• Virgin Rail née Brightline/AAF Orlando - Miami FL FEC

  • This is a forum for all operations, both current and planned, of Virgin Rail USA formerly known as Brightline, and Virgin Worldwide Rail operations, past and present.
    Websites: Current Brightline
    Virgin USA
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This is a forum for all operations, both current and planned, of Virgin Rail USA formerly known as Brightline, and Virgin Worldwide Rail operations, past and present.
Websites: Current Brightline
Virgin USA
Virgin UK

Moderator: CRail

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  by trainmaster611
 
electricron wrote:
trainmaster611 wrote:I have a feeling their betting on using the Beeline Expressway since that's the only ROW of any kind between Cocoa and Orlando. As far as rolling stock is concerned, aren't the horizons going to be displaced by the new bilevels? Even if that doesn't pan out, if they act fast enough they can piggyback an order with Amtrak's current order for bilevels.

I hope to dear god the train will actually go downtown instead of just to the airport like Florida's HSR was supposed to do. The route they chose and the airplane icon on the map worries me.
http://mms.businesswire.com/bwapps/medi ... 6781&vid=5
I don't think they're planning on building any stations at all initially, using those already built, which means using some SunRail and TriRail tracks, which are effectively owned by the State of Florida. There's also a power line corridor they could use a few miles north of the Beeline, assuming the power company owns the route entirely (air and ground). The coal power plant to the east of Orlando already has rail to it from the west, which conveniently runs around the south end of Orlando's airport with a wye at the junction with SunRail's mainline. The Beeline corridor gets very tight as it approaches Orlando, but it also crosses the same rail line to that coal power plant.
Yes, they could jump aboard California's and Midwestern states Superliner orders, but they wouldn't get any new railcars until after them, and that's far more than two years out. What can they get within two years was the heart of my earlier question? It's a shame the ex-Santa Fe HiLevels aren't available, they would have made great railcars for this route.
Yeah, after I wrote that post I saw the power line ROW on google maps so I'm eating my words. Still, the power line ROW deadends on Semoran Blvd with no easy ROW to any railroad tracks or downtown that they could follow so that wouldn't be a realistic option. The power plant branch line (I think it's called the OUC branch) detours way south of the airport so it's an out of the way ROW to follow if you're ultimately going downtown. The best option IMO would be to stay on the 528 (which is what the Beeline becomes), pass 1 mile north of the airport terminal, and keep going until you get to the Sunrail tracks and then go north to downtown. There should be enough room along the freeway to get to the tracks.

I suppose you're right about the equipment, the new bi-level order would take too long. I guess the most realistic option after that is getting old commuter rail equipment to pinch hit until a piggy-backed bi-level order could be made. You make a good point about it not having to be American-made and Jsotlberg points out the Wisconsin Talgo facility wouldn't be busy so those are all options too. I would think economies of scale would probably make bi-levels the cheapest though.

Amtrakowitz, an entirely privately funded enterprise constructing 40 miles of new track along an ROW that's never had rail for the purposes of passenger rail is unprecedented in recent times (at least I can't think of anything). Doing this old-turkey without any prior studies and expecting it to be done in 2 years makes it seem unrealistic. And then trying to make a profit after all this with just regular-speed trains? I would absolutely love for this to happen but I'm doubtful. I have a feeling the state will have to step in at some point to make this work. But I don't doubt that it'll happen at all.
  by markhb
 
If FEC is the sort of company that generally has their ducks in a row before they start shooting their corporate mouths off (and I'm not in a position to know so I'll defer to the Floridians and other Southerners), I'd be willing to bet that they already have had some sort of positive discussion with either the Tollway Authority or the power line owners. Making such an announcement and then broaching the subject with the landowners is a good way to make yourself look really, really stupid.
  by mtuandrew
 
Suppose the FEC is trying to get people to the most popular destination. Is that necessarily downtown Orlando, or might it be Walt Disney World, the airport, or somewhere else? They might decide that following the existing tracks around the south side of the airport, putting an airport station at South Access Road and following the Greeneway towards Disney is good enough, especially if they can convince SunRail to build their Meadow Woods station a bit further south.
  by Mr.T
 
trainmaster611 wrote:I have a feeling their betting on using the Beeline Expressway since that's the only ROW of any kind between Cocoa and Orlando. As far as rolling stock is concerned, aren't the horizons going to be displaced by the new bilevels? Even if that doesn't pan out, if they act fast enough they can piggyback an order with Amtrak's current order for bilevels.

I hope to dear god the train will actually go downtown instead of just to the airport like Florida's HSR was supposed to do. The route they chose and the airplane icon on the map worries me.
http://mms.businesswire.com/bwapps/medi ... 6781&vid=5
Where the Orlando station is likely depends on future expansion plans to Tampa. If they plan on building a new route to Tampa, then they would likely follow 528 all the way through Orlando with a station north of the airport. If they plan to use the existing Silver Service routing to Tampa(if they can even get trackage rights), then a station south of the airport makes sense because it would be easier to connect to the route to Tampa. Either way, in the meantime they could save money by using the existing Orlando station, and wait to build a new station as part of the Tampa project, if its ever built. I get the impression that they're trying to avoid investing in new stations. If the passenger trains lose money and get cancelled, the Cocoa-Orlando extension could still be used for freight, while any new stations would be a write-off.

Although I have no evidence, it seems like a lot of retired commuter cars are on the market. If equipped with new intercity seating they may be adequate. For secondhand cars, I'm guessing they would prefer Bombardier bilevels for two reasons. They have low-floor boarding, and Tri-rail/SunRail passengers would already be familiar with them.
  by trainmaster611
 
The Orlando attractions area is so diffuse that everyone at some point is going to have to transfer to a bus, shuttle, or even a rental car if they want to get to their final destination. The airport already has a good distributor infrastructure for the attractions area so it wouldn't be a bad idea to just have a station there to serve the entire attractions area in addition to the airport.

Downtown on the other hand is much more compact and is of course the epicenter of the second largest metropolitan population in the state; Orlando is a huge trip originator in addition to being a destination. Don't forget that downtown also used to be the second biggest attraction in the state in the 1990s, so the potential for being a destination in its own right is still there. Having a busy passenger rail service terminate there would help stimy a revival (although I realize that isn't necessarily what the FEC is looking for). Either way, the traffic potential is there, it just needs to be tapped.

As far as through routing from Miami to Tampa is concerned, I don't think that should have any bearing on the way the tracks are laid out in Orlando. No one in their right mind would take a regular speed passenger train that follows such an indirect route that goes all the way to cocoa, cuts across to Orlando, and then goes back south when the existing Silver Star offers a much more direct route (nevermind the ease of driving there too). There are three city-pairs to consider here: Miami-Orlando, Orlando-Tampa, and Miami-Tampa. FEC's line does a good job at Orlando-Miami and either a CSX A-line or I-4 route could serve for Orlando-Tampa. But connecting those two segments for Miami-Tampa is just silly. It might be more forgivable if we were talking about HSR but we're not.

Apparently the track speeds will be 100-110mph.
http://www.progressiverailroading.com/h ... ice--30360#
The studies under way also will help FECI determine train speeds. The company plans to operate trains at top speeds of 100 mph to 110 mph, says Barney.
  by trainviews
 
mtuandrew wrote:
electricron wrote:
trainmaster611 wrote:As far as rolling stock is concerned, aren't the horizons going to be displaced by the new bilevels? Even if that doesn't pan out, if they act fast enough they can piggyback an order with Amtrak's current order for bilevels.
Yes, they could jump aboard California's and Midwestern states Superliner orders, but they wouldn't get any new railcars until after them, and that's far more than two years out. What can they get within two years was the heart of my earlier question? It's a shame the ex-Santa Fe HiLevels aren't available, they would have made great railcars for this route.
I wouldn't worry. :grin: There are many used railcars that would be available for the right price, including:
-Comet Is, IBs, IIs and IIIs (from NJT, SEPTA, UTA and elsewhere)
-Heritage cars from Amtrak (diners and remaining sleepers), VIA (Northern Spirit sleepers), and private companies (the 261 group and others)
-the SPVs from whoever owns them now
-gallery cars from the US Army, VRE or another group
-the orphaned Talgos in Milwaukee
-Bombardier bilevels from Metrolink or elsewhere

I'm sure I'm missing some options as well, beyond the possibility of FEC purchasing new from Rotem, Bombardier, NipponSharyo, CAF, or Kawasaki. My bet is on the Metrolink cars coming east, but that's just a W-A-G.

My bet would be on the Metrolink Bombardiers, but we'll see.
I seriously doubt that new cars can be built in two years - also because those cars will not be ordered before everything else has a green light. Even overseas it is not really possible as standard designs will have to be modified to FRA specifications. The also precludes leasing them on the international market, which otherwise would be the obvious solution. New bilevels will be a long wait till California and the Midwest has had theirs. Viewliners will be a bit shorter wait, but AFAIR Amtrak owns the design, so something will have to be worked out here. So either the time frame is wildly overblown or they have to start with used equipment from somewhere in the US - my hunch is probably both.

The project has clearly stated that they want to run at 100-110 mph speeds, so it does have to be equipment that can do that, which I guess rules out at least of the commuter cars. Starting out a new commercial service you really have to have it up to standard from the start. Equipment that seems worn or makes slower runs until new cars can be built rist establishing a reputation that will later be very hard to shed.

That leaves few options on the table. The Wisconsin Talgos are a good bet if two sets are enough. Not that the dead straight FEC will benefit much from their tilting abilities, but they are new and in good shape. For most of the others they will require expensive refurbishments and maintenance will be very expensive for some of the very old ones (the reason why Amtrak wants to shed its heritage equipment). Unless Amtrak goes into defense mode on this initiaitive, renting Horizons that will be in surplus when then new midwestern cars start to arrive is a possibility too, that will not require too much of an overhaul.

Like others here I am a bit sceptic especially on the time frame, and I see no way that they will be able to earn back major infrastructure investments (unless they see large freight benefits too).

Another question is Amtrak's reaction. As a government supported company it really has no business of getting in the way of a private enterprise, and cooperation on ticketing, LD service etc. should benefit both. But of course there i a thousand little ways that Amtrak could impede them if that is the way they choose. Station access just for starts.

I am normally not that big a privatisation guy, and is under no illusion that train service generally will be profitable in any near future. But here I for once am going to side with what will probably be the republican stand. If Amtrak won't cooperate on a reasonable level, they must be beaten to it by Congress. The perspective of getting private RR's to run the most attractive corridors on their own dime again is very exciting and could be the start of tremedous growth for passenger rail in the US - including for routes that does need subsidies and very possibly operated by Amtrak.

It will be very interesting to see how everything plays out...
  by Gilbert B Norman
 
Not sure what the FEC game plan is here, but somehow I think it is other than running passenger trains for their own account.

U2 seems to think it could be some kind of union busting move - and not necessarily limited to this ostensible "proposal":

http://utu.org/2012/03/23/fla-rail-pass ... -red-flag/
  by Jeff Smith
 
^
UTU Florida State Legislative Director Andres Trujillo warns, however, that the new operation might be contracted out, and the private contractor may attempt to use non-union labor. Additionally, as a wholly intrastate operation, the private operator may seek to avoid Railroad Retirement, Railway Labor Act and Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) coverage.
Can't believe I split the topic and didn't make a comment. Must be getting old.

Anyway, it's an exciting proposal, if I can also say I understand the skepticism. I'm still not sure how this will affect the other Amtrak proposal for the FEC from JAX. Very interesting.
  by Jeff Smith
 
A quote from a previously linked article: http://www.progressiverailroading.com/h ... ice--30360#
Today, Florida East Coast Industries Inc. (FECI) announced it plans to develop All Aboard Florida, a privately owned, operated and maintained passenger-rail service that would run 240 miles to Miami, Cocoa and Orlando. The service would operate along 200 miles of existing tracks between Miami and Cocoa, and along 40 miles of new track into Orlando. The system eventually could be expanded to include connections to Tampa and Jacksonville. The project will cost about $1 billion.
Seems to me like they're aiming to cut out Amtrak. Very interesting. Here's a graphic:

http://mms.businesswire.com/bwapps/medi ... 6781&vid=5
  by Jeff Smith
 
No, I'm not normally a "HuffPo" reader ;-) : http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/2 ... 72950.html
Finally, a rail project Rick Scott can't kill: a Coral Gables company is planning a new privately owned, operated and maintained passenger train service that will connect Downtown Miami and Orlando by 2014.
^A little gratuitous LOL.
The company said in a release that the route could eventually be extended further to Tampa and Jacksonville. Best of all: trains would travel through the downtown areas of South Florida cities -- not, say, the edge of Hialeah -- and come equipped with Internet access.

"The system will include business- and coach-class service with advance purchase reserved seating, gourmet meals, Wi-Fi, and the ability to work productively throughout the entire trip," FEC said in a statement. "In addition, stations in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Orlando mean convenient transfers to Metrorail, Metromover or SunRail, allowing passengers to reach their final destination."

FEC said All Aboard Florida will not only accommodate the 50 million people who currently travel annually between South and Central Florida, but also create 6,000 jobs in the project's construction and another 1,000 for maintaining the railways.

The company has also proposed privatizing South Florida’s Tri Rail service, putting Tri-Rail trains to use on All Aboard Florida tracks, the South Florida Business Journal reports.
Privatize Tri-Rail? Geez. How many forums must I cross-post and merge?
  by JayBee
 
My thought is that the Wisconsin Talgos could be an interim car solution, leased for a few years. Less risk initially, then if the numbers look promising they can order equipment optimized for the service they intend to operate. The only passenger services that turn an operate profit are High-speed services where you run the wheels off the equipment. What you are selling is seat-miles. During the day you have to keep the equipment moving, minimize the time the equipment is standing still. The turns at the end points should be determined by how fast the locomotives can be fueled and the cars can have the trash removed. Food service should be very limited as it is a money sink.
  by trainmaster611
 
As far as the talgos are concerned, I'm not sure two trainsets will be sufficient both capacity-wise and frequency-wise. But they are the only 110mph vehicles available in the short term. If they intend to provide more than 2 daily round trips, they're going to need some very tight turn-around times.
markhb wrote:If FEC is the sort of company that generally has their ducks in a row before they start shooting their corporate mouths off (and I'm not in a position to know so I'll defer to the Floridians and other Southerners), I'd be willing to bet that they already have had some sort of positive discussion with either the Tollway Authority or the power line owners. Making such an announcement and then broaching the subject with the landowners is a good way to make yourself look really, really stupid.
The Orlando Sentinel did a bit of asking around yesterday and it doesn't appear to be the case. Yesterday was the first most officials heard of the project.
http://www.orlandosentinel.com/business ... 6583.story
Few public officials and transit experts in Central Florida had heard of the proposal Thursday.

MetroPlan, which sets transportation policy in Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties, had not been notified, said spokeswoman Cynthia Lambert.

And officials at the Florida Department of Transportation had only seen the news release.
Barney said FECI has not reached out to Disney or most public officials. The announcement, she said, was a way to let people of their intentions. "Today really begins our conversation," she said.
If they're just now notifying government officials and haven't even touched base, that doesn't bode well for their 2014 startup date.
Gilbert B Norman wrote:Not sure what the FEC game plan is here, but somehow I think it is other than running passenger trains for their own account.

U2 seems to think it could be some kind of union busting move - and not necessarily limited to this ostensible "proposal":

http://utu.org/2012/03/23/fla-rail-pass ... -red-flag/
That link appears to be broken, do you have another one?
  by Gilbert B Norman
 
I agree, the link does appear to be broken; somebody in Cleveland a "bit higher up" than media relations must have said "no no" to that piece.
  by Champlain Division
 
amtrakowitz wrote:
Champlain Division wrote:Quick prediction: All Aboard Florida will never happen. Amtrak on the FEC will......3 years max until it happens.
Prediction based on what...?
I just don't believe any new passenger railroad line will be built, not in Florida or anywhere. However, as I believe this to be a shrewd move on FEC's part to kick start Amtrak service on it's line by pulling the State's and the Fed's competitive strings, it will result in the necessary investment for upgrades to the line so service can begin. That will take approximately at least a couple years to accomplish, hence the 3 years max.
  by mtuandrew
 
Two things:
-The SPVs are also capable of 110 (125?) mph. I don't know if they're available, but they're certainly disused. For that matter, Amtrak would be silly not to consider leasing cars for the right (high) price. NJT or MARC might also be willing - I seem to recall that both run at 100 mph, and thus the Comets and the MARC bilevels would be capable of such speeds. Also, remember those unused Atlantic City ACES trainsets the NJT forum is abuzz about? :grin:

-I see that the FEC already "busted" its non-operating unions in a long fight back in the 1960s and 1970s. Do they still have operating unions?
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