Brightline/Virgin Trains (FEC) Update

Discussion in 'High Speed and Other Non-Amtrak Intercity Rail' started by Anderson, Jun 5, 2012.

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  1. Jun 24, 2019 #2476

    Anderson

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    Or the Star Wars prequels. "Aggressive negotiations?" "Negotiations with a lightsaber."

    (One suspects that such might be more fruitful with Indian River County, come to think of it...)
     
  2. Jul 2, 2019 #2477

    VentureForth

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    They're going to keep adding stops until it's as slow as the Tri-Rail? OK - to be fair, the Tri-Rail has like 20 stops...
     
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  3. Jul 2, 2019 #2478

    jis

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    Brightline has aspirations of running the Coastal Commuter Service in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties, and that, if it comes to pass, will have substantial number of stops between Miami and West Palm Beach. They might choose to have multiple grades of express service like e.g. the Japanese do on the Tokaido Shinkansen. Just because there are stations does not mean every train has to stop at every one of them.

    Incidentally, to balance things out with respect to the unbridled enthusiasm about Branson and VT USA, here is the other side of the coin as observed in the UK...

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/jun/10/truth-richard-branson-virgin-rail-profits

    So eventually one may have to be ready to contribute some from ones pocket book to enrich Branson and Co's coffers....

    As always the fundamental question should be - are we as a society coming out ahead through these investments, ahead enough to justify the expenditure, and not so much about whether the provider of the service is making some money in the process. We should monitor whether they are making so much as to reduce the ROI for the society at a large unacceptable levels, and if so how to fix that through governance. This is true irrespective of whether the money maker is private sector of for profit public sector company (Amtrak I am looking at you)
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2019
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  4. Jul 3, 2019 #2479

    Anderson

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    Fair point, jis. I think there's a case to have an hourly (or close-to-hourly) express service with other trains making more stops (though potentially having 2-3 stopping patterns).

    More to the point, I wonder how they're going to handle a mix of what I presume would be controlled-access platforms for "their service" and anything else for a commuter service...in particular, I can't see them wanting to pass on (for example) the F&B sales in the bigger stations, but I also can't think of any places in the US where I've seen controlled access to commuter rail platforms (the UK is another story entirely, of course). So that will be interesting to watch.

    Also interesting will be how their station planning and development process at those intermediate stops meshes with possible developments around those stations, and which stations get built out fully (a la WPB/FLL), which ones don't, and which ones might see a "limited service" model applied (e.g. there's a cafe but it is only operated from opening until 0900 or 1000, not unlike some concession cafes at other stations...Oshawa in Ontario comes to mind).

    As to the philosophy...I'll be honest, I don't have a problem with a tycoon getting a cut if the service provided is solid. I would rather throw SRB a buck each time I ride the train and get a solid product than get a cheap designed-by-committee result. Fair disclosure, I'm a big fan of most of Virgin's travel products (I'm still cheesed about the loss of Virgin America...that was the first airline I ever actually liked flying on and looked forward to using).
     
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  5. Jul 3, 2019 #2480

    John Bredin

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    Metra used to have controlled access on the Electric line, inherited from Illinois Central's commuter operation. They dropped it in the early 2000s, partly because maintaining or upgrading '60s electronics in the turnstiles was a pain, partly because Electric passengers felt discriminated against. No other Metra line had turnstiles, and every line but the Electric has at least some stations with wide-open access to the neighborhood.
     
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  6. Jul 3, 2019 #2481

    jis

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    A mix of controlled access stations in an otherwise tap on - tap off POP system is not unusual at all, and is quite workable. At the controlled access stations the barrier gates serve as the tap function, and users have no difficulty understanding that.

    A recent prime example that I used was the Amsterdam system. For example the the major in city stations (Centraal, Sloterdijk, Amstel) including those shared with the Metro are barrier gated with shared gated area (Amstel), while stations like Schiphol are not. They just have tap on/tap off posts. Interestingly even within the barrier gates in shared gated area stations, there are tap posts for transferring from NS (Dutch Railways) to Metro or from NS to private lines etc. The cost of forgetting to tap off from NS can be hefty (E20). Forgetting to tap off from OV (Metro, Bus, Tram, Ferry in the Amsterdam area) is less (E4).
     
  7. Jul 3, 2019 #2482

    cirdan

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    Similar in London. For example when you ride the DLR to London City Airport there are no barriers there so you need to remember to tap out.

    I've also seen many confused tourists trying to work out how to tap out on a bus.

    Generally, the more uniform a system, the less likely people are to get it wrong and the more user-friendly overall.

    Switzerland is now rolling out a country-wide GPS based system that is just an app, so no need to buy or carry any additional cards or hardware. You click in using the app at the start of your journey and click out at the end and the system uses the GPS data to work out where you've been and how much to charge you. You probably can't get much simpler than that. Unless maybe you can replace the tapping in by some auto-detection that won't auto trigger just because you're standing too near or driving behind a bus.
     
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  8. Jul 3, 2019 #2483

    jis

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    Interesting thing about Holland is that the OV Chipkarte is the fare instrument that works across the country and across multiple service providers. So much so that people by mistake carry on into Belgium or Germany only to discover that the card does not work at exit and they have to pay additional fare, if they are not already caught on the train by the Belgian or German ticket examiners.

    So unless you have a personalized OV Card with a monthly pass or some such, or certain time and zone limited tourist anonymous cards, you have to tap on and off for all public transport using the same card. It is not possible to install any passes on an anonymous card, and in general it is hard for short term visitors to obtain a personal card, since it involves delivery by post to an address in Holland.

    Bringing this back to Brightline, I am sure they will be able to figure out something similar, since both the SFRTA and CFRC passengers are used to the concept of RFID fare cards and tap on and tap off required to use them already. Ideally, Brightline, CFRC and SFRTA should work out a single fare card that can be used across the systems, even though it might require tap in and out to transfer fom one system to the other at transfer stations.
     
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2019
  9. Jul 5, 2019 #2484

    jis

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    According to their claim they are ahead of their plans. Currently they are running only between Miami Central and West Palm Beach with a stop on the way at Fort Lauderdale. If you scan up this thread you will find extensive discussion of their plans and some detailed analysis of their performance so far. They just started construction on the West Palm Beach to Orlaqndo International Airport segment. Projected completion date and inauguration of service is sometime in 2022.
    People who are investing in it certainly think so. OTOH there are some skeptics too as is always the case. Only time will tell.
    My guess is 2023 or later. At present the exact location of the station is yet to be determined and funding is yet to be secured for constructing the tracks and station beyond Orlando International Airport.
     
  10. Jul 8, 2019 #2485

    MARC Rider

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    I think the point of the article was that Mr. Branson is making his big bucks on the basis of receiving subsidies from the UK taxpayers. If that's the case, why not just re-nationalize the whole enterprise? I spent several weeks riding British Rail in the mid 1980s, and the service was perfectly good, so I'm not sure what social benefit is gained by private ownership if the private owners are going to get rick on taxpayer subsidies.

    This is obviously not an issue with Mr. Branson's relation with Brightline, as I am not aware that any government subsidies are involved in the operation.

    As far as Amtrak goes, I suspect that the authorization language requiring it to be "profitable" means that it should be able to operate without the need of a US government subsidy, not that it should generate such profits that the CEO can be paid tens of millions of dollars per year and the US government can fund the Pentagon and Social Security/Medicare from the profits.
     
  11. Jul 8, 2019 #2486

    jis

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    For now the government support comes in the form of foregoing some amount of tax revenues by allowing the use of tax free bonds, and some local taxpayer contribution towards enhancing grade crossings, which in and of itself is not a bad thing provided in the future this does not become a failed enterprise that needs to be endlessly rescued by the government far in excess of value it brings to society. As I have said before, public expenditure may still be worthwhile if the net ROI to the society is positive, i.e. total economic activity generated far outstrips the money spent on it. Unfortunately, the US is singularly bad at taking such into adequate consideration, and takes a much narrower view of P&L, ignoring value of something to the society as a whole.

    It is at present too early to tell whether Mr. Branson and Co. will come with open arms to collect tax money to pay for their incomes or not. I am hoping, and currently believe they won't. But some of the recent over reach language gives me a bit of a pause. Still the Florida operations I think can more than support itself. I am not so sure about some of their more exotic forward looking visions.
     
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2019
  12. Jul 9, 2019 #2487

    cirdan

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    I hope that if they add many more stops, that they will also modify the schedule so there will be different stopping patterns
     
  13. Jul 9, 2019 #2488

    cirdan

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    The thinking is, that either the government can run the trains themselves, or they can pay somebody to do it for them. Of course that person will want to make a profit on it so on the surface that looks like paying more money to get the same service. But the further thinking is that people in the private sector are better at being innovative than the public sector, and so that extra cost will somehow translate into extra benefits. Whether or not that is actually true probably depends on the example you are looking at. There are rail franchises in the Uk that have absolutely not improved since BR days, but there are also franchises who have done amazing things.
     
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  14. Jul 10, 2019 #2489

    me_little_me

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    And private owners can squeeze their contractors, employees and customers unlike the politicians who would give anything to anybody for a vote.
     
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  15. Jul 10, 2019 #2490

    chrsjrcj

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  16. Jul 11, 2019 #2491

    jis

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    And then there is Fort Lauderdale Airport lurking in the wings, in a manner of speaking.
     
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  17. Jul 17, 2019 at 5:15 AM #2492

    troo troo tcrane

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    Is there a good route map? I assume Miami Central is where Overtown metro rail station is?

    The FLL airport stop will be a huuuuuge draw. Trirail takes too long.
     
  18. Jul 17, 2019 at 11:14 AM #2493

    VentureForth

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    Doesn't the track pass the opposite side of the airport from the terminal?
     
  19. Jul 17, 2019 at 1:10 PM #2494

    cirdan

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    People mover maybe? Airports love them.
     
  20. Jul 17, 2019 at 1:16 PM #2495

    cirdan

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    Actually, looking at Google maps, the situation isn't that bad. Some of the parking lots appear to be on the other side of the tracks even.

    The site looks pretty constricted though. I guess a second track would be required plus at least one platform, plus a station building. I'm sure that can all be fitted in somehow if some imagination is applied, but it's not going to be easy.
     
  21. Jul 17, 2019 at 2:01 PM #2496

    jis

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    FECR passes right next to the easternmost terminal building. GoogleMaps is you friend. Try it.
     
  22. Jul 17, 2019 at 3:11 PM #2497

    troo troo tcrane

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    The Brightline FLL station is already connected to the airport by people mover? I didn't know. No one talks about it here.

    I will check it out.
     
  23. Jul 17, 2019 at 3:30 PM #2498

    jis

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    No. The Brightline Fort Lauderdale station is nowhere near the airport. That is why no one talks about people mover. A shuttle van maybe, but I don’t think even that is there at present.
     
  24. Jul 17, 2019 at 3:59 PM #2499

    VentureForth

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    Thanks smart axx. I was driving and couldn't at the moment.
     
  25. Jul 17, 2019 at 4:34 PM #2500

    jis

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    And we are to believe that you were posting on AU while driving
     

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