Brightline Orlando Extension

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Brian_tampa

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Most of their customers understand COVID and would not know a PTC if it came and crapped on their face. Only the few rail savvy ones would even vaguely know what PTC is. And I suspect they would not want to publicize too much they took their eye off the eight ball on a critical safety system, So here we are. ;)

When they initially announced the shutdown of service, I was one of the very few who was able to connect it with the PTC issue because I carefully read PTC related publications from the FRA, which carried a tiny footprint, easily missed, that FECR had withdrawn their eATC based PTC certification request, soon followed by an obscure notice in a industry rag far removed from the FRA, from Wabtec saying they were installing I-ETMS for FECR. Nowhere did Brightline appear in any of those. You just had to know enough background to connect things together. Initially, even the FECRS folks did not believe me when I raised awareness about this. It took a good several months before people came to realize what was going on.

Frankly they have absolutely no reason to highlight this at this time, and letting sleeping dogs lay sleeping is probably the best approach. Those who need to know the details, know it, and those who don't, don't.


That is an over simplification. eATC PTC systems work just fine. For example ACSES II works just fine. The problem was interoperability. With the advent of interchange of trains between Tri-Rail and Birghtline it became obvious that continuing to use eATC would become progressively more cost prohibitive for everyone. So they chose to take advantage of the window of opportunity provided by COVID and the expansion of service to Orlando and the fact that the demonstration service to WPB had served its basic purpose already and was bleeding more money every month, to simply shut the old system down ind replace it with one that interoperates seamlessly with Tri-Rail and incidentally other freight operators north of JAX, thus allowing run through powers too. I consider it to be a clever use of circumstances to reduce long term cost of operation with minimal impact that was unavoidable in the circumstances.
I remember the industry trade Journal report from Wabtech announcing their new contract with Brightline/FECR. Another stated reason was that E-ATC PTC did not allow for flexibility in operations. If I recall, the blocks were rigid and could not be adjusted to meet changing schedules and frequency of operation.
 

jis

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I remember the industry trade Journal report from Wabtech announcing their new contract with Brightline/FECR. Another stated reason was that E-ATC PTC did not allow for flexibility in operations. If I recall, the blocks were rigid and could not be adjusted to meet changing schedules and frequency of operation.
That is sort of of theoretical interest since they are overlaying I-ETMS on a fixed block signaling system at least for now.
 

Brian_tampa

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That is sort of of theoretical interest since they are overlaying I-ETMS on a fixed block signaling system at least for now.
I admit I only have limited knowledge of the details of PTC systems. Perhaps they realized that with future commuter service they would need to have greater flexibility in the future to handle increased traffic? A fixed block system would definitely limit the number of trains and how close they could operate relative to each other. And could E-ATC handle the grade crossing sensors required for 110mph operation?
 

jis

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I admit I only have limited knowledge of the details of PTC systems. Perhaps they realized that with future commuter service they would need to have greater flexibility in the future to handle increased traffic? A fixed block system would definitely limit the number of trains and how close they could operate relative to each other. And could E-ATC handle the grade crossing sensors required for 110mph operation?
Grade crossing gates and intrusion detection are not part of core PTC. Those are add ons to the PTC system whether it be I-ETMS or what was Brightline eATC or what is Amtrak's eATC known as ACSES II, which actually is currently the most capable PTC system for high speed high density passenger train operation in the US. There is very little that prevents them from being added to any implementation of PTC.

I don’t think traffic is an issue since fixed block eATC systems can handle 2 min headways, and do so at many places. Amtrak does slightly worse at 24tph on the NEC on a single uni directional track flow on the "High Line" between Newark and New York every regular weekeday for two hours in the morning and two hours in the evening. It will be a very long time before anything like that comes to pass in Miami.
 
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jruff001

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Most of their customers understand COVID and would not know a PTC if it came and crapped on their face. Only the few rail savvy ones would even vaguely know what PTC is. And I suspect they would not want to publicize too much they took their eye off the eight ball on a critical safety system, So here we are. ;)
That is all true, but leaving up the same notice for over a year now and claiming they are still not operating due to social distancing and mandatory work from home requirements (which have both been over for months in Florida now) just gives the impression the project is simply frozen in place and may never happen or resume - like they just gave up.

They wouldn't have to get into any technical specifics about PTC, or even reference that at all. They could say some upgrades are being made, we estimate we can begin operating by a certain month, etc.
 

jis

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That is all true, but leaving up the same notice for over a year now and claiming they are still not operating due to social distancing and mandatory work from home requirements (which have both been over for months in Florida now) just gives the impression the project is simply frozen in place and may never happen or resume - like they just gave up.
I doubt that anyone who lives around here and has to face endless road closures and lane blockages with lines of flat bed trucks carrying loads of concrete ties waiting to be unloaded on the FEC ROW by grade crossings, and massive bridge construction at each river and creek crossing, actually believes that though. ;)

And anyone who chances on their Florida page would probably not get the impression that they have given up either.


I think there are only a few railfans that care enough about knowing anything beyond their stated position that they discontinued service due to COVID and will restart by the end of the year. Additionally. Some newspaper reports have already mentioned the PTC thing too, but usually more in the context of Tri-Rail getting to MiamiCentral than about Brightline service to West Palm Beach. At least I have not heard anyone voice great concern about it in Brightline-land where I live. But as @Bob Dylan says often YMMV.
 

west point

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jis: Now that you mention it. How is the Tri-Rail to Miami Central progressing as to PTC ? Or is that all tied up for PTC to Palm Beach ?
 

jis

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jis: Now that you mention it. How is the Tri-Rail to Miami Central progressing as to PTC ? Or is that all tied up for PTC to Palm Beach ?
Same PTC project. Wabtec I-ETMS installation and testing. Brightline train sets are testing MimaiCentral to West Palm Beach these days. I understand that Tri-Rail will start cross testing in a month or two. I don;t think any installation work has been done north of WPB yet, as track work and signal system upgrade work together with grade crossing enhancement work continues apace.
 

VentureForth

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I traveled the 528 twice this weekend and had some interesting observations. Almost all the ROW is cleared and graded. Concrete barriers are installed along probably 30% of the stretch between the airport and I-95. Perspective is difficult to judge when one is barreling down the tollway, but it seemed like there wasn't really room for two sets of tracks, just one along much of the route. Almost all of the ramps to cross rivers, swamps and roads have been completed, but I don't think that any bridge beams have been installed yet. I don't know the schedule at all, but a signboard stating that the the 528 exit from I-95 will be closed on 6/8 says to me that could be the date they install the bridge beams over I-95! That would be way cool.

I also noticed as I was getting closer to Orlando, that I saw at least two sets of signals installed. Could this be a siding location with the rest being single tracked?

Anyway, the progress has been steady! Exciting to see! Now, we need a station in Brevard County committed to.
 

VentureForth

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They wouldn't have to get into any technical specifics about PTC, or even reference that at all. They could say some upgrades are being made, we estimate we can begin operating by a certain month, etc.
Eventually they will have to. But for now, Covid is an excuse that nearly everyone can believe.
 

jis

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Eventually they will have to. But for now, Covid is an excuse that nearly everyone can believe.
If they meet their stated target for restarting ops between Miami and WPB in 3/4Q this year I don't think they have to say anything further at all. They will just start service. Even if they say something it will simply be that a new PTC system has been tested and certified. They won't say anything technical. Afterall, just consider how few people even on this board understand the technical details of PTC, and folks here are supposed to be knowledgeable about such stuff. General public? Forget it!

As for where the ROW is single track and where double track that is completely documented in the FEIS. No need to guess. There are segments which are planned to be single track even after the originally planned double track portions are all double tracked.
 
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MARC Rider

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Pretty sure that was in the past. Unless your add station stops you have maxed out the potential. Rebuilding of station to reflect a brighter modern feel may help the surrounding areas, or not. New shine equipment may help the route, or not. Overall the NEC is built up, people are use to, the areas have been upgraded. Can a area benefit from urban renewal? Maybe the history of tearing things down is quite mixed.
Well, Amtrak has some opportunity to make money selling air rights over trackage near the Washington DC and Philadelphia Stations, at least. They also have plans to develop the land they own around the Baltimore station. And I suspect that the land around the commuter stations, even if not served by Amtrak, is owned by Amtrak.
 

VentureForth

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jis

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Welp... This could've been real bad real fast. Maybe it will speed up the completion of the Crane Creek Bridge.

Cement mixer strikes railroad bridge with a freight train approaching in Fla. - News Break

I thought tracks with trains that carried Hazmat required PTC. This is according to a buddy of mine who works for NS who said they had to convert to all PTC even though they don't carry passengers along the route in his territory.
Seriously, if the train were on the other side of the bridge it would have fallen into the river since there is no track on the other side of the bridge :D

It is more than likely that the train was carrying things that they are allowed to carry under the exception granted by FRA under which they are currently operating.

The writer of that article appears to be trying to maximize the sensation value more than deliver actual news. 🤷‍♂️

I don't think it will have any effect on the construction schedule of that bridge.
 

VentureForth

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Seriously, if the train were on the other side of the bridge it would have fallen into the river since there is no track on the other side of the bridge :D
I think you misread into that. The approach from the North has about a 3/4 mile straight view before the creek whereas the approach from the South only has about 1/5 mile after an S turn.
 
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joelkfla

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Seriously, if the train were on the other side of the bridge it would have fallen into the river since there is no track on the other side of the bridge :D

It is more than likely that the train was carrying things that they are allowed to carry under the exception granted by FRA under which they are currently operating.

The writer of that article appears to be trying to maximize the sensation value more than deliver actual news. 🤷‍♂️

I don't think it will have any effect on the construction schedule of that bridge.
The one good thing, as Roaming Railfan pointed out in his drone YouTube of the repairs in progress, is that they only have to fix it well enough to last until the first side of the replacement bridge is done, which is expected by the end of the year.
 
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joelkfla

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I think you misread into that. The writer was saying other side of the bridge, as in coming in from the North where you can't see the bridge until you round the curve downtown. That would not have given the engineer/conductor the time to react and stop the train. Not the unfinished track next to the current ROW.
Maybe so, but he said "The conductor of the train saw the accident about a mile before the crossing and was able to apply the brakes and come to a slow stop where a girder holding tracks going in the opposite direction was damaged." There are no tracks going in the opposite direction; only one side of the bridge is tracked. The other side is abandoned with tracks removed.
 

VentureForth

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Maybe so, but he said "The conductor of the train saw the accident about a mile before the crossing and was able to apply the brakes and come to a slow stop where a girder holding tracks going in the opposite direction was damaged." There are no tracks going in the opposite direction; only one side of the bridge is tracked. The other side is abandoned with tracks removed.
Well, ya. That's just sucky reporting. I edited my post with the sight lines from the North and the South. You have about 3/4 mile from the North and about 1/5 mile from the South. Yes, only one girder over Melbourne Ave. Point is, if the train came from the South, it's possible, if not likely, the train wouldn't have had enough time to slow preventing a derailment.

What would have been useful is if the reporter noted if the track was just knocked out of alignment (like the great Amtrak Bayou crash) which would not have been caught by any signaling or PTC system or if the track separated (which would have sent alarms). Now that would have been proper reporting and would have been easily accessible to any reporter regardless of his experience with the railroad if he talked to the right person.
 

jis

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I think you misread into that. The approach from the North has about a 3/4 mile straight view before the creek whereas the approach from the South only has about 1/5 mile after an S turn.
I don't think so. I think you are the one that is missing my point being absorbed in irrelevant details ;). See @joelkfla 's post above. It does not matter how many miles the engineer can or cannot see. That does not change the fact that there is no track on the girder going in the opposite direction.
 

VentureForth

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I concede. Y'all are right, but I think y'all knew what he meant - that if the TRAIN was going the other direction, he would not have been able to put the train in emergency in time. And it was written by the editor in chief of a rail news source, so he should have known better.
 
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west point

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What was the clearance that the bridge had over the road. Is the replacement bridge going to be raised ? Will FEC be able to salvage a beam(s) on the abandoned second track bridging that will fit the broken section.?

What is more important is that a bridge aliment warning system be installed. Would not want a Brightline train to come upon another incident !!
 

jis

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They could use a real low tech technique used at many places in India, where they place an extremely robust structure that is a little lower than the bottom of the bridge girder on each side of the bridge so that the over height road vehicle has an opportunity to destroy itself without affecting the bridge. Works like a charm each time, what with carcasses of road vehicles left unrecovered by those protection barrier beams. 🤷‍♂️

They use a lighter structure to forewarn road traffic of the height of 25kV catenary contact wires. These are placed further from the track allowing the driver to take corrective action, like stopping. Seems to work quite well too.

What was the clearance that the bridge had over the road. Is the replacement bridge going to be raised ? Will FEC be able to salvage a beam(s) on the abandoned second track bridging that will fit the broken section.?
My guess is around 12' or less. The adjacent Rt 1 overpass is 11'7". The truck came from the upstream side so it did not have an opportunity to have an encounter with that structure which has shorn many a truck of their tops.

There is no girder over Melbourne Ave. on the second track alignment so there is nothing to salvage. It is possible that Melbourne Ave. will remain closed for a while.
What is more important is that a bridge aliment warning system be installed. Would not want a Brightline train to come upon another incident !!
A robust bridge alignment protection system may be in order in addition to just an intrusion and displacement detection system. The new trestle is not particularly higher than the current one, since they are using the same height approaches from both banks.

Here is what happens quite often at the adjacent Rt. 1. overpass ...

 
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VentureForth

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Sitting at a crossing about a block away. Train passing no more than 10 mph. And they aren't any shorter than normal.

Melbourne Ave was the only underpass in the area. All other crossings are at grade. And they shut down Melbourne Ave because of the accident.
 

me_little_me

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They could use a real low tech technique used at many places in India, where they place an extremely robust structure that is a little lower than the bottom of the bridge girder on each side of the bridge so that the over height road vehicle has an opportunity to destroy itself without affecting the bridge. Works like a charm each time, what with carcasses of road vehicles left unrecovered by those protection barrier beams. 🤷‍♂️

They use a lighter structure to forewarn road traffic of the height of 25kV catenary contact wires. These are placed further from the track allowing the driver to take corrective action, like stopping. Seems to work quite well too.


My guess is around 12' or less. The adjacent Rt 1 overpass is 11'7". The truck came from the upstream side so it did not have an opportunity to have an encounter with that structure which has shorn many a truck of their tops.

There is no girder over Melbourne Ave. on the second track alignment so there is nothing to salvage. It is possible that Melbourne Ave. will remain closed for a while.

A robust bridge alignment protection system may be in order in addition to just an intrusion and displacement detection system. The new trestle is not particularly higher than the current one, since they are using the same height approaches from both banks.

Here is what happens quite often at the adjacent Rt. 1. overpass ...

Perhaps someone should have bought the driver of that truck, a poster from this site:
Poster for Trucker?
 
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