South Central Florida Express, Inc.
|Dates of operation||1994–|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge|
South Central Florida Express, Incorporated (reporting mark SCXF) (originally known as the South Central Florida Railroad (reporting mark SCFE) and run by the Brandywine Valley Railroad until September 17, 1994) is a short line railroad in southern Florida run by US Sugar Corporation. It serves customers at 26 locations.
U.S. Sugar, the only sugar company in the continental U.S. to transport sugarcane by rail, owns private trackage to take the cane to the SCFE. From there, the SCFE runs around both sides of Lake Okeechobee. The west side connects to CSX's Auburndale Subdivision at Sebring, and the east side crosses CSX at Marcy and interchanges with the Florida East Coast Railway at Fort Pierce, with haulage rights to CSX and Norfolk Southern at Jacksonville, Florida.
|South Central Florida Express (West Connection)|
The 87 miles (140 km) west connection, west of Lake Harbor, was a CSX line (Sebring Subdivision along the mainline to the sugar fields, and Okeelanta Subdivision on the spur to Lake Harbor).
The northernmost 42 miles of the west connection between Sebring and Harrisburg (just south of Palmdale) was built in 1916 by the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad as part of an effort to extend their Haines City Branch south to Immokalee. Trackage south of Harrisburg to Immokalee, which went as far south as Everglades City via the former Deep Lake Railroad at one time, was abandoned in the 1980s.
The Atlantic Coast Line built tracks from Harrisburg (which was named after the Harris track-laying machine used to construct the line) to Moore Haven in 1918. In 1921, the Moore Haven & Clewiston Railway was built, which extended the Coast Line's tracks to Clewiston. The Coast Line leased the Moore Haven & Clewiston Railway in 1925, and extended it to Lake Harbor in 1929. The line mostly served U.S. Sugar, who built and operated their own small branch near Clewiston and Lake Okeechobee that connected to the Coast Line. By 1944, the Coast Line completely bought out the Moore Haven & Clewiston Railway.
The west connection was bought from CSX on June 2, 1990, by the Brandywine Valley Railroad, a Lukens Steel Company subsidiary, and sold to U.S. Sugar on September 17, 1994. U.S. Sugar then spun off the railroad into a separate company with its own board of directors to operate independently from the 119 miles (192 km) branch line U.S. Sugar already owned.
|South Central Florida Express (East Connection)|
The 71 miles (114 km) east connection, east of Lake Harbor, is still owned by the Florida East Coast Railway as its Fort Pierce-Lake Harbor Branch (also known as the K-Branch). It was part of the original Kissimmee Valley Line to Lake Okeechobee, which originally branched off the FEC mainline near New Smyrna Beach. It reached Belle Glade by 1923, and was extended to the Miami Canal in Lake Harbor in 1929 to connect with the Atlantic Coast Line. Most of the Kissimmee Valley Line north of Marcy was abandoned in 1947, and the remaining track was connected to the FEC main line by way of a new cutoff from Fort Pierce.
On March 2, 1998, South Central Florida Express and the Florida East Coast Railway entered into a car haulage arrangement, allowing SCFE to use the branch and the mainline to interchange with CSX and Norfolk Southern at Jacksonville.
- Turner, Gregg M. (December 1, 1999). Railroads of Southwest Florida. Images of America. Arcadia Publishing.
- Bramson, Seth (2003). Speedway to Sunshine: The Story of the Florida East Coast Railway. Boston Mills Press.
- Turner, Gregg (2003). A Short History of Florida Railroads. Arcadia Publishing.
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