Brightline/Virgin Trains (FEC) Update

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Brian_tampa

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So Vero Beach wants a station stop now? what the heck! As that county and a lot of residents who live there have opposed this project and delayed it by at least 3 years, they do not deserve a stop for a very long time IMO. Their actions have cost the company much time and money and delayed VTUSA from getting to where I live near Tampa. At least Brevard County was the first county north of WPB to welcome the project.

http://veronews.com/2020/01/16/in-dramatic-reversal-vero-now-seeks-train-station/
 
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chrsjrcj

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lol, that's surprising to no rail advocate.

I think maybe one problem with some of these Florida cities is that transit, where it exists, is somewhat new. There are NIMBYs everywhere, but it is hard to cultivate support in towns like Vero Beach and Stuart where transit is practically non-existent. The population along the Treasure Coast is much higher than it was 20 years or so when many retirees moved in. There may have been some council members that were reluctant to support the lawsuit, but the mob opposed to Brightline was too overwhelming to ignore. As transit becomes more established, governments and local businesses recognize the economic benefits and it provides more of a counterweight to the NIMBYs.
 

Rail Freak

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lol, that's surprising to no rail advocate.

I think maybe one problem with some of these Florida cities is that transit, where it exists, is somewhat new. There are NIMBYs everywhere, but it is hard to cultivate support in towns like Vero Beach and Stuart where transit is practically non-existent. The population along the Treasure Coast is much higher than it was 20 years or so when many retirees moved in. There may have been some council members that were reluctant to support the lawsuit, but the mob opposed to Brightline was too overwhelming to ignore. As transit becomes more established, governments and local businesses recognize the economic benefits and it provides more of a counterweight to the NIMBYs.
I forget, what's a NIMBY?
 

Brian_tampa

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lol, that's surprising to no rail advocate.

I think maybe one problem with some of these Florida cities is that transit, where it exists, is somewhat new. There are NIMBYs everywhere, but it is hard to cultivate support in towns like Vero Beach and Stuart where transit is practically non-existent. The population along the Treasure Coast is much higher than it was 20 years or so when many retirees moved in. There may have been some council members that were reluctant to support the lawsuit, but the mob opposed to Brightline was too overwhelming to ignore. As transit becomes more established, governments and local businesses recognize the economic benefits and it provides more of a counterweight to the NIMBYs.
Yep it didn't surprise me but for the fact that they made the request so fast after the appeals court ruling :D They didn't wait for the ink to dry haha
 

Anderson

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It isn't a question of "deserving" a stop. It's a question of money. If a stop is going to add mid-six-figures worth of ridership per year (and hourly service with sufficient capacity would probably result in at least 100k riders/yr for stops with at least some distance to other stops), that's probably $2-5m/yr. At 250k riders/yr (probably not an unreasonable ballpark, depending on how many other stations are in play) that range lands from $5-12.5m/yr.

Now, what Brightline might consider is demanding either reimbursement for legal expenses in some fashion (perhaps in the form of a development tax incentive of some sort...more than one way to skin a cat...) or some generous zoning permissions if they want it anytime soon (otherwise, it is at the "back of the line"). Other options would be reshuffling transit lines to act as a feeder system, etc.

Basically, the NIMBYs lost this one and I think Brightline can probably reasonably extract some lucrative concessions in a face-saving manner for the county.
 

Anderson

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That's about what I'm seeing from elsewhere...I think Brightline is doing a pretty good job of lining up stations to add over the next 2-3 years. From what I can tell, Aventura should open first, with Boca not far behind it (though they might well start service to both at the same time if construction lines up closely so as to avoid having to repeatedly tinker with the schedule in a few weeks.
 

Palmetto

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I wonder how the Port Miami service will work. The spur is just north of the MiamiCentral station, so not all trains will go there, for sure.
 

neroden

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I wonder how the Port Miami service will work. The spur is just north of the MiamiCentral station, so not all trains will go there, for sure.
Almost certain that it will only operate trains connecting to specific cruise ships. Specials.
 

west point

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How Port Miami service will work may depend on how nimble Brightline can be. They need to work with the cruise shipping lines to get planned schedules. Then any change of schedules need info immediately to Brightline. For best results have a sales agent board longer distance cruise ships at last stoop. Have agent at the boarding ramp for departures for all departures.

For ship arrivals schedule train departures from Port Miami when passengers have baggage, cleared customs and immigration factoring in boarding time . For bookings over capacity of one train depart as soon as load is full.

For passenger schedule to depart have train arrivals starting when a ship will be ready to receive cruise passengers. Schedule any train arrivals at least 30 - 60 minutes before last call to mitigate any delays. For the inevitable train collision delays that may happen work out some solution like buses or another following train.

Get cruise lines to add Brightline links on their web sites.
 

railiner

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Almost certain that it will only operate trains connecting to specific cruise ships. Specials.
Pretty certain they will serve more than just Virgin cruise ships, or else they would be discarding more than 90% of the Miami cruise market.
Don't know just where on the Dodge Island the train will stop, but all of the cruise ship terminals would be fairly close...
 

jis

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The deal with Virgin has a clause that requires Brightline to get permission from Virgin before helping any competitor of any Virgin branded operation.
 

Anderson

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The deal with Virgin has a clause that requires Brightline to get permission from Virgin before helping any competitor of any Virgin branded operation.
The definition of "competitor" is going to be interesting in that case.

Also, I suspect that said permission exists or will be granted, or I see a mild catfight brewing over the pax numbers to the PortMiami numbers (I don't see Virgin carrying 3.5m pax on their ships in the next few years:
In exchange for the capital injection, Miami-Dade will charge Brightline a $2 fee for each departing train passenger. If the county has not received $7 million by the end of the fifth full year of operation, Virgin will pay the balance.
Presuming that Virgin can shake 5.5 years out of that agreement ("full year of operation" suggests that they might shake an extra batch of time if they start at the beginning of a year, but who knows what "full year" actually means), Virgin's ships can fit 2700 people. Presuming one sailing per week, that's 140,400/yr per ship if all spaces go. Even when you get all four ships running, assuming you get the turnaround time to "once per six days" (about 164k/ship/yr, or 657k/yr overall) there's no way they make the 3.5m pax that would be needed to pay that back even running full tilt (and they won't be able to do that for several years into the operation).

Now, "We cut you a check for $5m in a few years" might be a workable situation...but it certainly seems like Virgin would not want to build a station to use it once or twice a week.

That being said, the "competitor" clause gets interesting in terms of airline codeshares. I'm going to suspect that a codeshare with Delta would work out fine (given the ownership situation, I suspect if Delta wanted that and Virgin pushed back hard there would be some shouting in a boardroom somewhere). UA or AA would be problematic (particularly AA, given the BA situation). B6 would've been fine as long as they were staying domestic (that would render them "not a competitor") and any North America-only airlines are probably safe. B6 stands out as well because they seemed to me to be primed to codeshare with Brightline. European continental airlines (particularly with no service to/from the UK) would be a fun test. For example, is Condor a competitor to Virgin Atlantic given that it doesn't serve any UK destinations? So would any Asian carriers (Emirates comes to mind given the routing situation).
 

jis

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The definition of "competitor" is going to be interesting in that case.

Also, I suspect that said permission exists or will be granted, or I see a mild catfight brewing over the pax numbers to the PortMiami numbers (I don't see Virgin carrying 3.5m pax on their ships in the next few years:
Yes. It will be interesting. I was merely pointing out the existence of the no compete clause in the master agreement between Brightline and Virgin. In specific cases its interpretation may very well be in effect "preference and first right of refusal" or something like that, i.e. if there is a choice between serving a Virgin cruise ship or some other cruise ship, Virgin must get preference, or some such. Subject to that restriction anyone can be served.
 

railiner

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Virgin has tried to carve out a rather unique niche in ocean cruises...for example, it will not board any passengers under age 18...most other lines homeported in Miami are family friendly.
 

crescent-zephyr

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Virgin has tried to carve out a rather unique niche in ocean cruises...for example, it will not board any passengers under age 18...most other lines homeported in Miami are family friendly.
Also they are advertising "all tips included" - that's a big change in the cruise industry. I'll give em a try!
 

jis

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According to the latest issue of FECRS Magazine apparently a new dialogue has started among VTUSA, Brevard County and the City of Melbourne on planning for a a multi-modal transportation center at Melbourne International Airport, which is adjacent to the FECR RoW, and the City and Airport own significant tracts of land which they are willing to throw into the mix. The proposal is to build a VTUSA station mostly funded by the County and City on that land together with a large parking lot which will serve both the airport and the station. Additional air industry related rela estate development is part of the proposal too. Of course they will have to do something with Apollo Blvd which runs between the railroad RoW and the airport land.

Very early in the process and entirely possible that nothing will come of it. But there is a potential for something good coming out of it.

Notice that Debbie Mayfield (R) is basically being ignored by the county and city officials in Brevard county.
 

Anderson

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According to the latest issue of FECRS Magazine apparently a new dialogue has started among VTUSA, Brevard County and the City of Melbourne on planning for a a multi-modal transportation center at Melbourne International Airport, which is adjacent to the FECR RoW, and the City and Airport own significant tracts of land which they are willing to throw into the mix. The proposal is to build a VTUSA station mostly funded by the County and City on that land together with a large parking lot which will serve both the airport and the station. Additional air industry related rela estate development is part of the proposal too. Of course they will have to do something with Apollo Blvd which runs between the railroad RoW and the airport land.

Very early in the process and entirely possible that nothing will come of it. But there is a potential for something good coming out of it.

Notice that Debbie Mayfield (R) is basically being ignored by the county and city officials in Brevard county.
I can't say I'm surprised on that last point. Mayfield has been enough of a thorn in the project's side that...well, I suspect that even if they reached out to her any efforts towards collaboration went nowhere and they decided to just cut her out. Can't say I blame them, either.

A station at Melbourne's airport would be a boon for the airport if the train eventually goes to WDW (which I presume but don't assume just yet), depending on the exact layout.

(Also, is this station exclusive with one at Cocoa? Asking because the distance between Melbourne and Cocoa shows as about 25-30 miles, which seems to be enough distance to justify stops, but this might also get tangled up with the Beeline agreement.)
 

cirdan

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A station at Melbourne's airport would be a boon for the airport if the train eventually goes to WDW (which I presume but don't assume just yet), depending on the exact layout.
I guess it depends.

It makes sense to connect large airports to intercity rail systems as obviously people will need to come to that airport from a large area.

When it comes to local airports, this isn't really the case. It makes more sense to connect those to local transit systems.

That is unless Melbourne has ambitions to compete head on with Miami and Orlando airports.

But on the other hand, if this can be done on the cheap, which i guess it can, seeing no extra track needs to be built for example, then there is probably not much risk either.
 

jis

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The proposed Melbourne TC would be in addition to Cocoa, not instead of. Cocoa is needed as the interchange station for the future service to JAX, irrespective of what else happens, and FECI/VTUSA intend to create an office/residence center on their property in that area. Again, this is very preliminary and indeed nothing may come of it at the end of the day.

The County station location study had looked at a site slightly south of the currently proposed location at what used to be the location of the Hopkins station in the Melbourne area. They had rejected the location of the original Melbourne station as impractical because it is too entangled with too many downtown buildings.

Melbourne Airport is considered to be a satellite of MCO, and is called Melbourne Orlando International Airport, though it has nothing to do with the Orlando Airport Authority - which incidentally is a Florida State owned outfit, not City of Orlando owned.
 

jadebenn

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VTUSA has decided it'd like to operate a commuter service if the city's willing to pay. Sounds like they've essentially appropriated the plans for the Tri-Rail Coastal Link.

If this actually goes through, the FEC corridor is going to become the most built-up rail ROW in the US outside the NEC. Intercity, commuter, and freight trains, triple (maybe even quad) tracking, and equipped with CTC, ATC, and PTC.

The FEC trackage was always first-class (ironic for a Class II railroad), but this would put it on a whole 'nother level.
 

MARC Rider

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VTUSA has decided it'd like to operate a commuter service if the city's willing to pay. Sounds like they've essentially appropriated the plans for the Tri-Rail Coastal Link.
What's the benefit to the city? I'm always a bit skeptical about forking over taxpayer money to a private business. Is VTUSA taking any risk in this transaction, or does it have the potential to be one of those situation where, in a few years, a public agency is going to have to take over, and meanwhile the VTUSA executives (and possibly investors) have benefited from the taxpayer-fed cash infusion. Sounds like another case of socializing risk and privatizing benefits.
 
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