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. Apr 11, 2019 #2426

    neroden

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    neroden

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    Yeah, he did pretty well. Around NE 20th in Boca Raton it's actually in a flood zone, though; and there are other areas which are quite close to the coastline in the West Palm Beach area. I hope they did some strategic track elevation during Brightline construction.
     
  2. Apr 11, 2019 #2427

    neroden

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    That's a nice piece of wishful thinking, but Florida is spending less than 1/10 as much on preparing for / preventing flooding as the Netherlands is. When you compare the size of the affected areas -- Florida has 5 times as much area affected and has more severe geological challenges -- you realize that Florida does not have the will to spend the money. It's not even clear that they have the money. (Certainly there are parts of Florida which are high enough and have sufficiently solid bedrock to be OK; but Miami is not one of them.)

    It's also very much not like the agricultural and shipping based cities which are present in major deltas like Bangladesh or Egypt or even Louisiana; those are there because they have an economic reason to be there. Florida has very little industry which depends on its location (yeah, maybe some of the citrus and sugar, but nothing else). It's a bizarre historical accident that it has such a high population. It was a depopulated swamp for most of human history.

    The big issue is keeping the water supply systems and sewer systems functioning, and they're at serious risk soon: they're not really designed to be surrounded by the pressure of salt water. Repeated rounds of flooding wrecking the water and sewer lines, and people will go somewhere more habitable -- there's no agricultural or shipping riches enticing them to stay, as there are in the long-lasting river delta communities.

    People who think Miami will be thriving in 2060 are simply deluding themselves. Once you get up to Tampa and Orlando, sure, they could be OK.

    Sea level rise is finally starting to show up in property values, with low-elevation coastal properties starting to take a penalty. The smart money's already getting out.

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/feat...are-scenario-for-florida-s-coastal-homeowners

    Trump's disgraceful abandonment of Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria resulted in over 400,000 leaving Puerto Rico, mostly permanently. That's one event, and that's a place which *can* be defended. A similar exodus from New Orleans happened after Hurricane Katrina and the failure of the Bush administration there.

    One serious failure of the water system in Miami would probably cause a similar level of permanent exodus. And expert opinion is that it's pretty much guaranteed. Septic systems will fail first, so outlying areas will have to be evacuated first.

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2018-08-29/miami-s-other-water-problem

    The Netherlands is spending a billion dollars a year on "water defense" already. Miami-Dade County doesn't even have $3.3 billion to connect septic-system properties to the sewer lines; they're not going to be able to protect the area.

    https://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/environment/article224132115.html

    I guess Opa-Locka will go first due to not maintaining their sewer system: https://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/miami-gardens/article217790205.html

    The only scientists who are saying that South Florida isn't doomed... are using politic language. When they go into details, they say that people will have to "retreat". Meaning move inland and upland. Meaning, Miami is doomed.

    Well, hopefully Brightline will get that Tampa-Orlando line up and running soon.
     
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  3. Apr 11, 2019 #2428

    jis

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    South of Palm Beach, in the area that sits atop the Biscayne Aquifer they will have to figure out some other way of getting water supply since my guess is Biscayne Aquifer will slowly become unusable due to saline incursion, possibly much before the Miami area becomes otherwise uninhabitable. But then again using desalination plants to provide usable water from sea water is a well know technology that is used to provide water to significant populations elsewhere in the world. Similarly collect, truck/barge and then process elsewhere sewage systems have also sustained huge and thriving cities like a few in the Emirates. So who knows what people will do?

    One thing is for sure. Like the rest of the US, things will be allowed to get much worse before anything is done, and it is entirely possible that by then it will be too late. But that general attitude is deeply ingrained in the DNA of all of USA, not just Florida. It is just that the old farts with deeper ingrainednesses move to Florida in droves, and concentrates such attitudes in significant parts of Florida.

    To the Mods: I suspect, the Florida Flood topic needs a new thread in the Lounge, so that we can get back to discussing Virgin/Brightline in this thread, assuming that at least for the next 30 years it will remain above water.
     
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  4. Apr 12, 2019 #2429

    AmtrakWPK

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    I dunno about the possibility of increasing elevations enough to save Miami - MIA Intl Airport Runway elevation was officially 7 Feet above MSL on a 1984 FAA Sectional. Unless they have laid new surface on top of that it would be lower than that now. And there are a bunch of navigable rivers that run inland from the coast across that whole area of South Florida. The whole of South Florida is FLAT. It doesn't slope up hardly at all. I have family down there and have been through there a bunch of times, and in Ft. Lauderdale you have literally HUNDREDS of lots that are canal-front and not more than 6 feet, if that, above water at high tide. It may well be less than that now - I haven't been down in that canal area for at least 15 years. It's a mini-Venice. That's a big selling point for all those properties - buy the house and you can moor your boat at your back door, jump in it and motor on down the canal to the river to the Ocean and fish or go to the Freeport for the Weekend. Same thing on the West Coast of Florida around Naples & Ft. Myers. Canals stretch inland for miles, and there are navigable rivers with locks all the way across Florida through Lake Okeechobee from the Florida West Coast to the Florida East Coast. Given all of that, I have no idea how in the world you could possibly protect more than small sections from flooding unless you arbitrarily selected areas to build a moat around and then built bridges across the moat. All the areas with canals would have to be literal Venices. Even beyond the physical "How do we save our buildings and the access to them?" comes "How do we save our drinking water?", "How do we save our sewage treatment systems?", and "How do we save our electrical and electronic signal distribution systems?"..... because those end up under salt water or, in the case of fresh water, salt water intrusion starts to poison more and more of the aquifer farther and farther inland. All modern city power, water, and signal distribution (other than cellphones and HDTV) are underground. It's a colossal mess and the clock is ticking down on it.
     
  5. Apr 12, 2019 #2430

    AmtrakWPK

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    [QUOTE="
    Florida has very little industry which depends on its location (yeah, maybe some of the citrus and sugar, but nothing else)."
    [/QUOTE]
    Florida is a lot more than just some citrus and sugar. Yes, it supplies more than 50% of the U.S. production of both Oranges and Grapefruit, but Florida also produces (% of U.S Production): Cucumbers 38%, Tomatoes (Fresh Market) 34 %, Bell Peppers (Fresh Market) 32 %, Cucumbers (Fresh Market) 32 %, Watermelons, 23 %, Sweet Corn (Fresh Market, NOT for ethanol) 22 %, Snap Beans (Fresh Market) 21 %, Squash 17 %, Cabbage (Fresh Market) 11 %, Strawberries 10 % and Peanuts 9 % (2017 USDA Numbers). A great deal of that comes out of farms in South Florida. And as saltwater intrusion increases, THAT production is also threatened. My mother-in-law and some other of my late Wife's family were from the Naples, Florida area, and I have driven through South Florida on U.S. 27 and across Alligator Alley and through that whole area. There is a tremendous amount of agriculture down there. There is also, running out of Ft. Myers, the Seminole Gulf Railway, that handles freight, connecting to CSX, and has a really fun Murder Mystery Dinner Train https://semgulf.com/ - we rode it once. Fun!
     
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  6. Apr 13, 2019 #2431

    jis

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  7. Apr 13, 2019 #2432

    Brian_tampa

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    Jis, did you get a chance to read Judge Christopher Cooper's memorandum on the case back in December? It was quite weighted against IRC. I don't see how it could be easily overturned.

    Curious as to the timing of their appeal. It seems they waited to see if Brightline could sell the bonds. Now that they have proven they can, I think IRC is scrambling to throw anything into the mix to try to stop the sale. My opinion is that if the bonds didn't sell, then IRC would not have proceeded. Perhaps they know their position isn't the strongest and have a high chance of losing the appeal?
     
  8. Apr 13, 2019 #2433

    jis

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    Brian, I agree with your assessment. I think they will get tossed out by the Appeals Court too, and then they will try to get approval from the County Commissioners to get some more money for their lawyer friend to do something else. Thy are a relatively backward county trying to stay that way I guess, by pissing away their money on useless things.
     
  9. Apr 14, 2019 #2434

    Brian_tampa

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    When I was at the FDFC meeting a week ago I got to hear and see some of the opponents. The lawyer for IRC, Dylan Reingold, was not impressive. No wonder they have lost every single case so far. He tried to make a case that the FDFC should not approve the additional bond authorization because the project is not financially sustainable. Yet the FDFC board shot back in their comments that the investors have spoken loud and clear that the project is feasible. The thing is, Virgin will sell the bonds and even if the tax exemption is ruled unfavorably, Virgin is protected in that the investors were told about the risks of the lawsuit before they bought the bonds. Phase 2 is going to happen. IRC cannot stop it now. I suspect that Virgin will sell the additional $950M before the end of April. And based on today's newspaper story out of Vegas, they will have upcoming bond sales later this year for the Vegas route.
     
  10. Apr 14, 2019 #2435

    frequentflyer

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    From TrainOrders posted by RRBaron..................Interesting reading


    When Florida's BrightLine was re-branded Virgin Trains USA on April 4, minority owner Sir Richard Branson said that his team looked at all possible money-making passenger rail routes and came to the conclusion that only BrightLine's Miami to West Palm Beach service (with future extensions to Orlando and Tampa) and a Southern California to Las Vegas, NV, route could turn a profit. When I asked him how his dyslexia disability helped him engage in business he said it actually helped him simplify decision making. Incidentally, the "Virgin" brand refers to the fact that Branson was a complete novice when he entered the business world with his first production--Student Magazine. As for BrightLine's unique paint scheme, that will change too. A Virgin Trains USA scheme will be painted on all the rolling stock, once the artwork is finalized. Finally, as a TO wrote earlier, Ft. Lauderdale is a good location to shoot Virgin Trains and the FEC at the current BrightLine station and CSX, Amtrak and Tri-Rail at the nearby Amtrak/Tri-Rail station.
     
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  11. Apr 15, 2019 #2436

    neroden

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    Branson is talking his book a little bit (though not too much); there are other routes which could be profitable, but none of them are in a position to acquire ROW within a reasonable timeframe. The routes mentioned have the normally-intractable ROW problem mostly solved.
     
  12. Apr 15, 2019 #2437

    AmtrakWPK

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    If I lived in that County I think I would be bitching to the County Commissioners at their public meetings about all the taxpayers' money that they were throwing away continuing to tilt at this windmill.
     
  13. Apr 15, 2019 #2438

    jis

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    It appears that a lot of people in that county actually support or at least do not oppose the position being pursued by the commissioners unfortunately.
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2019
  14. Apr 16, 2019 #2439

    Anderson

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    The perception that Brightline is going to "tear a bunch of these communities apart" with trains running through town is one of the biggest issues they've had to face down.

    There's also the fact that there are a lot of other things that county commissions handle, and if my potholes are filled in and my garbage collected in a timely manner I might not be interested in this sideshow.
     
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  15. May 8, 2019 #2440

    chrsjrcj

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    For those in the area, $5 fares on the weekend of May 17th thru May 19th. Looks like it is to celebrate Brightline's one year anniversary, plus the grand opening of Central Fare.

    Central Fare did have a soft opening at the end of April. I was there last Thursday, and most of the eateries were still setting up. I can't say I was too impressed, but I'll account most of that to the soft opening.

    https://offers.gobrightline.com/offer/305-weekend/
     
  16. May 8, 2019 #2441

    Anderson

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    For various reasons, I'm really glad to see Central Fare opening up. I just have to wonder why it has taken so long...
     
  17. May 8, 2019 #2442

    Rail Freak

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    What is Central Fare?
     
  18. May 8, 2019 #2443

    jis

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  19. May 9, 2019 #2444

    Anderson

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    Plain language: It's the food court area, which is supposed to add a good bit to Brightline/VTUS' bottom line there.
     
  20. May 21, 2019 #2445

    chrsjrcj

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    Well Brightline knows how to work a news cycle. The day after dissapointing April ridership numbers, Brightline announces that some track and signal construction has begun:

    "Virgin Trains USA announced today that its team of builders has started construction on long-awaited tracks between West Palm Beach and Orlando International Airport.

    Formerly known as Brightline, the privately owned passenger-rail company is beginning the expansion at the airport with the installation there of 3 miles of track, signals and related infrastructure and the development of 70 acres for a maintenance shop."
    https://www.orlandosentinel.com/new...0190521-gxapxfgkzzgahoc6phnccwhtu4-story.html
     
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  21. May 22, 2019 #2446

    frequentflyer

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    One could call it being "media savvy". Few companies have it.
     
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  22. May 29, 2019 #2447

    jis

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    Looks like the FECR grade crossing on a major highway in North Melbourne is getting replaced by a flyover. Work is proceeding apace on the flyover for the Pineda Causeway which connect I-95 to Patrick AFB.
     
    Last edited: May 30, 2019
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  23. May 30, 2019 #2448

    John Bredin

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    Brightline is going to run "Havana Special Rum Train" excursions on Fridays and Saturdays June 14-20. It isn't cheap -- individual tickets $125, table seating tickets $140 -- but it comes with a fair amount of quality rum included. https://vinepair.com/booze-news/rum...-45729089&mc_cid=79d10a6b93&mc_eid=ff931ab262

    The interesting thing to me is Brightline's promotion of the train outside the train travel & railfan markets. As the link tends to indicate, I received this article in an email on booze, not travel or railfanning.
     
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  24. May 31, 2019 #2449

    John Bredin

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    Clicking through the article to Brightline's own website, the trips run from June 14 through the 29th.
     
  25. May 31, 2019 #2450

    frequentflyer

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    Expensive, I know but its the ultimate answer to grade crossing incidents.
     
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