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Brightline (FEC) Update


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#2021 chrsjrcj

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Posted 14 May 2018 - 09:34 AM

Unfortunately out of town for that weekend (Ill actually be on the Cap/SM). Ironic since its in my hometown. Ill only learn whats passed down through social media afterwards.

Edited by chrsjrcj, 14 May 2018 - 09:35 AM.


#2022 jis

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Posted 14 May 2018 - 06:56 PM

Article about Quiet Zone in West Palm Beach....

 

https://www.mypalmbe...2JFrNt6JhbYIBL/



#2023 chrsjrcj

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Posted 14 May 2018 - 08:13 PM

As of this posting, the 7 am, 9 am, 11 am, 1 pm, and 3 pm southbound departures are completely sold out for 5/19. I wonder if it makes any economic sense for BL to schedule a 3rd trainset for opening weekend.


Edited by chrsjrcj, 14 May 2018 - 08:13 PM.


#2024 Anderson

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Posted 14 May 2018 - 09:38 PM

Economic sense?  No.  They put low fares into place to encourage ridership.  In terms of PR it might make sense to grab all of the equipment they can and run it, but the odds of a sold-out train covering its costs at $3/5 per seat are pretty low (revenue per run would run somewhere in the range of $850-950, depending on whether there's any significant turnover at FLL; 48 Select seats and 198 Smart seats filled at $5 and $3, respectively, provides $834 in revenue), though it would probably still be at least passable cost recovery.  After taking the NARP discount, I paid a whopping $9 round-trip in Select WPB-MIA (which is, in terms of cost-per-mile, one of the cheapest train tickets I've ever purchased...I'm used to yields in the range of $0.20-0.50 in coach, $0.40-1.00 in Business, or $1.00-2.00 in First on the Acela, and this shakes out to about $0.065/mile in Business).

Don't forget, on opening day in January they were charging $15 in Select and $10 in Smart for one way WPB-FLL, so they knocked the fares by 2/3 for Miami's opening day.

 

Right now, I'm showing Select sold out southbound on every single train FLL-MIA.  Smart is sold out until the 1820 departure from FLL.  The 1742 departure, as of this writing, has six seats available.  The 1942 has about a third of its Smart seats left (I think I counted 85 available).  2142 only has about 25 seats taken (so something like 170 seats available).

Between WPB and FLL, Select is sold out on three trains (1100, 1300, and 1900). 0700 shows 24 Select seats available, 0900 shows 16 Select seats available, 1500 shows 10 Select seats available, 1700 shows 10 Select seats available, and 1900 shows 10 Select seats available.

Northbound, Select is also sold out MIA-FLL.  There's Smart space available on the 0910 (69 seats), 1110 (26 seats), 2110 (62 seats), and 2310 (50 taken, so 148 available).

FLL-WPB, the first three departures are sold out in Select.  1545 shows 10 seats available, 1745 shows 10 seats available, 1945 shows 21 seats available, 2145 shows 23 seats available, and 2345 shows 39 seats available.  NB that these are all on trains where MIA-FLL is sold out.

There are no trains showing Smart sold out FLL-WPB, though in a few cases the pickings are getting slim.

Please note that this is getting pretty high up in terms of load factors: Select is at 100% FLL-MIA/MIA-FLL, 81.8% WPB-FLL, and 73.1% FLL-WPB.  In terms of raw load factor (and presuming 44 miles WPB-FLL and 26 miles FLL-MIA), Select is at 85.8% (46,148 seat-miles are filled out of a potential 53,760 seat-miles).  FWIW I don't see this going much higher, given that you're effectively getting a lot of FLL-MIA tickets blocking out WPB-MIA sales as well as sold-out trains one way blocking a possible round-trip.  Overall, you have 71.2% 85.6% of all available seats into Miami sold out four days out...and of the 566 available seats, 318 are on the late-night round trip and another 69 are on that first train out (which I'm on only because I need to be back in Dunnellon ASAP...otherwise, yes, I would've probably booked at least one more round trip over the course of the weekend).

However...this is only for Saturday.  Sunday is looking not-that-far-off, however: Several trains are already sold out all the way through, though there are also still 11 Select seats available on the 0700 WPB-MIA.

Edit: Something else to bear in mind is that, given the lack of finished crossovers and the like, shoving another set (or two) into service might come close to shutting the FEC down.  However, putting that equipment into service might also (ironically) sell some more tickets on the later existing trains...one thing quite possibly hurting the late trains' load factors is the fact that you can't get in or out of Miami for a good chunk of the day now (though some "joyriders" might be nudged into those odd hours by the fact that you can only get a seat then).

Edit 2: I found this:
https://www.fitchrat...site/pr/1032927

So, let's compare notes here.  As of a few weeks ago, per the newspapers, ridership was aiming for about 400,000/yr strictly on WPB-FLL.  Brightline is projecting 1.1m in 2018 while Fitch put together a less rosy possible scenario of 587,000 for their base case and 907,000 for their "rating case".  On the basis of the WPB-FLL ridership, I think it is safe to say that the rating case is probably on the lower edge of what is likely (presuming they can bump some of the midday frequencies back into the mix) with Brightline's numbers on the high side.  I'm comfortable that we won't end up in the base case scenario.

Edit 3: Another observation worth considering is that even at the deep-discount fares, revenue for the weekend should be up on last weekend.  Going from, say, 25% of seats filled at $15/10 to 85-90% filled at $5/3 still puts you ahead.

Edit 4: So, the cases that Fitch examined all made ridership assumptions.  None of them made pricing assumptions aside from what Brightline put out.  I do wonder if Brightline might not end up making the ridership targets, but be stuck with modestly lower pricing until the Orlando segment opens up.


Edited by Anderson, 15 May 2018 - 03:53 AM.

Capitol Limited (7), CA Zephyr (4) Lake Shore Limited (1), Acela (2), NE Regional (2), Sliver Meteor (4)

Upcoming: Silver Meteor (1), Lake Shore Limited (1), SW Chief (2), MO River Runner (1), Texas Eagle (1)

Possibly Upcoming: Either Texas Eagle (1), Capitol Limited (1), Silver Meteor (2) or Texas Eagle (1), Capitol Limited (1), Silver Meteor (1)

#2025 Anderson

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Posted 15 May 2018 - 04:42 AM

So, looking further into the Fitch data and trying to look at what is likely:
-As I noted, Fitch fiddled with ridership assumptions but not ticket pricing.  Multiplication is commutative, so either lever can be adjusted to produce a revenue result.
-Per Fitch, break-even ticket revenue is about $60.09m/yr (0.56*107.3m).
-To get what you need to break even at this level:
--I presume the current consist (198 Y, 48 J), which gives you 246 seats per set.  I think this technically hits 250 seats due to wheelchair seating, but I'm setting that aside for the moment.
--I presume 16 round-trips per weekday (250 weekdays per year) and 12 round-trips per weekend day (115 weekend days per year).  This won't be exact...I'm adjusting for holidays and the like through considering them weekends, and there's a good chance that Friday may have an additional train or two while Sunday may come up shorter than expected.
--I also presume a 70-mile corridor.

All told, this gives roughly 185,287,200 seat-miles per year (which I'll be rounding off to 185.3m/yr).  With costs of $60.09m/yr, this gives CASM of $0.3243/mile.  Brightline is presuming $0.5791/mile under this scenario.  This is not far off of their stated fare assumptions (not to mention not being that far off of non-Saver fares on the RVR-WAS trains).

From what I can tell, running back-of-the-envelope numbers off of the FY16 report from Amtrak, RASM on the Acela was $0.5696 (I got this by dividing fully-allocated profits by fully-allocated profit per seat mile to get raw seat miles, and then dividing revenue by seat-miles to get RASM).  I think this /might/ be doable (it isn't far off of standard mileage rates, and obviously there's the Y/J price difference to consider as well), but practically speaking Brightline has to be presuming higher load factors than the Acela (which hovers in the low 60s)...which is probably doable on a three-station service in a way you can't manage on a 6-8 stop service (even if the pattern for Brightline's stops isn't far off a putative NYP-PHL-WAS train...and MIA-FLL-WPB seems to have a similar ridership pattern, too).

Of course, this is all quite "off" if Brightline is presuming that the trains will be longer: Going to the seven-car sets (with the cafe unstaffed) would give you 271.1m seat-miles and, accordingly, knock break-even RASM down to $0.2216 and Brightline's estimated RASM down to $0.3957.


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Upcoming: Silver Meteor (1), Lake Shore Limited (1), SW Chief (2), MO River Runner (1), Texas Eagle (1)

Possibly Upcoming: Either Texas Eagle (1), Capitol Limited (1), Silver Meteor (2) or Texas Eagle (1), Capitol Limited (1), Silver Meteor (1)

#2026 Seaboard92

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Posted 15 May 2018 - 09:12 AM

I saw an article yesterday talking about Brightline Expansion with routes they were possibly eyeing. On them the two that stood out most to me.

1. Dallas to Houston which is the route Texas Central wants to operate.

2. Atlanta to Charlotte which I think arguably would be their better choice. Both are large cities with a fairly crappy level of service with a decent medium sized city in the middle (Greenville) and a large college (Clemson). So in theory that makes it a fairly good route. The next thing it has going for it from a passenger standpoint is a connection to Raleigh with the Piedmonts running multiple times a day.

Lastly Atlanta makes a far better hub if you are building a network because you can easily hit Macon/Jacksonville, Macon/Savannah, Birmingham, Montgomery, Chattanooga/Knoxville, Chattanooga/Nashville, Augusta/Columbia. The connectivity would make it a fairly good little system.
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#2027 Anderson

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Posted 15 May 2018 - 03:39 PM

I think this is the article:
http://www.floridatr...outside-florida

Dallas-Houston is probably the most obvious market...but that's why Texas Central jumped in there first.  I actually think that in some respects, Brightline might have the better product from a public policy perspective insofar as it doesn't require total separation from other railroad operations (so you could probably work something out to use existing tracks on the endpoints...for example, accessing downtown Houston or connecting over to Fort Worth).

Atlanta-Charlotte and Chicago-St. Louis both make sense to me, though the latter would probably need Illinois to support them by not having a head-to-head fight with the Lincoln Service trains.  As strangely awesome as it would be to see Amtrak forced to go head-to-head with a private operator, I'd be worried about a cannibalized market situation.  An Atlanta hub actually raises the prospect of actually connecting to the Florida operation in the long(er) term.

And I kind of can't believe we're actually getting to have this discussion.


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Upcoming: Silver Meteor (1), Lake Shore Limited (1), SW Chief (2), MO River Runner (1), Texas Eagle (1)

Possibly Upcoming: Either Texas Eagle (1), Capitol Limited (1), Silver Meteor (2) or Texas Eagle (1), Capitol Limited (1), Silver Meteor (1)

#2028 JRR

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Posted 15 May 2018 - 03:51 PM

Heading to Atlanta Friday. Unfortunately in my pickup truck. Just can’t get there from Boca on the train in any reasonable way.

Would be nice to have a Florida Atlanta train option.

#2029 jis

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Posted 16 May 2018 - 01:29 PM

More on the West Palm Beach Quiet Zone...

 

https://www.mypalmbe...1w8SBDT7gfwHfK/



#2030 cirdan

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Posted 17 May 2018 - 07:17 AM

I think this is the article:
http://www.floridatr...outside-florida

Dallas-Houston is probably the most obvious market...but that's why Texas Central jumped in there first.  I actually think that in some respects, Brightline might have the better product from a public policy perspective insofar as it doesn't require total separation from other railroad operations (so you could probably work something out to use existing tracks on the endpoints...for example, accessing downtown Houston or connecting over to Fort Worth).

 

 

Seeing the present FEC service more or less sprang up from the ashes of the scuppered Florida HS project, maybe there is a precedent here should Texas Central fail.

 

Or even for FEC to use their lobbying arm to, um ... er ..., make it thus.



#2031 cirdan

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Posted 17 May 2018 - 07:27 AM


Atlanta-Charlotte and Chicago-St. Louis both make sense to me, though the latter would probably need Illinois to support them by not having a head-to-head fight with the Lincoln Service trains.  As strangely awesome as it would be to see Amtrak forced to go head-to-head with a private operator, I'd be worried about a cannibalized market situation.  An Atlanta hub actually raises the prospect of actually connecting to the Florida operation in the long(er) term.
 

 

Either that, or they are maybe thinking they could take over the Lincoln Service from Amtrak.



#2032 chrsjrcj

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Posted 17 May 2018 - 09:31 AM

I think Brightline captured lightning in a bottle with Fortress owning a real estate company and a railroad (now sold off). I can't see how expanding outside of Florida wouldn't result in a similar outcome to the AutoTrain after they opened their Sanford to Louisville route.

 

I suppose they could become an operator like Herzog, Keolis, Iowa Pacific, etc., but that requires having more Gene Skoropowskis (who retired last year) and less Disney people. 


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#2033 cirdan

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Posted 17 May 2018 - 09:41 AM

I think Brightline captured lightning in a bottle with Fortress owning a real estate company and a railroad (now sold off). I can't see how expanding outside of Florida wouldn't result in a similar outcome to the AutoTrain after they opened their Sanford to Louisville route.

 

I suppose they could become an operator like Herzog, Keolis, Iowa Pacific, etc., but that requires having more Gene Skoropowskis (who retired last year) and less Disney people. 

 

Maybe they can establish themselves more as a service company. They can talk to people who own a lot of real estate at strategic locations and offer to provide their know-how to increase the value of said real estate by adding a rail service. Either with the real estate owners contracting for the train servioce wholesale and not needing to get involved in the details, or just by Brightline being a middle.man or consultant and teaching them how to build such a service..


Edited by cirdan, 17 May 2018 - 09:42 AM.


#2034 jis

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Posted 17 May 2018 - 10:12 AM

I think all the talk of anything outside Florida is very pie in the sky, in the same category as Amtrak adding another LD train at this moment. Aspirations yes, but nothing beyond that yet.



#2035 Brian_tampa

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Posted 18 May 2018 - 08:38 AM

According to the GOAA monthly board meeting agenda and presentation from Wednesday, May 16, "AAF is working diligently" on obtaining financing for phase 2. In the presentation it says AAF plans to close on the financing deal by August/September 2018 and it will be 40% equity and 60% debt. Also, $200M has already been spent on phase 2. I would assume most of this amount is for the 5 new trainsets required for phase 2 operation.

Up through late April (?) It also claimed that 100,000 riders have used Brightline since it opened.

Main construction of phase 2 will begin in fall of 2018 with early construction work at MCO starting in July. That would include utility surveying and land preparation for the vehicle maintenance facility. AAF will have around 30 construction management employees based out of the ITF once construction ramps up.

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Edited by Brian_tampa, 18 May 2018 - 08:54 AM.

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#2036 Anderson

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Posted 19 May 2018 - 08:06 AM

On the first train out of Miami, waiting for departure.

 

One note: The trains are listed as sold out WPB-FLL.  That is patent nonsense as of the 0700 departure.  A friend in Smart FLL-MIA said his coach was about half empty, though Select was slam full.  Brightline may have fluffed their numbers a little on the outlying departures...I find it hard to believe they have sold out the late evening round trip (ridership dymamics being what they are).

 

Also, the vouchers for food/drink this weekend are a bit odd...not sure why they didn't just charge  $9.99 for Select and cut that out.


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Possibly Upcoming: Either Texas Eagle (1), Capitol Limited (1), Silver Meteor (2) or Texas Eagle (1), Capitol Limited (1), Silver Meteor (1)

#2037 jis

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Posted 19 May 2018 - 01:49 PM

Something to do with the mystical marketing symbolism of 305 I presume

The 11am out of WPB had some free seats to FLL, but from FLL it was completely full.

Now waiting to board my 3:10pm return trip from Miami.

#2038 Anderson

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Posted 19 May 2018 - 03:25 PM

...right.  $3 or $5.  Go figure....


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Upcoming: Silver Meteor (1), Lake Shore Limited (1), SW Chief (2), MO River Runner (1), Texas Eagle (1)

Possibly Upcoming: Either Texas Eagle (1), Capitol Limited (1), Silver Meteor (2) or Texas Eagle (1), Capitol Limited (1), Silver Meteor (1)

#2039 daybeers

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Posted 20 May 2018 - 01:06 AM

...and how was it?


Amtrak travel so far: only 10,881 miles: Springfield Shuttle (12), Northeast Regional (27), Acela (1), Lake Shore Limited (2), Pennsylvanian (2), Capitol Limited (1)

Ambus mileage (3 trips): 108

Other rail transit: WMATA (~870 miles), Metro-North, MTA, MBTA, Metra, CTA, RTA


#2040 jis

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Posted 21 May 2018 - 12:56 PM

I was on the 11am out of WPB on Saturday. The train left WPB probably about 80% full. Quite a few got off at Fort Lauderdale, but many more got on and the train appeared to leave Fort Lauderdale close to 100% full.

This time I was traveling in Smart, a first for me, since all my previous trips were in Select. Smart was actually surprisingly good.

There is a lot of track work still going on between Fort Lauderdale and Miami with all sorts of speed limits here and there. Interestingly, all grade crossing in Miami City limits were protected by flagmen, in addition to the regular barriers, suggesting that the barriers were not working reliably that day.

The climb up the ramp to the station was very slow. Only the extreme North end of the complex is currently open for operating the trains. The rest of the complex, including the entire planned commercial area/Mall is still under construction.

The Metromover Station Wilkie D. Ferguson Jr. is the most convenient to the Brightline Station, a walk of a short block from it. Currently no covered walkway, but upon completion of construction, there will be. The Metro Station Lyric Theater is adjacent to the Brightline Station, though there is no covered walkway connecting to it.

I took the Metromover to downtown and got a good lunch. It was drizzling off and on so not much chance to walk around without getting wet. Hence I took the opportunity to explore the entire Metromover system, before returning to the Birghtline station for my 3:10pm return trip to WPB.

The departure from Miami was again very slow, though exactly on time. Lot of stop and go for the first couple of miles. Then it picked up speed and arrived Fort Lauderdale just about on time. The train emptied out some there though there were significant number of hoardings there too. After a very solid run at track speed all the way to WPB we arrived there a good five minutes ahead of schedule.

It was a pleasant day of train riding. Brightline is in general a class operation so far.

 

Incidentally, four of the five consists were in circulation on Saturday. Two ran in the morning, and two others were apparently switched in in the afternoon.


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