What is the Difference Between High Speed Rail and Commuter Rail?

High Speed Rail FloridaHigh Speed Rail in Florida?

So, it occurred to me yesterday, or maybe re-occurred to me, that there is a difference in High Speed Rail and Commuter Rail and the plans for each in the state of Florida. As Florida begins it’s efforts to become a leader in intermodal transit, two major projects are in the works. One is a Commuter Rail system (named SunRail) the first phase of which is planned to run from roughly Deland to Kissimmee, the second is a High Speed Rail system with it’s first phase planned to run from Orlando to Tampa. Both projects are the responsibility of the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), and are major undertakings in terms of funding and contract resources.

Is the SunRail Project a High Speed Rail Project?

The SunRail is a “Commuter rail transit (CRT) [which] uses steel-wheeled technology similar to a traditional train and is generally powered by a diesel locomotive. Existing CSXT railroad tracks will be utilized for SunRail’s planned route. SunRail trains will consist of 1-3 cars, in addition to a locomotive, and can carry up to 162 passengers per car. Maximum operating speed is generally between 65-79 mph.” (http://www.sunrail.com/cr_whatiscommuterrail.asp) In the first phase, there are 12 stations planned along the 61 miles of track. In February 2009, the first contracts for the Commuter Rail project were awarded to Archer Western Contractors Ltd. and RailWorks Track Systems, Inc. to do some preliminary construction work in the right of ways.

The High Speed Rail Florida Project

The High Speed “Tampa-Orlando line will run 84 miles from downtown Tampa to Orlando International Airport and will be built in the median of Interstate 4, where a 44-foot envelope has been preserved for this purpose. Right of way was preserved in the 1990s, and bridges were built higher and wider to accommodate high speed trains. Other portions of the project outside the I-4 corridor will primarily follow existing public rights of way. Design is not yet complete on the corridor.

The Initial projection is that run time between Tampa and Orlando with station stops would be about 55 minutes. These times are based on year 2004 high speed train technologies, which have since improved performance. These travel times may be reduced depending upon station stops, final rail line geometry and the final selected technology. Express trips between Tampa and OIA would be even less, with the current express trip travel time estimated to be under 50 minutes.” http://www.floridahighspeedrail.org/fast-facts

More information can be found at:

FDOT: http://www.dot.state.fl.us/rail/
FL High Speed Rail: http://www.floridahighspeedrail.org/
SunRail: http://www.sunrail.com/default.asp

Tricia Kyzar has a Master’s in International Business and a Minor in Urban and Regional Planning with extensive experience in Finance and project support in construction development. Her passion is helping companies maximize their project portfolios through increased understanding of scheduling, risk analysis, earned value management, business intelligence, and reporting analytics. She is currently a Senior Consultant for Mid-State Solutions, Inc, providing Training and Support for Oracle Primavera Products.

For information about High Speed Rail Project Management Software and Primavera P6 training, contact Mid-State Solutions

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