Brightline Orlando extension

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jis

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I think the problem is that most of the crossing accidents are not happening in the most densely populated areas, such as downtown Miami (where the line is already partially elevated) but are happening in low density car-dependent areas, where there is not really the same sort of economic case for elevation, due to the lower density of land utilization and value.

Furthermore, the FEC mainline is not there purely for Brightline, but also carries freight. Putting in elevated sections would lead to the line being much more of a roller coaster, as it goes onto and off viaduct sections as needed. A passenger train with a high power to weight ratio can probably deal with that but it could be crippling for a heavy freight train.
In Fort Lauderdale several alternatives under consideration for the river crossing involve keeping the current track in place for freight while elevating the passenger tracks and build a new elevated Fort Lauderdale station. So in principle just because the passenger line with frequent service is elevated does not mean that freight has to run on it too. There is even a tunnel alternative.
 

Qapla

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I can see the discussion of raising the tracks to remove grade crossings would "make sense" to quite a number of people while the NIMBYS would agree "as long as I don't have to look at it" or be delayed by the construction - and making enough noise to delay or kill such a project.
 

west point

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In Fort Lauderdale several alternatives under consideration for the river crossing involve keeping the current track in place for freight while elevating the passenger tracks and build a new elevated Fort Lauderdale station. So in principle just because the passenger line with frequent service is elevated does not mean that freight has to run on it too. There is even a tunnel alternative.

You beat me to posting about the bridge or tunnel. As far as the section between Cocoa how far is it between the two sections of 2 main tracks? If a passing section is placed 1/2 way between the 2 main track sections sections only one train will be delayed at most what 5 minutes? 12 ttrains per hour ( 6 each way ( means a lot of passengers. Brightline 8-10 revenue cars means a lot of passengers per train. 600 per train means 3000 per hour. The airlines do not carry that many from MCO to south Florida, How many cars on the Sunshine toll road per hour??? #000 per hour would mean more traffic than the NEC: NYP = WASH.
 

jis

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Brightline plans to capture less than 5% of the total South Florida - Central Florida traffic as was spelled out in their original EIS. That was before there was anything about Tampa. I don;t know how the numbers have changed since then. But of course Tampa is still more than 5 years away.

BTW 12 tph means 6 tph each way, and just because they can run that many does not mean they will run that many. That is why the current decision to build single track sections is a prudent one pending development of traffic justifying the second track.
 

west point

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A scale of the Cocoa - Orlando track it appears that the single track length is about 28 miles. That is from west of crossing over the OUC track and Cocoa Junction where Brightline leaves the FEC. 1/2 way has Brightline crossing state route 520. That is where a bridge is built for a insert of a second bridge quickly.

28 miles means 14 minutes of 125 MPH single track operation. 2 trains per hour each way would fit on that section with JAL precision dispatching.

A ten mile passing track at the 1/2 way point reduces single track sections to ~ 9 miles each. So 5 minutes to traverse a single track section. 5 minutes to traverse the siding. 5 to traverse the other single track section. Correction no way will that be a siding as Brightline is installing the highest speed turnout in the US which will probably be repeated for both ends of the 10 mile 2nd main track. That would get Brightline to a theoretical 6 tph. However with the probable sometimes delays on FEC northbound does not seem feasible. Maybe 4 per hour more realistic. More?? Then full 2 main tracks MCO - Cocoa.

But making the train sets full with 8 revenue cars seems more than enough capacity.
 

cirdan

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A ten mile passing track at the 1/2 way point reduces single track sections to ~ 9 miles each. So 5 minutes to traverse a single track section. 5 minutes to traverse the siding. 5 to traverse the other single track section. Correction no way will that be a siding as Brightline is installing the highest speed turnout in the US which will probably be repeated for both ends of the 10 mile 2nd main track.
Pulling that off without slowing or stopping one of the trains will require some very precise scheduling.
 

jis

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All this is probably nice theoretical discussion at least as long as only 2tph operates, since one train in each direction can possibly be scheduled with no situation where two trains are on the Orlando - Cocoa section. The 5 minute thing just provides for flexibility and recovery from exceptional situations for now.
 

VentureForth

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Back to elevated tracks in the Miami - WPB area again... Interesting point about elevating only the passenger tracks. Does CSX go up and down to avoid their grade crossings? Are their viaducts under tremendous stress from CSXs activity? I don't know. I would almost rather see the entire 60 mile+ section elevated (may not be practical with river crossings). Then you have two options. If they can handle freight, then run all trains elevated, avoid all grade crossings, and lease the space under the tracks for retail. Retail/Real Estate was part of the original FEC vision for Brightline prior to all the splits, mergers and buyouts. But, running the freight at grade would certainly maintain the pre-Brightline status quo for number and duration of train crossings.
 

VentureForth

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Brightline plans to capture less than 5% of the total South Florida - Central Florida traffic as was spelled out in their original EIS. That was before there was anything about Tampa. I don;t know how the numbers have changed since then. But of course Tampa is still more than 5 years away.

BTW 12 tph means 6 tph each way, and just because they can run that many does not mean they will run that many. That is why the current decision to build single track sections is a prudent one pending development of traffic justifying the second track.

I haven't seen any studies - I'm sure they are out there - for ridership from Miami to Tampa. My guess is that the projections of market share are split between Miami to Orlando, Tampa to Orlando and Orlando local (Preferably captured by Sunrail).
 

jis

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Back to elevated tracks in the Miami - WPB area again... Interesting point about elevating only the passenger tracks. Does CSX go up and down to avoid their grade crossings? Are their viaducts under tremendous stress from CSXs activity? I don't know. I would almost rather see the entire 60 mile+ section elevated (may not be practical with river crossings). Then you have two options. If they can handle freight, then run all trains elevated, avoid all grade crossings, and lease the space under the tracks for retail. Retail/Real Estate was part of the original FEC vision for Brightline prior to all the splits, mergers and buyouts. But, running the freight at grade would certainly maintain the pre-Brightline status quo for number and duration of train crossings.
It all boils down to where the money for elevating is going to come from. Clearly Florida Dispatching Company through its owners is not going to come up with it. The New River Bridge related elevation in Fort Lauderdale will be a public-private joint thing and it is about wealthy boat owners getting a better access to their waterway without interference from the railroad beyond the few freight trains today.

The issue about freight trains is not that they cannot ride on the viaduct but that they cannot handle the 3-4% grade that passenger trains can. Again this is about money. The higher grades allows saving of money to elevate only where necessary instead of all the way. In any case at present there is no elevation that is envisaged purely for separation from road traffic. The only major elevation envisaged is to primarily reduce interference with boat traffic, and incidentally eliminate a few grade crossings while at it.

Incidentally a few grade crossings are getting eliminated by replacing a grade crossing by a road flyover, but those are few and far between at present.
 

west point

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Do not forget that TriRail also has a fly over on its track over the New River west of the FEC. They climb a steep grade to make the 92 foot free board clearance. The CSX freights still use the drawbridge there so freights have no grade. Never have heard if Tri Rail still owns the draw bridge although I was on a TriRail that used the drawbridge after the flyover was complete and normally in use..
 

VentureForth

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So, here's my weekend update based on personal observations driving the 528....

Ties are laid across the entire route now. Track is installed onto the ties for all but 2 miles. They were actively working on this when I passed them, so that number could be dwindling fast. 5.7 miles (including those 2 miles without track on the ties) remain without ballast. TWO ballast trains (or one, split in two sections) still sit on either side of Innovation Way, ready to finish the job.

The anticipation is building!
 

cirdan

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Just wondering, but this is probably the first purpose built intercity passenger railroad track to have been completed from scratch anywhere in the United States for many decades if not even more.

Discounting metro tracks, streetcar tracks etc. as well as short segments of interconnecting tracks or minor realignments of existing lines.
 

VentureForth

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There have been other private ventures which have begun on existing ROWs and public ventures that have built brand new ROWs (IE: NM Railrunner), but I believe you are right - first private, new ROW since certainly before AmDay in 1971 and probably decades before that when private companies were pulling up track rather than laying them.
 

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I've read that back in the 1950s and 1960s one of the things that hammered the private railroads was property taxes, which may explain why the railroads have spent a lot of effort in getting rid of track, reducing the number of tracks on the lines they own, and so forth. How is Brightline handing this issue, and does it affect the plans they're making for their infrastructure?
 
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I've read that back in the 1950s and 1960s one of the things that hammered the private railroads was property taxes, which may explain why the railroads have spent a lot of effort in getting rid of track, reducing the number of tracks on the lines they own, and so forth. How is Brightline handing this issue, and does it affect the plans they're making for their infrastructure?
I think virtually all of the new ROW is leased, from one of FDOT, CFX (the local Orlando toll agency), or the Orlando airport. The off-airport part runs along an existing toll road.
 

jis

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The lease for the airport grounds RoW is from the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority (GOAA), which also owns the inter-modal center under construction adjacent to Terminal C, which incidentally has its first commercial flight due to take place this Tuesday (9/20/22).

They also have a direct temporary lease from Deseret Ranch for an Aggregate Pit area from where they have extracted Aggregate for embankments and roadbed. I don't know what they are supposed to do to restore the area before the lease ends. As you may recall additionally, some Deseret Ranch land was transferred to the CFX to be then leased long term by Brightline too.
 
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Chris I

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Better pictures here:

On our last Florida trip, we flew direct to Orlando and rented a car to get down to Miami and the Keys. I think a direct airport link will have people looking at the train as an option. Personally, I'd prefer to transfer to a train, rather than deal with a layover and another flight. Hopefully they can get the Orlando commuter service or Orlando/Tampa line together in the next few years. Being able to fly in to Orlando and take a train to Universal or Disney would be great.
 

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jis

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Only two of the three platform tracks have been built for now at the OIA Station. The third track will be built when the extension to Tampa takes place.

Here are some photos from the Brightline OIA Station
 

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jis

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I love the feeling of spaciousness that the high curved roof over the platforms creates. So many modern stations are ugly, boring and uninspiring, and its so refreshing to see something different.

I'm very excited to see this opened and operating soon.
It is certainly very different from the post modern rabbit's warren that one comes across distressingly often these days.

BTW, I doubt it will be operational before early next year at the earliest. The lounge and checkin areas are all one vast open space at present with a lot of construction going on. That was an area that we walked through but no photography was allowed there.

The big wall mural of a Birghtlientrain that you see in one of the photos is where the checkin counters will be. The construction of them is hiding behind it as far as I could tell. We walked in through a little door on the side of it.

Incidentally, the SunRail platforms, when they are built, will go in this area, separate from the Brightline station.
 

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Dropped some relatives off at Orlando airport today and was pleased to see the new terminal is open. I was surprised that Jet Blue was the only domestic airline to use it with rest being international like British Air, Lufthansa, Emirates. This could be a real plus for Jet Blue when travelers realize it would make the Brightline connection a little easier.

Since Brightline is separate but connected to Terminal C I wonder if there will be separate parking for those wanting to go to the airport only to take Brightline.
 
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Since Brightline is separate but connected to Terminal C I wonder if there will be separate parking for those wanting to go to the airport only to take Brightline.
Not likely, I think, considering that Garage C is directly connected to the station, aka Intermodal Terminal Facility.

All existing Brightline stations have paid garages; there's no free parking.
 
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