• Brightline Expansion Opportunities

  • This is a forum for all operations, both current and planned, of Brightline, formerly All Aboard Florida and Virgin Trains USA:
    Websites: Current Brightline
    Virgin USA
    Virgin UK
This is a forum for all operations, both current and planned, of Brightline, formerly All Aboard Florida and Virgin Trains USA:
Websites: Current Brightline
Virgin USA
Virgin UK

Moderator: CRail

  by conductorchris
 
The 3-C line in Ohio is one of the busiest travel markets in the midwest.

I recall a Trains Magazine article that overlaid a map of France onto a map of Ohio and talked about how very similar France is to Ohio in terms of population totals and population density. Point being that if the TGV is a success in France, it should be in Ohio as well.

It is true that demographics and economics in Ohio are those of a rust belt problem and not a sun belt growth story. But maybe they need a train to change it?

If I were waving the magic wand I'd build (in phases) a line from Chicago - Indianapolis - Cincinnati - Columbus - Cleveland. With a trackage rights deal over Indianapolis & Louisville. That's all major travel corridors with plenty of possible highway and former rail right of ways to start from. I suspect that the low value of land in those areas means there is money to be made by bringing in the rail.

Christopher
  by mtuandrew
 
I don’t think it’s the population difference between France and Ohio, Chris, I think it’s the relative wealth and the extant car culture. If Ohio were its own country, it would have more coal + hydro + wind + natural gas reserves and less petroleum than places like Texas or the Dakotas, and might then pursue a national electric rail program.

Also keep in mind that France and Japan funded TGV and Shinkansen respectively as national priorities in war-disrupted areas. They didn’t make a private company build the lines on its own.

(Also Paris has a population of 2 million with 12 1/2 million in its metro area. Cleveland is 384k/2.1m city and metro; Columbus, 893k/2.1m; Cincinnati, 303k/2.1m.)
  by Gilbert B Norman
 
The Next Miami, a publication circulated within the architectural community, reports that Brightline is considering operating into the "stillborn" Amtrak station at Miami Airport Intermodal.

Fair Use:
Miami International Airport and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport are now both being studied by Brightline for potential service.

The company told investors in a December 11 filing that it is now considering adding new service to the two airports.

In order to add the MIA connection, Brightline said it has approximately four miles of east-west track that it could use already in place.

From there, the company said it could use its existing South Florida Rail Corridor for the approximately three mile north-south trip into the Miami Intermodal Center at the airport.

Tri-Rail already runs trains into the Miami Intermodal Center at MIA, as does Metrorail.

The Florida Department of Transportation also built a station in 2013 for Amtrak at the Intermodal Center, but the platform length came out 200 feet short due to a miscommunication. Amtrak said in 2018 that it had no plans to serve MIA, and the new station and office there has never been used.
This development would certainly represent an opportunity to put this unused space into the hands of a marketing-minded outfit in place of one whose only concern insofar as their Long Distance trains go, is operational efficiency.

Now what this architecture publication's reporter overlooks is that, while FEC RY tracks go a "stone's throw", or more precisely fifty city blocks, to the North of the Airport and that there is a presently unused connection between the SFRTA (Tri Rail; SAL) at the IRIS X-ing, that connection is through the Northeast quadrant and was built to enable Tri Rail to access the Miami Central facility. So, absent building a new X-ing through the Southeast quadrant, Brightline trains would need to operate through the existing NE, then back into the Airport station.

The addition of Brightline trains would only result in interference with FEC's operations out of their Hialeah Intermodal facility; and for a railroad that operates freights by a timetable, you could expect "resistance". Further, the more station stops Brightline adds, such as FLL Airport and Aventura noted in the article, the more their operation will resemble a "glorified Tri Rail" and diminish their capacity to be speed competitive with auto travel.

I think wise minds will take a second look at this one.
  by lordsigma12345
 
I think Brightline needs to (And will be) very careful to not overextend itself. The jury is still out on whether this will work or be sustainable as a private investment - and if it can work it likely can only work in very limited and unique markets with large amounts of ridership potential. Even in an ideal market, passenger rail is an expensive proposition and the expansion to Orlando will make it more expensive. Private entities don't just want to break even on an operational basis they want to make enough of a profit to make a return on their capital investment. Obviously this isn't all just ticket revenue - some of it is real estate, but its still very uncertain. COVID and the changes in lifestyle it has caused (And some which will inevitably stick.) also adds more uncertainty into the mix. Now granted as a private entity they can simply shut down in a situation such as what we are facing now as they have unlike Amtrak or transit services where their mission requires them to provide the service in good times and bad and as a result are bleeding money ($70 million in operating losses as of November on the Northeast Regional and Acela services on top of the typical capital costs related to running the railroad as well as substantial losses in the state supported and long distance side as well.)

I wish them the best, but I am not totally sold totally private passenger rail with minimal taxpayer support can work in 2021. It will be interesting to see what happens long term. I suppose it is possible that if they fail to get the numbers they want on their own and threaten to abandon the state will step in and convert this into a state subsidized service with them as the operator. We'll just have to see what happens.
  by Pensyfan19
 
Well lordsigma, I do agree with you that Brightline shouldn't overextended itself, and should focus on enhancing the Florida and Vegas to LA regions (and maybe from Charlotte to Atlanta). This way, the company wouldn't bite off more than it could chew by focusing on too many regions (hence, one if the problems with Amtrak). However, I do not feel that Brightline is going to go belly up or get invaded by the state govs due to this pandemic, since people are still investing in it with construction moving along on a steady rate.
  by electricron
 
Investors are still investing with the Brightline projects in Florida, but not anywhere else yet. Nevada has redirected funds for homeless shelters and California will also soon because investors did not purchase many Brightline bonds for the Victorville to Las Vegas train. I think even investors expect a full LA-LV route will be required to be profitable.
Last edited by CRail on Mon Feb 22, 2021 12:42 pm, edited 1 time in total. Reason: Unneccessary quote removed.
  by lordsigma12345
 
Pensyfan19 wrote: Sat Jan 23, 2021 11:03 am Well lordsigma, I do agree with you that Brightline shouldn't overextended itself, and should focus on enhancing the Florida and Vegas to LA regions (and maybe from Charlotte to Atlanta). This way, the company wouldn't bite off more than it could chew by focusing on too many regions (hence, one if the problems with Amtrak). However, I do not feel that Brightline is going to go belly up or get invaded by the state govs due to this pandemic, since people are still investing in it with construction moving along on a steady rate.
It wouldn't happen tomorrow or next year - but after 5 years from now if for whatever reason it doesn't work out as a private passenger operation (they get it built but simply don't see enough ridership/revenue to get their desired ROI) I just wonder if the state would step in to subsidize it to keep it going or let it shut down.
  by electricron
 
That would depend upon the political climate at the time in Florida. FEC would obviously wish to maintain the ownership of the railroad corridor for freight operations, so all that would be left would be the trains, stations, and workforce. All of which could be absorbed by the local transit agencies, would there be a need for the state to step in?
Last edited by CRail on Mon Feb 22, 2021 12:44 pm, edited 1 time in total. Reason: Unneccessary quote removed.
  by Gilbert B Norman
 
First, let's see if the existing Brightline returns post-COVID.

I think it will. Nothing has come to my attention suggesting the construction to MCO has halted. While the privately placed bonds, at a whopper, Federally tax free, interest rate, are in the hands of the politically connected, even though they don't, they seem to have an "understood" government guarantee if there is a default.

Of course, it is discouraging that they "never once made numbers" in the two years they operated Miami-WPalm. "I told you so" doesn't make friends and I have had four enjoyable joyrides on them. Should Brightline enhance the value of the properties that FECI has or have planned in the vicinity of the stations, then that will not show up on Brightline's financials, but would on FECI's - if one can find them buried deep within Softbank's.

While all these intermediate stops they are planning to add will make it a "glorified Tri Rail". But one such as at Aventura enhances the Real Estate development aspect. Those planned in each of the "opposition counties" to the North simply represent political expediency. That planned for FLL (hey, the FEC goes right under a runway), assuming the transfer can be made as "seamless" as those found at airports overseas (I've used such at LGW, LHR, FRA, and MUC), will be a "plus", but that being considered for the Miami Intermodal at MIA will only complicate their operations, and there is already Metrorail as good as door to door with Miami Central.
  by electricron
 
mtuandrew wrote: Sun Nov 08, 2020 5:45 pm I don’t think it’s the population difference between France and Ohio, Chris, I think it’s the relative wealth and the extant car culture.
(Also Paris has a population of 2 million with 12 1/2 million in its metro area. Cleveland is 384k/2.1m city and metro; Columbus, 893k/2.1m; Cincinnati, 303k/2.1m.)
Per Wiki
Population of France is 67,407,000, area is 247,368 sq mi, density is 300.4/sq mi, GDP is $2.954 trillion, median household income is $31,112
Population of Ohio is 11,689,100, area is 44,825 sq mi, density is 282/sq mi, GDP is $626 billion, median household income is $54,021
The only statistic Ohio beats France is in median household income at less than twice, meanwhile France beats Ohio about 5 to 6 times in population, area, and GDP - which means France can afford HSR while Ohio can not. The only other statistic close to even is density.

Greater Columbus population is 2,078,725 with a density of 490.3/sq mi , Grand Paris population is 7,068,810 with a density of 22,490/sq mi
Paris population is triple and density is quintuple that of Columbus. Yes, Paris does make a better hub city for HSR.