Brightline (FEC) Update

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west point

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If FEC wants to provide freight service to the Orlando IM terminal or either on to Tampa the OUC bypass would be a natural so no freight routed thru the airport. Thinking of Haz Mat. The answer would be if CSX has exclusive freight rights on the OUC track or not. That might go down to who built the OUC track.

Brightline has and is using the OUC part from the airport to the Sun Rail tracks to bring in both freight including construction material to the Maintenance facility and ferry in the next few passenger train sets.

Several of videos mention these activities.
 

Anderson

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I seem to recall that I projected that FEC accessing Orlando/Tampa for freight purposes was likely part of the equation here (even if it was being done with temporal separation or something else to allow smooth pax operation). So this is...really not a surprise to me. The only unexpected thing is how long it took for it to come out.
 

jis

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If this (freight to Tampa on the Orlando - Tampa segment) becomes too publicly known I suspect the Hunters Creek folks will have an order of magnitude larger conniptions and the I-Drive contingent may at least start scratching their heads. 🤷🏻

Of course there is also a new set of negotiations to be had with CFEA too since the current agreement does not say anything about freight. Also the relationship, or lack thereof with the STB may need to be revisited too. None are necessarily show stoppers, but they have to happen nonetheless.
 

Anderson

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If this (freight to Tampa on the Orlando - Tampa segment) becomes too publicly known I suspect the Hunters Creek folks will have an order of magnitude larger conniptions and the I-Drive contingent may at least start scratching their heads. 🤷🏻

Of course there is also a new set of negotiations to be had with CFEA too since the current agreement does not say anything about freight. Also the relationship, or lack thereof with the STB may need to be revisited too. None are necessarily show stoppers, but they have to happen nonetheless.
Well, and if I had to guess, they'll get the passenger service up and running (possibly all the way to Tampa) first. At that point it'd be a lot harder for the Hunters Creek folks to throw a fit given the lack of grade crossings and the like. TBH, NIMBY-ism is probably the strongest case for why they were doing this "one piece at a time": Objections start looking...quite dubious at some point. "You have 50 passenger trains per day and we built a sound wall; what's a few intermodals running through a quiet zone?"
 

VentureForth

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Unlike NIMBYs who live to 150-year old ROWs, Hunter's Creek folk have a stronger standing for opposing new development in their backyard.

But you're right. If the track is elevated, no grade crossings, sound barriers are installed (but still allowing views from onboard), they may just have to suck it up.
 

Brian_tampa

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If this (freight to Tampa on the Orlando - Tampa segment) becomes too publicly known I suspect the Hunters Creek folks will have an order of magnitude larger conniptions and the I-Drive contingent may at least start scratching their heads. 🤷🏻

Of course there is also a new set of negotiations to be had with CFEA too since the current agreement does not say anything about freight. Also the relationship, or lack thereof with the STB may need to be revisited too. None are necessarily show stoppers, but they have to happen nonetheless.
Actually, CFX has already been aware of it in the multi-party lease negotiations that took place back in 2013 or so. It was mainly something that Deseret Ranches allowed as the land to be used was not originally owned by CFX. It is part of the 200ft wide strip that Deseret sold to CFX that then leased it to Brightline. Deseret wanted the ability to also develop industrial uses for their land near the 528.

I am only aware of a third freight only track being allowed along SR528. Not sure if Tampa will ever see freight, or for that matter, anything past the western end of OUC tracks.

The eastern portion owned by FDOT would be better for shared purpose track. No local industry will ever be located along the stretch. And I doubt if FDOT would even care if freight was run along that section of 528, seeing that they didn't oppose it along the Deseret section. I don't think CFX opposes it either. It maybe be in the FDOT lease documents which I haven't read in years:)
 
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neroden

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I seem to recall that I projected that FEC accessing Orlando/Tampa for freight purposes was likely part of the equation here (even if it was being done with temporal separation or something else to allow smooth pax operation). So this is...really not a surprise to me. The only unexpected thing is how long it took for it to come out.
My only surprise is that they don't have the hysterical opposition to high platforms which most of the US freight railroads have. Why, perhaps it is actually possible to run freight trains past standard high platforms without problem. CSX and NS should take notes and learn how.
 

Brian_tampa

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I also just thought of something preventing (or making it very unlikely) for freight service to Tampa. Isn't the Disney station supposed to be a stub end design from everything i have read? That's good for short 1000ft passenger trains but obviously not sure about 5-10k ft long intermodal trains. And highly doubtful Disney would allow freight trains on its property.
 

west point

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About freight service.
1. FEC already has full plate "H" clearances JAX - MIA. So no problem for service to at least Cocoa.
2. There are no overhead structures Cocoa - OUC track except the 528 underpass that was stated as a 40 foot rough construction opening so plate "H" on to Orlando .
3. The OUC rail as I recall has no overhead structures to past the Airport maintenance facility so again plate "H".
4. Not quite sure about clearances airport to Sun Rail ? Seems like at least one road overpass ?
5. Sun Rail good clearances as well.
6. Sun Rail to I-4 unknown as route not determined.
7. I-4 to Tampa. There was talk when the cancelled HSR line was proposed that some overpasses would needed raising for CAT ? Now diesel ???

The Cocoa to Orlando and maybe Tampa RR track is going to be class 7 track. Brightline owning it would need for freight cars to have nearly perfect wheels so the cars will not damage the 125 MPH track requiring extra surfacing work. FEC already has a WILD that rejects any bad order cars before cars are accepted at JAX. Bright line might want a WILD just before Cocoa to check any freight cars. Another possibility would be only allowing lighter weight cars such as Intermodal cars that as a rule do not have flat wheels.

Note" WILD = Wheel Impact load detector.

Posted elsewhere Brightline is to receive a passenger train set soon. Believe it will be routed to the airport maintenance facility ?
 

joelkfla

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IIRC, it was explicitly stated at the CFX board meetings that there would be no freight traffic on the southern alignment between Meadow Woods & Disney. I think they said it was prohibited in the proposed lease agreement.

That wouldn't preclude freight between Cocoa and the CFX interchange east of the airport.
 

VentureForth

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Freight is where the money is. But it seemed like they already had trouble sticking to the timetable while sharing the ROW with the freight just between MIA and WPB. They have been FAR from being able to maintain a consistent schedule which will be imperative when the extension begins. So much more can snowball when you have that much trackage.
 

jis

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Freight is where the money is. But it seemed like they already had trouble sticking to the timetable while sharing the ROW with the freight just between MIA and WPB. They have been FAR from being able to maintain a consistent schedule which will be imperative when the extension begins. So much more can snowball when you have that much trackage.
Construction related TSRs had been a much bigger issue than freight interference on the West Palm Beach service, that is when road traffic interference is taken out of the equation of course. This according to some of the dispatchers that I had the chance to chat with at one of the FECRS gatherings.

Of these, on the FECR section road traffic interference will most likely remain as intense as ever, and construction TSRs will most likely mostly go away until the grade separation and bridge/tunnel work begins in Fort Lauderdale and perhaps elsewhere too.

I don;t think there will be any issue on the SR528 segment, even if they throw in a freight or two. Afterall it will be carrying just 2tph of passenger traffic, with each occupying that segment for less than 20 mins.
 

neroden

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Watching the latest Roaming Railfan video, SR520 and the St Johns River Bridge are the only two bridges on the extension which are still sinking piles; the others are all into putting beams up or beyond. The panel tunnel is having the dirt moved over it already. This confirms my belief that the extension will have its civil construction pretty much done by the end of the year, and that the upgrades/replacements of bridges from WPB to Cocoa are the critical path on the Gantt Chart, the thing which is taking the longest. Due to the need to keep traffic moving, some of the bridge replacements effectively involve building four bridges, one after another (including the "temporary work trestles") so it's a much slower process than the brand-new bridges on the extension.
 

neroden

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Reviewing my previous assessment of the critical path after watching the latest videos. This is what I wrote before:

TLDR: It looks like the critical path for finishing construction runs through one of the following. I have ordered this list from most likely to least likely to be on the critical path:

Eau Gallie River bridge in Melbourne -- construction trestle barely started (two spans), pilings for first new track not started (trestle must be finished first)

Turkey Creek bridge in Palm Bay -- temporary construction trestle not even started as of end of May (but this is a short bridge... so should be quicker than Eau Gallie)

Sebastian River bridge in Sebastian -- construction trestle present, about half of pilings for first new track in place

SR 520 bridge on extension to Orlando -- still working on pilings, but most are at least partway in

Crane Creek Bridge in Melbourne -- piers for one track are done

Loxahatchee River Bridge in Jupiter -- old piers will be reused
So, I still think this is in order, with most likely to be the critical path on the top:

Eau Gallie River bridge in Melbourne -- temporary trestle in, just starting pilings for first new bridge for first new track. There's a whole second bridge for the second track which has to be built after that one is done (see Crane Creek).

Turkey Creek bridge in Palm Bay -- Temporary trestle in, first pilings for new bridge started (but this is a short bridge... so should be quicker than Eau Gallie)

Sebastian River bridge in Sebastian -- first new track is more than halfway through installing pilings, about a quarter of the way through beams. Longest bridge on the route. There's a whole second bridge which has to be built after this (see Crane Creek).

SR 520 bridge on extension to Orlando -- one of only three bridges on the extension which doesn't have beams yet. Still working on pilings, but most are at least partway in

Crane Creek Bridge in Melbourne -- dismantling temporary trestle #1, first new bridge is 90% done (still working on road bridge and last segment which requires full removal of temporary trestle) -- then they have to build temporary trestle #2 for the second new bridge.

Loxahatchee River Bridge in Jupiter -- not in latest videos; reusing old piers so should be quicker than most of this.

St Johns River bridge on extension: one of only three bridges on the extension which doesn't have beams yet. Pilings look like they're mostly in.

Econlockhatchee River bridge on extension: one of only three bridges on the extension which doesn't have beams yet. Short.
 

VentureForth

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I noticed they finally reopened Babcock Street grade crossing in Melbourne, to traffic after many days of closure for Brightline related construction.
I think New Haven is almost done, too, if not already completed. These along with NASA Blvd and Strawbridge were the most important to get out of the way. I highly commend the quality of work that has been done in all the rail crossing upgrades. Crossing the tracks in my car are barely noticeable.

Melbourne Ave is slated to be closed for a whole year. Easy enough (now) to get around it. Those first few days after the truck hit the girder was a mess all around that area.

I can't wait to see passenger trains coming through town!

On a completely different note, there has been a lot of discussion about Jacksonville. As far as connecting big cities go, Jacksonville is low on the priority list. I get that. And I also understand the need for high demand to justify the cost of infrastructure and the business case.

Most here know that I enjoy moonlighting as an Uber driver. I picked up a woman just south of Melbourne in Palm Bay. She paid close to $250 for a trip from Palm Bay to Jacksonville - about a 2.5 hour drive. Now, she could have taken Greyhound (limited availability, 4 1/2 hours, but as low as $21). Could have taken Amtrak from Kissimmee, but getting there would have still cost $100 and taken an hour PLUS the $39 (min) and 4 hours on the train. And flying? Foggetaboutit. Pricier than an Uber and no way to get the trip in less than 4 hours.

As much as I appreciated the business, I did lament that this was really the most viable choice for this lady of modest means. Greyhound, I guess, but ... it's Greyhound.
 

jis

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Incidentally Amtrak's Harris informed us in passing at the RPA meeting that Florida DOT has reached out to Amtrak to follow up on the ConnectUS proposal for additional Florida intra-state train(s) connecting JAX, Orlando, Tampa and Miami. This is indeed a great development considering how terrible Florida DOT has been with regard to supporting any Amtrak service in Florida. We'll see what unfolds. Apparently they expect not to lose all ridership to Brightline given the fare differential that is likely to exist.
 

me_little_me

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Incidentally Amtrak's Harris informed us in passing at the RPA meeting that Florida DOT has reached out to Amtrak to follow up on the ConnectUS proposal for additional Florida intra-state train(s) connecting JAX, Orlando, Tampa and Miami. This is indeed a great development considering how terrible Florida DOT has been with regard to supporting any Amtrak service in Florida. We'll see what unfolds. Apparently they expect not to lose all ridership to Brightline given the fare differential that is likely to exist.
Any way to run a train from downtown Jacksonville to the present Jacksonville station then to Miami? If that train had multiple runs and some of those coordinated with the Silvers, people could get to/from downtown Jacksonville to the rest of the country.

Of course, that is still a dream for the Floridians. I could care less.
 

Qapla

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For going south it would almost make more sense to go from downtown Jacksonville to Palatka if you want to connect with Amtrak - as going from downtown to Amtrak JAX would take you north before going south
 

neroden

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Incidentally Amtrak's Harris informed us in passing at the RPA meeting that Florida DOT has reached out to Amtrak to follow up on the ConnectUS proposal for additional Florida intra-state train(s) connecting JAX, Orlando, Tampa and Miami. This is indeed a great development considering how terrible Florida DOT has been with regard to supporting any Amtrak service in Florida. We'll see what unfolds. Apparently they expect not to lose all ridership to Brightline given the fare differential that is likely to exist.
I missed that at the RPA meeting. I'll believe Florida DOT is in serious conversations with Amtrak when they convince Amtrak to move Miami station to somewhere useful; at the moment I doubt it's real. Maybe some individual in DOT who doesn't represent the whole department.
 

Anderson

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My only surprise is that they don't have the hysterical opposition to high platforms which most of the US freight railroads have. Why, perhaps it is actually possible to run freight trains past standard high platforms without problem. CSX and NS should take notes and learn how.
Well, the thing is that they're "starting fresh" and most stations have built-in bypass trackage. I suspect that if Amtrak went to every Class I and offered to pay to either (1) build a no-reduced-speed-needed bypass or (2) offered to move the station off the main line in such a way as it didn't interrupt mainline service when their trains came into the station, most of those objections would vanish. FEC also doesn't have a lot of freight traffic to begin with versus (say) the BNSF transcon, so "juggling" that traffic is far less of a problem...which of course leads back to the fact that the resulting operation on FEC is likely to be approaching half-and-half pax business and freight.
 

VentureForth

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For going south it would almost make more sense to go from downtown Jacksonville to Palatka if you want to connect with Amtrak - as going from downtown to Amtrak JAX would take you north before going south
Yeah - but Amtrak JAX is a service station, with like a 30-45 minute dwell time. Much easier to coordinate with connections, even if they are running late (they still dwell for quite sometime). I would prefer Amtrak JAX to downtown, then down the FEC.

I missed that at the RPA meeting. I'll believe Florida DOT is in serious conversations with Amtrak when they convince Amtrak to move Miami station to somewhere useful; at the moment I doubt it's real. Maybe some individual in DOT who doesn't represent the whole department.
They did. Miami Airport. Ooops.
 
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