FLORIDA commuter operator Tri-Rail has put together a $220m funding package which will enable it to complete the double-tracking of its 114 km Miami - Palm Beach route two years earlier than planned. CSX Transportation, which owns the line, has offered Tri-Rail a $55m interest-free loan, which will be combined with a similar sum from the state of Florida and a $110m grant from the Federal Transit Administration.

CSX is keen to increase capacity on the route, which is becoming congested with the expansion of Tri-Rail services (DM97 p47). So far 14·5 km has been doubled in Miami and another 11 km is under way in Deerfield Beach. Estimated cost of doubling the whole line is $327m, including safety improvements at 72 level crossings, refurbishing of 10 stations and construction of another at Congress Avenue in Boca Raton.

The deal should see double-tracking completed by the end of 2002, permitting 20 min headways at peak hours. Executive Director Linda Bohlinger expects traffic to jump from 7500 passengers a day to 17000 in 2003 and 65000 by 2015.