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A southbound SunRail train leaving Winter Park Station.
Owner FDOT
Locale Greater Orlando
Transit type Commuter rail
Number of lines 1
Number of stations 12
Daily ridership 4,271[1]
Website .com.sunrailwww
Began operation May 1, 2014 (2014-05-01)
Operator(s) Bombardier Technology[2]
System length 31.7 mi (51.0 km)[3]
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge
Average speed 65–79 mph (105–127 km/h)

SunRail is a commuter rail system in the Greater Orlando, Florida area. Service began on May 1, 2014.[4] Phase 1 comprises 31 miles (50 km) with 12 stations[4] along the former CSX Transportation "A" Line connecting Volusia County and Orange County through Downtown Orlando. The extensions proposed for Phase 2 would add a new northern termius at DeLand and four more stations southward, terminating at Poinciana in Osceola County. It is expected to be fully completed sometime in 2017.[5] Formerly known as "Central Florida Commuter Rail", the SunRail system is financed by the state and Federal governments and the counties it serves. SunRail is Florida's second commuter rail system after Miami's Tri-Rail.

SunRail opened on May 1, 2014 with over 10,000 passengers riding the trains on opening day.[6] Daily ridership is expected to average about 4,300 passengers by the end of the first operating year. Current paying ridership is approximately 4,100 riders.[7]


  • History 1
    • Cost and funding 1.1
    • Project planning and approvals 1.2
    • Construction 1.3
  • Service 2
    • Route 2.1
  • Fare system and ticketing 3
    • Limited Use Tickets 3.1
    • Reloadable SunCards 3.2
  • Technical 4
    • Operations & Maintenance 4.1
    • Rolling stock 4.2
    • Paint scheme 4.3
  • Safety and security 5
  • Plans and expansions 6
    • Phase 2 6.1
    • Daytona Beach Extension 6.2
    • Airport Connection 6.3
  • See also 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9


Cost and funding

Instead of building an entirely new rail line, the State of Florida purchased a 61-mile segment of the existing "A" Line between DeLand and Poinciana from CSX Transportation. The total cost of the system was originally estimated at $615 million for construction plus $432 million to purchase the right of way and tracks. However, the cost of construction ended up being above the $615 million quoted and the agreement still allows CSX to run a limited number of freight trains along the line at night, although the majority of the freight traffic has been rerouted west to CSX's "S" Line.[8]

The system was financed by the federal government, the state and the counties. Volusia County, Seminole County, Orange County, the City of Orlando and Osceola County are the partners in the project. Fifty percent of the funding came from a federal transit "New Starts" grant. The local partners were responsible for 25 percent of the cost and another 25 percent was paid by the State of Florida, which included the cost of track improvements, construction of train stations, and purchasing of locomotives and rail cars.

On 22 December 2010, it was announced that the state of Florida had created an escrow account with $173 million.[9] The money was planned to be used to purchase the tracks SunRail operates on, and also allowed the state to formally request $300 million from the federal government to cover construction costs.[9]

Project planning and approvals

Geographic map; click for larger version

At the end of July 2007, Orange County, Seminole County, Osceola County, Volusia County and the City of Orlando all voted on and approved the Sunrail project. Osceola County had agreed in principle, but was still examining how to fund its $9.3-million share at the time.[10][11][11][12][13]

An agreement was reached between Florida Department of Transportation and CSX for the purchase of the tracks on November 29, 2007, and the Florida Legislature approved the CSX-Florida Department of Transportation agreement in order for project construction to begin. However, the legislature failed to vote on the agreement to purchase the right of way and tracks from CSX in the 2008 session. At issue were provisions regarding liability and indemnification. Commenting on the bill, state senator Paula Dockery said, "I don't envision a time anytime soon where thoughtful senators are going to say that there's some kind of good public policy involved in taking liability away from somebody who was at fault and putting it on the taxpayers of the state of Florida."[14]

The contract between CSX and Florida DOT was in place through June 30, 2009, and the legislature planned to use another opportunity to consider and approve the agreement in the 2009 legislative session.[15][16] The bill made it through all necessary Senate committee approvals and the first segment of the project had already been approved to enter Final Design by the Federal Transit Administration on August 11, 2008.

On January 14, 2009, the SunRail name and logo were presented to the public by City of Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer.[17] Progress continued to move slowly forward on the project until the state legislative session on April 30, 2009, when the project was once again defeated by a 23-17 vote. The movement against the project, which was once again led by state senators Paula Dockery and Mike, continued to revolve around an amendment that would have approved a $200 million insurance policy for SunRail. Another political problem for SunRail was an overall lack of support for the project from the South Florida delegation (which included state senators Chris Smith of Fort Lauderdale, Dan Gelber of Miami Beach, Nan Rich of Weston and Frederica Wilson of Miami) effectively killed the bill.

After the second failure, with the deadline to purchase the tracks in question from CSX looming, the state initially pulled the plan from the legislative agenda, endangering as much as $307 million in federal funds that had been promised to SunRail, which would have been taken away if the plan failed. Nearly $27 million of that federal money had already been spent to purchase rail equipment and land for stations and it was unknown whether or not the State of Florida would have had to pay the money back to the federal government. However, CSX rescinded the deadline on June 29,[18] permitting more negotiation time for insurance arrangements. An agreement on insurance was finally reached, and lawmakers convened a special session in December 2009 that passed the House on December 7 and the Senate on December 8. Additional federal money may be attracted to reduce the financial cost to the state.[19]

On December 8, 2009 the contractual requirement necessary to move forward with SunRail was passed along with funding for South Florida's Tri-Rail system. At the bill's signing Senate President Jeff Atwater said "Today, Florida is embracing the opportunity to lead the nation in developing a comprehensive transportation system, thereby ensuring our competitive edge in the 21st Century global economy. A comprehensive transportation system, creating opportunities and avenues to connect employers and employees, is integral to building a stronger future for Florida."[20]

Negotiations with Amtrak subsequently led to a dispute over which party would bear liability for incidents on Amtrak trains operating on the route, which would be owned by SunRail—Amtrak wanted SunRail to assume responsibility for such incidents, while SunRail wanted Amtrak to be liable. The purchase of the trackage from CSX could not be completed until an agreement with Amtrak was reached.[21] On December 10, 2010, it was announced that Amtrak and the state had apparently reached a deal regarding the issue, as Amtrak had dropped its opposition to the sale.[22]

On January 29, 2011, Florida Governor Rick Scott froze all SunRail contracts and ordered a six-month legislative review of the project to determine whether the project was a good investment.[23] However, on July 1, 2011, Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Ananth Prasad announced that Scott had finally approved the project.[24]

Federal funding for the southern portion of Phase 2 was secured on March 6, 2014, which guaranteed $63 million towards the development of a 17.5 mile extension of the system south into Osceola County.[25]


The Phase I construction contract was awarded to two primary general contractors; RailWorks Track Systems, Inc. of New York City, who would be responsible for right-of-way and track improvements, and Atlanta-based Archer Western Contractors Ltd., who would be responsible for building the stations.[26] Work would include double tracking the existing line; the installation of new wayside signals; improvements to existing grade crossings; construction of the station platforms, canopies and adjacent parking areas; as well as building of the Operations Control Center and Vehicle Storage & Maintenance Facility at CSX's Rand Yard in Sanford.

Ground was broken at the future Altamonte Springs station site on January 27, 2012, marking the official beginning of construction for Phase I of the SunRail project.[27] The first load of steel rail for double tracking the route between Sanford and Longwood was delivered not long after in early 2012. A second set of rails for double tracking the route between North Street in Longwood and Gore Street south of Downtown Orlando was delivered at the end of March 2012, and a third set, which supplemented various locations between Sanford and Orlando, was delivered at the end of July 2012.[28][29] The sections of standard 115-pounds-per-yard rail were 1650 feet long, weighing 31 tons each.[29] On September 28, 2012, the St. Johns River drawbridge in Sanford was closed for 54 hours while construction crews demolished and replaced the bridge approach spans.[30] By the time Phase I construction was completed in early 2014, nearly 32 miles of main line single track were double-tracked, three existing CSX freight yards were reconfigured, wayside signal and grade crossing signal improvements were made along the corridor, a total of 12 stations were built, and a new Operations Control Center and Vehicle Storage & Maintenance Facility were constructed.



The route is made up of the following stations, from north to south:
Town Station Phase Connections Notes
DeLand DeLand Amtrak Station 2 Amtrak Silver Service, Thruway Motorcoach, Proposed VOTRAN Park-and-ride
DeBary DeBary Station 1 VOTRAN Route 30, 31, 32, 33 Park-and-ride
Sanford Sanford Station 1 Link 34, Link 46E, Link 46W, NeighborLink 651 Park-and-ride
Lake Mary Lake Mary Station 1 Link 45 Park-and-ride
Longwood Longwood Station 1 Link 434,Link 505 Park-and-ride
Altamonte Springs Altamonte Springs Station 1 Link 436N Park-and-ride
Maitland Maitland Station 1 Link 102 Park-and-ride
Winter Park Winter Park Station 1 Amtrak Silver Service,Link 1, Link 9, Link 14, Link 23, Link 102, Link 443
Orlando Florida Hospital Health Village Station 1 Link 102, Link 125, FastLink 17-92 Florida Hospital
Lynx Central Station 1 Link 3, 7, 8, 11, 13,15, 18, 20, 21, 25, 28, 29, 36, 38, 40, 48, 49, 50, 51, 54, 102, 104, 105, 106, 107, 125, 204, 300, 304, 313, 319, FastLink 441, FastLink 17-92, Lymmo Orange Line
Church Street Station 1 Lymmo - Orange Line and Grapefruit Line near Amway Center
Orlando Health/Amtrak Station 1 Amtrak Silver Service, Link 40, Thruway Motorcoach Orlando Regional Medical Center
Pine Castle Sand Lake Road Station 1 Link 11, 18, 42, 111,Xpress Link 208,FastLink 418 Park-and-ride
Meadow Woods Meadow Woods 2 Link 18, FastLink 418 Park-and-ride
Hunter's Creek Osceola Parkway Station 2 Link 18, Neighborlink 631 Park-and-ride
Kissimmee Kissimmee Amtrak Station 2 Amtrak Silver Service, Link 10,18,26,55,56.57,108,Xpress Link 208,FastLink 441,and Neighborlink 632 at Lynx Kissimmee Intermodal Center, Greyhound Park-and-ride
Poinciana Poinciana Station 2 Link 306 Park-and-ride

Fare system and ticketing

Riders on the SunRail system use a Stored-value card, in the form of a disposable Limited Use Ticket or a Reloadable SunCard, to pay fares. The cost of SunRail tickets is based on the number of counties (zones) through which the rider will be travelling. As of 2014, the system passes through three counties: Volusia; Seminole; and Orange. In phase 2, the system will also enter Osceola.[31][32]

SunRail uses a "tap on, tap off" system for ticketing. Riders must "tap on" at a validator unit at the station prior to boarding the train by tapping their ticket on the screen and waiting for the beep. This process is called "tapping on". Riders must again "tap off" at a validator unit with their ticket after disembarking at their destination before exiting the station. Reduced Fares are available for Disabled, Seniors (65+), and Students (7-17).[33]

Limited Use Tickets

Every station on the line is equipped with four ticket vending machines. These machines sell Limited Use Tickets for one-way trips and round-trips. They are also used by riders making a transfer from a Lynx or Votran feeder buses to swipe a transfer card and to obtain a SunRail ticket.[33]

Reloadable SunCards

Reloadable SunCards are also available at station vending machines. These cards can hold a travel plan and be used as a prepaid debit card. Travel plans are available in 7 day, 30 day, and 1 year timeframes.[33]


An MPI MP32PH-Q locomotive in SunRail livery in September 2013.

Operations & Maintenance

In addition to SunRail commuter trains, the line is used by three daily round trip Amtrak trains (the Silver Meteor, the Silver Star and Auto Train), as well as by a handful of CSX freight trains. It was also used by Amtrak's tri-weekly Sunset Limited which ran between Orlando and Los Angeles. However, service has been suspended indefinitely between Orlando and New Orleans since 2005 due to damage caused to the line by Hurricane Katrina.

On April 16, 2013, the Florida Department of Transportation announced that it had awarded Bombardier Technology a $195 million contract to provide operation and maintenance services for SunRail, which includes train operations, dispatching, track and equipment maintenance, customer service, station platform & facility maintenance, and materials supply. Bombardier will assume the operations and maintenance responsibilities in the spring of 2014.[2]

On Monday, July 29, 2013 at 3:30 AM, the Florida Department of Transportation assumed all train dispatching duties along the SunRail corridor from CSX. This event officially marked the end of CSX's involvement with the operations of the line, transferring total operational control of the corridor to the State of Florida. Since the hand off from CSX, all train dispatching has been handled by the "CFRC Dispatcher" out of the Operations Control Center at Rand Yard in Sanford, Florida.

On Saturday, October 26, 2013, operational testing of the SunRail equipment began along the corridor between the DeBary and Maitland stations. The test train, which consisted of a locomotive and two cab cars, was part of a 2,500 mile "burn-in" period that is required prior to the start of revenue service. Over 100 similar test runs took place over the following months to ensure that the new trains, wayside signals and grade crossing signals operated correctly, as well as to verify that the trains properly aligned with each station platform.[34]

On Friday, January 31, 2014, the Florida Department of Transportation announced that SunRail would begin service on May 1, 2014.[35] SunRail initially offered a series of free test runs in April,[36] but canceled them and instead decided to open for free for the first two weeks of service in May. This enabled remaining work to be completed in time. SunRail warned passengers who already purchased fare cards not to use their fare cards during the free run, or they may be deducted fares.[37]

The SunRail grand opening was held at the Sand Lake Station at 11:00am EDT on Wednesday, April 30, 2014. This was preceded by a series of openings at the other stations, starting at the DeBary Station at 8:15am EDT, and progressing south down the line through the other stations at 15 minute intervals.[38] Passenger operations officially commenced on Thursday, May 1, 2014 with the first revenue service train departing south out of the Sanford Station at 5:06am EDT.[39]

Rolling stock

Sunrail trains operate at speeds between 30 and 79 miles per hour (48 and 127 km/h), with an average speed of 33 miles per hour (53 km/h), including stops.[40]Each car is fully wheelchair accessible and equipped with a restroom, space for bicycles, electrical outlets for laptops and phone chargers, and free Wi-Fi.[41] In 2011 the Florida Department of Transportation ordered fourteen BiLevel coaches from Bombardier Transportation for $41 million, with an option for 46 additional cars.[42] This order was later expanded to twenty, with the first cars arriving in Florida on July 20, 2013.[43] Motive power is provided by seven MPI MP32PH-Q diesel locomotives. These were ordered on September 12, 2011.[44] The first locomotive, #100, arrived on October 1, 2013 via CSX freight train at the SunRail Operations Control Center in Sanford, FL from the MotivePower plant in Boise, Idaho.[45]

Paint scheme

On September 10, 2010, the Central Florida Commuter Rail Commission announced it had chosen a paint scheme for the trains.[46] The design consists of a representation of a sun, as well as renderings of green for wildlife and blue for skies.[46] According to the designer, Jim Bockstall, the scheme was based on public input and was a hybrid of representations of both movement and traditional imagery.[46]

Safety and security

Safety features at stations include bells, gates, and LED displays

In the months leading up to SunRail going operational, the Florida Department of Transportation ran an aggressive public-safety campaign to warn drivers and passengers about railroad safety[47] using pamphlets, puppet shows for children,[48] YouTube[49] and even a Safety Mascot Squirrel named Tie.

Despite this effort, a SunRail train crashed into a landscape trailer at a grade crossing in Longwood on May 7, 2014, and into a car stalled on the tracks in Maitland on May 19, 2014 on the first day of revenue service.[47]

Security on the train and at stations is the responsibility of FDOT. The FDOT does not employ a security force, instead relying solely on surveillance cameras.[50] Uniformed police officers are permitted to ride SunRail free of charge.[51]

Plans and expansions

Looking north from the DeBary station; SunRail plans to expand north to DeLand from here

Phase 2

SunRail divided their startup operations into two phases. Phase 1 opened in May 2014. Phase 2 is expected to open by 2017. Phase 2 will extend the system north to DeLand Amtrak station. The system will also be extended south to Poinciana, using the Amtrak station in Kissimmee and building new stations in Hunter's Creek and Meadow Woods.

Daytona Beach Extension

On April 17, 2014, Volusia County and FDOT funded a $2.5 million study to investigate the cost, preliminary design and ridership of a SunRail extension to Daytona Beach. As part of this effort, Volusia county wants to see the Interstate 4 median width maintained as a possible future rail corridor.[52]

Airport Connection

SunRail officials are also investigating a connection to Orlando International Airport. Currently this connection requires transferring to a bus at Sand Lake Road Station. This connection, described as being in preliminary talks, will not happen for at least five years, if at all. The route under investigation would be along the Orlando Utilities Commission rail spur, that runs along the south border of the airport. From there Sunrail would be able to turn north into the airport.[53] All Aboard Florida, a privately funded operation of the Florida East Coast Railway is also looking to build their Orlando terminal at the airport in the same location, offering 12-14 daily Higher speed rail trips south to Miami starting in 2016.[53][54]

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b "Florida DOT awards $195 million SunRail contract to Bombardier". Progressive Railroading. 2013-04-16. 
  3. ^ Google Inc. "SunRail - Central Florida Commuter Rail". Google Maps (Map). Cartography by Google, Inc. Retrieved 15 May 2014.
  4. ^ a b "Free SunRail rides start Thursday". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved 2 May 2014. 
  5. ^
  6. ^,0,3076613,full.story
  7. ^
  8. ^ "FDOT, CSX Transportation Execute Commuter Rail Agreement". Florida Department of Transportation. 30 November 2007. Retrieved 23 July 2011. 
  9. ^ a b "SunRail's $173 million escrow account moves commuter rail one step closer to construction phase". Orlando Sentinel. 22 December 2010. Retrieved 23 December 2010. 
  10. ^ "First commuter rail vote happens Thursday".  
  11. ^ a b "Orlando on board for rail". 2007-07-24. Retrieved 2010-12-23. 
  12. ^ "Commuter rail votes chug along". Central Florida News 13 (online). 24 July 2007. 
  13. ^ "Volusia County Council Actions - JULY 31, 2007". 2007-07-31. Retrieved 2010-12-23. 
  14. ^ "CSX RAILROAD WANTS TO BE TREATED LIKE A KING". The Injury Board. 3 May 2008. Retrieved 21 August 2010. 
  15. ^ Miller, James (May 1, 2008). "Senate applies brakes to commuter rail".  
  16. ^ "State won't buy CSX track in Central Florida".  
  17. ^ Schlueb, Mark (January 14, 2009). "Logo for proposed commuter rail unveiled".  
  18. ^ "Sentinel exclusive: Commuter-rail plan might be back". Orlando Sentinel. 2009-06-26. Retrieved 2010-12-23. 
  19. ^ "Dyer: 3rd time will be charm for SunRail". Orlando Sentinel. 2009-07-02. Retrieved 2010-12-23. 
  20. ^ Governor's Press Office, 16 December 2009
  21. ^ "Amtrak dispute could delay SunRail plans". Trains Magazine. 19 August 2010. Retrieved 21 August 2010. 
  22. ^ "Amtrak, Florida reach SunRail deal". Trains Magazine. 10 December 2010. Retrieved 15 December 2010. 
  23. ^ "Scott Freezes SunRail Contracts for Review". WCTV. Associated Press. 29 January 2011. Retrieved 23 July 2011. 
  24. ^ "SunRail gets go-ahead". Gulf Coast Business Review. 1 July 2011. Retrieved 23 July 2011. 
  25. ^ "SunRail commuter train gets $63 million in Obama's 2015 budget". Orlando Sentinel. March 4, 2014. Retrieved March 6, 2014. 
  26. ^ "FDOT Awards First SunRail Construction Contract". 
  27. ^ "SunRail project breaks ground". Railway track and Structures. 27 January 2012. Retrieved 31 January 2012. 
  28. ^ "SunRail tracks delivered in Longwood". Orlando Sentinel. 2012-03-22. Retrieved 2012-04-09. 
  29. ^ a b Staff (30 July 2012). "Delivery of SunRail track Monday will cause delays on Sanford streets". Sandford Herald. Retrieved 30 July 2012. 
  30. ^ "SunRail work to close St. Johns bridge". Orlando Sentinel. 2012-09-26. Retrieved 2012-10-05. 
  31. ^
  32. ^
  33. ^ a b c "SunRail - A Better Way To Go". SunRail. Retrieved 14 November 2014. 
  34. ^ "SunRail Train Scheduled to Roll - Without Passengers - on Saturday". 2013-10-24. 
  35. ^ "SunRail to start operations on May 1". 2014-01-31. 
  36. ^,0,6332924.story
  37. ^,0,4231231.story
  38. ^
  39. ^ "1st passengers board SunRail". 2014-05-01. 
  40. ^ Lafferty, Mike (May 21, 2014). "Guess how fast SunRail trains go".  
  41. ^ "Passenger Experience". Sunrail. Archived from the original on September 7, 2014. 
  42. ^ "Bombardier Marks 14th North American BiLevel Rail Car Customer with Orlando-area Project" (Press release). 22 July 2011. Retrieved 11 October 2013. 
  43. ^ Fluker, Anjali (July 31, 2013). "They’re here! First SunRail cab car arrives in Sanford".  
  44. ^ "SunRail, Sound Transit order MotivePower locomotives". Trains Magazine. September 12, 2011. Retrieved September 13, 2011. 
  45. ^ "Tweet shows new SunRail locomotive - Commuter rail service set for spring start in Orlando area". WKMG. October 1, 2013. Retrieved February 20, 2014. 
  46. ^ a b c "Rail Commission picks SunRail train design". 10 September 2010. Retrieved 15 December 2010. 
  47. ^ a b,0,5076294.story
  48. ^
  49. ^
  50. ^
  51. ^ Synan, Mike (13 February 2014). "Could Charlotte's light rail offer a glimpse of what SunRail will be?". My Fox Orlando. Archived from the original on 12 August 2014. Retrieved 12 August 2014. 
  52. ^
  53. ^ a b
  54. ^

External links

  • SunRail - official site
  • User-created map of line on Google Maps
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