to 30,000 daily riders by building the Coastal Link.
Extensions and upgrades
Miami Central Station
With the new Miami Central Station under construction as of late 2009, the Miami Airport Station would also move into the new central station, along with connections to Amtrak, Metrorail, Metrobus, MIA Mover, Greyhound and the Miami Intermodal Center. In September 2011, the Miami Airport Station closed for the construction of the new Miami Central Station, and reopened in April 2015.
Boca Raton Glades Road Station
In early 2012, it was announced that a second Tri-Rail station in Boca Raton was once again being considered at the busy intersection of Glades Road (S.R. 808) and Military Trail (S.R. 809), near Town Center Mall, Florida Atlantic University and large office parks. A station was proposed for this location in the early 2000s while many other stations were being renovated. Boca Raton station near Yamato Road (S.R. 794) is the busiest station in the system.
Coastal Link (FEC line service)
In the 2025 and 2030 long range transportation plans, Tri-Rail has envisioned moving to or adding service on the Florida East Coast Railway (FEC) corridor, which runs parallel to U.S. 1 (Biscayne Boulevard/Brickell Avenue) in Miami-Dade County, and Federal Highway in Broward and Palm Beach counties). This corridor will provide more opportunities for pedestrian travel from stations to end destinations than does the current South Florida Rail Corridor, which must rely almost exclusively on shuttle buses for passenger distribution. Tri-Rail officials project that the project would cost about $2.5 billion and that 59,000 people per day would ride it, The FEC, which denied the state's request to use the line for commuter rail in the 1980s, under new ownership has now stated that it is willing to allow the use of the 85-mile-long (137 km) segment of track between downtown Miami and Jupiter for passenger trains.
Tri-Rail service on the FEC line would bring stations to Downtown Miami's transit hub, Government Center Station, as well as service in Midtown Miami/Miami Design District, Upper East Side/Miami Shores, North Miami, North Miami Beach/Aventura, Downtown Hollywood, and Downtown Fort Lauderdale, putting it within walking distance of thousands of potential riders. Getting to and from the current stations has always been a major detractor of Tri-Rail's convenience since opening. Miami's Downtown Development Authority along with Miami-area politicians are actively lobbying to bring Tri-Rail to the city core.
Once the Coastal Link is fully implemented, Tri-Rail will operate in three separate services. The Green Line would run on the FEC tracks from Jupiter to Downtown Fort Lauderdale. The Red Line would run on the existing tracks from Mangonia Park to Pompano Beach, and then transition to the FEC tracks and continue to Downtown Miami. The Blue Line would run on the existing tracks from Boca Raton to Miami Airport.
On October 28, 2011, the SFRTA Governing Board approved a plan to run Tri-Rail local and express service on the FEC line to Downtown Miami by 2015. The line would bring direct commuter rail service to Downtown for the first time since 1968 when the FEC ceased its passenger rail service to Miami. Service on the FEC line is now expected to begin in 2020 according to a revised project schedule. The 2020 is a significant delay from the earlier 2014 proposed opening date.
While the Coastal Link is not expected to be fully operational until 2020 at the earliest, SFRTA is seeking funding to begin Tri-Rail service to Downtown Miami by late 2016 when All Aboard Florida is expected to being service. Trains would transfer in Hialeah to the FEC's Hialeah branch and proceed to All Aboard Florida's Downtown Miami station, which will eventually be the Coastal Link's southern terminus. The interim plan would be for half of Tri-Rail's trains to do downtown, with the other half continuing to Miami Airport.
Tri-Rail shares track with Amtrak's Silver Meteor and Silver Star and CSX Transportation's Miami Subdivision. The Florida Department of Transportation purchased the track from CSX in 1989. Under the terms of the agreement, CSX would continue to provide dispatch services and physical plant maintenance for the track and would have exclusive freight trackage rights until certain conditions were met. As of Sunday March 29, 2015 at 12 midnight, CSX handed over dispatching and maintenance to SFRTA (Tri-Rail). While this should have the advantage of giving passenger trains signal priority over freight trains, it was at first wreaked with delays.
Tri-Rail participates in the EASY Card regional smartcard-based fare collection system along with Miami-Dade Transit. Purely paper tickets are also available for same-day or weekend use. A paper ticket or an EASY Card with a paper-based transfer receipt (created after a confirmed trip is completed) can be used to obtain transfer discounts when transferring to Broward County Transit as well as Palm Tran. Only EASY Cards may be used to obtain a transfer discount when transferring to Miami-Dade Transit.
Fares and services
Tri-Rail fare is divided into six zones for one day passes, ranging from $2.50 to $11.55, with fare calculated by the number of zones travelled through, and whether it's one way or round trip. On weekends, a $5 all day pass good for all zones is available, though trains run with very long headways. For frequent use, Tri-Rail offers a $120 monthly pass (good for Tri-Rail only) and a $145 monthly pass good on Tri-Rail, Metrorail, and Metrobus. Discount fares are available for senior citizens, the disabled, and children under five. Certain businesses allow their employees to register for the Employer Discount Program, which reduces their fares by 25%. Free parking is available at most Tri-Rail stations. On weekdays, 50 train trips are made in all, with 25 in each direction, while on weekends only 32 trips, 16 north and 16 south, are made in all, with 1 hour headways between each train. While Tri-Rail peaks at speeds above 80 miles per hour (129 km/h), it can be extracted from the timetable and the distance of the line that its overall average speed is approximately 38 miles per hour (61 km/h).
Revenue and expense
For fiscal year 2010, train revenue was approximately $10.3 million. Total operating expenses for fiscal year 2010, including depreciation expense, were approximately $86.9 million. Expenses increased by approximately $14.9 million or 20.7% when compared to fiscal year 2009. 2010 was a low year for ridership after the economy crashed and there were service cuts. By 2015, ridership was about 25% higher.
The service began with five Morrison-Knudsen F40PHL-2 diesel locomotives. Tri-Rail later took delivery of three MotivePower Industries F40PH-2C locomotives and two ex-Amtrak EMD F40PHs. In 2006, six EMD GP49 locomotives were acquired from Norfolk Southern Railway and were rebuilt by Mid America Car Company to the designation GP49H-3.
On October 29, 2008, the Tri-Rail switched to biodiesel fuel with a goal of a 99-percent blend, when available.
On February 25, 2011, Tri-Rail announced an order for ten Brookville BL36PH locomotives, with options for thirteen more, from the Brookville Equipment Corporation at a cost of $109 million. The purchase was met with criticism by the Florida Chamber of Commerce and state lawmakers, who claimed the bidding process was flawed. Rival bidder MotivePower Industries filed a lawsuit against Tri-Rail, claiming that the bidding process was skewed in Brookville's favor. Tri-Rail later added two more BL36PH locomotives to the order for a total of twelve. As of 2015, all locomotives have been delivered and are used in regular service.
Tri-Rail uses two types of passengers cars. Since the beginning of operations, the system has used 26 Bombardier BiLevel Coaches, a common model among US commuter railroads, 11 with operating cabs and 15 without. Briefly, bi-level rolling stock from Colorado Railcar (4 DMU power coaches and 2 unpowered coaches) was used used beginning in 2006.
In 2010, the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority agreed to purchase new rail cars from Hyundai Rotem for $95 million. The first new car was put into service in March 2011. By late 2011, the 12 new locomotives and 24 new passenger cars had not yet been delivered, and the original cars, many over 30 years old, were falling into disrepair. This led to Tri-Rail often running two cars per train instead of three despite increasing ridership, leaving only standing room on many trains during rush hour. By January 2013, all trains were again running with 3 cars, just as most of the Hyundai Rotem rail cars were delivered. In addition to better increased comfort and reliability, the new cars provide additional safety with front and rear crumple zones designed to absorb energy in a crash.
Diesel multiple units
In 2003, after receiving a grant from the Florida Department of Transportation, Tri-Rail contracted to purchase two pieces of rolling stock from Colorado Railcar: a self-propelled diesel multiple unit (DMU) prototype control car and unpowered bi-level coach entered regular service with Tri-Rail in October 2006. The new purpose-built railcars are larger than the Bombardier BiLevel Coaches, holding up to 188 passengers, with room for bicycles and luggage. Tri-Rail possessed four DMU control cars and two unpowered trailer cars. One DMU train usually consists of two DMU power cars at each end of a trailer coach (making for two complete DMU+trailer+DMU sets on the system). One trainset was sent to the SunRail Rand Yard in Sanford, FL, months before the system opened, for test purposes on their new commuter line. The trainset was sent back to the CSX Hialeah Yard soon after SunRail began revenue service.
Tri-Rail has 18 stations: six stations in Palm Beach County, seven in Broward County, and five in Miami-Dade County. Transfers to county bus service are available at all stations. Transfers to Miami Metrorail are available at the Tri-Rail and Metrorail Transfer Station and the Miami Central Station.
A typical station is composed of two side platforms connected by an overpass and tow tracks, one for southbound trains, and one for northbound trains. At all stations, aside from the Tri-Rail and Metrorail Transfer Station and the West Palm Beach station, southbound and northbound trains board on the west and east platforms, respectively. At the two aforementioned stations, trains board most convenient to customers in their peak directions at peak times. Most stations have large parking lots, however, some, like West Palm Beach and Hollywood have a limited amount of spaces, most of which are reserved for Amtrak travelers.
|1||Palm Beach County||Mangonia Park||Palm Tran: 20, 31, 33|
|West Palm Beach Station||Amtrak: Silver Star, Silver Meteor
Palm Tran: 1, 2, 31, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 49, WPB Downtown Trolley
|Lake Worth||Palm Tran: 61, 62|
|2||Boynton Beach||Palm Tran: 70, 71|
|Delray Beach||Amtrak: Silver Star, Silver Meteor
Palm Tran: 2, 70, 81, Downtown Roundabout
|3||Boca Raton||Palm Tran: 2, 94|
|Broward County||Deerfield Beach||Amtrak: Silver Star, Silver Meteor
Broward County Transit: 48
|Pompano Beach||Broward County Transit: 34|
|4||Cypress Creek||Broward County Transit: 14, 60, 62|
|Fort Lauderdale||Amtrak: Silver Star, Silver Meteor
Miami Metrobus: 95 Express
Broward County Transit: 9, 22, 81, 595 Express, Sun Trolley Neighborhood Link (Weekdays)
|5||Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport at Dania Beach||Broward County Transit: 4, 6, 15, 16, 595 Express, Dania Beach Community Bus West Route|
|Sheridan Street||Miami Metrobus: 95 Express
Broward County Transit: 12
|Hollywood||Amtrak: Silver Star, Silver Meteor
Broward County Transit: 7, 95 Express, City of Hallandale Community Bus 3
|6||Miami-Dade County||Golden Glades||Miami Metrobus: E, 22, 77, 246 Night Owl, 277 NW 7th Ave MAX, 95 Express
Broward County Transit: 18, 441 Breeze, University Breeze
|Opa-locka||Miami Metrobus: 32, 42, 135|
|Metrorail Transfer||Miami Metrorail: Green Line
Miami Metrobus: L, 42
||Miami Metrobus: J, 36|
||Amtrak: Silver Star, Silver Meteor
Miami Metrorail: Orange Line
Miami Metrobus: 7, 37, 42, 57, 110, J, 150 Airport Flyer, 238 East-West Connection & Weekend Express, 297 27th Avenue Orange MAX
MIA Mover to central airport terminal
Annual ridership averages
Tri-Rail posted its highest paid daily ridership in the commuter-rail system's 24-year history on June 24, 2013. It transported 19,060 people, many of whom attended a "victory parade" for the Miami Heat, which won the 2013 National Basketball Association national championship. Most trains operated at or near capacity, SFTRA officials said in a press release. Special four-car sets were operated to accommodate the anticipated overflow crowd.
Previous Miami Heat victory parades resulted in high ridership counts for Tri-Rail, as well. On June 23, 2006, Tri-Rail transported 18,613 riders; and on June 25, 2012, the agency carried 18,355 passengers.
- Metrorail (Miami)
- All Aboard Florida
- Transportation in South Florida
- List of Florida railroads
- List of United States commuter rail systems by ridership
- Commuter rail in North America
- "APTA Ridership Report - Q4 2013 Report" (pdf). American Public Transportation Association (APTA) (via: http://www.apta.com/resources/statistics/Pages/RidershipArchives.aspx ). February 26, 2014. Retrieved 2014-03-14.
- "TRI-RAIL South Florida's Commuter Rail System". GetCruising.com. Retrieved 2011-11-10.
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- "Officials seek public input on new transit option along FEC tracks". Sun-Sentinel. September 16, 2010. Retrieved 2011-11-14.
- Gibson, William E. (April 10, 2001). "TRI-RAIL GETS BOOST IN U.S. BUDGET SHORTFALL: BUSH'S BUDGET PROPOSAL LEAVES EVERGLADES PROJECTS OUT $58 MILLION.". Sun-Sentinel. Retrieved 2011-12-02.
- Turnbell, Michael (June 20, 2002). "Tri-rail Upgrade To Speed Service". Sun-Sentinel. Retrieved 2011-12-01.
- "Now we can get you to work faster..." (pdf). SFRTA. Retrieved 2012-01-12.
- "I-95 express lane construction comes to Broward starting Nov. 28". Sun-Sentinel. Retrieved 2011-11-23.
- "We can't let Tri-Rail close!". CNN. June 7, 2009. Retrieved 2011-11-28.
- Polansky, Risa (April 2, 2009). "Tri-Rail may be forced to cut half its weekday routes, eliminate weekend service". Miami Today News. Retrieved 2011-11-28.
- "Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, Fiscal Year Ended June 30, 2013" (PDF). South Florida Regional Transportation Authority. December 12, 2013. Retrieved 2014-06-12.
- Salisbury, Susan (December 9, 2011). "Driving on the decline as gas prices remain above $3 a gallon". Palm Beach Post. Retrieved 2011-12-09.
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- Turnbell, Michael (November 27, 2011). "New Pompano Beach Tri-Rail station will be solar-powered". Sun-Sentinel. Retrieved 2011-11-28.
- Turnbell, Michael (November 25, 2011). "Rough railroad crossing in Pompano Beach irks jostled drivers". Sun-Sentinel. Retrieved 2011-12-01.
- David Smiley (11 April 2015). "Push to build Miami Tri-Rail station driven by desire as much as data". Miami Herald. Retrieved 14 April 2015.
- Turnbell, Michael (April 5, 2015). "Tri-Rail opens Miami airport station". Sun-Sentinel. Retrieved 2015-04-05.
- Streeter, Angel (January 4, 2011). "Second Tri-Rail station in Boca Raton proposed". Sun-Sentinel. Retrieved 2011-01-04.
- "Tri-Rail Open WJTV". WJTV/YouTube. 1989. Retrieved 2011-11-27.
- "Miami Downtown Development Authority hashing out plans to bring Tri-Rail downtown". Miami Today News. October 29, 2009. Retrieved 2011-02-27.
- "Tri-Rail Coastal Link System Map" (PDF). Tri-Rail Coastal Link. Retrieved 18 February 2015.
- Turnbell, Michael (30 January 2015). "Tri-Rail link to downtown Miami needs $69 million in funds to happen". Sun Sentinel. Retrieved 18 February 2015.
- Turnbell, Michael (April 6, 2015). "Tri-Rail falters in first week of dispatching". Sun-Sentinel. Retrieved April 13, 2015.
- "Calculating Your Fare". Tri-Rail. Retrieved 2013-10-28.
- "Save Money on Holiday Travel by Riding Tri-Rail to Airports Across South Florida". prweb.com. Retrieved 2011-12-04.
- "South Florida Regional Transportation Authority Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, Fiscal Year Ended June 30, 2010" (PDF). SFRTA.
- Smiley, David (April 11, 2015). "Push to build Miami Tri-Rail station driven by desire as much as data". Miami Herald. Retrieved April 12, 2015.
- "South Florida Regional Transportation Authority". Sfrta.fl.gov. Retrieved 2011-02-27.
- "$109 Million Tri-Rail Contract Awarded After Challenge". Sunshine State News. February 25, 2011. Archived from the original on 2011-02-27. Retrieved 2011-02-27.
- Michael Turnbell (January 5, 2013). "Tri-Rail gets new, safer passenger cars". Sun Sentinel. Retrieved 2013-05-09.
- "Tri-Rail faces more challenges than crowded cars". Sun-Sentinel. December 2, 2011. Retrieved 2011-12-02.
- "2002-2007 Annual Ridership through March 31, 2007" (pdf). SFRTA. Retrieved 2011-12-11.
- Kittelson & Associates, Inc. (August 2007). "Performance Measurement Evaluation" (pdf). SFRTA. Retrieved 2011-12-11.
- "Tri-Rail scores record daily ridership due to Miami Heat parade". SFRTA/Progressive Railroading. June 2013. Retrieved 2013-06-26.
- Media related to Tri-Rail at Wikimedia Commons
- Official website
- Tri-Rail Coastal Link Study
- South Florida Regional Transportation Authority