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Brightline (FEC) Update


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#921 Alex M.

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Posted 12 May 2015 - 08:49 AM

If successful, both ridership and financially, what would be the likelihood of AAF taking over Tri-Rail operations?



#922 jis

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Posted 12 May 2015 - 08:53 AM

If successful, both ridership and financially, what would be the likelihood of AAF taking over Tri-Rail operations?

Very low to none. At least that is the impression I got talking to the AAF folks the last time I talked to them. They really do not want to be in the business of running anything other than their own higher speed service(s).



#923 Anderson

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Posted 12 May 2015 - 10:25 AM

 

If successful, both ridership and financially, what would be the likelihood of AAF taking over Tri-Rail operations?

Very low to none. At least that is the impression I got talking to the AAF folks the last time I talked to them. They really do not want to be in the business of running anything other than their own higher speed service(s).

 

This is my feeling as well.  This isn't to say that you might not see some interlining deals of some kind or another, but the management would probably be separate.

 

AAF adding 2-3 more stations in South Florida doesn't mean they're going to magically be running commuter trains (and neither does it mean that all trains will make all stops).  Moreover, Tri-Rail will likely be priced below profitability for political reasons (expect a running clash over fares between them...Tri-Rail tried to get AAF to agree to lock their lowest fares to a multiple of Tri-Rail's fares, and AAF will probably want the opposite).


Edited by Anderson, 12 May 2015 - 10:25 AM.

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#924 jis

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Posted 12 May 2015 - 10:30 AM

Basically TriRail will set fares that politics can bear, whereas AAF will set fares that market will bear while covering their costs and hopefully making a decent return.



#925 cirdan

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Posted 12 May 2015 - 11:16 AM

Basically TriRail will set fares that politics can bear, whereas AAF will set fares that market will bear while covering their costs and hopefully making a decent return.

 

If (as has repeatdely been stated) AAF operations are just a lever to improve the performance of FEC's real estate portfolio, then surely having Tri-Rail share the Miami terminus (and maybe in future other sites too) is just an additional leverage in bringing in additional clients and hence boosting the value of said real estate portfolio. And seeing that in contrast to AAF, TriRail is not costing FEC anything, it's ultimately the more attractive half of the proposition.

 

Although maybe on the other hand AAF clients are a richer demographic, and hence more likely to spend big dollars while waiting for their train. Only time can tell.


Edited by cirdan, 12 May 2015 - 11:17 AM.


#926 VentureForth

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Posted 12 May 2015 - 11:58 AM

Thank you for all pointing out that Tri Rail is wanting to run on FEC. That's not what I called nonsense. What is ridiculous is that they feel the need to run a 2nd line just a mile apart from their existing line. Granted, that distance spreads when you get closer to Miami, and the current line is limited to the airport.

But as mentioned above, I wouldn't think FEC would want Tri Rail to foul their high speed ops with their commuter traffic. If I were FEC, I'd gently ask them to keep their dirty wheels off my track.

Sounds like a grand plan by government to take over private business - or bully them into cooperating. Interestingly, according to that 2nd link to the Tri Rail Coastal Link, the Green Line would go up to Jupiter - one of the major opponents to the AAF project.

This would also add 18 stops between WPB and MIA and 5 more North of WPB. Is FEC going to build a high speed bypass at EVERY one of those stations so they don't stay cluttered while tring to run AAF every 30 minutes?

Edited by VentureForth, 12 May 2015 - 12:06 PM.

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#927 Palmetto

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Posted 12 May 2015 - 01:06 PM

Venture Forth has an interesting perspective.  Anyone know if a scheduling matrix has been done to see how mixing Tri-Rail and AAF would work out. 



#928 Anderson

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Posted 12 May 2015 - 03:06 PM

Venture Forth has an interesting perspective.  Anyone know if a scheduling matrix has been done to see how mixing Tri-Rail and AAF would work out. 

I think there was some (unpublished) poking at this...and it resulted in AAF seriously ramping up demands for track improvements.  Hence my earlier ask on fourth tracks and the like.


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#929 jis

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Posted 12 May 2015 - 03:18 PM

AAF will have one tph (well maybe eventually two) in each direction. Tri rail will have 2 to 4 tph in each direction. They will be required to add a third track for their service. They could run 2 to 4 tph in each direction purely on a single track with passing sidings if need be. It really does not take the figuring out of a huge scheduling matrix to see that triple track for about 5.5 tph  (0.5tph for freight) is way more than adequate. We are talking of basically a non-existent problem. If 5 tph on triple track were a problem for 1to 2 tph of 100mph train mixed in with 4 tph of commuter trains, all of NEC would be at a standstill due to congestion today.

 

For some reason people simply refuse to believe what is know to be part of the plan and cook up problems based on contrived setups so that we can have a fun discussion I suppose.

 

Frankly there will be mutiny in the towns that FEC passes through due to excessive time spent in closed grade crossings due to too many trains before there is a congestion problem due to lack of track capacity on the FEC if they build out according to current plans.


Edited by jis, 12 May 2015 - 03:22 PM.


#930 Anderson

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Posted 12 May 2015 - 05:48 PM

AAF will have one tph (well maybe eventually two) in each direction. Tri rail will have 2 to 4 tph in each direction. They will be required to add a third track for their service. They could run 2 to 4 tph in each direction purely on a single track with passing sidings if need be. It really does not take the figuring out of a huge scheduling matrix to see that triple track for about 5.5 tph  (0.5tph for freight) is way more than adequate. We are talking of basically a non-existent problem. If 5 tph on triple track were a problem for 1to 2 tph of 100mph train mixed in with 4 tph of commuter trains, all of NEC would be at a standstill due to congestion today.

 

For some reason people simply refuse to believe what is know to be part of the plan and cook up problems based on contrived setups so that we can have a fun discussion I suppose.

 

Frankly there will be mutiny in the towns that FEC passes through due to excessive time spent in closed grade crossings due to too many trains before there is a congestion problem due to lack of track capacity on the FEC if they build out according to current plans.

Jis,

I got my train counts off of two sources.  One is this:
http://tri-railcoast...ve_Analysis.pdf

The other is the demands FEC put out there when SFRTA raised the issue in the last year or two.


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#931 jis

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Posted 12 May 2015 - 06:07 PM

Yes. Even if they manage to do every service that they talk about it will be at most 10tph (including AAF's 2tph assumed) on FEC. 3 mains tracks plus passing tracks at judiciously chosen stations would be way more than adequate to handle net net 6 min headway in each direction. Though typically the 4 tph will most likely be in the prevailing rush direction for each of those service and not in both direction. They would probably be better off keeping the freights away during the rush hours. FEC will definitely require a third main for any Tri-Rail service tog et on FEC. This I have heard in no uncertain terms. As for whether they will require a fourth track in certain places is an open issue. But given the traffic that people are talking of, such is probably not required. Even Indian Railways with pretty antiquated signaling system manages to run 10 tph on three tracks with a mix of slow stopping EMUs and fast non-stop expresses over similar route lengths.



#932 Brian_tampa

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Posted 12 May 2015 - 06:57 PM

AAF to build even if it can't obtain tax exempt bonds. This is AAF's way of telling the Treasure Coast that they won't stop the project!

From the TC Palm this afternoon:

http://www.tcpalm.co...locked_42798460

Indian River Countys effort to derail All Aboard Florida by blocking its financing wont stop the project, according to court documents. It only will make it more expensive.

All Aboard Florida and the U.S. Department of Transportation on Monday asked a federal judge to deny Indian River Countys attempt to temporarily block the sale of $1.75 billion of tax-exempt bonds. That money would fund most of the $3 billion project.

The county previously claimed that All Aboard Florida and DOT, which in December gave preliminary approval to bond issuance, violated environmental laws by approving the financing before receiving final federal approval.

The countys March 31 lawsuit asks the court to invalidate DOTs decision and prevent sale of the bonds until the federal requirements have been met.

A hearing on the preliminary-injunction request is set for May 29 in Washington, D.C.

An injunction, depending on its duration, could permanently block tax-exempt funding for All Aboard Florida. DOTs approval is conditional on All Aboard Florida selling its bonds by July 1.

All Aboard Florida previously has called the $1.75 billion of private-activity bonds the linchpin of the project. In Mondays court documents, however, attorneys said the bonds are the best, but not the only option available.

All Aboard Florida already has invested hundreds of millions of dollars, according to the defendants response.

If denied private-activity bonds, All Aboard Florida likely would seek traditional bonds at an increased cost of $277 million to $394 million, according to the defendants filing.

Government agencies also are deeply invested theyve contributed to station infrastructure and track-crossing safety upgrades and also would see increased costs if the private-activity bonds are denied.

All Aboard Florida plans to run 32 trains a day between Miami and Orlando by 2017. It previously said it would use bond financing to purchase equipment and upgrade and build new tracks.

Edit: my thought is that the same potential buyers of PABs have been offered a traditional bond but with higher yield. It appears that AAF has buyers lined up for the whole $1.75B bond sale - reports say the PABs will be sold by June 8. That is why AAF knows the cost differential. Expect to see either type of bond sale to take place quickly in the next month.

Edited by Brian_tampa, 12 May 2015 - 07:20 PM.


#933 chrsjrcj

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Posted 23 May 2015 - 08:24 PM

http://www.allaboard...e-(5-25---5-28)

 

If I am to understand the media advisory, the new track they are installing is the new freight bypass which will be necessary for when station work begins (and I'm assuming once it completes too). I assume they will be re-configuring the existing mainline track once the bypass is up and running. 



#934 Paulus

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Posted 28 May 2015 - 01:55 PM

A high speed train between South Florida and Orlando would eventually attract 7 million riders a year and generate $400 million in revenue, according to report released today by All Aboard Florida.

Anyone able to track down a link to that report?

#935 Brian_tampa

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Posted 28 May 2015 - 04:22 PM

Here is the link to the full 150+ page report. Thanks to TC Palm linking to it on their online story this afternoon:

https://s3.amazonaws...projections.pdf

It is a rather impressive detailed report of how they came up with the numbers. Most interesting was the ridership breakout toward the end showing where the riders would come from. They have special events, South American visitors, UCF students, and others broken out for each year and by area of travel. Definitely a good read. It has cleared a lot of things up for me.

Edited by Brian_tampa, 28 May 2015 - 04:23 PM.


#936 Brian_tampa

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Posted 28 May 2015 - 09:08 PM

Just saw this online tonight. This is the most detailed information about AAF financing I have seen yet:

http://www.eb5visa-p...ida-project.php


The segment between WPB and Miami will cost $1.3 Billion according to this investor site involved with raising money for AAF. $252 million is for the rolling stock - not sure if that is for the initial order for 5 train sets or for all 10 train sets? And Siemens is loaning AAF $141 million as well. Will the ultimate train operator also contribute equity to the project I wonder?

The stations costs are also $250 million or so. Rail infrastructure upgrades are $217 million and "rail easement costs" are $343 million. Would that be the cost that AAF is paying back to FECI/FECR to use the ROW? That seems rather high... Maybe it's a way that FRCI/Fortress can protect their investment by demanding such a large amount from AAF?

Seems like a major source of financing is through the EB5 visa program where wealthy investors in projects in the USA can obtain green cards or citizenship through their investments. A Canadian company (CanAm Enterprises, LLC) is raising $300 million in funds to go toward AAF initial segment. No word on what the second phase north to Orlando will cost!

This is definitely very interesting stuff!

#937 Paulus

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Posted 28 May 2015 - 10:54 PM

I'm thinking it must be for all ten sets. Great find.

If it's for all ten sets, it comes out to ~$2M even for the coach cars. More likely I suspect that the $141.3 million equals 100% financing for the coach cars.

Edited by Paulus, 28 May 2015 - 11:10 PM.


#938 Anderson

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Posted 29 May 2015 - 12:22 AM

I've spent the last few hours devouring a good portion of the AAF report.  Honestly, it looks solid (even if there are a few areas that we all know the numbers can be fudged in the assumptions).  One of the oddball surprises in the report was mentioning 14x daily r/t instead of 16x daily r/t (with departures starting at 0500 and running until 1900) with a time of 3:15 en route versus 3:00 which I believe had been touted before.  I /know/ the frequency reduction is a change; I'm slightly less certain on the time increase, but I'd still put my certainty at about 75% (if for no other reason than I recall us crunching numbers and getting average speeds of about 80 MPH).

Mild comic relief shows up in asking people about "intercity rail" and getting lots of folks talking about commuter rail or subways (the latter probably being people not distinguishing between "intercity" and "inner city"; FWIW, that distinction would have been lost on me long ago so I'm not exactly surprised that it was an issue.  Best thing they migh have done there is asked for people to name the intercity rail folks had taken in an attempt to be more clear).

The ramp-up estimates look good...the Eurostar is the better comparison than the Acela because the Acela was built on a pre-existing high-frequency service (the Metroliner); the Lynchburger likewise behaved a lot like the Acela (though it only had one trip per day, it was "doubling" the Crescent over its run and there was some immediate ridership shuffling).

On fares, it's interesting looking at where AAF expects to fall...namely, right around comparalowble-distance Regional fares.  It is also interesting seeing Amtrak's yield factors plotted out...and seeing cases on the left side of the chart where it is pretty obvious that Amtrak is shoving fares into the stratosphere in an attempt to avoid having short-hop traffic crowd out longer-haul passengers.  Of note, AAF does much the same in the MIA-FLL market (where lower fares would risk "crashing the system" with demand).

Something worth noting is that Fort Lauderdale tends to be an "expensive" air market compared to Orlando (Miami, due to its international gateway status, is a different animal entirelt).  It seems that AAF is serious about making a play for getting passengers to consider flying to MCO instead of FLL and then using a train to bridge that last link.  At least quickly punching in some options from Virginia to MCO/FLL, Orlando does tend to have more options than Fort Lauderdale (there are about 20% more flight takeoffs/landings at MCO than at FLL, with about 50% more passengers).

Moving onto the ridership projections, it's pretty clear that the results correspond roughly to the "Management Case" in one of the previous reports.  With that in mind, let's have some fun, shall we?

2020: Going off of a 400-seat train with 14x daily round-trips (or put another way, 28x daily one-way trips) running 365 days per year there are 4,088,000 seats available on any single segment of the route throughout the year [1].  In 2020, AAF's ridership figures kick out load factors of 61.99% MCO-WPB, 91.22% WPB-FLL, and 71.80% FLL-MIA. [2]  To be quite frank, I find a load factor of over 90% to be almost totally unbelievable.  
2030: Again going off a 400-seat train with 14x daily round-trips/28x daily one-way trips running 365 days per year, there will still be 4,088,000 seats available on each segment.  Going with AAF's figures again, the load factors are 86.36% MCO-WPB, 119.15% WPB-FLL, and 93.41% FLL-MIA.  The MCO-WPB and FLL-MIA numbers are borderline fanciful while the WPB-FLL figures would imply that even though two objects cannot occupy the same space, AAF is expecting two passengers to occupy the same seat quite a good share of the time.

The short version is that the ridership stats do not line up with the space that AAF would have available.  Assuming that a practical limit on overall load factors for the service is around 85% in the peak WPB-FLL segment (and a bit lower on the other segments), AAF would need about 300,000 extra seats in 2020 and 1.64m extra seats in 2030 to make this work out.  I think 85% is a bit on the high side to be honest, but it seems within the realm of possibility; part of the issue, of course, is that many riders simply are not able to randomly move their reservation to the 0500 train or the 1900 train on the basis of space availability; I'm also looking at the fact that (on the basis of experience in the Northeast but accounting for FL being at least somewhat different) ridership tends to be a bit lower on Saturdays and Sundays (as well as some holidays) and there's some seasonal variation that you can't get around (e.g. look at NE Regional ridership in January versus July).  Again, FL is not the Northeast...but while some of those trends will smooth out and/or get inverted, such variations will always be present.

My best guess is that (A) AAF will edge its way back up to 16x daily round-trips and/or (B) AAF will seriously look into running additional MIA-WPB trains.  In particular, the possibility of running at least an extra 4-6x daily round-trips on this segment not only seems plausible, it seems almost more likely than not...especially since if the first train leaves MCO at 0500, it won't get to WPB until around 0700 and there's probably a market for an earlier departure or two; the same holds for evening returns out of MIA...if there's a market for a 2215 arrival into MCO there's probably a market for a departure or two after 1900 from MIA bound just for WPB.  In particular, extra peak-period trains MIA-WPB would allow AAF to clear out space for MCO-bound pax on the through train with higher short-hop prices while not losing those riders to do so.  Please note that in considering some of these stats, I'm ignoring

To be fair, going to 500 seats per train would go some distance towards solving the load factor issue...but without adding frequencies, AAF is still looking at a load factor of 95.32% WPB-FLL...and I just don't buy that high a load factor over all 365 days of the year (and frankly, over 14 hours of departure most days; the Acela doesn't exactly have the 0500 departure leave WAS slam full, after all).  Of course, with the report explicitly noting the ridership potential of "special events" it is quite possible that AAF is planning to have significant service outside of their baseline hourly service.

[1] The calculation is (400)*(28)*(365).
[2] Ridership numbers are 2,534,100 on the MCO-WPB segment (which equals the long-distance ridership), 3,729,000 on the WPB-FLL segment (which loses the MCO-WPB ridership but adds WPB-FLL and WPB-MIA), and 2,935,300 on the FLL-MIA segment (which loses the MCO-FLL and WPB-FLL ridership but adds FLL-MIA).

 

Edit: Brian, brilliant find on the visa stuff...and points to the hedgies over at Fortress for coming up with that one!


Edited by Anderson, 29 May 2015 - 12:23 AM.

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#939 cirdan

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Posted 29 May 2015 - 02:41 AM

Thanks Anderson for that very detailed analysis.

 

I'm guessing special events means either extra cars attached to trains or even special trains being run, which would explain capacity figures of over 100%.

 

They may also be planning on a hybrid model of seat reservations as SNCF has. Basically you cannot board a TGV if you don't have a seat reservation and this way they can do yield management and use prices to manage occupancy, a bit like airlines do. But in addition, SNCF has the concept that under certain conditions you can board anyway, even if you don't have a reservation. For example if you are a season ticket holder or have a certain loyalty card status. In this case you can either walk through the train and look for an empty seat, or if you don't find one, sit in the bar car (which is what many people do anyway, even if they have a reserved seat elsewhere) or sit on one of the jumper seats in the vestibules. On a busy say such a train can thus have an occupancy of maybe 120%.



#940 jis

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Posted 29 May 2015 - 09:01 AM

I also wonder whether it is etched in stone that past 2020 they will stick with exactly 10 trainsets and exactly 14 roundtrips and nothing else. I would find that somewhat astounding if the projected ridership numbers actually pan out.






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