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I suspect that the best argument against lots of stops, at least on the first batches of trains, is avoiding short-distance traffic crowding out long-distance traffic. Density and traffic are likely such that at least on the "first go", traffic from Miami to various locations along the coast could block out MIA-ORL traffic.

A capable outfit manages such things by managing inventory. Not by simply not stopping at all.

That area seems to need some work. Maybe it is better now, because my experience was in 1995, but I spent a few months working off and on in Newark NJ with nNorthern Virginia as teh alternative. I would get the "sold out train" out of Newark and then leave as early as I could using the NJT-SEPTA method. At Philadelphia there would be a masive bailout of the trains out of New York leaving it little mroe than half full going south. So . . . How many longer haul passengers were turned away because the trains was filled with short hauls on only part of the trip?

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I suspect that the best argument against lots of stops, at least on the first batches of trains, is avoiding short-distance traffic crowding out long-distance traffic. Density and traffic are likely such that at least on the "first go", traffic from Miami to various locations along the coast could block out MIA-ORL traffic.

A capable outfit manages such things by managing inventory. Not by simply not stopping at all.

 

Ehh...yes and no. "Not stopping" is a form of inventory management (namely, setting the inventory option for the skipped stop to zero), albeit potentially a crude one.

 

Let me step into the shoes of FEC's management. I'm looking at a report that says I can get a fairly high load factor on these trains at a rate of one per hour. I need to get service to within a given range of times (that is, I want trip times to be in the three-hour range) in order to attract business, meaning that I need to limit my stops as much as is practical. So I limit the stops I make as much as possible.

 

Moreover, those stops add to trip time...and adding too much trip time can force me to add a set or two to the route. Assuming an eight-hour cycle for a train (3 hours NB, an hour at Orlando, 3 hours SB, an hour at Miami), adding more than about 10-15 minutes to the schedule might force me to add one or two sets to the mix to make my desired hourly service. Those sets cost money (possibly $20m or more apiece, depending on the manufacturer and so on); further, those added stations also cost money. Of course, they'll also bring in additional revenue...but I might run into a space squeeze (through traffic being blocked out because of asymmetric short-haul traffic on one side of one stop or another), and simply put I might not be able to add enough additional passengers without lots of additional expense to make things worthwhile.

 

If I'm in FEC's shoes, I'm going to do the following:

-Miami-to-Orlando will be as we have it now, with a possible added stop in Cocoa. The problem with a Cocoa stop is that it's almost assuredly going to be a net addition for trains headed to/from Miami but not to/from Orlando, potentially gutting out a decent amount of traffic heading to/from Orlando. So I'm going to hold off there.

-If I find that there is room on the "shoulder" trains and/or off-hour trains, I'll add Cocoa but for Cocoa-Miami space almost as if it were Orlando-Miami space. Also, Cocoa won't be a stop on some of the peak-hour trains (again, managing inventory to zero on those trains). I'll probably need to have at least half of the trains make this stop to justify building a new station, etc.

-If the trains are completely full enough of the time, I'm going to have to weigh extending the sets (i.e. adding 1-2 cars), adding frequencies (which, aside from a possible "extra" at peak hours, is something I'm going to be averse to unless the operation is gushing money...I've got freight to ship, after all), or just not serving Cocoa.

-With respect to the possible Jacksonville extension, I'll add local stops on those since the Jacksonville metro area simply isn't as large (or growing as fast) as the Orlando area, let alone Orlando+Tampa...and that's probably going to force my hand on some of these trains. However, if I'm also adding Tampa, I'll probably be having to revamp my sets and order new ones to deal with added capacity issues, so I'm going to assume some sort of overhaul at this point anyway.

 

Finally, a worthwhile question: If the Tampa and Jacksonville extensions go in, what are the odds that Florida and the FEC seriously look at some commuter options in the relevant metro areas (with state/local subsidies to cover costs)? They're seriously looking at conneting Deland to Orlando as it is...why not Daytona and St. Augustine to downtown Jacksonville or Orlando/Kissimmee to Tampa and vice-versa? I know this is a long way off, but it does come to mind, especially given the chatter about Trirail options on the FEC.

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Saw this Reuters news story link on rr.net on the FEC announcing that they will go ahead with the $1 billion project. Some excerpts.

 

Reuters) - A Miami real estate and transportation company announced Wednesday that it plans to go ahead with a $1 billion project to build a privately run passenger train service between Miami and Orlando to begin operations by the end of 2014.

 

Florida East Coast Industries said its "All Aboard Florida" project is financially viable without any need for federal and state grants or subsidies.

 

"After completing our due diligence we have decided to go through with it," said Husein Cumber, vice president of corporate development at Florida East Coast Railway, which operates the company's existing freight line.

 

Construction would begin in early 2013, Cumber said, and when completed the new service would be the only privately run, non-subsidized passenger rail link between two major cities in the United States. A similar private scheme has been proposed in Texas to link Houston and Dallas.

 

10 trainsets?

The $1 billion cost includes a set of 10 diesel-powered trains with a 400-seat capacity offering an hourly service with First-class and Business-class seating, gourmet dining and Wi-Fi, as well as new tracks and stations in downtown Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and the Orlando airport.

 

The trains would make the journey in 3 hours 3 minutes traveling at speeds of up to 110 mph at a "cost competitive" price compared to the cheapest round-trip airfare of $140-160 or the roughly $120 cost of car travel, Cumber said.

Still many questions to be answered and specifics to be filled in such as 1) where they would build and how they would fund the extension to Orlando Airport; 2) Would Amtrak run a Jacksonville to Miami Central Station corridor service train OR would Amtrak only run LD trains on the FEC while the FEC runs all corridor trains?

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Still many questions to be answered and specifics to be filled in such as 1) where they would build and how they would fund the extension to Orlando Airport; 2) Would Amtrak run a Jacksonville to Miami Central Station corridor service train OR would Amtrak only run LD trains on the FEC while the FEC runs all corridor trains?

 

 

The only real choice, AFAIK, for the routing of the line from the coast to MCO is along, or in the median of, Route 528 (formerly known as The Beeline). I know nothing about the funding, but as I believe jis brought up: If they use part of Rt. 528's ROW, and don't pay fair market value for the right, are they not getting a subsidy from the state?

 

Whether Amtrak or the FEC runs corridor service, is a good qustion. For the FEC, it probably depends on whether they think they can make money directly, or indirectly through real estate holdings, by doing so. In either case, hopefully the new Miami-Orlando service will generate enough interest along Florida's Atlantic coast to expedite the start of some type of corridor service before the 'newnwss' starts to fade.

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An August 9 Miami Herald article on the latest announcement from the FEC on their plans.

 

I remain very skeptical about starting service to Orlando airport in 2014. They are going to build 40 miles of new tracks with the land and ROW acquisitions, EIS documents, building permits in 2 years? Has to be a catch somewhere. And 4 new stations as well?

 

If the FEC says they plan to acquire 10 trainsets with a capacity of 400 each, no time like the present to start speculating on what equipment is the FEC planning to buy and where they can get it by 2014!

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An August 9 Miami Herald article on the latest announcement from the FEC on their plans.

 

I remain very skeptical about starting service to Orlando airport in 2014. They are going to build 40 miles of new tracks with the land and ROW acquisitions, EIS documents, building permits in 2 years? Has to be a catch somewhere. And 4 new stations as well?

 

If the FEC says they plan to acquire 10 trainsets with a capacity of 400 each, no time like the present to start speculating on what equipment is the FEC planning to buy and where they can get it by 2014!

Well, there's two Talgo sets already built, looking for an owner. Talgo would probably be glad to crank out another eight sets to help pay for that Milwaukee manufacturing plant, they likely would be willing to negotiate a good price. The building of 40 miles of new track in less than two years seem problematic. It's unclear if the new track would use a brand new right of way or follow a utility alignment. Either way dirt should start flying pretty soon, although Florida does have a climate for year-round construction (except when hurricanes come whipping through. )

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Let the speculation games begin.

 

Isn't 397 the number of passengers the orphaned Talgos are designed to carry?

 

Hmmm...

Edited by The Davy Crockett

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First of all, I am extremely happy to see this. Yes, the times are changing.

 

For good or ill, If I had to guess, any attempt by Amtrak to run separate corridor trains on the FEC is going to turn into a world-class punch up when all is said and done. The LD trains won't be a problem, but a strictly corridor operation is going to cause a headache. For one thing, if the service is likely to be profitable, FEC would want those trains. Moreover, if it's not profitable, current law will require Florida to back it...which FEC is probably going to try and get them not to do.

 

With that said, I think the solution is probably going to be that FEC cooperates on through-ticketing and might be willing to let Amtrak.com book the trains...but manages them in-house (since FEC would be handling the dispatching, probably the scheduling, and quite possibly the crewing). This would actually be the best situation for Amtrak and a local train if Amtrak could get a small commission for handling those bookings.

 

One thing I'm wondering: They're mentioning financing the operation with a combination of debt and equity...I wonder where the equity (i.e. stocks) will be sold, since if nothing else I do want to make something of a "symbolic purchase" of a share or two to show support.

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Let the speculation games begin.

 

Isn't 397 the number of passengers the orphaned Talgos are designed to carry?

 

Hmmm...

They just need to add 3 jump seats by the toilets and Voila! 400! :lol:

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Well, there's two Talgo sets already built, looking for an owner. Talgo would probably be glad to crank out another eight sets to help pay for that Milwaukee manufacturing plant, they likely would be willing to negotiate a good price. The building of 40 miles of new track in less than two years seem problematic. It's unclear if the new track would use a brand new right of way or follow a utility alignment. Either way dirt should start flying pretty soon, although Florida does have a climate for year-round construction (except when hurricanes come whipping through. )

Remember that because FEC is privately funded, they do not have to comply with the Buy American act or buy the rolling stock from US located assembly plants. So the FEC can buy the rolling stock from who ever and where they want. The news I recall reading about the Talgo facility in Milwaukee is that Talgo was shutting it down in stages as the 4 train sets were being completed.

 

What the FEC could do is to buy the 2 Talgo sets from Wisconsin for so much on the dollar and then order 8 more FRA compliant identical trainsets to be built by Talgo in Spain or where ever Talgo has a suitable manufacturing plant. It costs money to start up a new plant for a limited production run. Talgo likely lost a fair amount of money on setting up the Wisconsin plant in order to comply with the US based manufacturing requirements that federal and state public agencies are subject to with the goal of getting a foothold in the US market. If FEC does buy the 2 Wisconsin Talgos, those 2 train sets should get a nickname - the Walker discount specials or something better than that.

 

If FEC does buy the coach cars from overseas, the cars can be delivered right to the port of Miami and the FEC tracks. A few cars would have to go to Pueblo for testing, but direct shipment to Miami would likely save the FEC a few bucks.

 

Edit: forgot to add this. About the route to Orlando airport, look at State toll road 528 on Google Earth (or equivalent). It is a limited access highway with a large median strip that is remarkably straight with just a few wide curves. Rt. 528 passes right over the FEC tracks in Cocoa at a location with a lot of open ground. It then passes directly north of Orlando Airport. This has to be where the FEC is planning to build the extension to the airport. Then you can see where Rt. 528 runs to I-4 which then goes to Tampa - over the route that was going to be used for the Tampa to Orlando HSR line. If the FEC builds it, we can be sure that the FEC will lock up ownership of the tracks and control of the ROW, so any future HSR line in Florida over that route in FL would be under the control of the FEC. I suspect Gov. Scott won't have any qualms about signing away the ROW and future rights for many decades to a private company.

Edited by afigg

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First of all, let me start by saying that I don't have a problem with FEC having the ROW as long as passenger service is "there to stay" with decent frequencies. In all fairness, this will give CSX a competitor in the central Florida market (something that hasn't really been there since the SAL/ACL merger back in the 60s). Yeah, that's freight...but I think we've agreed several times over that freight is no small part of the reason that the FEC is pursuing this.

 

Also, I am going to take a stab that had the Orlampa project gone through, there's a chance that had phase two started up, FEC would have gotten involved, such is their entanglement in FL politics.

 

As to the trainsets...10 is what I think most of us figured would be needed a while back. My only qualm is the use of sets instead of cars...it's entirely an operational decision, but I just tend to think that having a bunch of cars that can be reassembled to meet demand shifts and/or not having to pile up mileage/wear and tear on the half-empty trains at the far ends of the schedule.

 

So the FEC is going to be in control of any HSR in the state. Honestly, that's not a bad thing. They seem to be a competent company and it's no worse than JR Central running the high-speed trains heading west out of Tokyo. Like I indicated before, I don't know that Amtrak was even going to get the operating contract here.

 

What IS important here is that a private company has seen fit to put a billion dollars into a new high-speed operation, presumably without the government chipping in directly. That says something big right there.

 

Mind you, I strongly support government involvement in transit plans and so forth...but I've also become sorely disenchanted with the burial-by-paperwork that federal plans recieve. To offer an example, had we been stuck with the federal high speed rail program for the Norfolk line, my understanding is that we'd have been lucky to get that in 20 years (if even then). Instead, the VA-NS initiative has gotten that wrapped up in the space of about three years. The detailed requirements for EISes and so forth to get federal funding (and the fact that the Feds are the 400-pound gorilla in terms of funding, meaning that it's not practical for a local, or even local-state, initiative to go anywhere without their support in most cases because...well, think about the relative burden put on the local tax base if the Feds aren't involved vs. if they are at an 80-20 Fed-Other match) have managed to smother a lot of transit projects, and the lack of programs at higher levels to secure operating subsidies on a longer-term basis have stopped others from even getting a serious proposal.

 

So I hope the FEC succeeds, if for no other reason than to humiliate the DOT. Yes, I know that some of this will break bad on Amtrak (which is always stuck under those requirements), but I'm at least hopeful that if a private company can do this well, it will be a much-needed slap in the face of the federal planning process.

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The only problem I see with the FEC is that it may prevent politicians being so keen to support projects elsewhere with governmental funding in the future. They may point at the FEC and say "if the private sector can do it, let them, don't come to us." What will be hard to make them realize however is that the FEC is a unique case, the investment in passenger service is aimed at increasing the value of their other operations and will be subsidizing the passenger service with those probably.

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The only problem I see with the FEC is that it may prevent politicians being so keen to support projects elsewhere with governmental funding in the future. They may point at the FEC and say "if the private sector can do it, let them, don't come to us." What will be hard to make them realize however is that the FEC is a unique case, the investment in passenger service is aimed at increasing the value of their other operations and will be subsidizing the passenger service with those probably.

 

I think it both is and isn't unique. It is unique insofar as there being an operation that can offset the capital cost; I don't think it is unique in terms of being a line that can support high-frequency passenger service with a positive cash flow situation. It's also somewhat unique in that the FEC has an alignment that can be put to higher-speed passenger use (a stops-included 80 MPH average is something that even Amtrak manages to have trouble pulling off on the NEC) without massive improvements.

 

Still, I get your point...part of the problem, though, is that the funding in question comes with an absurd amount of red tape. I'm starting to wonder if it might not be worth serious consideration for states to simply invest in a joint venture of some sort with private companies (perhaps with certain default protections giving the state the right to either take over the line or to run the trains with Amtrak) that somehow get around the direct red tape issues as much as possible.

 

I think this should potentially be considered in the context of the Desert Xpress/Xpress West project as well. That one is looking to succeed...but only if the Feds are willing to extend a large RRIF loan. Both lines do present possibilities...and I cannot help but wonder if SEHSR, for example, couldn't be achieved in a similar manner (i.e. Work out a deal with CSX and/or Norfolk Southern where the government pays for the new line but where everything else is up to the companies to sort out as long as they achieve a given set of service requirements). I know this isn't likely at the moment, but it is at least worth seriously considering as an approach considering the mess that a lot of rail projects seem to get bogged down in.*

 

 

*For example, I know that the WI and OH projects were scrapped after twenty years of progress...my question is why the [bleep] did it take twenty years to round up the funding and get ready to build?

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As to the trainsets...10 is what I think most of us figured would be needed a while back. My only qualm is the use of sets instead of cars...it's entirely an operational decision, but I just tend to think that having a bunch of cars that can be reassembled to meet demand shifts and/or not having to pile up mileage/wear and tear on the half-empty trains at the far ends of the schedule.

We don't know if FEC will be buying fixed consist trainsets or individual cars. The 10 trainsets with a capacity of 400 is all the news article says. Could be Bombardier Multilevel cars with reclining seats and extra leg room suitable for 3 hour trips.

 

Heck, the FEC could team with Amtrak on a combined buy of Viewliner coach cars for all we know. The FEC would contract the maintenance of the coach cars to Hileah. Unlikely, though, I would think the FEC would want to buy off the shelf equipment that they have full control over for maintenance and spare parts considerations.

 

If the FEC is looking for 125 mph capable diesel locomotives, would they buy 10-12 of the NextGen diesel units in a separate order?

 

Mind you, I strongly support government involvement in transit plans and so forth...but I've also become sorely disenchanted with the burial-by-paperwork that federal plans recieve. To offer an example, had we been stuck with the federal high speed rail program for the Norfolk line, my understanding is that we'd have been lucky to get that in 20 years (if even then). Instead, the VA-NS initiative has gotten that wrapped up in the space of about three years. The detailed requirements for EISes and so forth to get federal funding (and the fact that the Feds are the 400-pound gorilla in terms of funding, meaning that it's not practical for a local, or even local-state, initiative to go anywhere without their support in most cases because...well, think about the relative burden put on the local tax base if the Feds aren't involved vs. if they are at an 80-20 Fed-Other match) have managed to smother a lot of transit projects, and the lack of programs at higher levels to secure operating subsidies on a longer-term basis have stopped others from even getting a serious proposal.

I think it has become recognized by both the administration and Congress as just how long and dragged out the entire process has become from the Tier I and II EIS to a Record of Decision to getting funding approval for transportation projects. The Obama Administration announced some months ago a "fast" track program initiative for a number of road and transit projects, including the Red Line light rail in Baltimore. There is a need to reform the process without throwing away the necessary steps of environmental and financial review, but achieving a consensus on almost anything, let alone a well thought out consensus, in Congress has been impossible since the last election.

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The only problem I see with the FEC is that it may prevent politicians being so keen to support projects elsewhere with governmental funding in the future. They may point at the FEC and say "if the private sector can do it, let them, don't come to us." What will be hard to make them realize however is that the FEC is a unique case, the investment in passenger service is aimed at increasing the value of their other operations and will be subsidizing the passenger service with those probably.

The FEC and the XpressWest projects, as the only serious private rail corridor projects in the near term, have a major key factor in common. They are both looking to take tourists to the major recreational tourist destinations in the US: Las Vegas and Orlando. Not business travelers between LA and SF, DC and NYC, Dallas to Houston. The FEC is looking to carry large volumes of passengers to the resort complexes and conventions in Orlando where most of the visitors will have no need for a car. XpressWest is looking to carry large volumes of people from Southern California to Vegas to the casinos, the clubs, and conventions.

 

The resorts in Orlando and the casinos in Vegas (especially the casinos in Vegas) are good candidates for providing funding and direct support for the 2 private projects. These are both unique sets of circumstances that will be difficult to do elsewhere with private capital taking the lead on HSR or HrSR projects instead of state governments.

 

On the XpressWest front, I think that we may indeed see their RRIF loan application granted in the next several weeks. Congress is not in session, so less caterwauling from the Republicans in DC if a loan is announced. The DC press corps and pundits will either be following Romney's every move (or gaff) or on vacation prior to the two party conventions. Good time to announce the loan so the administration and the FRA can get the story out with less yammering from those opposed to HSR.

 

edit: left out a key word

Edited by afigg

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The only problem I see with the FEC is that it may prevent politicians being so keen to support projects elsewhere with governmental funding in the future. They may point at the FEC and say "if the private sector can do it, let them, don't come to us." What will be hard to make them realize however is that the FEC is a unique case, the investment in passenger service is aimed at increasing the value of their other operations and will be subsidizing the passenger service with those probably.

The FEC and the XpressWest projects, as the only serious private rail corridor projects in the near term, have a major key factor in common. They are both looking to take tourists to the major recreational tourist destinations in the US: Las Vegas and Orlando. Not business travelers between LA and SF, DC and NYC, Dallas to Houston. The FEC is looking to carry large volumes of passengers to the resort complexes and conventions in Orlando where most of the visitors will have no need for a car. XpressWest is looking to carry large volumes of people from Southern California to Vegas to the casinos, the clubs, and conventions.

 

The resorts in Orlando and the casinos in Vegas (especially the casinos in Vegas) are good candidates for providing funding and direct support for the 2 private projects. These are both unique sets of circumstances that will be difficult to do with private capital taking the lead on HSR or HrSR projects instead of state governments.

 

On the XpressWest front, I think that we may indeed see their RRIF loan application granted in the next several weeks. Congress is not in session, so less caterwauling from the Republicans in DC if a loan is announced. The DC press corps and pundits will either be following Romney's every move (or gaff) or on vacation prior to the two party conventions. Good time to announce the loan so the administration and the FRA can get the story out with less yammering from those opposed to HSR.

IMHO, the big problem isn't so much the state governments funding things...it's the Feds' red tape piles. Again...in a lot of cases, for many years you've had projects where states and localities will be prepared to set money aside if they can get a match...only to have to wade through years of paperwork, studies, and legal hurdles to try and get that match. Not that states aren't occasionally guilty of this themselves (witness the CA laws potentially jamming up the HSR program out there), but for the most part the problem is that the states either have to shell out 100% of the cost of a program (vs. the 90/10 match on interstate highway programs or the various other matches).

 

Basically, even if the state is prepared to fund a program, the burden without federal funding can be prohibitive. In VA, for a quick example of a midsized state, the DOT budget in 2010 was $3,378m. However, once you exclude Federal matches, that drops to $2,534m. Richmond-Washington HSR is, IIRC, expected to cost about $1.8bn, or an amount equal to 71% of the state transportation budget for a year. Even spread over 10 years, that would equal about 7.1% of the annual budget...something that just isn't in the cards at the state level in practical terms. So you're stuck with either a decade long process of EISes and whatnot or you just can't afford the program. I think the term "chains of gold" would apply here pretty accurately.

 

I'll actually say that I crossed the bridge a while back that I'm just about ready to throw the baby out with the bath water on the environmental side of things. The feasibility stuff makes perfect sense in some regards, but that can be done relatively quickly (heck, look at the apparent two-month turnaround from the FEC). What's more, on the financial side, I'd even be willing to see this cut back dramatically if the state/local folks were willing to commit contractually to fund the program for X years (where X is a rather large number) and where the burden of a flop wouldn't be too bad. I'd still want something here for disclosure and prioritization purposes, but the red tape is sufficiently smothering at this point that it is clearly in my sights for good or for ill.

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Let the speculation games begin.

 

Isn't 397 the number of passengers the orphaned Talgos are designed to carry?

 

Hmmm...

According to a Talgo official at a WisARP meeting back in the spring, the 2 WI Talgo sets have a capacity of 396, including 12 jumpseats.

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Let the speculation games begin.

 

Isn't 397 the number of passengers the orphaned Talgos are designed to carry?

 

Hmmm...

According to a Talgo official at a WisARP meeting back in the spring, the 2 WI Talgo sets have a capacity of 396, including 12 jumpseats.

 

I don't know where he got his number, but I got mine from Talgo HERE.

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First of all, let me start by saying that I don't have a problem with FEC having the ROW as long as passenger service is "there to stay" with decent frequencies. In all fairness, this will give CSX a competitor in the central Florida market (something that hasn't really been there since the SAL/ACL merger back in the 60s). Yeah, that's freight...but I think we've agreed several times over that freight is no small part of the reason that the FEC is pursuing this.

 

Also, I am going to take a stab that had the Orlampa project gone through, there's a chance that had phase two started up, FEC would have gotten involved, such is their entanglement in FL politics.

 

As to the trainsets...10 is what I think most of us figured would be needed a while back. My only qualm is the use of sets instead of cars...it's entirely an operational decision, but I just tend to think that having a bunch of cars that can be reassembled to meet demand shifts and/or not having to pile up mileage/wear and tear on the half-empty trains at the far ends of the schedule.

 

So the FEC is going to be in control of any HSR in the state. Honestly, that's not a bad thing. They seem to be a competent company and it's no worse than JR Central running the high-speed trains heading west out of Tokyo. Like I indicated before, I don't know that Amtrak was even going to get the operating contract here.

 

What IS important here is that a private company has seen fit to put a billion dollars into a new high-speed operation, presumably without the government chipping in directly. That says something big right there.

 

Mind you, I strongly support government involvement in transit plans and so forth...but I've also become sorely disenchanted with the burial-by-paperwork that federal plans recieve. To offer an example, had we been stuck with the federal high speed rail program for the Norfolk line, my understanding is that we'd have been lucky to get that in 20 years (if even then). Instead, the VA-NS initiative has gotten that wrapped up in the space of about three years. The detailed requirements for EISes and so forth to get federal funding (and the fact that the Feds are the 400-pound gorilla in terms of funding, meaning that it's not practical for a local, or even local-state, initiative to go anywhere without their support in most cases because...well, think about the relative burden put on the local tax base if the Feds aren't involved vs. if they are at an 80-20 Fed-Other match) have managed to smother a lot of transit projects, and the lack of programs at higher levels to secure operating subsidies on a longer-term basis have stopped others from even getting a serious proposal.

 

So I hope the FEC succeeds, if for no other reason than to humiliate the DOT. Yes, I know that some of this will break bad on Amtrak (which is always stuck under those requirements), but I'm at least hopeful that if a private company can do this well, it will be a much-needed slap in the face of the federal planning process.

 

Anderson? Twins sons from another-mutha? That's about the most PERFECT reply / response to the FEC and pax rail / HSR I've seen. Like you were reading my mind. Run for office will ya? Or better yet, run a large, profitable transportation company, and show the FEDS how to do HSR. Oh wait, you'll need political connections, so run for office, FIRST.laugh.gif

 

 

 

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Let the speculation games begin.

 

Isn't 397 the number of passengers the orphaned Talgos are designed to carry?

 

Hmmm...

According to a Talgo official at a WisARP meeting back in the spring, the 2 WI Talgo sets have a capacity of 396, including 12 jumpseats.

 

I don't know where he got his number, but I got mine from Talgo HERE.

 

Eh, 396, 397, close enough. I think I received a similar handout at that WisARP meeting actually.

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Another local newspaper article, a Sun Sentinel story titled New Miami-Orlando train service could be boon to downtowns.

 

The article does point this out: "For commuters, it means more than a dozen additional trains on the tracks, potentially causing delays for drivers at crossings."

 

Well, if FEC plans to run trains on an hourly schedule, that would imply 2 additional trains each hour during the peak periods of the day. Add a daily Amtrak LD train to/from Jacksonville and for good measure, Florida funds a twice daily JAX to Miami (Airport / Tri-Rail) train. That has to be a serious increase on traffic on the FEC tracks. Could be a lot of push-back on safety and traffic jam concerns from locals before the FEC starts service or traffic delays after the service starts.

 

Since the FEC is the railroad with the ROW, they may only do the minimum required to improve the grade crossings for 90 or 110 mph speeds. In the other higher speed projects, the state DOTs are taking the lead, so also being the highway department, they are using the project funds to close or separate some grade crossings or make substantial improvements to others. The FEC may be a private project, but one that is likely to result in FL DOT allocating road funds to build bridges over the FEC tracks.

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Well, I would assume that the Amtrak trains aren't included in the total, and neither is the Florida project. If FEC sticks to one per hour from 5 AM to 7 PM (arrivals 8 AM-10 PM), that would be 14/day in each direction. Whether they plan to stick to "every hour on the hour" or vary (adding an additional train or two near the peaks but compensating by having less-frequent service where using those sets creates a gap) is a good question.

 

...remind me how many frequencies the Surfliner has? The FEC line could start chasing that level of passenger train availability very quickly.

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...remind me how many frequencies the Surfliner has? The FEC line could start chasing that level of passenger train availability very quickly.

Without double checking the schedules, I think both the Surfliners and Keystones operate at 13-14 round trips on a weekday. I would not expect the FEC to go from zero to 14 daily trains at once, but start with 3-6 per day and then grow as demand warrants.

 

If the goal is 14 trains a day, I see where the need for 10 trainsets come from. Figure on any given day, 8 trainsets (whether they be fixed consists or not) would in service with 2 sets of equipment out for maintenance, inspection or on standby for 80% availability. With a ~3 hour trip time, most train sets could make 2 round trips each day with quick clean & restock at each destination. Several could make 1.5 round trips for equipment moves for maintenance and to have trains available at each endpoint for the next day.

 

The 3 hour trip also allows the FEC to make efficient use of rolling stock for revenue. A train set making 2 round trips would be in revenue service with paying passengers onboard for 12-13 hours each day. Better than a once a day 6 hour corridor service trip which uses 2 train sets.

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...remind me how many frequencies the Surfliner has? The FEC line could start chasing that level of passenger train availability very quickly.

Without double checking the schedules, I think both the Surfliners and Keystones operate at 13-14 round trips on a weekday. I would not expect the FEC to go from zero to 14 daily trains at once, but start with 3-6 per day and then grow as demand warrants.

 

If the goal is 14 trains a day, I see where the need for 10 trainsets come from. Figure on any given day, 8 trainsets (whether they be fixed consists or not) would in service with 2 sets of equipment out for maintenance, inspection or on standby for 80% availability. With a ~3 hour trip time, most train sets could make 2 round trips each day with quick clean & restock at each destination. Several could make 1.5 round trips for equipment moves for maintenance and to have trains available at each endpoint for the next day.

 

The 3 hour trip also allows the FEC to make efficient use of rolling stock for revenue. A train set making 2 round trips would be in revenue service with paying passengers onboard for 12-13 hours each day. Better than a once a day 6 hour corridor service trip which uses 2 train sets.

 

Fair suggestion and not one that I'll disagree with (on the ramp-up), though I'd actually expect them to begin somewhere in the 5-6 range lest they wind up severely under-serving the corridor. I think a plausible guess would be that they place the order but take delivery over a few years (as they do a ramp-up).

Edited by Anderson

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Well, I would assume that the Amtrak trains aren't included in the total, and neither is the Florida project. If FEC sticks to one per hour from 5 AM to 7 PM (arrivals 8 AM-10 PM), that would be 14/day in each direction. Whether they plan to stick to "every hour on the hour" or vary (adding an additional train or two near the peaks but compensating by having less-frequent service where using those sets creates a gap) is a good question.

 

...remind me how many frequencies the Surfliner has? The FEC line could start chasing that level of passenger train availability very quickly.

 

 

 

23/day.

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