Tri-Rail (reporting mark TRCX) is a commuter rail line linking Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach, Florida, United States. It is run by the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority (SFRTA). The 70.9-mile-long (114.1 km) system has 18 stations along the Southeast Florida coast. The system connects directly to Amtrak at numerous stations, and the Metrorail in Hialeah (Miami) at the Tri-Rail and Metrorail Transfer Station. By mid-2013, it will connect with both systems at Miami Central Station at Miami International Airport.
A second Tri-Rail line, on the Florida East Coast Railway corridor, is currently in planning to be operational by 2014. The line is expected to extend Tri-Rail service north to Jupiter, Florida, and south through Downtown Fort Lauderdale, terminating at Government Center in Downtown Miami, as well as numerous intermediate cities such as Hollywood, and inner city Miami neighborhoods such as the Miami Design District, Little Haiti, and Wynwood.
Planning for the system 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, originally 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 was four dollars 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 service 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 they 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 Hialeah Market Station (formerly Miami Airport Station) to the new Miami Airport station. Construction of the extensions began in 1996; which added nearly 4 miles (6.4 km) to the system. 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. Once several other modernization projects are completed, SFRTA will assume full responsibility for dispatching and maintenance from CSX. During the 2000s, all of the stations other than Pompano Beach were redone to include new elevators and pedestrian bridges over the tracks, large roofs over the platforms, and better facilities. 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.
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 has seen a double-digit percentage increase in ridership in mid-2007. 2009 saw a record high number of passengers, over 4.2 million 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.
However, in 2009 Tri-Rail service was nearly cut drastically with the threat being shut down altogether by 2011 even as ridership was at a record high as Palm Beach County could no longer fund its support of the system and was looking to slash its funding from $4.1 to $1.6 million. 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 dollar grant as part of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009.
After a 25% fare increase in mid 2009, ridership dropped by about 600,000 in 2010.[quantify] However, in 2011, Tri-Rail again saw increasing ridership along with 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. The total ridership for 2011 was 3.95 million, the second highest, behind 2009. However, as Tri-Rail's fleet was aging, the cars were becoming crowded during the rush hour periods. Starting on November 28, 2011, the large project of extending the express lanes from the Golden Glades Interchange into Broward County began, and is likely to cause lane closures and congestion that may again lead to an increase in Tri-Rail ridership. After this project is completed in late 2014, the much larger project of rebuilding the Golden Glades Interchange could begin by 2016.
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 originally proposed for this location in the early 2000s while many other stations were being renovated. The current Boca Raton station near Yamato Road (S.R. 794) is the third busiest in the system.
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 $100 monthly pass (good for Tri-Rail only) and a $140 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 16 trips, eight north and eight south, are made in all, with two 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).
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 will reopen in late 2013 or early 2014.
FEC Line 
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.
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, possibly sooner by 2014. 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. The plan will now go to the tri-county Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO)'s boards for approval. The plan is being fast-tracked in phases to provide service on the FEC portion from Downtown Fort Lauderdale and Downtown Miami's Government Center Station as soon as 2014.
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.
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.
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.
Rolling Stock 
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.
Passenger Cars 
Like many other commuter rail services in the United States, Tri-Rail utilizes 26 Bombardier BiLevel Coaches, 11 with operating cabs and 15 without. Additional bi-level rolling stock from Colorado Railcar (4 DMU power coaches and 2 unpowered coaches) has been used since 2006.
In 2010, the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority purchased new rail cars from Hyundai Rotem for $95 million. The first new car was put into service in March 2011. By late 2011, the 10 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. Currently, Tri-Rail owns and operates 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).
Station list 
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (January 2012)|
Currently, the Tri-Rail has 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 currently available at the Tri-Rail and Metrorail Transfer Station, and will be available at the Miami Central Station as well starting in 2013. 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. 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 Station||Palm Tran: 31, 33|
|West Palm Beach Station||Amtrak: Silver Star, Silver Meteor
Palm Tran: 40, 43, 44, 45, 50 Downtown WPB shuttle
|Lake Worth Station||Palm Tran: 60, 62|
|2||Boynton Beach Station||Palm Tran: 70, 71 Boynton Crosstown|
|Delray Beach Station||Amtrak: Silver Star, Silver Meteor
Palm Tran: 2, 70, 81 Delray Crosstown
|3||Boca Raton Station||Palm Tran: 2, 94|
|Broward County||Deerfield Beach Station||Amtrak: Silver Star, Silver Meteor
Broward County Transit: 48
|Pompano Beach Station||Broward County Transit: 34|
|4||Cypress Creek Station||Broward County Transit: 60, 62|
|Fort Lauderdale Station||Amtrak: Silver Star, Silver Meteor
Miami Metrobus: 95X
Broward County Transit: 9, 22, 595 Express Fort Lauderdale, 81
|5||Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport Station at Dania Beach||Broward County Transit: 4, 6, 15, 16, 595 Express Miami, SFEC Shuttle|
|Sheridan Street Station||Miami Metrobus: 95X
Broward County Transit: 3, 12
|Hollywood Station||Amtrak: Silver Star, Silver Meteor
Broward County Transit: 7. 95X
|6||Miami-Dade County||Golden Glades Station||Miami Metrobus: 22, 49 Commuter, 59 Commuter, 77, 95X, 277 MAX, E
Broward County Transit: 18, 441 Breeze, University Breeze
|Opa-locka Station||Miami Metrobus: 32, 42|
|Metrorail Transfer Station||Amtrak: Silver Star, Silver Meteor (to move operations to the Miami Central Station in 2013/2014)
Miami Metrorail: Green Line
Miami Metrobus: 42, L (112)
|Hialeah Market Station
(Temporary Tri-Rail terminus until the completion of the Miami Central Station in late 2013/early 2014, Route 133 (Tri-Rail/Airport shuttle service from Miami Airport Station will diverted here)
|Miami Metrobus: 132, 133|
|Miami Central Station
(Closed mid-September, 2011; reopening in late 2013/early 2014 as last phase of the Miami Intermodal Center)
|Amtrak: Silver Star, Silver Meteor
Miami Metrorail: Orange Line
Miami Metrobus: 37, 42, 42A, 57, J, 133 Airport Shuttle, 150 Airport Flyer, 238 East-West Connection
MIA Mover to central airport terminal
(Miami service will be moved to the Miami Central Station in 2013/2014, with direct connections to Miami Metrorail, Miami International Airport, Amtrak, the MIA Mover, Greyhound, and Miami Metrobus bus lines. New MDT bus lines 6, 7M, 836X are to be added to the Central Station upon completion)
Annual ridership averages
Ridership records 
Tri-Rail carried more passengers on National Dump the Pump Day 2011 than on any other day in its 22-year history. A record 19,731 trips were logged, breaking the previous record - set on the day of the Miami Heat Victory Parade in 2006 - by more than 1,000 riders. Rides were free on that day.
See also 
- 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
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- Turnbell, Michael (January 12, 2012). "Tri-Rail's ridership soars in 2011". Sun Sentinel. Retrieved 2012-01-12.
- "Golden Glades Interchange needs a makeover". Retrieved 2011-11-23.
- Streeter, Angel (January 4, 2011). "Second Tri-Rail station in Boca Raton proposed". Retrieved 2011-01-04.
- "Save Money on Holiday Travel by Riding Tri-Rail to Airports Across South Florida". Retrieved 2011-12-04.
- "Tri-Rail Open WJTV". WJTV. 1989. Retrieved 2011-11-27.
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- "South Florida Regional Transportation Authority". Sfrta.fl.gov. Retrieved 2011-02-27.
- "$109 Million Tri-Rail Contract Awarded After Challenge". Sunshine State News. 25 February 2011. Archived from the original on 27 February 2011. Retrieved 27 February 2011.
- Michael Turnbell (5 January 2013). "Tri-Rail gets new, safer passenger cars". Sun Sentinel. Retrieved 09 May 2013.
- "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". SFRTA. Retrieved 2011-12-11.
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- "Tri-Rail Breaks All Previous Ridership Records On Dump The Pump Day 2011". SFRTA. June 2011. Retrieved 31 October 2011.
- Tri-Rail Official website
- South Florida Regional Transportation Authority
- South Florida East Coast Corridor Study - Study by the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority to reduce congestion and increase mobility in Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties.
- Transit Miami
- Colorado Railcar