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SunRail’s airport train might look different

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SunRail to Orlando International Airport may not look anything like the SunRail train we’re accustomed to riding.

During the SunRail Customer Advisory Committee meeting on Friday SunRail Project Manager Tawny Olore said her team is still considering the best way to transport SunRail riders to the airport.

Some of the options being studied include:

  • A diesel multiple unit, or DMU (a passenger train coach with a self-contained diesel engine that would not need a locomotive)
  • A light-rail train, similar to the train in Charlotte, N.C.
  • An automated people-mover train, similar to the ones currently in use at Orlando International Airport
  • Bus rapid transit system, similar to the free LYMMO buses in downtown Orlando.

SunRail could even decide to have every other train make a side trip to the airport.

SunRail riders headed to the airport might transfer to the airport link at the existing Sand Lake Road or Altamonte Springs station, at the station that will be built in Meadow Woods in south Orange County, or even special airport transfer station.

Much of the airport link discussion focuses on an existing railroad track spur that connects to the SunRail corridor south of the current Sand Lake Road SunRail station. That spur is currently used by trains hauling coal to the Orlando Utilities Commission power plant in east Orange County. Those tracks are owned by OUC, which is owned by the city of Orlando.

SunRail riders headed to the airport would get off at the intermodal terminal that is currently under construction on airport property. That’s the same intermodal station that will be the last stop for the Brightline express train (formerly known as All Aboard Florida) connecting Orlando and Miami, with stops in West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale.

SunRail leaders said they hope to complete the airport link by 2020, even though it has not been designed or funded. Many say they consider the airport link to be crucial to attract more riders to SunRail. Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said that SunRail needs to run 7 days a week once it connects to the airport.