MIAMI — Florida East Coast Railway reportedly is in talks with the State of Florida to take over South Florida Tri-Rail management and operations, reports the Palm Beach Post.

South Florida Tri-Rail now operates over 71 miles of former CSX track linking West Palm Beach, Ft. Lauderdale and Miami, and is owned by the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority.

The UTU represents both sides of the cab and operations center employees on South Florida Tri-Rail, where Veolia Transportation holds the operating contract and Bombardier Transportation provides maintenance under contract. The Palm Beach Post says FEC “has never bid on those contracts.”

The state currently subsidizes the commuter rail operation with some $30 million annually, with another $13 million subsidy coming from local communities and additional funds from the federal government, reports the newspaper.

The Palm Beach Post says FEC wants to run the passenger trains on its own track, shifting the operations from CSX.

Reportedly, the talks with FEC were initiated by the Florida Department of Transportation. The state legislature would have to approve any transfer of operation.

The newspaper says Florida Gov. Rick Scott is anxious to transfer management and operation of South Florida Tri-Rail to the private sector.

UTU members employed by Florida East Coast Railway (FEC) have ratified two new four-year agreements affecting wages, benefits and working conditions.

Conductors, engineers, trainmen and yardmen ratified their tentative agreement by a 75 percent plurality, while Florida East Coast yardmasters represented by the UTU were unanimous in ratifying their new agreement.

Both agreements are retroactive to Jan. 1, 2009, extend through Dec. 31, 2012, and include retroactive pay.

UTU negotiators included General Chairperson John Hancock and Vice General Chairperson John Whitaker (both, GO 851), Local 903 Chairperson Jim Bush, and Local 1138 Chairperson Jim McCorkle. The UTU negotiating team was assisted by UTU International Vice President Robert Kerley.

Florida East Coast is a Class II, or regional, railroad, operating more than 350 miles of mainline track along Florida’s east coast. During 2010, the railroad completed 2,000 consecutive days of on-time service to UPS — a record for any transportation company serving the logistics giant. During that almost 5 1/2 year period, FEC delivered 125,000 on-time intermodal trailers and containers.