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-   -   Florida Central (http://www.railpictures.net/forums/showthread.php?t=15702)

Joey Bowman 08-21-2012 02:53 PM

Florida Central
Can anyone give me some information on the operations of the Florida Central, in Orlando, FL? My girlfriend recently moved to Orlando and lives near the line on the north side of town. I have seen their locomotives parked along the OBT, and yesterday got to see them do a little bit of switching in what appears to be a small yard. I would love to devote a day to photographing this line.

nikos1 08-21-2012 07:38 PM

Do a search for FCEN here, Kevin Andrusia posted the rundown a few years back, not sure if things have changed since. I had a very bad experience trying to chase them, train left before dawn, ducked into an industrial spur somewhere and couldnt find it again until it was coming into the CSX yard!!!!! 0 shots, what a total waste.

ShortlinesUSA 08-22-2012 02:38 AM

Things have changed a good bit with the Sunrail construction, and operations have not been nearly as predictable as in times past. Joey, was the "small yard" CSX's Taft Yard just south of Orlando International Airport, or out on the Florida Central line along US 441 on the west side of downtown Orlando?

If it's the latter, that's FCEN's Fairvilla Yard, which is where they do switching before going to Taft, as well as any marshalling of cars to go into the Silver Star branch, which serves several industries. This is a very likely location to find them working during daylight hours.

The First Orlando job was switched to nights for a bit, but I don't think that worked out. I'll see if I can give Kevin a nudge to provide us an update.

FBU32804 08-23-2012 12:42 AM

Sounds like you saw Modello Yard in the seedy Fairvilla district. That's their main yard & at times you can see three jobs working here if the timing is right.

Pinsly is a Mon-Fri operation, with First Orlando going on duty around 2300 the night before (so you can say called Sunday night for Monday, etc...) Crew call is based in Plymouth. Power is sometimes up there over the weekend, so they'll come south with it then & typically the power stays somewhere on the road until the following weekend. They USED to require all power rounded up and taken to Plymouth for the weekend, but that is no longer the case. They service them as they pass by with revenue if possible.

First Orlando heads to CSX's Taft Yard around 0200hrs & try to get back an hour or so later. A majority of CSX's road traffic is also roaming the rails at this hour, so it can often be sunrise before they can go back to their home rails. They carve up their train from CSX back in Modello. From there, they can work The Park (Silver Star branch) or head up to Toronto to swap cuts with The Southbound going to Winter Garden, which comes on at 0700 at Plymouth.

Toronto (that literally is its name, even tho' it's in Orlando!) used to feature an at-grade diamond underneath the highway overpass, but they tore out the Forest City branch some years ago & cut back the Winter Garden branch to a wide curved switch north of the overpass. There is now an access crossing beneath the overpass at the north end of the runaround switch, if you're into audio recording, it can sound pretty cool. Just north of the runaround switch and branch switch is Vulcan Siding, used to store cars at times and generally is where trains tie down when they outlaw or are simply done for the day. It is VERY common for The Southbound to tie up here on Friday afternoon & sit all weekend.

The Southbound crew runs north as, you guessed it, The Northbound twice a week. Tuesday for sure, Thursday as needed...to switch the industries in Zellwood, 84 Lumber outside Tavares and Tool World in Eustis. RIGHT NOW that end of the line in Tavares is under rehab, so Tool World can't be served (and they're long overdue at this point). Tavares is also home to the seasonal (let's just say "seasonal" :-) tourist train operations that frequently change names & owners....and routinely have to borrow FCEN power.

Second Orlando comes on at noon and can pick up where First Orlando left off , which includes driving down from Plymouth to either Vulcan or Modello. Have also seen them leave a motor at the old Ben White Raceway siding known as Lehigh to switch Florida Rock. Lots of construction there right now. Second Orlando will assuredly switch around in Modello before AND after working The Park (Silver Star branch). That is their main function. Then at 2300, First Orlando starts the whole process over again.

That is how it's PLANNED.....use this as the best case scenario. Lots of little things have been forcing them to work weekends. FCEN is also contracted with FDOT for the SunRail project. With SunRail calling and needing ballast trains or rail trains moved or whatever, this displaces power and crews. This past weekend, they had to work both Saturday AND Sunday. Florida Rock needed a lot of cars dumped and the Southbound outlawed in Winter Garden (which is has at least once a week all summer).

Get your shots of the FCEN 48, the only CF7 left on the Orlando ops. It will be the first one to go when the next CN GP9's show up. All of the CF7's are on borrowed time in 2012.

ShortlinesUSA 08-23-2012 01:59 AM

Great update, Kevin! Any idea if they've started construction to remove the street trackage in Ocala on the Florida Northern, or is that just concept/planning at this point? I could kick myself for not getting that while down there, but that particular visit was in the "the light MUST be right days" versus my present mentality of "make it happen." I've been at this for almost 30 years now, and still learning at the School of Hard Knocks daily!

FBU32804 08-24-2012 12:18 AM


Originally Posted by ShortlinesUSA (Post 158994)
Great update, Kevin! Any idea if they've started construction to remove the street trackage in Ocala on the Florida Northern, or is that just concept/planning at this point?

AFAIK it has not & no one I know up there has mentioned anything since the funding came thru. It shouldn't be too much of a lost op once they're done, they are supposed to only be replacing ties/rail and moving the track a few feet. It may end up looking like downtown Winter Garden once did, where the track is splitting the lanes of traffic as a psuedo-median.

Ocala rock trains just started running thru the connection into the FCEN yard with their own power as of last week, kinda' like the ethanol trains do on the Gordonsville Spur (altho' you get more mainline running with the ethanol trains).

nikos1 08-24-2012 04:27 PM

Are they planning on painting the CN GP9RM's anytime soon? Having those in Orlando has kinda killed the appeal of FCEN, regretting even more now that I screwed up the chase since they were running with the two highnose GP9's, though they had one on the front and one on the back.

FBU32804 08-25-2012 02:51 AM


Originally Posted by nikos1 (Post 159049)
Are they planning on painting the CN GP9RM's anytime soon?

No plans. Of course, they wanted to get all "heritage" on us and apply something befitting the lineage of the line they are on in Orlando, something that could use a lot of black....but "it wasn't in the budget"...they may simply touch them up later on. I understand the disappointment of coming all the way to Florida for CN paint...but maybe just for me, it's still kinda' neat after...what's it been, 25 years of what they've had? For now, it's all-new in places I've left hundreds of footprints on. More concerned with the fall of the CF7's, that's gonna be odd...

ShortlinesUSA 09-06-2012 05:24 PM

Sounds like more of the budget may be going for some track upgrades:


That could definitely have the freight schedule out of synch early next year if it comes to pass, assuming the give the MOW forces uninterrupted daytime windows.

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