Brightline (FEC) Update

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joelkfla

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Do they? I didn't see any close up of the intent at Disney Springs West of the I-4, 417 interchange, but the high-level show that the 417 alignment crosses the interchange then turns North vs the 528 which shows the route coming straight down I-4 and just stopping at the interchange. And, yes, I know the trains are bi-directional, but are the seats fixed? Are they all reset to face forward at the end points? Or are they all club seating or half and half forward and backward? Would be odd to travel facing forward for a chunk then facing backward without moving
The firm that did the comparison of the alignments said in their verbal presentation that the portion on Disney property would be "essentially the same" between the 2 alignments (actually 3 alignments in that area, as the I-4 portion of the northern alignment could be either in the I-4 median or elevated above the roadway, depending on how FL DOT decides to build "I-4 Beyond Ultimate".) Also, concept art previously released shows a stub-end station with platforms on the upper level. I suppose that could change, but I think Disney would want to minimize the amount of elevated track structure for aesthetic reasons. And IMHO it's going to be tough shoehorning a station into that area with tracks at one end, let alone through tracks.

The railcars have fixed 50-50 seating, as is common in Europe. It's also pretty common in Europe for a train to pull into a stub-end station and continue it's trip with the opposite end at the head.
 

Anderson

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Frankly, Brightline would be happy to do the northern route if someone else paid for it, but nobody has stepped up to pay for it.

If they're funding it themselves, they don't have a choice other than attempting to optimize financially; passenger rail is generally an unprofitable business, and even if they do very well they won't be gushing cash, so they can't afford to blow half a billion for much less increase in ticket sales than that. You'd think Universal or the county would recognize this and offer up the cash if they really wanted the 528 route -- and they haven't.
I think in an alternate universe where the parks weren't dealing with the aftermath of a virus scrambling planned capex, this might be a thing. Right now, they're mostly "out" the international tourist market with no clear timeline on that coming back in full (heck, Canada is only just backing off the border closure there).
Brightline has said they are not interested in carrying local traffic. Whether they are speaking truth, or just throwing that up as an argument because they don't want to pay for the more expensive 528 route, I don't know.
Brightline is not interested in doing "local" traffic on their own dime. If someone waltzes in with a check to buy the space or to buy another few equipment sets and cover disruptions, Brightline would probably run just about anything. I also highly doubt that Brightline is going to "run off" MCO-Disney Springs traffic...enough folks will disembark at the airport that I can't see them not want to turn over the seats. Once they run through to Tampa...who knows?
 

jis

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Brightline is not interested in doing "local" traffic on their own dime. If someone waltzes in with a check to buy the space or to buy another few equipment sets and cover disruptions, Brightline would probably run just about anything. I also highly doubt that Brightline is going to "run off" MCO-Disney Springs traffic...enough folks will disembark at the airport that I can't see them not want to turn over the seats. Once they run through to Tampa...who knows?
If what is happening in South Florida is any indication, Brightline will ask the Counties/Cities to run the local service perhaps as a SunRail service - essentially the Western half of the proposed East-West Corridor. I don't think they will run it themselves. There is more to it than just buying a few pieces of equipment. The local service part of the stations will become a maintenance responsibility for the Counties as well, in addition to providing any subsidy needed to cover the gap between farebox takes and the actual cost of operations. Funds really don;t grow on Palm Trees, not even in Florida.
 
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jis

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True, as they have done in contracting to run some commuter service in the Miami area.
Brightline will not actually be operating those local trains. They will be TriRail trains using TriRail rolling stock with low platform boarding. The local stations will be low platform only. The joint use stations will generally have an island high platform for Brightline trains and outside the track low platforms for TriRail use. Local passengers will be segregated from Brightline Passengers. Local passengers will not have access to the Brightline lounge areas.

This will also help avoid confusion about branding and ticketing. Local passengers will use standard TriRail and Joint Miami-Dade-Broward fare cards. Brightline will be ... well Brightline. No one will confuse one for the other or get on the wrong train by mistake.
 
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Mailliw

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True, as they have done in contracting to run some commuter service in the Miami area.
This is actually a pretty good strategy. Assuming they can negotiate decent terms why leave money on the table if governments want to contract work out to them?
 

jis

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This is actually a pretty good strategy. Assuming they can negotiate decent terms why leave money on the table if governments want to contract work out to them?
All that they are doing in the Miami area is renting out slots to TriRail, which is a very reasonable thing to do. They are not taking on any financial risk for the operation of the local service. And as a matter of detail, they are really doing so on behalf of the Florida Dispatching Company since that is the outfit that doles out slot usage to both FECR and Brightline too.
 

neroden

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CFXway Board is currently meeting to consider Brightline alignments between MCO & WDW (on cable channel 488 in the Orlando area.) Here is the 3rd party (4th party?) report on the disputed alternate alignments. It includes detailed descriptions of the proposed alignments, and impacts by the I-4 Beyond Ultimate project.
That is extremely clear, actually: Brightline says in so many words:

"Brightline's firm conclusion is that a northerly alignment remains cost prohibitive and is not cost feasible. Brigthline continues to welcome consideration of the Taft Vineland route in partnership with the public or private sector to fully bridge this $780 million to $1.8 billion gap."

I don't think you can get much clearer than this. They'll do the Taft Vineland Route if someone else pays for it, whether Universal or the counties, and not otherwise.

They go into detail regarding the costs, too! The main issue is the need for more bridges to grade separate from the roads. Therefore, if those were all funded out of the government road budgets, which is totally legit, the funding issue would be solved. The governments are simply not willing to pay for it, and that's the bottom line.

Pearls of Brightline being set before swine of Florida governments. I hope Brightline goes somewhere they're appreciated next -- maybe they'll be treated better in LA and Las Vegas.
 
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cocojacoby

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Just to throw a small monkey wrench into this. Universal is building a giant new Theme Park close to the northern route option:

universal-epic-universe-map.jpg
 

jis

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Where is the new money wrench? This has been known for quite a while and Universal has been trying to stir up anyone that it can to get someone else to pay for access to it as best as they can.
 

Scott Orlando

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Its a shame that the public officials can’t see the huge potential victory here. The 417 route doesn’t help them with something they’ve been trying to do for decades: rail service between mco-i drive/convention center/universal- Disney. It could be a win-win. Brightline intercity and Sunrail local on the 528 route. I understand that the cost is enormous and they say they have no money…there is always a solution.
 

jis

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Its a shame that the public officials can’t see the huge potential victory here. The 417 route doesn’t help them with something they’ve been trying to do for decades: rail service between mco-i drive/convention center/universal- Disney. It could be a win-win. Brightline intercity and Sunrail local on the 528 route. I understand that the cost is enormous and they say they have no money…there is always a solution.
Said public officials have tried almost every gadget bahn snake oil trying to get the snake oil vendor to pay for it, and of course they did not and all went bankrupt or walked away. Now they have been told in no uncertain terms that it could happen if they pay for it. My guess is they won't and let the chips fall where they may or may not.

The northern route was supposed to be a fast light/regional rail line with many stops actually serving a lot of people. This is round 4 in the search for a sucker who will do it without any funding provided to them to do so. Musk is yet to step in with his Teslas in little tunnels. Fort Lauderdale has biitten on that one already.
 
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cocojacoby

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I have not seen any proposal for a transportation hub station located as central to everything as possible and having each company run their own bus shuttles. As proposed now, even though the Disney Springs station is going to be on Disney Property, you would still need to board a bus to get your family and luggage to your particular hotel. Landing at a very busy shopping/restaurant complex really doesn't seem ideal when you are trying to get settled into your hotel ASAP to start your expensive vacation.

And even if you just happen to be going to Disney for the day (without luggage) once you get off the train at Disney Springs you would still need to board a bus to get to the individual Theme Parks.

Maybe they could even have a user fee so any hotel in the area would contribute to the construction and maintenance cost of the facility.
 
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joelkfla

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I have not seen any proposal for a transportation hub station located as central to everything as possible and having each company run their own bus shuttles. As proposed now, even though the Disney Springs station is going to be on Disney Property, you would still need to board a bus to get your family and luggage to your particular hotel. Landing at a very busy shopping/restaurant complex really doesn't seem ideal when you are trying to get settled into your hotel ASAP to start your expensive vacation.

And even if you just happen to be going to Disney for the day (without luggage) once you get off the train at Disney Springs you would still need to board a bus to get to the individual Theme Parks.

Maybe they could even have a user fee so any hotel in the area would contribute to the construction and maintenance cost of the facility.
We don't know what Disney plans to do. Maybe they'll run buses from the station; maybe they'll leave it taxis, Uber, Lyft, and their overpriced in-house rideshare service: Minnie Vans. The Disney resort hotels could provide luggage transfer from the station, as they do now for guests transferring between hotels.

Currently, there are no buses from Disney Springs to the parks, and only limited service to Disney resort hotels until after 11 a.m.
 

neroden

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If Disney had sense they'd build gadgetbahns from each park to the Disney Springs station, suitably-themed for each park, but... they don't have Walt's sense of style any more.
 

Anderson

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We don't know what Disney plans to do. Maybe they'll run buses from the station; maybe they'll leave it taxis, Uber, Lyft, and their overpriced in-house rideshare service: Minnie Vans. The Disney resort hotels could provide luggage transfer from the station, as they do now for guests transferring between hotels.

Currently, there are no buses from Disney Springs to the parks, and only limited service to Disney resort hotels until after 11 a.m.
The issue here is parking: If you ran buses from Disney Springs to each of the parks, I think you can guarantee that you'd have a few thousand people willing to put up with a 20-minute bus transfer to save $20+ on parking. For Magic Kingdom, there's a "hotfix" in the form of the Monorail Resorts (and by extension, this sort-of applies to Epcot).
If Disney had sense they'd build gadgetbahns from each park to the Disney Springs station, suitably-themed for each park, but... they don't have Walt's sense of style any more.
The issue isn't style, it's expense. For various-and-sundry reasons, the cost of building these gadgetbahns has generally exceeded the rate of inflation by a substantial amount. I suspect that if you could do something for $20-25m/mile, Disney might go for it. Up at $75-100+ million per mile, it gets trickier to justify. Also, extending service to anywhere with free parking raises the issue of folks circumventing theme park parking prices...and Disney Springs needs free parking to work.
 

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Just to throw a small monkey wrench into this. Universal is building a giant new Theme Park close to the northern route option:
We don't know what Disney plans to do. Maybe they'll run buses from the station; maybe they'll leave it taxis, Uber, Lyft, and their overpriced in-house rideshare service: Minnie Vans. The Disney resort hotels could provide luggage transfer from the station, as they do now for guests transferring between hotels.

Currently, there are no buses from Disney Springs to the parks, and only limited service to Disney resort hotels until after 11 a.m.
Kinda relevant to both quotes... I was driving Uber last Saturday in the area. I had a passenger who worked at Universal telling me about the big landgrab at Lockheed, keeping Lockheed's operation in place. I think they said that Universal originally owned that land, but then sold/leased to Lockheed. Lockheed only uses a portion, and that portion isn't going to be disturbed. Universal then reclaimed/repurchased the rest of the land. I don't think they are going to worry about transit between the two parks, expecting most guests to self transit or spend the whole day in one park. Universal didn't have the same element of surprise Disney had when he bought 46 square miles of contiguous property from farmers, but they are piecing together one heck of a footprint.

There have never been transportation from Disney Springs to the parks. Transportation at D.S. (heck, all Disney transportation) is intended for Disney resort guests only, but they don't check. At any point, they can turn on Verify to Ride. Since parking at Disney Springs is free, why lose that $20 ($25) revenue? Side note, when I worked at Disney in the 90's, it was $5... I don't know about a pickup/dropoff kiss and ride at DS, but I haven't looked. There's a great place for Uber drivers to pick up passengers closest to Saratoga Springs. You wouldn't believe how many people want Ubers to take them from one place to another inside the park.
 

cirdan

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What percentage of Disney visitors would be arriving by train anyway?

Maybe Brightline is betting on the wrong horse here and should just push for an optimal route to Tampa, only serving Disney if it happens to be possible anyway.
 

jis

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What percentage of Disney visitors would be arriving by train anyway?

Maybe Brightline is betting on the wrong horse here and should just push for an optimal route to Tampa, only serving Disney if it happens to be possible anyway.
It is not just Tampa. This is also entangled with the SunRail East-West Corridor. That is why all the hand wringing about the Northern Corridor option, since it makes a lot of sense for a SunRail East-West Corridor. Actually Brightline is not terribly opposed to the other routing as long as someone else pays for it. They have stated so quite openly.

On the whole it will be difficult for them to get all the permits without at least spending quite some time bringing various parties on board around Orlando.

 
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cocojacoby

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What percentage of Disney visitors would be arriving by train anyway?
Disney now provides free bus transportation from the Orlando Airport directly to your hotel. This service is extremely convenient taking your entire party and their luggage door to door. Disney has also recently started to charge $25 a night to park at your hotel even though you are already paying exorbitant prices at some of their resorts. So the "Magical Express" is a great perk.

However, they say that they are planning to end this service and are touting the "new train" as a suitable replacement. With two transfers it of course is nowhere near as convenient.

Disney has no problem raising prices and lowering services. They are still packed every day and probably always will be.
 

jis

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Disney now provides free bus transportation from the Orlando Airport directly to your hotel. This service is extremely convenient taking your entire party and their luggage door to door. Disney has also recently started to charge $25 a night to park at your hotel even though you are already paying exorbitant prices at some of their resorts. So the "Magical Express" is a great perk.

However, they say that they are planning to end this service and are touting the "new train" as a suitable replacement. With two transfers it of course is nowhere near as convenient.
Disney Magical Express service is being discontinued starting Jan 1, 2022. Brightline extension to WDW, comes 4-5 years after that anyway. At present Disney mentions Uber and Lyft, and not Brightline so much. In any case the actual service between MCO and WDW if and when it materializes is going to be quite distinct from the Brightline inter-city service.

 
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joelkfla

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The issue here is parking: If you ran buses from Disney Springs to each of the parks, I think you can guarantee that you'd have a few thousand people willing to put up with a 20-minute bus transfer to save $20+ on parking. For Magic Kingdom, there's a "hotfix" in the form of the Monorail Resorts (and by extension, this sort-of applies to Epcot).
The solution is to run buses from the station, not from the existing DS bus depot. Brightline has secured platforms and waiting areas. If buses were to load within the security perimeter, they would be accessible only to train riders.

It gets more complicated if SunRail joins the party, since they currently don't have secured platforms. I don't know whether SunRail tickets have a QR code or something that would make it easy for them to also secure their platforms.
What percentage of Disney visitors would be arriving by train anyway?

Maybe Brightline is betting on the wrong horse here and should just push for an optimal route to Tampa, only serving Disney if it happens to be possible anyway.
I believe that is just what they are doing. The 417 to I-4 route is the best route to Tampa. They're making a small detour to Disney because they think there will be enough passengers headed to Disney from Miami & Tampa to make it pay off.
However, they say that they are planning to end this service and are touting the "new train" as a suitable replacement. With two transfers it of course is nowhere near as convenient.
I have not seen anything from Disney touting the train as transportation to and from the airport. That's being done by Disney fans who don't understand Brightline.
 
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