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Is Private Rail the Future for Regional Routes?


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#61 Bob Dylan

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Posted 17 February 2017 - 10:25 AM

In theory the private/public partnership for commuter/State rail is ideal since this is the model we currently are using in this country in many places.LD Trains are another kettle of fish however.

In reality when the profit motive enters the picture, the subsidies required by government greatly increase the costs in order for the private entity to show a profit. Cases in point, Class I Railroads throwing in the towel on Passenger rail in the late 60s and early 70s bringing about the creation of Amtrak, and the recent financial fiasco for IP on the Hoosier State contract.

With the current political climate, and considering the costs that would be involved, I can't see this happening with LD Trains.

To paraphrase an old saying: How do you turn a large fortune into a smaller one?

Answer:Invest in Passenger Rail. YMMV
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#62 Ryan

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Posted 17 February 2017 - 12:45 PM

I don't think that many of us are ruling out a public/private partnership. Any way that government can take some tax dollars and slip some of them to lining contributors pockets, they will.

The objection is your impervious stance on the facts that underlie your conclusion.
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#63 A Voice

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Posted 17 February 2017 - 12:56 PM

In keeping with the open exchange of ideas and opinions;  I would like to clarify my point before many of the posters here suffer from high blood pressure. What I really believe will happen is a public/private partnership on some LD Amtrak routes. Amtrak has something like 30 million passengers that travel every year and the government is always looking to save money, especially when the name Amtrak comes up. . Now consider the perpetual lack of sufficient funding for the service, the thinking of current leadership in the house, senate, oval office and the position to rebuild Americas transportation infrastructure. It is reasonable to believe that Amtrak will continue on but why should we rule out a public/private partnership? Its just an opinion and a prediction but is this really so far out of the question? if so explain why this will not happen.

 

While I disagree with your conclusion regarding a public/private partnership, it was not that your position was wholly  unreasonable - indeed, there have been proposals for a private entity to operate three such routes under contract.   Predictably, such a plan has gone nowhere.  

 

The main objection was that your conclusions were based upon a false assumption - that Amtrak's roster of long-distance train equipment was shrinking and would soon become inadequate to meet current requirements.  That's not the case, but nor was it ever a prerequisite for private operation of passenger rail.

 

Among the bigger stumbling blocks to such a plan is just what private entities would want (and be qualified with a workable plan - note Corridor Capital and arguably Iowa Pacific) to bid on such an operation, and how a profit-seeking organization could run the train route for less money than Amtrak and still make a profit doing so (not many for-profit companies looking to invest in a money-losing opportunity).  There really is no free lunch; I am not convinced a private company would see cost significantly lower costs, or much higher revenue, than is possible under Amtrak service.  Further, there are problems with just where these other companies are going to find cars and locomotives (they don't have them now) and the time to acquire them, and the fact the Class 1's really don't want to deal with anyone other than Amtrak (hints too much at 'open access').  

 

To paraphrase an old saying: How do you turn a large fortune into a smaller one?

Answer:Invest in Passenger Rail. YMMV

 

I still think the Brightline executives are going to prove that saying correct - the hard way.  But I digress.  



#64 neroden

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Posted 21 February 2017 - 04:43 PM

I still think the Brightline executives are going to prove that saying correct - the hard way.  But I digress.

Nah, they own enough real estate around the Miami Station alone to make a profit. Historically land development is the consistent way to make money off passenger trains. The trains themselves break even at best, but being next to a station increases the value of the property as residential or office property (or even, in the old days, agricultural property).

This was the business model of everything from the Metropolitan Railway in London to the land grant railroads in the US.
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#65 jis

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Posted 21 February 2017 - 04:57 PM

And the land development leads to increased ridership helping break even or do a bit better. There is a symbiotic relationship between the two. This is incidentally also true of road development, in those situations where the roads are explicitly charged for by being in a tax surcharge zone to get road access.



#66 WoodyinNYC

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Posted 13 March 2017 - 05:27 PM

CEO Michael Reininger is moving to parent company Florida East Coast Industries ...

 

"Reininger confirmed that he was now focusing on the second phase of the Brightline project. ...

 

"FECI was already looking at extending the Brightline service north from Cocoa to Jacksonville and west from Orlando to Tampa. But Reininger said ‘we’re going to look beyond’, to find other potential inter-city corridors in which to replicate the rail-plus-property model. ‘Florida is not the only area where there are overcrowded roads and interstates’, he pointed out. ‘We are fulfilling our vision here in Florida, but we are not exclusively bound by the state borders. We have a belief that major cities that are 500 to 600 km apart set themselves up as prime candidates for express passenger rail, and can be made to work. ... "

Railway Gazette has a larger article about new jobs at Brightline.

 

http://www.railwayga...ortunities.html


Edited by WoodyinNYC, 13 March 2017 - 05:28 PM.


#67 dlagrua

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Posted 23 April 2017 - 05:14 PM

Will more private commuter lines be on the way? This story seems to indicate that it may be coming in Vermont: A new company called All Earth has just purchased a  lot of commuter RDC cars..:

http://www.vermontbi...muter-rail-cars



#68 Eric S

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Posted 23 April 2017 - 09:18 PM

Didn't this article get posted in another thread a couple weeks ago?

 

At any rate, I'm not sure what you mean by "more private commuter lines." There are currently no private commuter lines in the US (or Canada), unless you're referring to commuter rail agencies that pay (contract with) private entities to operate commuter rail.



#69 A Voice

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Posted 23 April 2017 - 10:13 PM

Didn't this article get posted in another thread a couple weeks ago?

 

At any rate, I'm not sure what you mean by "more private commuter lines." There are currently no private commuter lines in the US (or Canada), unless you're referring to commuter rail agencies that pay (contract with) private entities to operate commuter rail.

 

It can be argued that Brightline in phase 1, unless it expands north of West Palm Beach, is really just a glorified commuter service.  And its privately operated.  



#70 railiner

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Posted 23 April 2017 - 11:08 PM

Call me skeptical, but I would be shocked to see these plans actually come to be...

Vermont couldn't even sustain its former state-wide Vermont Transit bus (privately owned), so how can they hope to succeed with trains, which certainly are more costly to operate?


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#71 jis

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Posted 24 April 2017 - 06:33 AM

Call me skeptical, but I would be shocked to see these plans actually come to be...
Vermont couldn't even sustain its former state-wide Vermont Transit bus (privately owned), so how can they hope to succeed with trains, which certainly are more costly to operate?

Exactly my thoughts. Often the spirit is unrealistically willing but at the end of the day the flesh turns out to be weak. There is no enormous flow demand in Vermont on that route waiting for someone to pick up 1% of it to fill up trains.

#72 Eric S

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Posted 24 April 2017 - 07:40 AM

 

Didn't this article get posted in another thread a couple weeks ago?

 

At any rate, I'm not sure what you mean by "more private commuter lines." There are currently no private commuter lines in the US (or Canada), unless you're referring to commuter rail agencies that pay (contract with) private entities to operate commuter rail.

 

It can be argued that Brightline in phase 1, unless it expands north of West Palm Beach, is really just a glorified commuter service.  And its privately operated.  

 

If Brightline does not expand beyond the Miami - West Palm Beach phase, yes, I'd agree that's commuter service. Miami - Orlando, though, is intercity.

 

EDIT: I'd also add that the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach metro, with a population of about 6.1 million, is vastly more populous than the entire state of Vermont, let alone any particular metro area in Vermont.


Edited by Eric S, 24 April 2017 - 07:44 AM.


#73 dlagrua

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Posted 01 May 2017 - 08:56 AM

 

Call me skeptical, but I would be shocked to see these plans actually come to be...
Vermont couldn't even sustain its former state-wide Vermont Transit bus (privately owned), so how can they hope to succeed with trains, which certainly are more costly to operate?

Exactly my thoughts. Often the spirit is unrealistically willing but at the end of the day the flesh turns out to be weak. There is no enormous flow demand in Vermont on that route waiting for someone to pick up 1% of it to fill up trains.

 

Must agree with the logic, but what drove All Earth to spend millions on these trains?  Are they just looking for the large government subsidy?  Maybe some politicians feel that it would help their cause to claim that they brought commuter rail to the state. The major population center in Vermont is in the Burlington area but AFAIK rail commuting in that state has never been attempted.  Many questions remain unanswered.



#74 Eric S

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Posted 01 May 2017 - 09:23 AM

Champlain Flyer was a commuter rail service that operated in Burlington in the early 2000s.



#75 dlagrua

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Posted 04 May 2017 - 08:42 PM

Champlain Flyer was a commuter rail service that operated in Burlington in the early 2000s.

I was not aware of that and looking further om wiki, we find that the federal government gave Vermont $18 million for track improvements and station work. It used old RDC cars, and the fare was $1 on the honor system. The Vermont commuter service experienced low ridership and was cancelled. I just wonder how All Earth plans to do it differently and succeed with a new venture. Could be to just get some federal and state government money, run it for a short period and then retire. Time will tell



#76 railiner

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Posted 04 May 2017 - 10:37 PM

 

Champlain Flyer was a commuter rail service that operated in Burlington in the early 2000s.

I was not aware of that and looking further om wiki, we find that the federal government gave Vermont $18 million for track improvements and station work. It used old RDC cars, and the fare was $1 on the honor system. The Vermont commuter service experienced low ridership and was cancelled. I just wonder how All Earth plans to do it differently and succeed with a new venture. Could be to just get some federal and state government money, run it for a short period and then retire. Time will tell

 

IIRC, the service was provided to mitigate road or bridge closures, for major construction.  My company also received a subsidy to provide bus shuttle service, for the period in that area, as well.  It ended when the roads reopened.

Ridership was very low..


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