04 October, 2008

CSXT AGREES - A BLUEPRINT FOR JACKSONVILLE

THE DAY THE CITY COMES OF AGE

From Progressive Railroading E:News comes this wonderful bit of reporting, is anyone in Tallahassee awake and reading the handwriting on the wall?

Partnership 10/3/2008Massachusetts, CSXT agree on commuter- and freight-rail pactYesterday, Massachusetts officials and CSX Transportation execs announced they reached an agreement to improve and expand commuter- and freight-rail service in the commonwealth. Under the agreement — which took about four years to hammer out — service on five trains the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) operates between Framingham and Boston will be extended to Worcester by Oct. 27. The commonwealth plans to eventually purchase CSXT's rights on the Boston-to-Worcester line, increasing the potential to add even more commuter-rail service and gain control of the line's dispatching and maintenance. By 2009, the commonwealth plans to purchase from CSXT the New Bedford-Fall River Line, helping facilitate a plan to extend commuter-rail service to the two cities. Massachusetts also plans to purchase CSXT's rights in the Boston Terminal Running Track and West First Street Yard in South Boston, and the Grand Junction secondary line that extends from Beacon Park Yard through Cambridge. In addition, Massachusetts and CSXT soon will begin increasing vertical clearance of bridges along the railroad's mainline between Interstate 495 and the New York state line to accommodate double-stack freight trains. The commonwealth will assume responsibility for raising highway bridges while CSXT will lower tracks. Massachusetts also is determining whether to help CSXT relocate its locomotive service facility outside of Boston. The Class I plans to eventually move its operations out of Beacon Park.


Now that you've read the article, lets translate that into JACKSONVILLE speak, sure this is a fantasy at this point, but it's not like it can't happen.

Partnership (just imagine)Florida, JTA and CSXT agree on commuter- and freight-rail pactYesterday, JTA officials and CSX Transportation execs announced they reached an agreement to improve and expand commuter- and freight-rail service in North Florida. Under the agreement — which took about four one year to hammer out — service on five lines the CSX operates between Jacksonville and surrounding communities will be extended. Service to Yulee by the end of the year all along North Main Street. The state plans to eventually purchase CSXT's rights on the former Seaboard Main Line from Springfield to Yulee and Blount Island, increasing the potential to add even more commuter-rail service and gain control of the line's dispatching and maintenance. By 2011, the state plans to purchase from CSXT the former Seaboard Main Line from Downtown to Baldwin, helping facilitate a plan to extend commuter-rail service between Jacksonville and the west side as well as set the stage for regional rail to Tallahassee and Gainesville-Ocala. Florida also plans to purchase CSXT's rights in the Jacksonville Terminal Running Tracks and the former Jacksonville Terminal Coach Yard in downtown just west of the Union Terminal, and the Grand Crossing secondary line that extends from Panama Park through Marietta. In addition, JTA and CSXT soon will begin increasing vertical clearance of Trout River bridge along the railroad's mainline along North Main Street and the Blount Island ship Terminals to accommodate trains without delay at the drawbridge. The state will assume responsibility for raising highway overpasses while CSXT will perform the trackwork. Florida and JTA also is determining whether to help CSXT relocate its new export yard and intermodal facilities within Jacksonville. The Class I and JTA look forward to a long relationship that also includes the North Florida Portion of the so called "A" line, along Roosevelt Blvd. south to Green Cove Springs and Palatka.

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The arguments rage to this date, "Should have never been built," "waste of taxpayer money," "Doesn't go anywhere," "Nobody rides it..." etc. Bottom line is we have it, and it is finally showing signs of life. Simple extensions to the Stadium, San Marco, and the area of Blue Cross in North Riverside would turn this little train around. Addition of Park and Ride garages and multimodal transit terminals at the end points would bring on the crowds. The video must have been shot on a Sunday Morning, as downtown is certainly as packed with life as any other major City on weekdays. Jacksonville is a city of Bikes, joggers, walkers, buses and cars, one almost wonders how the photographer managed to find this quiet moment.

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