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Virgin Trains USA (Brightline) Orlando Extension

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jis

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If brightline track is good and fast, Amtrak could very well use the same track the way it does with other freight lines.
Potentially possible, but I would be more than extremely surprised if that ever comes to pass.The egos that are involved at least today, would make that a steep hill to climb. And it would cause the inland route from Orlando to West Palm Beach to lose all service.
 

Devil's Advocate

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Purely as a hypothetical possibility Brightline does have checked baggage, so potentially there could be interline checked baggage. But I am sure, this being the country that it is, people will discover/invent a hundred reasons why that could never happen. 🤷‍♂️
Checked baggage interlining would be nice but even self-transfer could work if the setup is short, simple, and comes with enough space to put everything out of the way on the connecting train. I enjoy using passenger rail as much as I can manage but I hate having to drag luggage up or down steps through mouse maze corridors to a metro service with little or no storage. Having to choose between clogging aisles or blocking seats is a waste of rare and valuable jerk points. Unlike the Northeast I'd imagine that Florida has plenty of room to make this workable if planned correctly.
 
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jis

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Checked baggage interlining would be nice but even self-transfer could work if the setup is short, simple, and comes with enough space to put everything out of the way on the connecting train. I enjoy using passenger rail as much as I can manage but I hate having to drag luggage up or down steps through mouse maze corridors to a metro service with little or no storage. Having to choose between clogging aisles or blocking seats is a waste of rare and valuable jerk points. Unlike the Northeast I'd imagine that Florida has plenty of room to make this workable if planned correctly.
True that. It is unlikely that a Brightlline or SunRail or TriRail designed new station would be anytiing like some of the legacy Rabbit's warrens that some of the multi-rebuilt older stations are. They will come equipped with elevators and escalators and full ADA compliance and all that, and for Brightline stations, they will apparently come with open space walk through security barriers too, as found in the current Brightline stations.

As for Metro Service, that is a different kettle of fish, and who knows what Florida will have in that area?
 

joelkfla

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If brightline track is good and fast, Amtrak could very well use the same track the way it does with other freight lines.
New Brightline track will be superior to the freight tracks Amtrak is running on now. It is designed to support speeds of at least 125 mph.

Upgraded existing FEC track supports at least 79 mph, higher between Cocoa & WPB.
 
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neroden

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Potentially possible, but I would be more than extremely surprised if that ever comes to pass.The egos that are involved at least today, would make that a steep hill to climb. And it would cause the inland route from Orlando to West Palm Beach to lose all service.
The main obstacle to Amtrak running on other passenger operators' lines is that the other operators don't want to accept a train which has been delayed several hours by freight traffic elsewhere. We've seen this in the Chicagoland and NY areas quite clearly, and I would expect the same in Florida. TRE in Texas and Metrolink in LA were more cooperative.

As for service after Brightline gets to Tampa... yeah, it will make zero sense for Amtrak to go to Tampa then. That's still years from now, however, so we'll see about it when it happens. If Lakeland does not have a Brightline station, however (it is unclear whether it will) then Amtrak will probably continue making the "dogleg" because Lakeland won't want to lose service.

Amtrak is so habit-bound that it will probably continue servicing trains in Hialeah (which will have to be moved eventually due to sea-level rise, but Amtrak, y'know) so it'll keep going to Miami. If we ever get a competent Amtrak leadership it'll go to Miami Airport.

Hopefully Amtrak will have the sense to stop at the Brightline transfer station, which looks like it will be Meadow Woods.
 

Mailliw

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Assuming Brightline and Amtrak agree to interline how do passengers & their luggage get from Amtrak's Miami station to Brighline Miami Central?
 

me_little_me

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If brightline track is good and fast, Amtrak could very well use the same track the way it does with other freight lines.
You mean they'll sit on the sidings while the Brightline trains go by just like they sit on the sidings for the freight trains? Or do you mean Brightline will go slow so as to make the Amtrak train behind it go 20mph? Or will they cut back on their maintenance like the freight lines so track conditions require slow speeds for Amtrak? ;)
 

Devil's Advocate

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I don't think Brightline has to offer Amtrak a slot though correct? Brightline could just say no since they are fully private?
It's not about being public or private so much as not being a party to the contractual obligations that spawned Amtrak.
 

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I don't think Brightline has to offer Amtrak a slot though correct? Brightline could just say no since they are fully private?
I think I read here that because Florida East Coast RR ended passenger service in the early 1960s and weren't involved in the establishment of Amtrak, they have no obligation to offer slots for Amtrak trains. However, I know Amtrak has talked with them in the past about running trains up to Jacksonville on their line and have even run test trains. Brightline is a slightly different company from FECRR, so I don't know how that plays also.

Call me cynical, but I think that after Brightline makes all the $$$$ from the real estate development around the stations, they'll find that actually running a passenger railroad isn't all that profitable, at least not to the expectations of the capitalist overlords. At that point, we can expect that the Brightline rail service will be shunted over to some sort of public sector operator, maybe even Amtrak!

In any event, it might make sense to make provision to connect Brightline to the national passenger rail system, as much of the ridership on the Silvers comes from points north of Jacksonville and they may want to travel to places served by Brightline and not served by the Silvers. Not only that, if Brightline is really serious about providing Florida corridor rail service (MIA-ORL-TPA, and maybe even MIA-JAX, maybe Amtrak should not bother with trying to start corridor service in Florida and use their funds for other corridors. But that doesn't mean that the Silvers should be cut back. As I wrote two sentences earlier, most of the Silver Service customers are coming from points north of Jacksonville, and forcing everybody to change trains in Jacksonville is sort of silly and would definitely discourage passengers from riding trains to Florida, which a lot of people seem to like doing.
 

jis

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If Amtrak expects Florida government to fund corridor service in Florida, that we know is not going to happen in the near to mid term future. Any rail funding from Florida state is likely to be targeted towards TriRail and SunRail, and if something else gets put together around JAX and/or Tampa. So that IMHO is not something we need to worry about. All that we need to worry about is whether Silver Service gets modified and if so, in which way..

Amtrak isnn't using much of "its funds" to start any corridor service anyway. They are shopping around to get the funding from state(s) involved in the corridor before doing anything else.. So there really is no fund to use elsewhere for anythng.
 
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chrsjrcj

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From my perspective, I think as long as Wes Edens (Fortress) has some involvement with Brightline they'll focus on rail. Based off interviews he seems to be pretty dedicated to making the passenger rail part work. Of course, people eventually come and go and who knows what will happen once he is no longer involved.
 
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west point

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Probably an interline baggage agreement would put Brightline under US STB. Brightline probably wants nothing to do with US regulation of their services. US FRA is probably enough of a problem for Brightline. Seem to recall that was an argument about Texas Central RR.

There will many grade crossing incidents that Brightline has and will have. Often the tracks ahead are blocked by debri.The locos at each end of a train increases the likely hood that the train can be pulled back to a safe siding or cross over to the other track. As well grade crossing incidents sometimes damage a trailing engine.
 

jis

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Probably an interline baggage agreement would put Brightline under US STB. Brightline probably wants nothing to do with US regulation of their services. US FRA is probably enough of a problem for Brightline. Seem to recall that was an argument about Texas Central RR.
As far as I know Brightline so far has had way less problem with the FRA than Amtrak has had in trying to get a NEPA EIS approved by FRA and get a ROD. So I don't see why anyone would think that they'd have problem with the FRA.

Brightline has indeed avoided falling under STB by getting an explicit exemption based on not operating with any interstate entity. That was mainly to expedite the approvals process by reducing the number of approving agencies involved. That will have to change if it has to do through ticketing with interstate entities. This is something they would have to do sooner or later anyway as the scope of their business grows. And of course Brightline West has to do it from the getgo since they are an interstate operator.

Texas Central did not request or receive an STB exemption. They do fall under STB.
 

Anderson

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My suspicion is that Brightline will eventually end up getting a de facto subsidy for these trains, but it's going to be shunted via a contract for the Tri-Rail Coastal Link project (which will probably make it palatable for everyone involved).

I do suspect there will eventually be Amtrak on the FEC tracks...frankly, in the scheme of things I suspect that Amtrak would be better off sacking everyone but the yard staff at Hialeah and the train crews (so ditching the various stations and station personnel) and just paying Brightline to deal with South Florida (several of Amtrak's stations being in...less-than-great condition). MIA can apparently accommodate 16-car sets (the other stations can only fit a 10-car train, but with decent load management, door/car placement, and train configuration work you can fit a somewhat longer train into place without needing a double spot).

Even that might be negotiable if Amtrak starts moving in the direction of "Brightliner" cars...at that point I could easily see Amtrak looking to just consolidate everything in Florida to have trains terminate at Brightline's stations in TPA and MIA, outsource the yard work, and basically render it all "somebody else's problem".

(Also, Amtrak's timekeeping situation is such that simply having a late Amtrak train "ride" behind whatever Brightline train it ends up behind probably won't be the end of the world. It won't be any worse than "chasing" a Tri-Rail train.)
 

railiner

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I think Amtrak should just ignore Brightline, and go back to their early scheme of two daily trains to Florida from NY, splitting at Jacksonville or Auburndale to serve Miami, and Tampa/St. Petersburg, catering to long haul traveler's. Let Florida deal with the various local regional trains in Florida.
 

Qapla

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Yes, run one train through JAX using the current evening/night schedule and the other one 12 hours offset. Probably best to split them down where the Silver's now diverge (Auburndale/Lakeland area - where ever they used to split or where they can now) No need to "double" the traffic from JAX south when they can be split further south.

The only thing this would complicate are the routes in the Carolinas where the Meteor and the Star run different routes.
 

jis

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I think Amtrak should just ignore Brightline, and go back to their early scheme of two daily trains to Florida from NY, splitting at Jacksonville or Auburndale to serve Miami, and Tampa/St. Petersburg, catering to long haul traveler's. Let Florida deal with the various local regional trains in Florida.
I don't think Auburndale split will ever happen again. Any split if it happens, which itself is very doubtful, will be at JAX. There will not be any service to St. Pete except via Thruway. Also it is unlikely that Tampa will be redeveloped as an Amtrak terminal station capable of turning an LD train. All this of course unless some miracle happens. ;)

Frankly, we will be lucky to retain one train to Florida at the rate things are going.
 

jis

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Splitting at Jacksonville would be good, if they could restore service on the old SAL route for half of the trains...
Passenger service via Ocala is unlikely unless CSX is willing to reconsider the agreement that conveyed the Deland - Orlando - Poinciana segment to SunRail.

As betting odds go, Amtrak service via FECR is probably more likely at present than Amtrak service via Ocala, specially since all the connections are now in place to get Amtrak trains to rejoin their current route at West Palm Beach after traveling down the FECR from JAX.
 

Qapla

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It would be interesting if they did split the train in JAX and could restore service through Waldo/Ocala/Lakeland - it would be nice to see the Waldo station back in use :)
 

joelkfla

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Brightline has announced the location of their Walt Disney World station: Disney Springs, a highly-themed upscale shopping and dining development on the east edge of the property.

DS is a good distance from SR-417, which Brightline has proposed to use to get from the airport area to I-4, but it is very close to I-4 north of SR-417. If they can use that portion of the I-4 ROW, they could easily build a bridge into DS. Or they could build the station directly adjacent to I-4, where one of the DS parking garages is located and connected to DS by a pedestrian bridge.
 

Qapla

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If they follow 417 up to John Young Pkwy - it is a fairly straight shot to I4 just north of DS without many roads or other infrastructure in the way
 

jis

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Brightline has announced the location of their Walt Disney World station: Disney Springs, a highly-themed upscale shopping and dining development on the east edge of the property.

DS is a good distance from SR-417, which Brightline has proposed to use to get from the airport area to I-4, but it is very close to I-4 north of SR-417. If they can use that portion of the I-4 ROW, they could easily build a bridge into DS. Or they could build the station directly adjacent to I-4, where one of the DS parking garages is located and connected to DS by a pedestrian bridge.
They planned to take SR 417 to 536 to I4 which already gets them to the vicinity of Disney Springs.
 
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