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Tuesday, January 29, 2013    

South Florida transportation authority to take over rail corridor operation from CSXT


The South Florida Regional Transportation Authority's (SFRTA) board approved the terms of the South Florida Operations and Management Agreement (SFOMA) that transfers responsibility for the South Florida Rail Corridor from CSX Transportation to the state.

The board also approved an operating agreement between SFRTA and the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), which confirms that SFRTA will provide dispatching and maintain the corridor in place of CSXT, SFRTA officials said in a prepared statement.

The implementation date is set for June 30, 2014, with a contingency for delays until Dec. 31, 2014, they said.

The agreement contains many improvements for riders, said Palm Beach County Mayor Steven Abrams, who also chairs SFRTA, which governs Tri-Rail commuter-rail service.

"SFOMA will provide a more reliable commute since SFRTA will have control not only of Tri-Rail's movement, but CSXT freight trains and Amtrak as well," he said. "We will have more flexibility to respond to incidents and will have the power to make service decisions when tropical storms or hurricanes threaten."

Because SFRTA will dispatch trains on the corridor, Tri-Rail trains will be given priority during the day, authority officials said. In addition, the agreement addresses CSXT's payment to the state for use of the corridor, night-time corridor work, development of standards, positive train control cost-sharing and commencement dates.

Also, the agreement between SFRTA and FDOT addresses the financial arrangement between the two entities, the responsibilities that SFRTA will undertake on behalf of the state, liability and claims handling and environmental issues. SFRTA will receive an additional $11.4 million annually of dedicated funding for assuming dispatching and corridor maintenance.

The current engineer's cost estimate for maintenance of way (MOW) is $14 million a year. SFRTA and FDOT agreed to share MOW costs in excess of the $11.5 million dedicated funding.

SFRTA already operates an in-house dispatch center staffed by Amtrak, which dispatches the New River Bridge. FDOT plans to upgrade the dispatch desk so it can handle the entire corridor.

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