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Tri-Rail aims for Downtown Miami service by year-end, pending final approvals

South Florida's Tri-Rail anticipates downtown Miami Central service initiation by 2023 close

Tri-Rail, South Florida's commuter rail service, is on the brink of launching its long-awaited downtown MiamiCentral service by the end of the year, pending final authorization from federal authorities. Despite previous setbacks, the project appears to be nearing fruition as operational plans await approval.

Tri-Rail's path to downtown service

A spokesperson from the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority, Tri-Rail's overseeing agency, conveyed that a preliminary schedule has been tendered to stakeholders, including Florida East Coast Railway and Brightline. However, the commencement of operations depends on the green light from the Federal Railroad Administration, expected to arrive by mid-December.

Tri-Rail's journey to initiate services at MiamiCentral faced multifaceted challenges, causing substantial delays. Issues ranged from the certification of positive train control to clearance problems concerning platforms at MiamiCentral. These challenges, previously highlighted in December 2021, were attributed to the specific platforms built for the Tri-Rail service, contributing to project postponements since the initially projected commencement in 2017.

Tri-Rail commuters train

Current state of Tri-Rail and prospects

Tri-Rail, known for its extensive 73-mile route encompassing 18 stations leading to Mangonia Park, Fla., situated to the north of West Palm Beach, conducts 25 roundtrip services on weekdays. Despite previous hindrances, the service has showcased resilience, maintaining an average of approximately 13,500 weekday passengers—representing an impressive 90% restoration of pre-pandemic ridership levels.

Presently stationed at Miami International Airport, about 5 miles from Brightline's downtown facility, it's upcoming transition signifies a shift in accessibility, providing commuters with enhanced proximity to the bustling heart of downtown Miami.

The rail's impending service extension to MiamiCentral embodies a significant milestone for South Florida's transportation network. With promising signs of approval from the Federal Railroad Administration and prior setbacks being addressed, the anticipated downtown service is poised to offer commuters more convenience and accessibility.

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