Florida – Rail Options

Central Florida continues to attract increasing numbers of visitors annually. In 2021 is was reported that there were around 57 million visitors, the majority are US domestic travellers but 2 million are from overseas. Numbers are going up and certainly recovering from the impact of the 2020 Coronavirus Pandemic.

Would travelling through the Sunshine State by rail be an option for anyone instead of flying into Orlando? I last visited Florida in 2018 and I never saw rail as an option. Fast forward to today and a brand new service is going to be launched that will connect Orlando Airport (MCO) directly with Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach.

BRIGHTLINE currently operate their high-speed service from Miami to West Palm Beach. The interesting thing is going to be the launch of BRIGHTLINE FLORIDA that will link Tampa, Orlando Airport with the existing line.

Disney were until recently going to allow a station to be built at Disney Springs to provide Brightline with a stop right into the Magic Kingdom. This plan has been abandoned for the time being which a real shame.

There is an Amtrak service that operates through the City of Orlando. The Silver Star or Silver Meteor service connects Jacksonville with Miami but actually starts in New York City. A seat between Jacksonville and Orlando is around $18 for a 3 hour ride.

Amtrak also operate Auto-Train service between Lorton – VA (Washington DC) and Sanford (Orlando). A 19 hour service that saves a 900 mile road trip. It might even be something that a car renter from abroad could take advantage of. A seat on upper or lower level is $95 per adult (the strap line is saving customers the drive on I-95) although there are sleeper options available. The cost of putting your car on the train is over $500 each way.

Another rail option if you find yourself without wheels in Orlando is the SunRail service. It doesn’t operate on weekends which is a bit odd, so primarily a commuter service that runs from Debary in the North beyond City of Orlando and Poinciana in the South beyond Kissimmee Amtrak Station. This service doesn’t service Orlando International Airport.

The route by road is nearly 50 miles and an all zone ticket costs an unbelievable $9.50 return.

The Kissimmee Amtrak station is located by Lake Tohopekaliga in the city of Kissimmee nearer St. Cloud and not in the popular tourist areas of US 192 but it might be a different way of seeing the Orlando area away from the Theme Parks.

There are plenty of alternative ways to discover Florida and maybe it could be a consideration which airport you use to visit the Sunshine State in the future to keep the airfares down.