Hopes for new Florida connections on National Train Day


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Children and adults alike shared delight at the excitement of hearing the whistle blowing on a train arriving from New York on its way to Miami on Saturday. Model train enthusiasts and historians gathered at Tampa Union Station to celebrate National Train Day.

That horn came from the Amtrak Silver Star train, which runs down the Eastern Seaboard of the United States. Similar trains were instrumental to Florida’s population growth during the land boom of the 1920s. While children were able to see a real train chugging along the tracks, they also had the chance to learn more about the model train hobby. Eleven-year-old Jonah Gordon liked the ones built with Legos.

“Yeah, there’s so many trains it was awesome.”

George Fisher works on master-crafted train models. The president of the West Pasco Model Railroad Association shared his excitement with those who are new to the hobby.

“And I’ll take that picture of that engine and put on the details, and paint it and decal it and make it look like that real engine, and that’s a lot of satisfaction for me.”

Amtrak’s Silver Star line only has one daily train heading north, and one going south out of Tampa, but that might change.  Brandie Miklus is the Infrastructure and Mobility Program Coordinator for the City of Tampa, and also the President of Friends of Tampa Union Station. That’s a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving Tampa Union Station.

She says Amtrak may expand service and a private passenger rail company, Brightline, might expand its Miami to Orlando service to Tampa.

 “Amtrak has plans to expand their frequency to 3 or 4 trains a day in either direction, but until that happens, there’s really not a lot of options. And so that complements our rail passenger service with an amenity like Brightline; to be a neighbor to Brightline. I think they might be looking in areas near the station but closer to Ybor. We are very excited. I think it will be complementary to what we have here at Tampa Union Station.”

Bright line service from Miami to Orlando begins in July.

Their CEO told the Tampa Bay Business Journal that Tampa is the next logical piece of the puzzle.