Brightline Florida update

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cirdan

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Slightly off topic: Studies say that radar is preferrable over buried loops, for both accuracy and durability. I was surprised to read that loops are more likely to give a false indication for a vehicle in the adjoining lane.
Good point.

I also think radar is more likely to detect non-vehicle intrusions such as pedestrians or large wildlife. Also bicycles, motorcycles etc may, depending on the situation, be too small to trigger the buried loops but would show up on proximity radar.
 

cirdan

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The trainsets are semi-permanently coupled. Each trainset is painted a different color, and each car has its position number painted on in large numerals, so no, they have not added cars. Each trainset has 1 Premium (BC) coach and 3 Smart (Economy) coaches. 1 of the Smart cars has a baggage section. Train capacity is 239.
There are more ways to adapt capacity than by switching in and out additional cars (which, as others have said, is complicated for the Brightline consists).

For example, schedules could be adapted with extra trains being put on at times of peak demand (if sufficient spare equipment is available). This might actually be preferable to longer trains as it reduces the time to wait for the next train.
 

Brian_tampa

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The good taxpaxers of Florida did not put up the money with the purpose of supporting the profitability of any one particular enterprise, but with the purpose of providing a transportation system and relieving congestion for the public good. It seems to me that Brightline is doing precisely that, so it is precisely what the money was promised for (well ... almost precisely).
I probably should have mentioned the elephant in the room regarding the payments to the toll road authorities here: politics. By agreeing to these payments, although it looks bad on the surface, Brightline is able to maintain widespread support from the State government. If they were perceived as not paying their fair share, then it would have been that much more difficult for them when dealing with the legislature here on other issues important to Brightline. It also allows them to maintain their stance that they do not receive public funding or subsidies, even though it is clear they at least indirectly benefit from government programs.
 

jis

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In the past I have spoken, quite informally, to some extent, with people at Brightline regarding this matter of surcharge for using the tollway RoW. From the perspective of the two people that I spoke to the issue was stark. Without agreeing to that there would have been no access to that RoW, and without that there would have been no service between Cocoa and Orlando, and without that there would have been no Brightline. In the words of one of them, you keep your eye on the ball and make the best deals that you can to get there.

In other words - it is the way it is in the current environment even though it may suck a lot. Brightline has been a "touch and go" affair several times on the way to where it is now. And it is still not quite out of the woods until they actually break even on service.
 

Brian_tampa

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And to add to what Jis said, Brightline has to work with FDOT and other state and local agencies.

For the phase 3 extension to Tampa, FDOT and Brightline have worked together to incorporate Brightline's track and infrastructure into the I-4 corridor ROW. This is no small feat as there are major construction projects along I-4 that FDOT has planned over the next 10+ years. In the past 5 years FDOT has embarked on at least 3 projects along I-4 that will directly benefit Brightline. They have rebuilt the SR559 bridge and interchange at I-4 that includes a special span for passenger rail in the median; they are currently rebuilding the CR557 interchange at I-4 including similar rail features as at SR559; and they are currently replacing the CSX single track bridge over I-4 at Lakeland with a double track long span bridge which will permit Brightline to pass underneath at grade level. This also means that Brightline will not have to build an expensive elevated structure to cross over the CSX tracks. These projects are all state funded. So in effect, Brightline has already benefited and any future toll diversion fees will be canceled out by the additional money they will not have to spend on phase 3 due to these projects.
 

jis

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There are more ways to adapt capacity than by switching in and out additional cars (which, as others have said, is complicated for the Brightline consists).

For example, schedules could be adapted with extra trains being put on at times of peak demand (if sufficient spare equipment is available). This might actually be preferable to longer trains as it reduces the time to wait for the next train.
Apropos this issue, I think they have some room to play with. They are starting service with 1tph each way. Track capacity wise, given all the single track segments between Cocoa and Orlando, they may be able to go upto 4tph definitely without affecting end to end running time I speculate. But with 3+ hours running time they will need 4+4 = 8 consists to maintain hourly service, so they won't have a lot of leeway in rolling stock to add significant service. Afterall they will need some PM/BO flexibility too. But' we'll see how things develop of course.
 
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joelkfla

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Apropos this issue, I think they have some room to play with. They are starting service with 1tph each way. Track capacity wise, given all the single track segments between Cocoa and Orlando, they may be able to go upto 4tph definitely without affecting end to end running time I speculate. But with 3+ hours running time they will need 4+4 = 8 consists to maintain hourly service, so they won;t have a lot of leeway in rolling stock to add significant service. Afterall they will need some PM/BO flexibility too. But' we'll see how things develop of course.
But they have said in the past that they plan to increase the length of trains as ridership builds between MIA & MCO. They wouldn't be changing the length on the fly, but just adding cars once and keeping them inline. That seems more likely than adding frequency.
 

jis

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But they have said in the past that they plan to increase the length of trains as ridership builds between MIA & MCO. They wouldn't be changing the length on the fly, but just adding cars once and keeping them inline. That seems more likely than adding frequency.
Yeah, I agree. I think they will first grow trains to their full 10 car complement before contemplating additional frequency. Although I won't be surprised if they start with less than hourly frequency and grow to hourly over a period of a year or two during the startup phase.

I was just pointing out the parameters that play into increasing frequency.
 

west point

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I was just pointing out the parameters that play into increasing frequency.
You bring up several questions. Increasing frequency will mean more hiring of T&E. Exactly how is Brightline crewed? That includes is there an actual conductor and does that person also have other duties? How is on board ticking confirmed? Are there any operating openings advertised and if so, where? Since the planned time to MCO for one-way trip is about 3 hours either T&E will do a roundtrip or maybe1-1/2 RTs?
 

McIntyre2K7

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Brightline was recently awarded a grant up to $15,875,000 in federal funding from the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) Grant Program to support the engineering activities and environmental approvals for the Orlando to Tampa section.

It does say that the route would be double tracked. Why can't they just double track the whole section from Orlando to Tampa?

 

jis

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It does say that the route would be double tracked. Why can't they just double track the whole section from Orlando to Tampa?
Usually they design the ROW for double track but lay single track in some sections to save money. Afterall one does not really require double track to run one or two tph in each direction. They can fill in track when traffic increases, when there will be money from revenue available to do so instead of needing interest bearing bonds and such.
 

Brian_tampa

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Brightline was recently awarded a grant up to $15,875,000 in federal funding from the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) Grant Program to support the engineering activities and environmental approvals for the Orlando to Tampa section.

It does say that the route would be double tracked. Why can't they just double track the whole section from Orlando to Tampa?

I recall that FDOT reported that due to future toll lanes between Lakeland and Tampa along I-4, there will be a short several mile stretch of single track ROW in the median near Plant City that cannot ever be expanded to double tracks.
 

jis

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I recall that FDOT reported that due to future toll lanes between Lakeland and Tampa along I-4, there will be a short several mile stretch of single track ROW in the median near Plant City that cannot ever be expanded to double tracks.
Couldn't they double deck the rail track? Or would that be a bridge too far for the FDOT? That is something they do in short segments in India where there is no way nohow they can get a wide enough easement through densely occupied areas.
 
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Brian_tampa

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Couldn't they double deck the rail track? Or would that be a bridge too far for the FDOT? That is something they do in short segments in India where there is no way nohow they can get a wide enough easement through densely occupied areas.
I suppose they could do that, but a more reasonable design would be a long viaduct similar to the Selmon/Crosstown Expressway elevated express lanes in the median here in Tampa. They could even build the piers to support 2 bridge span structures but only install one span at first! The section in question is mainly east of Plant City where the parallel frontage roads are adjacent to the outside shoulder lanes with only a concrete barrier wall separating them at this time. The median is not so wide either at this point.

There have been rumors of Tampa Bay RTA, or whatever they are called now, looking into future commuter rail service on the same tracks. Although the CSX A-Line would be much more useful. But we know how CSX is towards any additional pax trains on their primary lines. The A-Line west of Auburndale is such a route.
 

Brian_tampa

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Found this overview of the proposed Sunshine Corridor on another forum tonight. It is presented by FDOT and is dated May 24, 2022. Link

it says that up to $3B in grants will be applied for with the non-federal matching funds coming from Brightline's expected $3B investment in their line from Tampa to Disney.

This web page also has route information for the new corridor around Orlando as well as links to previous Sunrail and HSR proposals for service to MCO.

I have attached a PDF version as well for easier display
 

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cirdan

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Couldn't they double deck the rail track? Or would that be a bridge too far for the FDOT? That is something they do in short segments in India where there is no way nohow they can get a wide enough easement through densely occupied areas.
In densely populated areas the situation is different as a bridge may be cheaper than compensating land owners for their real estate. I think this sort of thing exists in Japan as well, but only for very short stretches to work around other obstructions. Something similar exists in Spain, for example, where on the southern approach to Barcelona Sants the high speed line runs in a shallow tunnel below the regular line, again because I suppose this was cheaper or less disruptive than acquiring the adjacent land, which is densely populated with big buildings built right up onto the edge of the ROW.

But under other conditions it is still extremely expensive and hence difficult to justify. Furthermore, if you wish to equal the capability and functionality of a longer regular double-track formation you also need crossovers every so often to provide flexibility. On a double-deck line that would require up and down ramps which again would add to engineering complexity and maybe not be appreciated by the adjacent highway authority on whose ROW they would have to encroach.

I guess Brightline would prefer to stick with single track as long as humanely possible and only have this discussion when they have no alternative.
 
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Brian_tampa

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On I-75 starting in Pasco County North of Tampa to Sarasota County ending near North Port in FDOT district 7, the local district people told me they were maintaining a transit envelope in the median even with planned highway expansion projects over the next 15-20 years. This could be used by a future version of Brightline or by a local commuter rail/bus system. So FDOT is planning for the longer term future. I think it was back in 1992 that FDOT first came up with their new standards regarding interstate highway design to include transit envelopes in the ROW when designing new expansion projects. I-4 was the first Florida interstate highway to have this implemented on with their reconstruction projects in the late 1990s.
 

jis

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On I-75 starting in Pasco County North of Tampa to Sarasota County ending near North Port in FDOT district 7, the local district people told me they were maintaining a transit envelope in the median even with planned highway expansion projects over the next 15-20 years. This could be used by a future version of Brightline or by a local commuter rail/bus system. So FDOT is planning for the longer term future. I think it was back in 1992 that FDOT first came up with their new standards regarding interstate highway design to include transit envelopes in the ROW when designing new expansion projects. I-4 was the first Florida interstate highway to have this implemented on with their reconstruction projects in the late 1990s.
That is what I thought, which of course leaves me a bit puzzled about the single track only easement situation.
 

Brian_tampa

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That is what I thought, which of course leaves me a bit puzzled about the single track only easement situation.
I-4 is a different issue than I-75 as it was originally built between the late 1950s and early 1970s. So the ROW is narrower in general compared to I-75 which seems to have a much wider ROW especially from Tampa south to Ft Myers. I-75 around Tampa and south, IIRC, was built-out in the 1980s.

Of course the new DOT standards couldn't alleviate all of the old bad design decisions made decade's earlier.

Since I-4 has existed for almost 60 years over a lot of its length, there were inevitably some areas that the ROW became encroached on over the years, such as near Plant City. I-75 mostly does not suffer this problem. I-75 does have some long bridges over coastal rivers and bays though that present their own issues with fitting in a rail bridge alongside them!
 

Qapla

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Interesting reading:
The portion of I-75 from Tampa northward was a part of the original 1955 Interstate Highway plans, with I-75's southern terminus at I-4's current western terminus
Length 470.808 mi[1] (757.692 km)
Existed 1956–present

Construction on I-4 began in 1958; the first segment opened in 1959, and the entire highway was completed in 1965
Length 132.298 mi[1][2] (212.913 km)
Existed 1959–present

I understand that there is a lot of work going on with I-4 ... some of it looks like they are moving lanes to provide a wider median.
 

daybeers

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So, I'm confused. I haven't followed Brightline's funding the whole time. It's privately operated, but not completely privately funded since they're getting grants?
 
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