Brightline Orlando Extension

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VentureForth

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Brightline seems to be adding stations in good locations like Boca Raton, FL and others giving Florida a passenger rail network it was previously lacking. Between Sun Rail, Tri Rail, Amtrak and others there will be a more complete network of passenger rail which didn’t exist before. I remember when Tri Rail just came out in Florida and since then Sun Rail has emerged and Brightline with additional stations. Population growth in Florida is huge leading to more need for mass transit to supplement the roads especially as the pandemic subsidies. People are leaving states like NY in record numbers and yet there are plans for expansion of rail network there which makes no sense.

Brightline seems to be making progress on its Florida network and I believe it will go to Tampa and even Jacksonville and connect to other high speed networks as hopefully existing tracks north of Jacksonville can be made higher speed. I believe CSX owns these tracks now if I recall which is based in Jacksonville, FL.
I agree. I hope eventually there will be more than the planned stops, with BL offering express and local trains. IE: Add Melbourne, Sebastian, Vero, Stuart, Jupiter. Places like Sebastian and Jupiter are great for local State Parks, and Melbourne of course is where I am so I don't have to drive 30 minutes to Cocoa. :p
 

jis

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Why is Brightline still shut down? They have quite the compelling infographic on how the spread of COVID on their trains is mitigated. COVID_Brightline.pdf (gobrightline.com) I guess running at a reduced capacity would be too costly? Are they afraid there is no demand? Are they afraid of too much demand?
They are shut down because they do not have a PTC system installed and certified and this is after 31 December 2020. They are starting the testing of the brand spanking new I-ETMS integrated with intrusion detection at grade crossing etc. that they have had Wabtec install. They signed the contract sometime late last year/early this year after abandoning their originally planned eATC based PTC, and withdrawing their original PTC certification application from FRA. Now they are in the process of getting the new system certified. They expect to run service late this year between Miami and West Palm Beach. This service discontinuance would have happened anyway irrespective of COVID or not.
 

VentureForth

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They are shut down because they do not have a PTC system installed and certified and this is after 31 December 2020. They are starting the testing of the brand spanking new I-ETMS integrated with intrusion detection at grade crossing etc. that they have had Wabtec install. They signed the contract sometime late last year/early this year after abandoning their originally planned eATC based PTC, and withdrawing their original PTC certification application from FRA. Now they are in the process of getting the new system certified. They expect to run service late this year between Miami and West Palm Beach. This service discontinuance would have happened anyway irrespective of COVID or not.
That seems short sighted on someone's part. Without COVID, it would have sucked to have regular riders just told that they couldn't ride for nearly a year during upgrades.
 

Just-Thinking-51

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That seems short sighted on someone's part. Without COVID, it would have sucked to have regular riders just told that they couldn't ride for nearly a year during upgrades.
They signed the contract sometime late last year/early this year after abandoning their originally planned eATC based PTC, and withdrawing their original PTC certification application from FRA. Now they are in the process of getting the new system certified.
I think the wording from Jis about “abandoning” would be key to explain why there is no trains running. The COVID thing makes nice cover, however. One thinks only the railroad fans would understand the details of a PTC system, and the need for one to be certified.
 

west point

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JIS: How is FEC operating if the PTC is having problems. Been too long since I was there especially south Florida.
 

west point

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JIS:: guess I thought that the rock trains would have put at least the south parts over the 5 RT limit
 

VentureForth

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Just as an aside - I don't live close to the tracks, but I was out and about last night in Melbourne and got to watch an FEC train pass through downtown. The train ran smooth and fast with a full compliment of intermodal stackers. I was very impressed with the quality of the rail. When I was in Georgia, the CSX just didn't seem to be as 'refined'. Just a single observation...
 

jiml

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Just as an aside - I don't live close to the tracks, but I was out and about last night in Melbourne and got to watch an FEC train pass through downtown. The train ran smooth and fast with a full compliment of intermodal stackers. I was very impressed with the quality of the rail. When I was in Georgia, the CSX just didn't seem to be as 'refined'. Just a single observation...
In video of the FEC that I've seen online, their roadbed does seem to be in remarkable shape - looks almost like a perfect model railroad. Here's an example (with some explanatory notes regarding Brightline service):

 

AM_ROAD

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My wife is from Melbourne so I am there often. However, I didn't notice until now that the FEC went back to their old paint livery.
 

chrsjrcj

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My wife is from Melbourne so I am there often. However, I didn't notice until now that the FEC went back to their old paint livery.
They've had the "Champion" livery for a few years now. Not sure how long it will last since they recently changed their logo and re-painted some of their locomotives with the new logo (which IMO...is not attractive at all)

 

crescent-zephyr

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The train ran smooth and fast with a full compliment of intermodal stackers. I was very impressed with the quality of the rail.
I’ve only been on trains in North America but the brightline equipment and railroad was by far the smoothest train I’ve ever been on. Was a very impressive ride.
 

Cal

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I’ve only been on trains in North America but the brightline equipment and railroad was by far the smoothest train I’ve ever been on. Was a very impressive ride.
Yea, I've heard that as well. I would love that service, detail, and smoothness to come to Amtrak.

However I will say, Amtrak trains are much more appealing on the exterior. I love the look of superliners, amfleets, etc
 

me_little_me

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Yea, I've heard that as well. I would love that service, detail, and smoothness to come to Amtrak.

However I will say, Amtrak trains are much more appealing on the exterior. I love the look of superliners, amfleets, etc
I think the Amtrak cars (except the new ones) look dull, dirty and worn out on the exterior.
 

neroden

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1) Yes - as jis mentioned previously, in Brevard County, the new bridges have been started, but in three months, I've seen little progress.
2) The I-95 overpass is much further along than you state. The pylons are in place across the highway as are the ramps up to them. I expect to see the beams installed fairly soon.
So that's not the crossing I'm talking about. it took me a *really* long time to puzzle out the route of Brightline here. It's running along the south side of 528 from Orlando Airport. It crosses *over* I-95 (which is well underway), but then east of the cloverleaf it crosses *under* 528 to the *north side* (which has NOT made much progress). It's this crossing I'm talking about.

Then Brightline is on the north side of 528 when it crosses over Industry Road (well underway) and crosses back under 528 again near US 1 to reconnect to the FEC tracks (well underway).

I'm not entirely sure why it does this swerve to the north side of 528 but I guess it was to make for shallower curves or less acquisition of houses or something?

Take a look on Google Maps photos near SW Dakota Avenue -- you'll see where Brightline needs to cross under 528 to get to the north side. Documents explain that this is being done by raising the expressway and building a bridge for the expressway, putting Brightline at grade. The expressway has not been relocated onto the new alignment yet, or at least not last I checked.

Honestly, I was sort of surprised that there was less work along 528 than I would have expected by now. There's some land clearing and some grading complete, but except for about the first mile or so out of Cocoa, I don't see a lot ready for laying track yet. 2022 is going to be tight.
Civils are most of the work. If you've finished clearing and grading and putting in bridges and tunnels, track laying is fast.
 
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jis

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I drove to Orlando yesterday for some work. A substantial part of the right of way along SR528 is now ready or very close to ready, to receive track. So things are finally moving along well.

I will be traveling to Orlando again on the 19th, to Orlando Airport to be precise. So I will get another chance to get a closer look.
 
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neroden

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Tell me if you saw anything interesting on either that 528 undercrossing, or on the bridges on the existing line which I suspect are the critical path on the Gantt chart. I really do think that apart from that undercrossing, the line next to 528 will probably be done before the bridges on the existing Cocoa-WPB line.
 

VentureForth

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Tell me if you saw anything interesting on either that 528 undercrossing, or on the bridges on the existing line which I suspect are the critical path on the Gantt chart. I really do think that apart from that undercrossing, the line next to 528 will probably be done before the bridges on the existing Cocoa-WPB line.
Which poses an interesting question. They can start operating on single track, though the section between Cocoa and WPB will still be the old ROW. I don't know if there are enough passing sidings to start that up before finishing double track the whole way. But to your point, they probably could get the ROW between Cocoa and MCO ready before the double track is finished on the existing mainline.

I see work being done on the Crane Creek bridge in Melbourne, but much of the doubling between the creek and a few blocks up haven't even been cleared or graded to support the new bridge yet.

This just in.....VentureForth just went on contract on a house in Cocoa. If everything goes well, I could be very close to the new Brevard County rail station when it opens!
 

John Bredin

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I didn't know that Brightline had to pay CFX & DOT for lost tolls due to train ridership. That could deter Brightline from carrying local passengers between MCO & WDW.
Except for Brightline wanting to use CFX's right-of-way and so having to reach a financial arrangement with CFX, what is the basis for Brightline having to "compensate" Florida DOT for "lost" tolls?!* 🤔

What if Amtrak began running more than one round-trip daily between Tampa and Orlando, would it have to "compensate" CFX or FDOT for "lost" tolls? And what is a "lost" toll? Is it presumed that every Brightline passenger between Tampa and Orlando is a lost toll? Every family or traveling party?

If I choose to take the Hiawatha from Glenview to Milwaukee, did the Illinois Tollway incur a compensable loss of a toll because I didn't take the TriState Tollway? Or someone takes Amtrak from NYC or Newark to Philadelphia, is the New Jersey Turnpike owed for losing a toll? This sounds like an albatross being slung around Brightline's neck, based on a presumption that the roads are entitled to the traffic.

*Snarky quotation marks aimed at CFX & FDOT, not the poster or the Orlando Sentinel.
 

jis

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Except for Brightline wanting to use CFX's right-of-way and so having to reach a financial arrangement with CFX, what is the basis for Brightline having to "compensate" Florida DOT for "lost" tolls?!* 🤔
None. It has to do with Brightline getting permission to lay their tracks on CFX governed FDOT land. It has to pay a fee to CFX and CFX and Brightline jointly deciding what it should be per passenger carried along the CFX segment. Brightline has to work with CFX when it wants to add additional origins and destinations to determine what the passenger fee should be.

Presumably the same principle will apply for trackage along SR417 Tollway.

As for what financial arrangements will be used for leasing space on I-4 median, it will probably follow the same principles used for leasing space on the portion of SR528 that is not under CFX but under FDOT (i.e. roughly east of the SR520 interchange). I am not sure what the details of that arrangement are, but AFAIK (unless it is covered by the CFX toll compensation) it is not a passenger volume based fee, but is probably some flat annual fee.

The reasoning behind all this goes as follows: SR528 and associated ROW development including stabilization of it across marshland, was funded using bonds that were collateralized by tolls. Now what amounts to additional "lanes" are being added to it in the form of a rail tracks, which will eat into the original tolls that were presumed to pay off the bonds. If these new non-toll paying lanes diverting toll paying traffic were to cause shortfall in bond payments the state would be obligated to pay such through general funds, while the financial advantage ensuing goes to a private company. This was not a condition that the taxpayers were presumed to agree to. Hence the toll compensation for use of land that was originally developed using bonds that were collateralized by income from said land improvement. It is as simple as that.

None of the other examples quoted above come even close to being similar to this situation.

What if Amtrak began running more than one round-trip daily between Tampa and Orlando, would it have to "compensate" CFX or FDOT for "lost" tolls? And what is a "lost" toll? Is it presumed that every Brightline passenger between Tampa and Orlando is a lost toll? Every family or traveling party?
That question is almost moot since (a) there is very little toll (short segment of SR417 between CFRC and I-4) between Tampa and Orlando. (b) I am sure Amtrak will get to pay their salutations to the ROW owner CSX and CFRC (indirectly FDOT). CFX has nothing to do with the facilities used by Amtrak to run its trains between Tampa and Orlando.

But Brightline I am sure will have to make some land use lease payment for putting its tracks on FDOT land in the I-4 median. The state could choose to make it something small, but it is a lease of land.
 
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