Brightline takes over XPress West!

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cpotisch

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(1) The "small number of trains" was in the context of not wanting to extend to Las Vegas (which I don't think we can see supporting anywhere near that many trains).

(2) Well, let's presume that number is about right in terms of frequencies, and that those 39 departures would have about a 2:15 runtime (80 MPH average speed; getting up to 90 MPH average speed doesn't get you under 2:00, so this seems reasonable). 39 departures spread over 16 hours means that you're going to have a peak rate of 3x trains per hour in each direction, so you're probably looking at needing about 15-20 trainsets. To get 200 pax/train on average (which is about what 15,800/day comes to) you'd probably need closer to 400 seats per train...so you're probably looking at about a 7-8 car set, plus two locomotives, for the service. If each set is about $40m, this would come to $600-800m for equipment. This would leave about $1bn for the rest of the project...

(3) ...which would probably go to some mixture of the two stations (likely with about a half-dozen tracks given those frequency levels), an equipment yard capable of storing those sets, plus the cost of getting through the mountains heading into Vegas. I stand by the $10m/mile estimate for the desert run, but there will be additional costs when dealing with a mountain range.

I write this presuming, of course, that Palmdale-Victorville isn't included. If it is, that's probably another $400-600m for the tracks, plus a slew of additional trainsets (since runtime increases).
So that works out to a total of something like $2.5B, right? Do you think it's realistic that they would be wiling to spend that much on this?
 

leemell

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As I wrote before, the last info release was that property acquisition start in June of this year.
 

Anderson

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(1) As I said, there's probably an expensive engineering issue somewhere in the mix (my guess is the mountains on approach to Las Vegas). I'd probably throw in $200m half-and-half for stations/parking lots (if you go with those ridership estimates, there isn't jack in terms of useful transit to Victorville...sorry, the SWC doesn't cut it, though this would make a decent transfer point to/from Vegas...so you'd need thousands of parking spaces) and a major equipment facility, storage tracks (20 trainsets at 850' each would effectively require about three and a half to four miles of storage space), etc.

(2) I think it's more likely that they would be willing to raise/spend more if they can get to downtown LA. I've always been dubious about the Victorville terminus plans. I think what it comes down to is that I don't buy the ridership numbers on a 4-4:30 train trip. 15,800/day translates into 5,767,000 riders per year and I'm not seeing that on the corridor in question, particularly to/from Victorville. I can buy perhaps a third of that, but remember: Per their 2013 study, Brightline expected somewhere between 1.5m and 2.2m riders between Orlando and South Florida...and that's with three downtown stations in South Florida. One thing that, in my mind, utterly screws Victorville as a terminus is the fact that it's a "one-way" service (e.g. I can use the train to get from Victorville to Las Vegas, but a train from Las Vegas to Victorville is nigh-on useless).

My best guess is that you'd get ridership similar to the Brightline estimates out of Victorville...but it would be at least somewhat pulse-heavy (e.g. lots of pax on Thursdays and Fridays outbound and Sundays returning; there's a reason that one of the wackier proposals was Thursday/Friday out and 2x Sunday return) compared to Brightline. There isn't an underlying commuter market, though I think a mix of off-day vacationers and convention business would keep ridership from being utterly empty on other days.

(3) I think the question is also whether you'd get equity and/or bond support from the casinos themselves. Remember, Brightline is (in many respects) spending other peoples' money.

(4) Something I will throw in as well (which I only just found) is that the line is apparently near the planned Ivanpah Valley Airport (which is intended as a reliever for McCarran); depending on the details here, it is entirely possible that you could pump a decent slug of ridership out of that, especially given that the proposed airport location is as far from the Strip as Dulles is from downtown DC.
 

Anderson

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Half the battle of getting to Vegas from LA is getting to Victorville to begin with. WHO would want to drive to Victorville, then not just want to finish the drive in to LV?
Taking the question seriously, that's still nearly 400 miles of wear and tear on a car, including the relevant fuel consumption (which is going to run anywhere from 8-20 gallons of gas), and if you're on a peak travel day there's still traffic on I-15 to contend with...as well as parking fees in Las Vegas (which have the chance to add another $30-40 to a trip). So it's probably a non-zero market, but it also isn't going to be anywhere near 5.5-6.0m pax/yr.
 
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railiner

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I am just wondering what effect such a press release will have on real estate speculator's along the proposed route, or station's....

And how much insider dealing may be involved....
 

Anderson

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It seems unlikely that the aforementioned release would have much impact, given that the project has been languishing for quite a while.
 

seat38a

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I think many of your on here are too focused on LAX when calculating the time and hassle of flying between SoCal and Vegas. The SoCal LAS market is spread out among BUR, LAX, SNA, LGB, and ONT. Not everything is a hassle via LAX. Burbank alone has 10 flights a day by Southwest and 5 by JetBlue.

SNA has 7 daily flights by Southwest and another 7 by others.

A big part of the of the Las Vegas air traffic is generated from the other regional airports and NOT all LAX based. Generally speaking from experience and hearing from others, we will do our best to avoid LAX for flights to LAS just so we don't have to deal with the hassles of LAX and we can show up an hour before our flight and get through security and be on our plane.

If the train can't make it between LA and LAS in under 5 hours, I think its going to be tough. But the key is going to be, the train has to be ON TIME.
 

leemell

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I think many of your on here are too focused on LAX when calculating the time and hassle of flying between SoCal and Vegas. The SoCal LAS market is spread out among BUR, LAX, SNA, LGB, and ONT. Not everything is a hassle via LAX. Burbank alone has 10 flights a day by Southwest and 5 by JetBlue.

SNA has 7 daily flights by Southwest and another 7 by others.

A big part of the of the Las Vegas air traffic is generated from the other regional airports and NOT all LAX based. Generally speaking from experience and hearing from others, we will do our best to avoid LAX for flights to LAS just so we don't have to deal with the hassles of LAX and we can show up an hour before our flight and get through security and be on our plane.

If the train can't make it between LA and LAS in under 5 hours, I think its going to be tough. But the key is going to be, the train has to be ON TIME.
Well, with a dedicated dual track ROW and brand new equipment, that should not be much of a problem.
 

VentureForth

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I think many of your on here are too focused on LAX when calculating the time and hassle of flying between SoCal and Vegas. The SoCal LAS market is spread out among BUR, LAX, SNA, LGB, and ONT. Not everything is a hassle via LAX. Burbank alone has 10 flights a day by Southwest and 5 by JetBlue.

SNA has 7 daily flights by Southwest and another 7 by others.

A big part of the of the Las Vegas air traffic is generated from the other regional airports and NOT all LAX based. Generally speaking from experience and hearing from others, we will do our best to avoid LAX for flights to LAS just so we don't have to deal with the hassles of LAX and we can show up an hour before our flight and get through security and be on our plane.

If the train can't make it between LA and LAS in under 5 hours, I think its going to be tough. But the key is going to be, the train has to be ON TIME.
Well, with a dedicated dual track ROW and brand new equipment, that should not be much of a problem.
Yeah. Like that's gonna be affordable for anyone. Why not go ahead and electrify it?
 

Anderson

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A little surprised by the 150 MPH top speed (is that doable without electrification?) since all signs had been pointed to a replication of the Florida operation. Otherwise, good to hear.
 

leemell

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No, that indicates electrification, and I did see but cannot remember where, but part of the message was they intend to build the Palmate to Victorville leg first.
 

Anderson

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That's...interesting, to put it lightly, since electrification (absent dual-modes or a loco swap) would prevent them from running into LA unless/until CAHSR gets going.
 

DSS&A

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A huge $200 Million project to double track the existing line from Los Angeles (Bob Hope airport arsa near Burbank) to Palmdale was just approved this month. Money was approved fornthe engineeri g and environmental work to starr right away.

This probably played a factor in Virgin Rail's decision.

I was also surprised by the 150mph decision, especially since Amtrak's HSR equipment can do 160mph and the assembly line is active ay Alstom and the FRA track condition requirements are the same for 150mph and 160mph. FRA made this change for Amtrak's NE corridor and the new Alsom equipment it is buying. The FRA requirements change for speeds above 160mph.

https://www.avpress.com/news/metrolink-line-improvements-planned/article_917a0b98-b80c-11e9-87bf-f309011a0721.html
 
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Anderson

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It is entirely possible that the equipment might be capable of 160 but they're only promising 150. Given what happened with the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm timetables (they promised 60 minutes and came in over 70 minutes), under-promising might not be a bad idea. Of course, if Virgin doesn't want to go with the Alstom equipment (perhaps going with a Siemens design?) that might also be at play.
 
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No, that indicates electrification, and I did see but cannot remember where, but part of the message was they intend to build the Palmate to Victorville leg first.
The currently proposed route is from Las To Victorville, CA. At some point in the future the line would be expanded from Victorville, CA to Palmdale, CA. There is a lot of controversy here in Las Vegas about the line initially just going to Victorville . Depending on where you live the drive to Victorville in a car is anywhere from 45 minutes to over 2 hours. The question is why would you drive that amount of time to board a train to Las Vegas. The drive from Victorville to Las Vegas is about 2 3/3 hours. There is no time line for the connection to Palmdale at this time. The last I heard about the California high speed rail project proposed date to complete the link from Palmdale to Burbank was 2038. that assumes the high speed rail project will ever be built. It is billions of dollars over budget.
I am not sure what Brightline knows that we here in Las Vegas don't know. As a side note Amtrak had train service From the Los Angeles Union Station to Las Vegas for many years. Amtrak had to discontinue that service in 1990 (If I remember correctly) because no one was using it.
The idea of high speed rail to Las Vegas is great but unless it connects directly to various points in Southern CA including Los Angeles international Airport there is considerable doubt here in Las Vegas if it can succeed.
 

Anderson

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At least in re the LA-Vegas service Amtrak ran, my understanding is that it tended to run fairly full LA-Vegas but then ran fairly empty Vegas-SLC. It also took about eight hours and ran once a day.
 

VentureForth

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Got a source for that claim?
According to Wiki, the Desert Wind was discontinued because they were no longer mandated to operate the Pioneer and Desert Wind (Why, I'm not sure). Stakeholders were given an opportunity to make the case to retain them, but that effort (obviously) failed.

I don't think that there was really an issue with regards to ridership specifically between LA and Las Vegas. I think the overall performance of the Pioneer and Desert Wind overall between Portland, LA and Chicago was not favorable.

Link to Wiki article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desert_Wind
 

crescent-zephyr

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The article you linked to says “The Desert Wind was discontinued on May 12, 1997, a victim of Amtrak's reoccurring budget cuts that also eliminated the Pioneer days earlier.”

Now budget cuts... that’s believable! Ha.
 

VentureForth

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Well, it's related to the Pioneer cancellation "Days prior". The article on the Pioneer discusses the loss of the mandate.
 

jis

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The article you linked to says “The Desert Wind was discontinued on May 12, 1997, a victim of Amtrak's reoccurring budget cuts that also eliminated the Pioneer days earlier.”

Now budget cuts... that’s believable! Ha.
Budget cuts indirectly. The reason these trains offs happened was primarily because inadequate number of Superliners were ordered to run everything after the Hi-Levels were taken off line. It was lack of equipment that did these trains in. These were never mandated trains as part of the original system. They were added by Amtrak as experimental service and lived as long as they could. Just before their discontinuance the entire CZ/DW/Pioneer mix was a mess, with each train running some set number of days a week, and none daily west of Salt Lake City. Discontinuance made it possible to restore all remaining services to daily AFAIR.
 
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