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Brightline (FEC) Update


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#2201 Brian_tampa

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Posted 04 September 2018 - 04:46 PM

I believe they asked for proposals for the FECR segment earlier this year. FECI is always very methodical with stuff like this, so it is no surprise it took them 4-6 months to award the contract. Keep in mind that Orlando must be connected in order for the rest of the system to be profitable. They are, in my mind, at a point where they must finance phase 2 through the preferred PAB or RRIF loan mechanisms, or with higher cost private loans/equity. Phase 2 will happen no matter the outcome of the latest PAB lawsuit that the judge is considering at his moment.

 

I am sure the potential bidders were made aware of the risks when they were invited to bid on phase 2. I do wonder if Archer Western has the inside track now since they did the work on phase 1? 


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#2202 GBNorman

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Posted 04 September 2018 - 06:39 PM

A little off topic, but yesterday evening, we were at the light on Dixie Hwy. in Boca Raton, waiting to make a turn West onto Palmetto Park Blvd., when the train signals started flashing and the gates came down, all of a sudden a car coming south on Dixie Hwy. traveling fast went through the redlight on Dixie, made a right onto Palmetto Park, and crashed through the lowered gate. Surprisingly, the gate didn't break but wobbled upwards and then came back down. Within seconds, the Brightline train roared through on it's northward trip to West Palm.

Incredible how stupid some people are!


Scene of the crime.

S Dixie Hwy

https://goo.gl/maps/9LaUnDF1FDN2

#2203 Anderson

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Posted 17 September 2018 - 03:08 AM

So, we don't have published numbers for Q2 yet, but there's a nugget in this interview (where Mr. Goddard indicates that results will be released "this month"):
https://www.miamiher...e217799110.html

"Our ridership increased by 42 percent in the last quarter and revenue increased by 72 percent. We are on the right trajectory."

That would put ridership at about 106,200 [A] and revenue at $1,142,000 [B].  Some thoughts on those (presumed) figures:
-Ridership being up 42% is a mixed bag depending on what those numbers actually mean: It would translate into Miami's opening doubling ridership (more or less), but you have about 5-6k "excess" riders during Miami's opening weekend.  Likewise, Q1 had 78 days of revenue service (90 days in the quarter less 12 days in early January without service) while Q2 had 91 days of revenue service.  If you "throw out" the excess from that weekend (I think this is a fair adjustment) you're probably at a hair over 100k riders...which puts daily ridership up somewhere between 3% and 10% vs March.  To be fair, I'm more interested in June's ridership (no Miami startup weekend distortion),
and it's always possible that I'm misinterpreting these numbers.

--Also, when they added Miami they temporarily cut the number of trains on weekdays by two or three (due to trackwork).  That probably knocked ridership by a bit (going from, IIRC, 11/day to 8/day), so I can allow that as a partial defense of Brightline's "soggy" numbers.
-Revenue-wise, I'm encouraged by the bump in yield factors.  I would have expected a little bit more than the 21.2% bump there ($10.75 vs $8.88), but I think that's one place that Miami's opening weekend distorts things pretty badly.  If I throw out that weekend [C] PPR is $11.47 and the yield bump is 29.2%, which is a big swing.  I'm guessing that the post-Miami startup yield bump around 40-45% (again, half of the quarter is operating on the same terms as Q1).

Looking at the trend (and trying to control for Miami's opening weekend), my guess is that June's numbers are going to look something like this:
-Ridership: 40,000 (annual trend around 485,000)

-Revenue: $500,000 (annual trend around $6,100,000) to $540,000 (annual trend around $6,600,000)

-PPR: $12.50 (assuming a 40% bump per above) to $13.40 (assuming a 50% bump per above).

The good news is that revenue is trending the right way (June revenue would, under this picture, be a bit shy of Q1's revenue) and
there's definitely growth room in Q3 (with frequencies going back up and higher prices coming into play), especially if the higher ticket prices (and paid-for parking) stick.  A generous interpretation might allow monthly revenue into September to be over $1m (with 16x daily frequencies and higher fares) plus an indefinite amount of ancillary revenue from F&B sales and parking.  The bad news is that if I'm reading these numbers right, this is way below where they need to be for break-even.

I'm not going to lie, if the numbers I've crunched are right I'm a little bit worried about ridership.  I have little doubt there will be further ramp-up, but I'd really like to know what they were expecting if this is exceeding expectations.

Edit: Ok, I checked the Fitch report from December (https://www.fitchrat...site/pr/1033816) and I'm a little less worried.  Their "base case" had ridership in 2018 at 587,000 (I think we'll end up below that, but not by that much and I think there's a good chance we'll at least be "on trend" for that going into the fall).

[A] 1.42*74,780 and rounded to the nearest 100 riders

[B] 1.72*663,700 and rounded to the nearest $1000

[C] I'm removing 9,500 riders and $33,250 in revenue.  I presume an average ticket yield of about $3.50 (Select was $5 and Smart was $3) and going with 36 one-way frequencies over two days and allowing for some WPB-FLL traffic, I think 9,500 riders is a reasonable overall estimate (the 575 riders it presumes FLL-WPB is a bit low, but I think Brightline blocking out trains on the northern end despite scads of space being available probably hit ridership on that section).


Edited by Anderson, 17 September 2018 - 04:06 AM.

Amtrak mileage to date: Somewhere between 120,000 and 150,000 miles...I /really/ need to run all of my trips through a calculator sometime.

...and no, I am not /that/ Anderson...;-)


#2204 Anderson

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Posted 17 September 2018 - 03:37 AM

Another, substantially different observation:
Running a search for next week, I get the following times available (by day):
Southbound, from WPB:

      M T W R F S U
0530: X X X X X   
0600: X X X X X   
0700: X X X X X X X
0800: X X X X X   
0900: X X X X X X X
1000: X X X X X   
1100: X X X X X X X
1200: X X X X X   
1300:           X X
1400: X X X X X   
1500: X X X X X X X
1600: X X X X X   
1700: X X X X X X X
1800: X X X X X   
1900: X X X X X X X
2000: X X X X X   
2100: X X X X X X X

NB: When searching for this week, I get fewer frequencies.  Monday isn't showing an 0530 (I will blame this on it being only an hour out).  Frequencies between 0800 and 1400 (inclusive) are pushed forwards by 15 minutes, and in addition to 0530, the 1100 and 1500 trains are missing (1300 is also missing, but that's standard above).  Tuesday thru Thursday show the above, but with the 0530 frequency back in (again, I'm blaming when I'm running the search).  Friday shows normal service.

Northbound, from MIA:

      M T W R F S U
0713: X X X X X   
0813: X X X X X   
0913: X X X X X X X
1013: X X X X X   
1113: X X X X X X X
1213: X X X X X   
1313: X X X X X X X
1413: X X X X X   
1513:           X X
1613: X X X X X   
1713: X X X X X X X
1813: X X X X X    
1913: X X X X X X X
2013: X X X X X   
2113: X X X X X X X
2213: X X X X X   
2313: X X X X X X

NB: There is no corresponding 15-minute shift in the northbound trains and no missing frequency to correspond to the missing 0530.  However, the regularly-scheduled trains at 1113 and 1313 are also missing (corresponding to the above).

Does anyone know what's up with the 15-minute shift and/or the two "missing" round trips?

Also, the 1813 from Miami on Thursday shows Select already sold out.


Edited by Anderson, 17 September 2018 - 03:40 AM.

Amtrak mileage to date: Somewhere between 120,000 and 150,000 miles...I /really/ need to run all of my trips through a calculator sometime.

...and no, I am not /that/ Anderson...;-)


#2205 cirdan

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Posted 17 September 2018 - 04:25 AM

 

Does anyone know what's up with the 15-minute shift and/or the two "missing" round trips?
 

 

 

 

No, but i would assume that in view of ongoing experience and possible problems being identified, that they are going to contiinue tweaking and fine-tuning the timetable.

 

I guess this is fairly normal for an all new service serving a market that was not previosuly accustomed to anything comparable.



#2206 Anderson

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Posted 17 September 2018 - 04:59 PM

 

 

Does anyone know what's up with the 15-minute shift and/or the two "missing" round trips?
 

 

 

 

No, but i would assume that in view of ongoing experience and possible problems being identified, that they are going to contiinue tweaking and fine-tuning the timetable.

 

I guess this is fairly normal for an all new service serving a market that was not previosuly accustomed to anything comparable.

 

Well, and of course it might be construction/track work of some sort.


Amtrak mileage to date: Somewhere between 120,000 and 150,000 miles...I /really/ need to run all of my trips through a calculator sometime.

...and no, I am not /that/ Anderson...;-)


#2207 Anderson

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Posted 18 September 2018 - 02:54 AM

So, I got curious about the ridership numbers at this point and spent the last hour tallying occupied seats on Brightline for tomorrow.  Noting that the 0530 isn't showing up for tomorrow out of WPB, I tallied up the number of occupied seats on each train.  A note: Based on what I have seen, there's a good chance that Brightline is selling at least a modest number of day-of-travel and/or walk-up tickets, so these numbers may be a little on the low side (especially later in the day...as things stand, if I'm going to Miami for dinner I have absolutely no reason to pick a train back north before I get done with dinner...the chance of a sellout seems painfully remote).

There are no real surprises in the overarching ridership patterns, but the numbers are a fair bit lower than I was expecting.  Overall, 578 seats show as sold (ignoring any possible wheelchair spaces).  Of these, 446 (77.2%) are in Smart, 49 (8.5%) are in SmartPLUS, and 83 (14.4%) are in Select.  Note that I only checked Miami-West Palm, so I don't know how many riders are for the full length versus one part or the other.  Also note that it seems possible that the large group may or may not be quite that size.

If I presume that the ridership divides evenly between partial riders and full-length riders and presuming no discounts, revenue would be $7805 for Smart, $1102.50 for SmartPlus, and $2905 for Select for a total of $11,812.50.  This would, in turn, generate a PPR of $20.44...but on WAY lower ridership than I would expect.

Please note that I'm going to try to run tallies for the rest of the week, as well as to check tallies in the middle of the day and/or the afternoon for later-in-the-day trains.

Seat counts:
Select (F): 48 seats (plus one wheelchair seat)
-$40 MIA-PBI, $30 MIA-FLL/FLL-PBI
Smart Plus (W): 32 seats (plus two wheelchair seats)
-$25 MIA-PBI, $20 MIA-FLL/FLL-PBI
Smart (Y): 160 seats (plus four wheelchair seats)'
-$20 MIA-PBI, $15 MIA-FLL/FLL-PBI
NB: I cannot account for the wheelchair seats, as they show as "blocked" for me as a non-handicapped pax.

Southbound, 18 Sep 18:
0600:  1 F,  2 W, 15 Y
0700:  7 F,  3 W, 52 Y
0815:  5 F,  4 W, 37 Y
0915:  3 F,  2 W,  7 Y
1015: 10 F,  4 W,  9 Y
1215:  3 F,  4 W,  9 Y
1415:  3 F,  1 W,  8 Y
1600:  3 F,  2 W,  7 Y
1700:  1 F,  0 W, 19 Y
1800:  3 F,  0 W, 13 Y
1900:  0 F,  0 W,  2 Y
2000:  0 F,  2 W, 53 Y*
2100:  6 F,  0 W,  3 Y
All:  45 F, 24 W, 234 Y

*The back car is blocked out except for one row.

Northbound, 18 Sep 18:
0713:  4 F,  2 W, 18 Y
0813:  0 F,  2 W, 12 Y
0913:  0 F,  3 W,  2 Y
1013:  2 F,  1 W,  7 Y
1213:  5 F,  3 W,  7 Y
1413:  9 F,  1 W,  9 Y
1613:  3 F,  6 W, 80 Y*
1713:  8 F,  2 W, 31 Y
1813:  4 F,  4 W, 31 Y
1913:  2 F,  0 W,  4 Y
2013:  0 F,  1 W,  1 Y
2113:  1 F,  0 W,  1 Y
2213:  0 F,  0 W,  6 Y
2313:  0 F,  0 W,  3 Y
All:  38 F, 25 W, 212 Y

*The back car is blocked out except for two seats.  Looks like there's a group going north for dinner...

Amusing note: Go to the seatmap on any Brightline train and hover a cursor over a table.  A picture of a table appears, alright...and if you look very closely, you can see that it's a table set for four with Empire Builder menus.


Edited by Anderson, 18 September 2018 - 03:11 AM.

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Amtrak mileage to date: Somewhere between 120,000 and 150,000 miles...I /really/ need to run all of my trips through a calculator sometime.

...and no, I am not /that/ Anderson...;-)


#2208 Anderson

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Posted 18 September 2018 - 04:47 AM

Speaking to my suspicion that Brightline might be walkup-heavy, a check between 0538 and 0542 showed:
0600 at 0 F, 2 W, and 21 Y (-1 F, +/-W, +6 Y)
0700 at 7 F, 3 W, and 53 Y(+/-F, +/-W, +1 Y)

Given that the 0530 is apparently Schrodinger's Train, it is possible that the missing F ticket walked on to that one if it ran.

Edit: At 0550, just as the train was about to vanish from the booking system, it was up to 0/2/22 seats filled WPB-MIA.  FLL-MIA is showing 1/1/22 at the moment (for the departure in about half an hour).  I'm going to try to stay up for another 20-25 minutes to see how that develops.

Edit2: As of 0620, it's up to 1/1/24 out of FLL.  Also, the 0713 out of Miami is up to 4/2/21 with about 40 minutes left.

Edit3: Making a final call, the 0600 seems to have ultimately produced 1 F, 2 W, and about 24 Y sales...with one third of those sales occurring in the final few hours.  The 0700 (which closes online sales out of WPB in about 15 minutes) is currently sitting at 8 F, 3 W, 67 Y (so now +1 F, +/-W, +14 Y), so about 20% of those sales will have occurred in the final hour (probably close to 25%, given the room for additional FLL-MIA sales for an additional 30 minutes).  The 0713 is also up to 23 Y.

Edit4: With about 2 minutes left, the 0700 is at 8 F, 3 W, and 73Y (+1 F and +21 Y from my late night check).  So over a quarter of the tickets (and almost 30% of the Y tickets) were walk-ups.  Out of FLL and into MIA it has 69 Y taken, but the seats taken are a bit different (there are some seats that show as taken here that weren't for the whole run and v-v).  My guess is that in the end, the figure of one third of tickets selling in the 60-90 minutes prior to departure remains fairly common.

Edit5: As of 0700, here are revised tallies for the "morning rush" trains:

Southbound, 18 Sep 18:
0600:  1 F,  2 W, 24 Y FINAL     (+9)
0700:  8 F,  3 W, 73 Y FINAL/WPB (+22)*
0815:  6 F,  4 W, 41 Y           (+5)
**Add an additional +12 FLL-MIA after WPB closed sales.

Northbound, 18 Sep 18:
0713:  4 F,  2 W, 33 Y FINAL/MIA (+15)
0813:  1 F,  2 W, 12 Y

I won't be able to grab numbers for all the trains, but I'm feeling a LOT better about Brightline's numbers all of a sudden.

Edited by Anderson, 18 September 2018 - 06:20 AM.

Amtrak mileage to date: Somewhere between 120,000 and 150,000 miles...I /really/ need to run all of my trips through a calculator sometime.

...and no, I am not /that/ Anderson...;-)


#2209 Anderson

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Posted 18 September 2018 - 04:15 PM

So, I was tallying seats for the afternoon rush and my computer didn't properly shut down, taking the data for the trains at 4 PM out of Miami/West Palm with it.  I recall roughly those numbers and was able to reconstruct them partially using data from Fort Lauderdale for a few trains.
 

Southbound, 18 Sep 18
1600  8 F,  7 W,  14 Y  (checked FLL-MIA)
1600  8 F,  7 W,  20 Y  (recollection)
1700  1 F,  2 W,  26 Y  (checked FLL-MIA)
1800  8 F,  3 W,  19 Y
1900  1 F,  2 W,   2 Y
2000  0 F,  3 W,  64 Y
2100  7 F,  0 W,   8 Y

Northbound, 18 Sep 18
1613 13 F,  9 W, 104 Y  (checked FLL-PBI)
1613 13 F,  8 W, 110 Y  (recollection)
1713 13 F,  4 W,  70 Y
1813  6 F,  9 W,  63 Y
1913  3 F,  2 W,  10 Y
2013  0 F,  2 W,   2 Y
2113  1 F,  0 W,   4 Y
2213  1 F,  1 W,   9 Y
2313  0 F,  2 W,   5 Y

NB: The above chart has "last-minute" checks on trains between 1600-1800 SB and 1613-1813 NB

Edited by Anderson, 18 September 2018 - 04:56 PM.

Amtrak mileage to date: Somewhere between 120,000 and 150,000 miles...I /really/ need to run all of my trips through a calculator sometime.

...and no, I am not /that/ Anderson...;-)


#2210 jis

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Posted 06 October 2018 - 10:36 AM

A Brightline double consist move this morning...

 


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#2211 frequentflyer

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Posted 11 October 2018 - 01:56 PM

A Brightline double consist move this morning...

 

Why?



#2212 jis

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Posted 11 October 2018 - 02:01 PM

Equipment positioning deadhead.



#2213 cpotisch

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Posted 11 October 2018 - 02:56 PM

Is there a reason that Brightline specifically wanted to have two locomotives on each consist? Couldn't they have put one loco on each consist and have some kind of aerodynamic cab car at the other end or something? Just seems like a bit of a waist to have two locomotives totaling 8,000 horsepower on a four car single-level consist. I mean an Empire Service can reach 110 mph with a single 3,200 horsepower engine...


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#2214 VentureForth

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Posted 11 October 2018 - 03:11 PM

Is there a reason that Brightline specifically wanted to have two locomotives on each consist? Couldn't they have put one loco on each consist and have some kind of aerodynamic cab car at the other end or something? Just seems like a bit of a waist to have two locomotives totaling 8,000 horsepower on a four car single-level consist. I mean an Empire Service can reach 110 mph with a single 3,200 horsepower engine...


And with no terrain to deal with. I've thought the same. An awful amount of extra weight to carry. Even if the consists are planned to grow... In a decade...
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#2215 Pere Flyer

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Posted 11 October 2018 - 04:14 PM

Is there a reason that Brightline specifically wanted to have two locomotives on each consist? Couldn't they have put one loco on each consist and have some kind of aerodynamic cab car at the other end or something? Just seems like a bit of a waist to have two locomotives totaling 8,000 horsepower on a four car single-level consist. I mean an Empire Service can reach 110 mph with a single 3,200 horsepower engine...

I’d imagine it’s for the A E S T H E T I C
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#2216 VentureForth

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Posted 11 October 2018 - 04:17 PM

Which is why I prefer equally distributed electrical power to every bogie, ala Shinkansen. :P
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#2217 AGM.12

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Posted 11 October 2018 - 07:03 PM

From www.cato.org/live there was an hour or so long broadcast of a panel discussion on the topic of Randal O'Toole's book Romance of the rails. Why the passenger trains we love are not the transportation we need. In Mr. O'Toole's opening remarks he mentioned some private passenger operations such as the Rocky Mountaineer, White pass and Yukon as well as Brightline. These were cited as examples of passenger operations that could arise if Amtrak circled the drain.



#2218 Anderson

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Posted 11 October 2018 - 10:29 PM

On the consist:
Right now, the trains are four cars.  Two locos is probably overkill for that (though it means there's one working if the other dies on you), but the plans are to have trains get up to about 8-9 cars (I don't think there are plans for the trains to be any longer).  At that point, I think there's at least some case to be had that better acceleration is to be had with the second loco.


Amtrak mileage to date: Somewhere between 120,000 and 150,000 miles...I /really/ need to run all of my trips through a calculator sometime.

...and no, I am not /that/ Anderson...;-)


#2219 cirdan

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Posted 12 October 2018 - 04:18 AM

Equipment positioning deadhead.

 

Could they theoretically run this with passengers?

 

Some TGV services leave Paris with two sets coupled but then split at some intermediate station and go their separate ways.

 

Maybe Brightline could do something similar when they are running from Miami to both Jacksonville and Tampa.



#2220 jis

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Posted 12 October 2018 - 06:53 AM

Equipment positioning deadhead.

 
Could they theoretically run this with passengers?
 
Some TGV services leave Paris with two sets coupled but then split at some intermediate station and go their separate ways.
 
Maybe Brightline could do something similar when they are running from Miami to both Jacksonville and Tampa.
Yes. Someday they could.




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