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My own personal opinion is that the recent hyperloop proposals must have initiated their push to get a lease agreement settled with FDOT and CFX before the hyperloop boys got too much traction.

 

Of course, since AAF is a known entity with both agencies they do have the inside track. I mean, the RFP specifies an intercity rail service, not just any old transportation service. That alone tells me that AAF will be successful in this bid. I have seen the RFP document and it is heavily weighted towards an existing passenger rail operator.

 

Gov. Scott is not controlling this. He is just taking advantage of the situation. AAF initiated the whole Orlando to Tampa RFP with their proposal to FDOT back in March. As much as I personally might disagree with Gov. Scott, I feel he did the right thing by rejecting the HSR monies in 2011. Based on the reaction of the Florida Democratic Party since this announcement yesterday, it appears that we now have a Republican governor supporting passenger rail with the Democrats questioning it! What strange times we live in.

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My own personal opinion is that the recent hyperloop proposals must have initiated their push to get a lease agreement settled with FDOT and CFX before the hyperloop boys got too much traction.

 

Of course, since AAF is a known entity with both agencies they do have the inside track. I mean, the RFP specifies an intercity rail service, not just any old transportation service. That alone tells me that AAF will be successful in this bid. I have seen the RFP document and it is heavily weighted towards an existing passenger rail operator.

 

Gov. Scott is not controlling this. He is just taking advantage of the situation. AAF initiated the whole Orlando to Tampa RFP with their proposal to FDOT back in March. As much as I personally might disagree with Gov. Scott, I feel he did the right thing by rejecting the HSR monies in 2011. Based on the reaction of the Florida Democratic Party since this announcement yesterday, it appears that we now have a Republican governor supporting passenger rail with the Democrats questioning it! What strange times we live in.

I've always had mixed-bag opinions on Scott's decision in 2011...as much as I wanted to see a high-speed train there, I remember that there were many discussions about it being rather spectacularly cost-ineffective for what it was (especially with the intermediate stops hobbling your average speed). Orlando-Miami should have been a workable first phase, but...ahem...well, that's what we got.

 

As to the "role reversal", a lot of it seems to be down to who is controlling the project. I can best describe a private-sector project like this as an outside-context problem for a lot of folks...best explained in a conversation I had in the PPC back in February about Brightline:

"So, I was on the first run of the new train between Fort Lauderdale and West Palm last month."

"Wait, doesn't Amtrak already operate there?"

"No, this was on the FEC tracks. They started running their own trains again. It's not Amtrak."

"...so the state started up their own service?"

"No, the FEC folks did."

"...so it's Amtrak?"

"..."

 

The idea is just so utterly alien to a whole generation of political figures that it seems to sort-of break brains.

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Having a private operator initiate the service is not a new idea. Hope that it all works out. Maybe they’ll decide to run to New Orleans in the future. Now that would be great for us here in Florida.

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It depends on one's definition of high speed. The HSR was, I believe 200+mph (correct me if I'm wrong). It seems like Brighline is a 100+mph railroad at most.

 

Frankly IMHO, with so little 100+ passenger service miles in this country, we'd all be better off with a lot more 100+ than we'd be with a few 200+ miles.

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It depends on one's definition of high speed. The HSR was, I believe 200+mph (correct me if I'm wrong). It seems like Brighline is a 100+mph railroad at most.

 

Frankly IMHO, with so little 100+ passenger service miles in this country, we'd all be better off with a lot more 100+ than we'd be with a few 200+ miles.

There is a somewhat official definition in Wikipedia. But Shinkansen, the grandfather of HSR only started at around 150 mph. Today, the FASTEST HSR is around 300 kph, or 186 mph, so 200 Mph is beyond anything other than maglev at the moment.

 

Brightline hasn't really been advertised as HSR. Most they can do now is 79. The leg to Orlando I think is 110, which is what the Silver Star and every other NER does in the NEC. Not HSR, but rather HIGHER speed rail. I personally don't think 110 is anything to sneeze at.

Edited by VentureForth

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Nope. Shinkansen originally started at 210kph (130mph). Today the fastest HSR are 320kph to 350kph. TGV Est runs regularly at 320kph (199mph). China has just upped the speed on certain segments to 350kph (218mph). Time to read up a bit I suppose

 

As for Brightline. WPB to Cocoa will be 110mph and Cocoa to Orlando will be 125mph.

That would be the same as what NERs do on the NEC, but not the Silver Star.

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Nope. Shinkansen originally started at 210kph (130mph). Today the fastest HSR are 320kph to 350kph. TGV Est runs regularly at 320kph (199mph). China has just upped the speed on certain segments to 350kph (218mph). Time to read up a bit I suppose

 

As for Brightline. WPB to Cocoa will be 110mph and Cocoa to Orlando will be 125mph.

That would be the same as what NERs do on the NEC, but not the Silver Star.

Ok. Brain updated. Edited by VentureForth

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Every country needs to find its own way to succeed. In Europe and Asia they built faster trains until they eventually reached high speed status. Here in the US we built slower goals until they eventually matched what we already had.

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The US really got socked with a "perfect storm" in many ways (the combination of the 79 MPH speed limit and interstate highway construction hitting before the railroads could sort out a new generation of trains). Move those factors by five years and I think a lot more is intact by the time the Penn Central collapse gives us Amtrak. The US also got hosed by lousy regulatory schemes...for a handy example, a combination of the US having its own crash standards and the 79 MPH limit meant that Amtrak couldn't just grab a bunch of IC125s and pop them into service on the Lincoln Service (or the San Joaquins or the Florida routes). Basically, we got "unlucky" in almost every respect.

Europe and Asia also had the "benefit" of either having to start from scratch post-WW2 (Germany) being short on investment for much of the 20th century (China) so that they were, in many respects, able to "start fresh" at a higher standard than the US had (many routes in the US were good for 90-100, but many others (for example, in the South) were really only good for 50-70 because the lines were built in the late 19th century and not fully rebuilt later) or simply having enough pre-existing density to keep demand for service intact on a broad enough scale to enable a vigorous rebound in the 1990s (the UK).

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The US really got socked with a "perfect storm" in many ways (the combination of the 79 MPH speed limit and interstate highway construction hitting before the railroads could sort out a new generation of trains). Move those factors by five years and I think a lot more is intact by the time the Penn Central collapse gives us Amtrak. The US also got hosed by lousy regulatory schemes...for a handy example, a combination of the US having its own crash standards and the 79 MPH limit meant that Amtrak couldn't just grab a bunch of IC125s and pop them into service on the Lincoln Service (or the San Joaquins or the Florida routes). Basically, we got "unlucky" in almost every respect.

 

Europe and Asia also had the "benefit" of either having to start from scratch post-WW2 (Germany) being short on investment for much of the 20th century (China) so that they were, in many respects, able to "start fresh" at a higher standard than the US had (many routes in the US were good for 90-100, but many others (for example, in the South) were really only good for 50-70 because the lines were built in the late 19th century and not fully rebuilt later) or simply having enough pre-existing density to keep demand for service intact on a broad enough scale to enable a vigorous rebound in the 1990s (the UK).

 

I think we also got hit with the residual anti-Robber Baron feeling against railroad companies and too much competition for dwindling passengers. In other words, a huge amount of factors converging led to the current situation.

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Well the thing about the German Rail network in particular. Large swaths of if were built in the 1800s and early 1900s. The Rhine valley line I want to say is from the 1850s. The Dresden-Leipzig line is from the 1830s. Yet they still manage to run a decent speed.

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Well the thing about the German Rail network in particular. Large swaths of if were built in the 1800s and early 1900s. The Rhine valley line I want to say is from the 1850s. The Dresden-Leipzig line is from the 1830s. Yet they still manage to run a decent speed.

Many of them got to decent speeds after they were extensively realigned from their original rights of way to ease curves and such.

 

Also in general, because Europe allows much larger cant and cant deficiency than US, it is easier to operate on more curvaceous tracks at much higher speeds in Europe, provided the curve spirals are redone to accommodate higher speeds. In Switzerland it is a sight to behold how fast the Intercities zip around the spiral tunnels on the Gotthard Line.

Edited by jis

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Well the thing about the German Rail network in particular. Large swaths of if were built in the 1800s and early 1900s. The Rhine valley line I want to say is from the 1850s. The Dresden-Leipzig line is from the 1830s. Yet they still manage to run a decent speed.

Many of them got to decent speeds after they were extensively realigned from their original rights of way to ease curves and such.

 

Also in general, because Europe allows much larger cant and cant deficiency than US, it is easier to operate on more curvaceous tracks at much higher speeds in Europe, provided the curve spirals are redone to accommodate higher speeds. In Switzerland it is a sight to behold how fast the Intercities zip around the spiral tunnels on the Gotthard Line.

Curve realignments I. Can understand. But the word cant is something I'm not overtly familiar with.

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Curve realignments I. Can understand. But the word cant is something I'm not overtly familiar with.

Good place to start ... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cant_deficiency

So basically super elevation. It's a good thing I just work on the things and don't have to design them. I'm not hard wired for engineering.

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Yup. Super elevation. In this country Cant Deficiency is also known as Underbalance I think.

 

Europe and countries that use UIC or UIC derived standards allow both greater super-elevation and greater under balance than is allowed in the US.

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The numbers behind the story. TC Palm, to their credit, found the Q1 numbers for Brightline.

 

https://www.tcpalm.com/story/news/local/shaping-our-future/all-aboard-florida/2018/06/29/brightline-financials-show-ridership-revenue-numbers/745477002/

 

By Lisa Broadt

 

Fair use excerpt:

 

Brightline carried 74,780 riders and collected $663,700 in ticket revenue in its first 2½ months of operation, according to financial documents released Friday.

The documents — which offered one of the first public glimpses into the private company's financials — revealed that ridership "exceeded expectations," according to Brightline, despite recent controversies over safety and use of public funding.

Ridership grew each month as a result of increased “awareness and demand for the company’s service," Brightline said in its quarterly unaudited financial statement provided to the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board.

Month-by-month ridership and revenue from Jan 19, when initial service began between West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale, to March 31, the end of the first quarter, was:

January: 17,800 passengers, $146,500
February: 24,100 passengers, $220,000
March: 32,900 passengers, $297,300
The financial documents — required by a continuing disclosure agreement associated with Brightline's $600 million private-activity bond offering — revealed the less-expensive Smart service ticket was more popular than the more-expensive Select ticket, but not by much. The documents also showed Select generated significantly more revenue than Smart:

Select: 34,200 passengers, $388,600
Smart: 40,600 passengers, $275,000

Edited by Brian_tampa

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I'm not going to try and hack into the likely weekday/weekend numbers, but taking into account the number of days of service in each month:
-January: 19 days of service; 17,800 pax; 937 pax/day*, $8.23/pax

-February: 28 days of service; 24,100 pax; 861 pax/day, $9.13/pax

-March: 31 days of service; 32,900 pax; 1061 pax/day, $9.04/pax

*Service started Jan. 13

This isn't really surprising: January got a boost from the initial service opening, so I expect that ridership numbers would be better for January. The February/March trend is promising. Also, presuming that the March pace held into April, passenger 100k would have ridden on or about April 23 and Brightline would have been sitting at about 125k pax carried prior to Miami service starting.

Other notes:
-Select tickets had an average price of $11.36. Smart tickets had an average price of $6.77. This is a bit lower than the nominal prices ($15 and $10), but I believe that there were a few rounds of discounts thrown in as well.

-This was (as we know) achieved with the "starter frequencies" and "starter timetables". Full-frequency service should give a bit more ridership (as should ordinary ramp-up), though I'll have to slam a big asterisk on May's ridership due to the start-of-service into Miami.

-I cannot find the underlying documents at the moment, but boy should those continuing disclosures be a fascinating read.

Edited by Anderson

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Brightline was running the bring a friend for free promo for a while, so that likely plays into it. I can not remember when it ended, but I think it was before Miami opened.

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To my pleasant surprise, as part of the Indenture relating to the $600M Private Activity Bonds floated, AAF is required to disclose revenue and ridership for each Quarter. They released such for the First Quarter this past Friday - and look who reported them (presumably straight):

 

Gannett Treasure Coast Newspapers

 

Fair Use:

 

Brightline carried 74,780 riders and collected $663,700 in ticket revenue in its first 2½ months of operation, according to financial documents released Friday.

 

The documents which offered one of the first public glimpses into the private company's financials revealed that ridership "exceeded expectations," according to Brightline, despite recent controversies over safety and use of public funding.

 

Ridership grew each month as a result of increased awareness and demand for the companys service," Brightline said in its quarterly unaudited financial statement provided to the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board.

 

Month-by-month ridership and revenue from Jan 19, when initial service began between West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale, to March 31, the end of the first quarter, was:

 

January: 17,800 passengers, $146,500

 

February: 24,100 passengers, $220,000

 

March: 32,900 passengers, $297,300

 

However, lest we forget, AAF is still offering dirt cheap "introductory fares". I highly doubt if they have compiled enough historical data to institute demand pricing, although I'm sure they want to "get there".

 

So their first venture into "market pricing" will be "like the old days". "Here's the fare; take it or leave it" (my guess: OW MIA-WP $50 Coach, $65 Business). Who knows what effect that will have on ridership and revenues.

 

Continuing with a "lest we wonder"; the Florida Turnpike will soon switch to demand pricing systemwide. The "Lexus Lanes" on the 95 are already there (BTW, this Lexus owner doesn't go near them - oh, and don't the various Authorities love EZ-Pass, Sun Pass, whatever; especially when signed up for automatic refills), so the market can certainly justify higher fares.

 

Finally though, a rub. The free parking at the AAF station garages is now $6/da, but that certainly is a dirt cheap rate. How they control that you actually have ridden a train, I know not - but I think they should.

Edited by GBNorman

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Have not read all 107 pages, but why do Brightline cars need a sliding plank to bridge the gap to the platform? The Amfleet and VL cars on the NEC do not have this problem.

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Have not read all 107 pages, but why do Brightline cars need a sliding plank to bridge the gap to the platform? The Amfleet and VL cars on the NEC do not have this problem.

Are the platforms set further back to allow freight trains to pass through the stations?

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Amtrak doesn't have this problem on the NEC, but NJ Transit certainly does. When I get on at Princeton Junction, for example, I have to climb up into the train over a gap, with no handrail close to the door to hang on to. So it seems to me that Brightline is taking care of a problem like that at stations with a similar gap before an accident can happen.

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