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Brightline takes over XPress West!

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neroden

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Feb 23, 2014
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Some interesting information in that article. Wes Edens says they are "100% committed" to opening the whole Las Vegas - Victorville - Rancho Cucamonga - LA Union Station line at the same time, seemingly in 2023. That is a more aggressive timeline then I have heard for the parts past Victorville.
2023 doesn't seem possible. This does tell me that they're trying to get it all opened at once though, which makes sense. And as fast as possible, which also makes sense.

The Cucamonga-LA Union section is essentially impossible to do quickly, politically speaking, since it doesn't have environmental clearance yet, it requires extensive land acquisition, and, most importantly, it's lots of tiny little parcels through highly-populated land. I see no route which avoids difficult land acquisition arguments. There's no way that opens with the rest of the line, although it's a nice aspirational goal.

Cajon might not be that hard; there seems to be a lot of space next to the railways, US highway, and expressway, and not a lot of NIMBYs on the corridor. It looks like they're hedging their bets there by trying to build to Palmdale and to Rancho Cucamonga simultaneously, which makes sense, since for ridership purposes they really need to get to one or the other. This reduces the odds of delay by having two routes; whichever opens first, they can start running trains.
 

jis

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They are now having a few problems with the Bond Market agreeing to Bond prices that are acceptable to Brightline. To address it, Brightline is buying back a bunch of bonds that they sold for the Florida construction to reduce their overall indebtedness.
 

chrsjrcj

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Could they just use Metrolink’s line from Rancho Cucamonga to Union Station? Even if they’re limited to 80 mph, it’s better than nothing and Metrolink could electrify the San Bernardino line in the process.
 

neroden

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Could they just use Metrolink’s line from Rancho Cucamonga to Union Station? Even if they’re limited to 80 mph, it’s better than nothing and Metrolink could electrify the San Bernardino line in the process.
Maybe, but the single-track section is a killer. The San Bernadino Line needs to be double-tracked, and there's a lot of contention over the right-of-way needed to do that.

Marengo St. to Raymond Ave and again Raymond Ave to El Monte and again El Monte to Gliman Rd. It's already a problem for Metrolink service, this being the busiest of Metrolink's lines.

...and again Hamburger Lane past Baldwin Park to Irwindale Ave, but here at least the right-of-way is present. West of El Monte the right-of-way has been encroached upon and highway lanes would need to be taken.

The obvious solution is to remove the El Monte Busway, or remove lanes from I-10 and relocate the El Monte Busway onto them, but if that's possible politically, I'll be *extremely* surprised.

Double-tracking the Palmdale line is easier!
 
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nullptr

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Jan 16, 2020
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Michigan
I had the impression that as part of SCORE, Metrolink planned on double-tracking, or at least adding siding, to the San Bernardino line? I could be mistaken though.

But yeah, if Brightline wants a 1 seat ride on their Velaros to LA union station they will need to get one of those two lines electrified.
 

jiml

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Could they just use Metrolink’s line from Rancho Cucamonga to Union Station? Even if they’re limited to 80 mph, it’s better than nothing and Metrolink could electrify the San Bernardino line in the process.
Apart from the double-tracking issue, that actually makes some sense. People tend to forget that highly-regarded European high-speed trains sometimes run on conventional track at lower speeds for significant distances to reach terminals.
 

nullptr

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Brightline West released a new website with construction timing information

 

rickycourtney

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The obvious solution is to remove the El Monte Busway, or remove lanes from I-10 and relocate the El Monte Busway onto them, but if that's possible politically, I'll be *extremely* surprised.
Removing the El Monte Busway is an absolute non-starter. LA Metro has invested heavily in making it an express toll lane and bus rapid transit line. Removing lanes from any freeway in Southern California is also political suicide.

Double-tracking the Palmdale line is easier!
Agreed, plus CAHSR is "supposed" to be building an electrified rail corridor from Palmdale to Los Angeles, that could almost certainly host Brightline trains -- if -- it ever gets built (and that seems like a big if).

That said, connecting to the rest of the network in Rancho Cucamonga is very attractive... but the biggest issue is securing the ROW over the Cajon Pass. There's not a lot of room in the I-15 ROW to squeeze a train in.

On the other hand, there's plenty of room along the CA-138 ROW now that the planned conversion to a freeway has been shelved once again. LACMTA has also said it's willing to consider funding part of the construction along that corridor.
 

neroden

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Apparently Caltrans and LA are both cooperative with providing the space for an elevated line near I-5 across Cajon.

From Rancho Cucamonga to downtown, though, I just see no plausible place to put the tracks without removing highway lanes.
 

rickycourtney

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I think this line from the Bloomberg article sums it up best:

"The failure to sell the bonds shows that deal sweeteners* and juicy yields** weren’t enough to overcome investor concerns about a project that depends on the recovery of the pandemic-ravaged travel and entertainment industries and has few comparisons in the U.S."

*: cutting the size of the sale, buying back FL bonds, more equity from Brightline
**: 7% to 7.5%, which is about four times what the highest rated state and local governments pay
 
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