Sugar Express offers a variety of passenger excursions and train rides throughout the season over the lines of the South Central Florida Express and U.S. Sugar Railroad system. Each passenger train event follows a unique portion of our route:

  • The Lake Placid Limited operates between Clewiston and Lake Placid, Florida.

  • The Highlands County Crescent operates between Sebring and Childs, Florida.

  • The Clewiston Comet operates between Lake Placid and Clewiston, Florida.

  • The Ritta Run Ice Cream Train operates between Clewiston and Miami Locks.

Founded in 1931, the United States Sugar Corporation (U.S. Sugar) is a privately owned agricultural business that farms more than 230,000 acres of land in south-central Florida. Key to this efficient operation is the use of its railroads to transport sugar cane from the fields to the processing plant in Clewiston. Sugar Express operates the first regular passenger trains over this route since the Atlantic Coast Line and Florida East Coast Railways abandoned passenger service more than 50 years ago!


U.S. Sugar utilizes two rail operations to handle both raw materials and finished goods: U.S. Sugar Railroad (USSC) and the South Central Florida Express, Inc. (SCXF). The USSC is dedicated primarily to the transport of raw sugar cane from the fields to the processing plant at Clewiston over approximately 120 miles of track.

Sugar Express commonly operates over both railroad systems, with trips routinely offered between Sebring, Lake Placid, Clewiston, and points in between, on excursions that are between 2 and six hours in duration, though times and events may vary based on the event. Many trips feature layovers or stopovers in Lake Placid or Clewiston for visits to farmers markets, area restaurants, or points of interest. Shorter trips are not destination-driven but instead, focus more on the enjoyable and unique experience of riding a vintage passenger train at speed.

On many trips, passengers will see sugar cane farming operations, lakes, streams, orange groves, palm tree farms, wooden trestles, swing bridges, and many kinds of wildlife in the Florida countryside. It’s also not uncommon to spot alligators on our train! The region is rural compared to the state’s developed shoreline and the quiet, agrarian nature of our area is a welcome respite for adventure and agricultural tourism.

The South Central Florida Express mainline between Sebring and Lake Harbor runs a distance of 87 miles and was built by the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad. The mainline between Lake Harbor and Fort Pierce, a distance of 71 miles, is known as the Fort Pierce Subdivision and is owned by Florida East Coast.

USSC sugar cane operations take place during the sugar cane harvest, between October and May. These trains operate between loading points across the 120-mile USSC system and the sugar plant at Clewiston. Trains on the western half of the USSC system are delivered straight to the sugar plant.  SCXF also transports sugar cane from fields North and West of Clewiston to the plant, during sugar cane season. The yard at Bryant is used to store cane cars from the eastern half of the USSC system, and SCXF trains transfer the cane trains from that location to the sugar plant.

The sugar cane is transported in specially-built cane cars, which are designed to be unloaded when tipped to one side. These cars feature a large, hinged side door that opens to dump out the cane. USSC has a fleet of approximately 800 cane cars, all of which are in captive service and do not interchange with railroads outside of the sugar cane operation.  Approximately 250 of these cars are more than 50 years old and are on FRA waiver allowing them to be used on SCXF rail.

SCXF operations support the transport of finished goods between the sugar plant and the general railroad system.  SCXF also provides transportation services to a handful of online freight customers scattered around Lake Okeechobee.

Parking and boarding for all trips departing Clewiston is at WC 900 Owen Avenue, Clewiston, Florida.