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-   -   The Brightline/Virgin Thread (https://skyscraperpage.com/forum//showthread.php?t=198371)

Hatman Aug 14, 2019 4:33 PM

That's a lot of new stations. I guess that is because the commuter business is stronger than they anticipated? Adding all these stops to the Miami-Orlando express trains seems like a bad idea, so I'm guessing that they are going to start offering local and express services... which probably means even more than 32 trains per day running through the treasure coast cities. I bet they're going to be so happy! :D

Allandale25 Aug 22, 2019 9:16 PM

Just read this article about the construction progress:

https://www.orlandosentinel.com/news...5be-story.html

Does anyone have a link to the PDFs showing the track plans or civil drawings for the part along the BeachLine Expressway between Orlando's airport and Cocoa?

N830MH Aug 23, 2019 1:34 AM

VIRGIN TRAINS NOW SAYS NEW STATIONS WILL BEGIN CONSTRUCTION BY YEAR END 2019 (AVENTURA, PORTMIAMI & BOCA COMING)

Quote:

The company told investors in a filing yesterday that it was making progress on three new stations at PortMiami, Aventura and Boca Raton.

New stations will begin construction before the end of 2019, the company said for the first time yesterday. Operations at the new stations will begin in 2020.
https://www.thenextmiami.com/virgin-...9A2NWNbFKRP8vg

urbanview Aug 24, 2019 9:10 PM

People are dying on the tracks because of train collisions recently. Call them idiots or whatever, but people are people, not everybody is train-wise. Bring back the bloody horn! A bit of noise is worth it if it means you save a human life. Nice work for taking the cynical, cost cutting route rather than doing proper and safe grade separation /s. No money saved is wroth a human life.

aquablue Aug 24, 2019 10:03 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by urbanview (Post 8668268)
People are dying on the tracks because of train collisions recently. Call them idiots or whatever, but people are people, not everybody is train-wise. Bring back the HORN! A bit of noise is worth a human life. Nice work for taking the cynical, cost cutting route rather than doing proper and safe grade separation /s. No money saved is wroth a human life.

Good points. I agree that this railway that runs on freight tracks was poorly/cheaply designed and now it's a KILLER railroad to boot. Typical American cost cutting and shortcuts when it comes to rail and transit. Not only is it slower/bumpier than it could have been with separation, it's more dangerous for those in the surrounding areas.

And yes, the horn needs to return. Screw the sensitive-eared little pansies living near the tracks. Haha, they wouldn't have lasted a second in the industrial revolution.

If they can't handle it, they can move. Just like those moronic noise aware types that are afraid of airport expansion. They are the enemy of progress.

N830MH Sep 13, 2019 4:28 AM

State extends Virgin Trains' deadline for Orlando to Tampa right of way negotiations
 
https://www.bizjournals.com/tampabay...m7abpEry80NRPM

Quote:

The state is allowing more time for Virgin Trains USA to enter an agreement for right of way to connect from its Orlando station to Tampa.

Miami-based Virgin Trains USA, formerly known as Brightline, had a September negotiation deadline with the Florida Department of Transportation to lease the right of way along Interstate 4. FDOT told the Tampa Bay Business Journal the negotiations with all parties are ongoing and the deadline was extended to Oct. 3. However, FDOT did not provide a reason why.
They still need more time to negotiations.

electricron Sep 13, 2019 2:17 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by aquablue (Post 8668289)
Good points. I agree that this railway that runs on freight tracks was poorly/cheaply designed and now it's a KILLER railroad to boot. Typical American cost cutting and shortcuts when it comes to rail and transit. Not only is it slower/bumpier than it could have been with separation, it's more dangerous for those in the surrounding areas.

And yes, the horn needs to return. Screw the sensitive-eared little pansies living near the tracks. Haha, they wouldn't have lasted a second in the industrial revolution.

If they can't handle it, they can move. Just like those moronic noise aware types that are afraid of airport expansion. They are the enemy of progress.

If you are trespassing on airport property and are walking or standing in the middle of the runway, who's fault is it when you get sucked up into the jet engines of a jet liner and get turned into hamburger?
Do not place the blame on the jet or the train being in the places they are supposed to be. Please put the blame on the person out of place.

sammyg Sep 13, 2019 2:33 PM

If you think trains are dangerous, have you heard about these things called cars?

N830MH Sep 14, 2019 4:51 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by sammyg (Post 8686071)
If you think trains are dangerous, have you heard about these things called cars?

Exactly!!! It's too extremely dangerous. They could being killed by trains. Don't go over the trains tracks. You have stop. STOP! Don't cross the tracks. Look both way!

Hatman Sep 19, 2019 3:28 PM

California to Assist Financing of High-Speed Train Between Victorville and Las Vegas
https://ktla.com/2019/09/18/californ...and-las-vegas/

$300 million in tax-exempt bonds approved for this year with that same amount pre-approved for next year. VTUSA is still on track to begin construction next year, apparently.
Quote:

Ma, a Democrat, said she rode on one of Virgin’s trains in Florida and described it as swankier than a traditional train. Building such a project between Las Vegas and California will provide economic development, ease travel and improve the riding experience, she said.

“It is like moving people to the next level of train travel where train travel is going to be really hip and fun,” she said.

k1052 Sep 19, 2019 5:08 PM

So...in theory what would it cost to go over Cajon in the I-15 right of way on as little expensive structure (viaducts) as possible? The grade is what 6 or 7% which should not present a problem. Granted it wouldn't be a 150mph ride in that segment but still.

digitallagasse Sep 19, 2019 5:58 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by k1052 (Post 8692209)
So...in theory what would it cost to go over Cajon in the I-15 right of way on as little expensive structure (viaducts) as possible? The grade is what 6 or 7% which should not present a problem. Granted it wouldn't be a 150mph ride in that segment but still.

The grade for I-15 is 6% which is too steep for HSR. In comparison the grade on BNSF's line is 2.2%, which is steep for trains. Trains are running roughly 20 mph on this grade. A little faster on the way down and a little slower on the way up. A lighter HSR train would likely be able to run a similar grade quicker but the speed drop is massive.

I believe an HSR line in both Japan and France go into the 3% range so such a grade is possible.

k1052 Sep 19, 2019 6:25 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by digitallagasse (Post 8692284)
The grade for I-15 is 6% which is too steep for HSR. In comparison the grade on BNSF's line is 2.2%, which is steep for trains. Trains are running roughly 20 mph on this grade. A little faster on the way down and a little slower on the way up. A lighter HSR train would likely be able to run a similar grade quicker but the speed drop is massive.

I believe an HSR line in both Japan and France go into the 3% range so such a grade is possible.

Even at significantly reduced speeds it should still take less than 15 minutes to clear the pass assuming a higher grade. I doubt BNSF would be amenable to sharing it's ROW.

digitallagasse Sep 19, 2019 6:34 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by k1052 (Post 8692329)
Even at significantly reduced speeds it should still take less than 15 minutes to clear the pass assuming a higher grade. I doubt BNSF would be amenable to sharing it's ROW.

Correct BNSF wouldn't. The I-15 ROW is too steep so a new ROW would be needed.

hammersklavier Sep 19, 2019 6:51 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Hatman (Post 8658187)
That's a lot of new stations. I guess that is because the commuter business is stronger than they anticipated? Adding all these stops to the Miami-Orlando express trains seems like a bad idea, so I'm guessing that they are going to start offering local and express services... which probably means even more than 32 trains per day running through the treasure coast cities. I bet they're going to be so happy! :D

To be fair, the Florida East Coast originally developed most of the towns there as railroad suburbs, so now naturally they want their trains back.

Brightline as it currently exists is basically a privately-run commuter rail line. The intercity market isn't going to get tapped until it reaches metro Orlando.
Quote:

Originally Posted by digitallagasse (Post 8692284)
The grade for I-15 is 6% which is too steep for HSR. In comparison the grade on BNSF's line is 2.2%, which is steep for trains. Trains are running roughly 20 mph on this grade. A little faster on the way down and a little slower on the way up. A lighter HSR train would likely be able to run a similar grade quicker but the speed drop is massive.

I believe an HSR line in both Japan and France go into the 3% range so such a grade is possible.

IOW a HSR line over Cajon would require a new alignment (assuming that I-15 is too steep and the BNSF route is too curvilinear).

k1052 Sep 19, 2019 9:19 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by digitallagasse (Post 8692338)
Correct BNSF wouldn't. The I-15 ROW is too steep so a new ROW would be needed.

EMUs can handle a 6% grade, just not at full speed which the I-15 curvatures would probably prohibit anyway.

Seems possible that Virgin could cut a deal with CA to get over the hump and hook into the Metrolink San Bernardino line near Ontario.

Hatman Sep 19, 2019 9:37 PM

It's funny how different passenger and fright trains are.

If you are designing your tracks for passenger trains, you can use very steep grades that would be impossible for freight trains. If you are designing for electric passenger trains (with overhead wires for basically infinite energy) you can have trains climb incredibly steep tracks for a very long time, since passenger trains are almost always overpowered. Seriously, the locomotive to car ratio for passenger trains is rediculous compared to freight trains, and that doesn't even consider how light passenger cars are compared to freight cars (passenger cars, no matter how full of people they are, are still mostly full of air).
The one thing fast passenger trains can't handle is sharp curves, because then they have to slow down.

If you are designing your track for freight trains, you want to avoid grades at all costs, since you will be lugging millions of tons up and down that grade forever. Curves are great, since they flatten out the slope of your tracks.

So for freight trains, grades of 2% is really steep, and the tracks are usually very curvy. For passenger trains, grades can be as steep as you like but curves are dealbreakers.

So the grades of I-15 in Cajon pass being 6-7% are not a problem. The real problem wth I-15 is the curves.

Road curves are different than railroad curves. Highway curves use a single radius, since road lanes are wide and drivers can steer within the lane to smooth out G forces.
Trains cannot steer within their track, so the curve itself needs to be laid out with a variable radius in order to minimize G forces (and avoid derailments). These curves are called Spiral Curves, and have a very gradual entrance and exit that are extremely difficult to calculate. (The difficulty in calculations is a main reason why these curves are not common on roadways.)

So even though the speed limit of I-15 through Cajon pass is 60-70 mph, trains that follow that alignment will not be able to go that fast. Probably 45-50 mph at the most.

This applies more broadly than I-15 in Cajon; in most cases where rail transit had been shoehorned into road ROW's, the cars are allowed to go faster than the trains for the simple reason that the infrastructure was not designed for trains.

Let trains be trains and let cars be cars.


Sticking to the existing railroad ROW's will be just as fast, if not faster, than using I-15. (An all-new passenger rail ROW would be fastest, but let's be realistic here...) There are 3 rail ROW's through Cajon pass: One Union Pacific (formerly Southern Pacific) track furthest up the mountainside, a double-track shared UP/BNSF line halfway down the mountainside, and a single-track BNSF/UP line that runs mostly along the bottom of the canyon.
This third track at the bottom, called Mainline 3, is the best for passenger service. It has the fewest curves and what curves exist are really gentle compared to the other two options. Because of the few curves, it is also the steepest option at 3%, but that doesn't matter for passenger trains.

If I were the consulting engineer for this project (:fingerscrossed:) I would recommend that VTUSA builds a second track next to Mainline 3. Perhaps it would be possible to build a third track beside the existing double-track line (Mainlines 1 and 2) and then buy Mainline 3 from BNSF outright. Perhaps get the state of California to buy it as a dedicated passenger rail line to be used by VTUSA, Amtrak, and Metrolink (I can imagine Metrolink service between San Bernardino in the medium-far future.)

Anyway, Mainline 3 is the way to go. It is exactly 45 miles between San Bernardino and Victorville by rail -Amtrak already runs this route in 70 minutes. It would surprise me if a VTUSA train, with their much higher power-to-weight ratio, couldn't do it in 45 minutes.

PDF map of rail routs in Cajon Pass

As for cost, following Main 3, no new major bridges or tunnels would need to be built, but the I-15 bridge over Main 3 would need to be rebuilt in order to accommodate 2 (or more) tracks. The last 5 miles into San Bernardino are extremely tight and other adjacent infrastructure would need to be moved to accommodate another passenger-only track. But if we make a broad generalization and say $5 million per mile, (higher than the estimate of $2 million per mile on flat ground) we arrive at a price of $225 million. This does *not* include the ROW costs, which may end up doubling my estimate, but even so I think this shows that a dedicated passenger track up Cajon is not all that far-fetched an idea.

Before people say that this is being unreasonably optimistic, in 2008 BNSF completed 16 miles of new track in Cajon Pass for $90 million. This project also included things like daylighting old tunnels and some very significant earthwork and slope stabilization projects because the new track is very high up the mountain (to keep grades low). $90 million/16 miles = $5.625 million/mile, so my estimate of $5 million/mile is not unrealistic.

For context, Brightline's Orlando extension is expected to cost $2 BILLION. That extension is only 40 miles long, but there are a significant number of bridges and underpasses, and all the track is designed to run at 125 mph, which adds significantly to costs. The cost per mile of this project is not comparable to Cajon pass, but the significantly lower price of my estimate is very comparable; it shows that VTUSA would be well within its resources to extend their tracks into San Bernardino if they chose to do so.

k1052 Sep 19, 2019 9:51 PM

^
Interesting

So Cajon seems relatively feasible at a lowish (for US rail) cost via a few options.

I think I'll be long dead before the state pays many billions to tunnel under Tehachapi so hopefully they explore this option to reach Vegas.

sammyg Sep 20, 2019 2:35 PM

What would happen if instead of going to San Bernardino, Virgin turned north and connected with CAHSR south of Fresno? It would give NorCal passengers an easy ride to Vegas, and a logical non-LA terminus for the Central Valley line.

digitallagasse Sep 20, 2019 2:55 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by sammyg (Post 8693299)
What would happen if instead of going to San Bernardino, Virgin turned north and connected with CAHSR south of Fresno? It would give NorCal passengers an easy ride to Vegas, and a logical non-LA terminus for the Central Valley line.

The later plan is to have the Virgin line meet the CHSR line in Palmdale. The Virgin trains could then use the CHSR line into SoCal. Virgin may need to re-think that plan as it will be awhile at best for that to happen.

hammersklavier Sep 23, 2019 11:17 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Hatman (Post 8692635)
It's funny how different passenger and fright trains are.

If you are designing your tracks for passenger trains, you can use very steep grades that would be impossible for freight trains. If you are designing for electric passenger trains (with overhead wires for basically infinite energy) you can have trains climb incredibly steep tracks for a very long time, since passenger trains are almost always overpowered. Seriously, the locomotive to car ratio for passenger trains is rediculous compared to freight trains, and that doesn't even consider how light passenger cars are compared to freight cars (passenger cars, no matter how full of people they are, are still mostly full of air).
The one thing fast passenger trains can't handle is sharp curves, because then they have to slow down.

If you are designing your track for freight trains, you want to avoid grades at all costs, since you will be lugging millions of tons up and down that grade forever. Curves are great, since they flatten out the slope of your tracks.

So for freight trains, grades of 2% is really steep, and the tracks are usually very curvy. For passenger trains, grades can be as steep as you like but curves are dealbreakers.

So the grades of I-15 in Cajon pass being 6-7% are not a problem. The real problem wth I-15 is the curves.

Road curves are different than railroad curves. Highway curves use a single radius, since road lanes are wide and drivers can steer within the lane to smooth out G forces.
Trains cannot steer within their track, so the curve itself needs to be laid out with a variable radius in order to minimize G forces (and avoid derailments). These curves are called Spiral Curves, and have a very gradual entrance and exit that are extremely difficult to calculate. (The difficulty in calculations is a main reason why these curves are not common on roadways.)

So even though the speed limit of I-15 through Cajon pass is 60-70 mph, trains that follow that alignment will not be able to go that fast. Probably 45-50 mph at the most.

This applies more broadly than I-15 in Cajon; in most cases where rail transit had been shoehorned into road ROW's, the cars are allowed to go faster than the trains for the simple reason that the infrastructure was not designed for trains.

Let trains be trains and let cars be cars.


Sticking to the existing railroad ROW's will be just as fast, if not faster, than using I-15. (An all-new passenger rail ROW would be fastest, but let's be realistic here...) There are 3 rail ROW's through Cajon pass: One Union Pacific (formerly Southern Pacific) track furthest up the mountainside, a double-track shared UP/BNSF line halfway down the mountainside, and a single-track BNSF/UP line that runs mostly along the bottom of the canyon.
This third track at the bottom, called Mainline 3, is the best for passenger service. It has the fewest curves and what curves exist are really gentle compared to the other two options. Because of the few curves, it is also the steepest option at 3%, but that doesn't matter for passenger trains.

If I were the consulting engineer for this project (:fingerscrossed:) I would recommend that VTUSA builds a second track next to Mainline 3. Perhaps it would be possible to build a third track beside the existing double-track line (Mainlines 1 and 2) and then buy Mainline 3 from BNSF outright. Perhaps get the state of California to buy it as a dedicated passenger rail line to be used by VTUSA, Amtrak, and Metrolink (I can imagine Metrolink service between San Bernardino in the medium-far future.)

Anyway, Mainline 3 is the way to go. It is exactly 45 miles between San Bernardino and Victorville by rail -Amtrak already runs this route in 70 minutes. It would surprise me if a VTUSA train, with their much higher power-to-weight ratio, couldn't do it in 45 minutes.

PDF map of rail routs in Cajon Pass

As for cost, following Main 3, no new major bridges or tunnels would need to be built, but the I-15 bridge over Main 3 would need to be rebuilt in order to accommodate 2 (or more) tracks. The last 5 miles into San Bernardino are extremely tight and other adjacent infrastructure would need to be moved to accommodate another passenger-only track. But if we make a broad generalization and say $5 million per mile, (higher than the estimate of $2 million per mile on flat ground) we arrive at a price of $225 million. This does *not* include the ROW costs, which may end up doubling my estimate, but even so I think this shows that a dedicated passenger track up Cajon is not all that far-fetched an idea.

Before people say that this is being unreasonably optimistic, in 2008 BNSF completed 16 miles of new track in Cajon Pass for $90 million. This project also included things like daylighting old tunnels and some very significant earthwork and slope stabilization projects because the new track is very high up the mountain (to keep grades low). $90 million/16 miles = $5.625 million/mile, so my estimate of $5 million/mile is not unrealistic.

For context, Brightline's Orlando extension is expected to cost $2 BILLION. That extension is only 40 miles long, but there are a significant number of bridges and underpasses, and all the track is designed to run at 125 mph, which adds significantly to costs. The cost per mile of this project is not comparable to Cajon pass, but the significantly lower price of my estimate is very comparable; it shows that VTUSA would be well within its resources to extend their tracks into San Bernardino if they chose to do so.

It occurs to me that leasing trackage rights to Amtrak and Metrolink -- which would yield a new Metrolink line to Victorville, but IIRC the main Amtrak bottleneck is upstream at Tehachapi Pass -- would help pay for the cost of doing this, but I don't think trackage rights options are that valuable. Perhaps such a project would have to be a partnership between all the interested players -- Caltrans, VTUSA, BNSF, Amtrak, and Metrolink.

NikolasM Sep 26, 2019 11:12 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by sammyg (Post 8693299)
What would happen if instead of going to San Bernardino, Virgin turned north and connected with CAHSR south of Fresno? It would give NorCal passengers an easy ride to Vegas, and a logical non-LA terminus for the Central Valley line.

You should look at a map of California and Nevada in google maps with terrain turned on. The only $$$ feasible place for this is across Tehachapi Pass south of Bakersfield, where CAHSR was planning to go anyways, (though they really should just follow I-5 via the Tejon Pass into the valley, IMO). A straight line from anywhere near Fresno to Las Vegas takes you across some of the tallest mountains in the lower 48...

sammyg Sep 30, 2019 3:30 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by NikolasM (Post 8699490)
You should look at a map of California and Nevada in google maps with terrain turned on. The only $$$ feasible place for this is across Tehachapi Pass south of Bakersfield, where CAHSR was planning to go anyways, (though they really should just follow I-5 via the Tejon Pass into the valley, IMO). A straight line from anywhere near Fresno to Las Vegas takes you across some of the tallest mountains in the lower 48...

I meant from Victorville to Bakersfield, so yes, Tehachapi. Because CAHSR isn't being built south of Bakersfield, it provides a good opportunity for Brightline.

green_man Oct 3, 2019 4:43 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by digitallagasse (Post 8693326)
The later plan is to have the Virgin line meet the CHSR line in Palmdale. The Virgin trains could then use the CHSR line into SoCal. Virgin may need to re-think that plan as it will be awhile at best for that to happen.

It's probably too much to hope for, but a partnership between Virgin and CAHSR could put building the segment between Palmdale and Burbank (one of the most technically challenging on the whole CAHSR line) on the fast track.

electricron Oct 3, 2019 5:58 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by sammyg (Post 8702390)
I meant from Victorville to Bakersfield, so yes, Tehachapi. Because CAHSR isn't being built south of Bakersfield, it provides a good opportunity for Brightline.

A 10 year Environmental Review process would have to be followed before any tracks could be laid in Tehachapi Pass between Bakersfield and Victorville.
A 10 year Environmental Review process has been recently completed between Palmdale and Victorville so CDOT can build a new freeway.
https://la.streetsblog.org/2019/06/1...al-boondoggle/
That EIS included a parallel high speed rail line with the environmental impacts. So Virgin (ex-Brightline, ex-Desert Express) trains could build that rail line almost immediately after raising sufficient funds and getting construction permits, while the freeway is being built or afterwards.
The EIS for the high speed rail line between Bakersfield and Palmdale and another between Palmdale and L.A. are underway. There is no EIS study underway for a high speed rail line between Bakersfield and Victorville.


The question remaining to be answered is if Virgin would extend it's L.V. to Victorville HSR line to Palmdale before CHSR builds its line from L.A. to Palmdale and onwards towards Bakersfield? I can see both answers of yes and no to that billion dollar question.

electricron Oct 3, 2019 6:05 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by green_man (Post 8705747)
It's probably too much to hope for, but a partnership between Virgin and CAHSR could put building the segment between Palmdale and Burbank (one of the most technically challenging on the whole CAHSR line) on the fast track.

I doubt CHSR will want to share the HSR line between L.A. and Palmdale. I doubt they would even allow Virgin trains on their tracks - I doubt the two trains would use the same signals and train controls. Therefore I doubt Virgin would front any funding to CHSR for the tunneling required between Palmdale and L.A.

green_man Oct 4, 2019 12:42 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by electricron (Post 8705774)
I doubt CHSR will want to share the HSR line between L.A. and Palmdale. I doubt they would even allow Virgin trains on their tracks - I doubt the two trains would use the same signals and train controls. Therefore I doubt Virgin would front any funding to CHSR for the tunneling required between Palmdale and L.A.

The current Palmdale Station map on CAHSR's webpage shows a potential future XpressWest connection (name apparently hasn't been updated), so it at least exists as a concept, if nothing else.

electricron Oct 4, 2019 12:44 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by green_man (Post 8706591)
The current Palmdale Station map on CAHSR's webpage shows a potential future XpressWest connection (name apparently hasn't been updated), so it at least exists as a concept, if nothing else.

It's on the map because of the completed EIS for the freeway/high speed railway between Palmdale and Victorville.

I just wanted to remind everyone how slow Metrolink trains go between Palmdale and L.A. Watch this youtube video if you have enough time.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pwh9WLHqHgk
The video was captured in 2004, the trains have not sped up much since.

It is an excellent example of curvature freight trains require to climb or descend thousands of feet of elevation.

N830MH Oct 12, 2019 4:44 AM

Hi all,

Miami Dade county has been approves for Virgin Trains stop at Aventura Mall station.

https://www.miamiherald.com/news/loc...sAcqQlOspaQihI

N830MH Oct 16, 2019 11:46 PM

Multi-million deal would run Virgin Trains into Port of Miami
 
https://www.miamitodaynews.com/2019/...ZL1zfF1CyzVePc

Quote:

Less than a week after they OK’d spending up to $76.7 million in taxpayer dollars on a new Virgin Trains station in Aventura, Miami-Dade lawmakers today (10/17) are to look at another multimillion-dollar deal to extend the company’s services to PortMiami.

County commissioners are to consider a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Virgin summarizing the terms of an estimated $53.3 million project to design, build and operate a 20,500-square-foot station on at least one acre of seaport land.

Hatman Oct 17, 2019 4:53 AM

I did not expect the government to get involved with Brightline this early - or ever really. It muddies the water quite a bit, because every time people will try and claim that this is a private business built with private funds, there will now be exceptions.

On the bright side, this could be the end of the Tri-Rail Coastal Link project as this sort of model creates a situation in which more local governments build Brightline stations too, essentially replicating whatever service that Tri-Rail was going to provide. I trust Brightline to run their own trains on time much more than I trust two rail companies (actually 3 when freight is considered) to cooperate together.

Also, I'm going back to calling it Brightline. I like that name, I want to call the trains 'Brightliners,' and I hope that Virgin Trains will just keep everything as is - let VTUSA be the company name, and let Brightline be the service.

Last thing: This cool article I found about Brightline's other venture on the other side of the country:

Vegas to LA high-speed train looking more realistic
https://www.reviewjournal.com/busine...istic-1871032/

The best quotes:
Quote:

Bob O’Malley, Virgin Trains’ vice president of corporate development, told the Clark County Commission on Tuesday that the Las Vegas to Victorville, California, rail line is on track to break ground in the middle of next year, with operations to start toward the end of 2023.

The station would be on Las Vegas Boulevard between Warm Springs and Blue Diamond roads, moving away from a long-rumored site near the Rio.
I'm glad things are going forward so quickly, but I'm disappointed the station location changed. The old location (Rio) was to the west of the strip but well centered north-south. The new location is right on Las Vegas Boulevard, sure, but it is about as far away from the strip as downtown Las Vegas, only to the south. It's past the airport, and the buses the run up and down the strip would need to be extended a block or two in order to access the train station.

Quote:

imilar to what it has done at one of its projects in Florida,Virgin Trains plans to build around the train station, which could include office, living and retail space, O’Malley said.

Design plans for the rail line are nearly 30 percent complete, and a construction crew has been hired, O’Malley said.
Then a discussion of the financing plan that is already known, which mainly hinges on approval of tax-exempt bonds from the Nevada Legislature. That vote is happening early next month.

Quote:

Virgin is seeking $800 million in bonds to issue $2.4 billion in debt, or half the amount the company needs to finance the trains and the 185 miles of dual tracks along Interstate 15. The amount includes $600 million in bonds from California and $200 million from Nevada.
Dual tracks!
One of the reasons I am so enthusiastic about Brightline is that they build the infrastructure right. Miami Central is a fantastic Transit-Oriented-Development. Their train stations are entirely grade-separated and operate efficiently. The platforms are level with the train floor, and are further smoothed out by custom gap-filling technology. I remember reading that originally the extension between Coco and Orlando was supposed to be single-track (with over 20 bridges, this would be understandable from a costs perspective), but everything I've read recently says they will double-track this segment as well, which is awesome.
And of course there is this entirely new line between Victorville and Las Vegas. If you are designing an entire service from scratch, you can design where trains will pass each other and only construct a second track in that general area. If you known you need more fluidity later, you can build your bridges and grading for two tracks but only build one initially as a way to cut down on initial spending. But it seems like Brightline doesn't want to start small and build up. They must be expecting to run trains pretty frequently in order to double-track everything from the beginning, and I love their ambition!

Then this awesome statement:
Quote:

The Las Vegas-to-Victorville line would be the first step toward linking Las Vegas to Union Station in downtown Los Angeles.
I hope the same ambition that is driving them to build two tracks from the start will also drive them to build all they way to LA and not wait for the CHSR project, which at this point may not come within any of our lifetimes.

dave8721 Oct 17, 2019 1:14 PM

The problem is this is using up Miami's transit tax money to be spent on something that is not meant to be used as daily mass transit. I see Brightline as more of a intercity transit solution rather than a within-a-city mass transit system.

atlantaguy Oct 19, 2019 11:40 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by dave8721 (Post 8719725)
The problem is this is using up Miami's transit tax money to be spent on something that is not meant to be used as daily mass transit. I see Brightline as more of a intercity transit solution rather than a within-a-city mass transit system.

I can totally understand your point regarding the diversion of the transit tax for Brightline. What are your thoughts on Miami-Dade voting to spend $76 million on the Aventura Station this week?

No matter where the funding comes from though, I do think that will be a busy Station.

digitallagasse Oct 21, 2019 6:29 PM

Virgin Trains gave a presentation to the Clark County Commission. It provides a few extra details on the Vegas station.

https://clark.granicus.com/MediaPlay...7&clip_id=6517

Here is the link to the meeting video. Virgin Trains is item 80 to skip to that point.

I also found a link to the slide deck they used as well also on Clark County Commission site. I found the route map interesting. The corridor between Victorville and Palmdale was already known. As was getting from Palmdale down to Union Station. What is new is also a path directly from Victorville to Union Station. Looks like they are looking into alternatives since CHSR is a long way off at best. The trains are also noted as being fully electric. Looking forward to see what the trainsets will be.


digitallagasse Oct 21, 2019 6:29 PM

https://agenda.co.clark.nv.us/sirepu...9111846135.PDF

The slide deck didn't link but here is the path.

Hatman Oct 21, 2019 10:50 PM

^^^
Great find!

I am surprised that they are going to build within the I-15 corridor. I knew that their route mainly paralleled the freeway but I did not know they would actually building within the state DOT land. Furthermore, in California he said they would be building in the median of the freeway, which... I have mixed feelings about. I dislike medians as corridors for rail expansion, but the median of I-15 is very wide and perhaps this can be an exception. In Nevada they will be on the east side of the freeway but still within NDOT ROW, and now the new station location in Las Vegas makes so much more sense.

I am underwhelmed by their plans for the Las Vegas terminal. I hope that they are planning much more but just didn't want to show too much too soon - although the man did say that they wouldn't be building as big as they did in Miami, whatever that means.

Electric trains with 45 minute headways changes everything. 180 mph is also very good - that's 290 km/h which is a respectable top speed among HSR world wide. It is also suspicious... I wonder if they plan on buying copies of the Avalia Liberty trainset (next-gen Acela) from Alstom? They share the same top speed, and the tilting feature would probably be needed if trains are going to be running in the median of a much slower road. Amtrak is set to receive the last of their sets in 2022, which means that Alstom could keep up their manufacturing run and deliver a few more sets to Virgin in 2023.

But with electrification, it becomes much more expensive to extend train service to Los Angeles Union Station. I guess it wouldn't be impossible for trains to use the Amtrak route (San Bernardino - Fullerton - LA) so long as Virgin wasn't scared of stringing catenary over BNSF's 3-track mainline. It would be kind of cool they could coordinate with Metrolink's recent proposal to use HSR money to electrify the route from LA to Anaheim.
But honestly I see this going in one of two directions:

1)Connect Victorville to San Bernardino and build a large terminal there, possibly on the empty land just east of the old depot where passengers could connect to Metrolink trains to LA. There are two Metrolink lines, one to Union Station and the other to Anaheim and Oceanside, so it would be easy to access via transit. Metrolink to LA from San Bernardino takes about 90 minutes. And of course, San Bernardino is well connected to the rest of LA Valley by freeway. The only two downsides would be that electrified tracks would need to be built through Cajon pass, which in a previous post I proved would not be too expensive, and it would also limit their ability to extend to Los Angeles, since there is a huge urban area between the two points.

2) Extend to Palmdale and wait for the HSR to materialize in the far future. This scenario seems more likely to me. The Metrolink connection at Palmdale takes longer than San Bernadino to reach LA (2 hours) and there is only one freeway connection to Palmdale from LA and it is far less central to the population center than San Bernardino... but this extension would be cheaper, and in the future would connect into the HSR system for a much faster trip to LA.

In my perfect future I want both options to be used - first a terminal in San Bernardino, then when HSR comes along build to Palmdale and run two separate services to LA. But we all know the future isn't perfect.

Anyway, thanks digitallagasse for bringing this information to my attention!

digitallagasse Oct 22, 2019 4:25 PM

At the very least he is talking building height. The location is very close to the airport and flight path. Also this part of Las Vegas Blvd isn't really built up being a combination of empty lots and suburban development. If the station was next to the strip or downtown Las Vegas then the build could be very similar to Miami.

The empty lot for that block does provide room for expansion. That said the location also limits how much the area beyond that lot can be built up. The lot is right next to an Interstate. That and again the location being so close to the airport and near/in the flight path limits how much the immediate area can be built height wise. I really wish the station was built in or near downtown Las Vegas instead. The only plus side is that the site will be easier for me to reach.

I was surprised to hear 180 MPH. I thought the target was only 150 MPH. I wonder if he maybe misspoke. Will be interesting to see how the average speeds will be by only running within the median. I-15 also has a huge amount of elevation changes and some of the grades are a bit steep.

I agree that San Bernardino would be the better choice for all the reasons you noted.

bobdreamz Oct 23, 2019 3:53 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by atlantaguy (Post 8722537)
I can totally understand your point regarding the diversion of the transit tax for Brightline. What are your thoughts on Miami-Dade voting to spend $76 million on the Aventura Station this week?

No matter where the funding comes from though, I do think that will be a busy Station.

Here is the problem with this deal :

Brightline may only charge passengers between Aventura and Miami 65 percent of what it would cost to ride one of the company’s trains from Miami to Fort Lauderdale, currently the next stop after downtown Miami. Using today’s fares, that would make a one-way ride to Aventura about $9.75, more than four times the $2.25 Metrorail charges.

“How many people are we actually going to serve here? Because it’s not a commuter rail,” said Commissioner Joe Martinez, who represents a suburban district miles away from the county’s Metrorail system. “The fares, I think, will be out of the reach of a lot of people.”


https://www.miamiherald.com/news/loc...sAcqQlOspaQihI

atlantaguy Oct 23, 2019 5:13 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by bobdreamz (Post 8726370)
Here is the problem with this deal :

Brightline may only charge passengers between Aventura and Miami 65 percent of what it would cost to ride one of the company’s trains from Miami to Fort Lauderdale, currently the next stop after downtown Miami. Using today’s fares, that would make a one-way ride to Aventura about $9.75, more than four times the $2.25 Metrorail charges.

“How many people are we actually going to serve here? Because it’s not a commuter rail,” said Commissioner Joe Martinez, who represents a suburban district miles away from the county’s Metrorail system. “The fares, I think, will be out of the reach of a lot of people.”


https://www.miamiherald.com/news/loc...sAcqQlOspaQihI

Thanks, Bob! I have mixed feelings about this...

N830MH Nov 21, 2019 6:42 PM

Virgin Trains says new stations in Aventura & Boca Raton will come online October 2020, while new station at Orlando Entertainment park now in negotiation

Quote:

Aventura is targeted to begin revenue service in October 2020, with a $77 million station that includes parking and a pedestrian bridge to the mall. The densely populated city and shopping mall will contribute “meaningfully” to ridership, the company says. Aventura is the second most visited mall in the United States with 28 million annual visitors. Closing on the property and early works construction is expected to begin before the end of 2019.
https://www.thenextmiami.com/brightl...fF9jCJi9nyyW7w

Finally! Let's get going!

phoenixboi08 Nov 24, 2019 9:56 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Hatman (Post 8724464)
^^^
Great find!

I am surprised that they are going to build within the I-15 corridor. I knew that their route mainly paralleled the freeway but I did not know they would actually building within the state DOT land. Furthermore, in California he said they would be building in the median of the freeway, which... I have mixed feelings about. I dislike medians as corridors for rail expansion, but the median of I-15 is very wide and perhaps this can be an exception. In Nevada they will be on the east side of the freeway but still within NDOT ROW, and now the new station location in Las Vegas makes so much more sense.

1)Connect Victorville to San Bernardino and build a large terminal there, possibly on the empty land just east of the old depot where passengers could connect to Metrolink trains to LA. There are two Metrolink lines, one to Union Station and the other to Anaheim and Oceanside, so it would be easy to access via transit. Metrolink to LA from San Bernardino takes about 90 minutes. And of course, San Bernardino is well connected to the rest of LA Valley by freeway. The only two downsides would be that electrified tracks would need to be built through Cajon pass, which in a previous post I proved would not be too expensive, and it would also limit their ability to extend to Los Angeles, since there is a huge urban area between the two points.

2) Extend to Palmdale and wait for the HSR to materialize in the far future. This scenario seems more likely to me. The Metrolink connection at Palmdale takes longer than San Bernadino to reach LA (2 hours) and there is only one freeway connection to Palmdale from LA and it is far less central to the population center than San Bernardino... but this extension would be cheaper, and in the future would connect into the HSR system for a much faster trip to LA.

In my perfect future I want both options to be used - first a terminal in San Bernardino, then when HSR comes along build to Palmdale and run two separate services to LA. But we all know the future isn't perfect.

Anyway, thanks digitallagasse for bringing this information to my attention!

https://cms.sbcounty.gov/portals/50/...-09-085623-477

Well yes, provisions for this have been included in a Caltrans project, unless I'm confusing this with something else...

It's why I always found it strange how people were scratching their heads that Virgin would be pursuing this project between Las Vegas-Victorville; it's always been the case that it would very likely simply continue on to Palmdale as that is already entirely permitted (ie. the ROW is being preserved for expressly this purpose). The only reason I believe we haven't heard concrete confirmation about this is that, as you point out, they're still making up their minds whether to head to San Bernardino.

Even further, It would appear, to me at least, rather obvious Virgin thinks this can happen sooner rather than later, and I have some expectations they want to be in a position to, at the very least, bid to be the interim operator on CAHSR in the future - which is why I've long had a suspicion they may agitate for an extension of Metrolink from Lancaster to Bakersfield using the first-proposed but rejected SR-14 alignment that the CAHSRA wanted.

My assumption regarding this is their decision to go ahead and electrify the line, which they'd previously indicated would be done at some later point. I believe they're thinking quite strategically about this investment; they'd be getting a lot for very little.

As an ancillary, local project - with add-on improvements for Amtrak - this would likely be able to receive federal funds, which HSR seems unable to do for the foreseeable future, and immediately allows operation of the IOS on the HSR in the central valley to LAUS.

But as to your other points, they are in talks with Metro and I believe San Bernardino/LA Cos regarding their plans.

My best guess is that you last sentiment is the likeliest outcome: They will make provisions for both connections, and do whatever can be completed first. I would point out that they can simply piggy back off of improvements to Metrolink, which is planning significant upgrades in the future.

The good thing about CAHSR is that it has set off a lot of requisite planning that is making projects like this far simpler.

electricron Nov 24, 2019 2:32 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by bobdreamz (Post 8726370)
Here is the problem with this deal :

Brightline may only charge passengers between Aventura and Miami 65 percent of what it would cost to ride one of the company’s trains from Miami to Fort Lauderdale, currently the next stop after downtown Miami. Using today’s fares, that would make a one-way ride to Aventura about $9.75, more than four times the $2.25 Metrorail charges.

“How many people are we actually going to serve here? Because it’s not a commuter rail,” said Commissioner Joe Martinez, who represents a suburban district miles away from the county’s Metrorail system. “The fares, I think, will be out of the reach of a lot of people.”

On unsubsidized trains, fares must pay the costs to build and run the trains or the privately owned company loses money and eventually goes bankrupt.
While subsidized trains makes fares low - sometimes to zero - everybody pays for it with some form of taxes whether you take the train or not. All you do is mask how much when you take the government subsidy route, and redistribute the costs from those who specifically use it to everyone who pays the taxes.
Of course fares will be higher when you limit the cost to those who specifically use it..

N830MH Nov 25, 2019 11:27 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by electricron (Post 8757499)
On unsubsidized trains, fares must pay the costs to build and run the trains or the privately owned company loses money and eventually goes bankrupt.
While subsidized trains makes fares low - sometimes to zero - everybody pays for it with some form of taxes whether you take the train or not. All you do is mask how much when you take the government subsidy route, and redistribute the costs from those who specifically use it to everyone who pays the taxes.
Of course fares will be higher when you limit the cost to those who specifically use it..

Yes, it will be higher, if they raise the fares. Probably they still have to pay it off. They don't want to be bankruptcy.

bobdreamz Nov 27, 2019 4:20 PM

Check out Virgin Trains' progress on its $4 -Billion Orlando-to-West Palm route. (PHOTOS)

https://www.bizjournals.com/orlando/...Xvz_udXrxw-v9M

Click on View Gallery below first photo in article.

N830MH Dec 11, 2019 11:50 PM

Boca Raton station is coming. They approved it by last night. It take 5 hours meeting at city council by last night and now, they finally approved.

https://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/2...usvY93pZ8FKcuo

bobdreamz Dec 17, 2019 1:41 AM

VIRGIN TRAINS BEGINS BUILDING 30 BRIDGES TO CONNECT MIAMI & ORLANDO WITH HIGH SPEED RAIL.
December 11, 2019


Virgin Trains is now in full swing on construction of its high-speed rail line from Miami to Orlando, and received final approval for a Boca station yesterday.

There are already over 300 construction workers building the Miami to Orlando rail, with the number expected to top 1,000 within a few months.

Contractors are now doing piling and construction work for 30 bridges on a 35-mile stretch between Cocoa and Orlando, and three underpasses. An additional 28 bridges will be built between West Palm Beach and Cocia, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

As of last month, over 370,000 cubic yards had been cleared in preparation to begin laying rail.

Actual construction of the rail line will only take about two years, but almost another year is needed for testing to ensure it can handle high speeds, bringing the total completion time to nearly three years.

The trip from Miami to Orlando will take 3 hours 15 minutes, with a starting ticket cost of $60 and an average ticket cost of $100.

https://www.thenextmiami.com/virgin-...-boca-station/

Video Link

bobdreamz Dec 26, 2019 7:49 PM

https://twitter.com/GoBrightline/sta...0%26page%3D114

N830MH Dec 31, 2019 10:49 PM

https://www.thenextmiami.com/virgin-...bXsuleFCyp2cvM

VIRGIN TRAINS PASSED 100K PASSENGERS FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER IN NOVEMBER & SIGNS MOU FOR DISNEY STATION

Quote:

Total ridership last month was 100,627, with revenue of $2.2 million. The company says December is also on track to break records.

Enrollment in the company’s corporate travel program has doubled since September from 2,520 to over 5,000 individuals. Active commuter passes have also doubled since the beginning of the year.

Also in November, the company said it entered into a memorandum of understanding with Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. The station is expected to come online shortly after the Orlando station opens in 2022.

Virgin says construction on the extension that will link Miami to Orlando remains on schedule to welcome passengers in 2022.

Three new stations are expected to open next year in Aventura (October 2020), Boca Raton (October 2020), and PortMiami (late 2020). The Aventura station will be linked to the mall by pedestrian bridge.

N830MH Dec 31, 2019 10:51 PM

https://www.orlandosentinel.com/news...INoNHGLy6T6Jwc

Virgin Trains gets 90 more days for talks over Orlando-Tampa rail service

Quote:

Virgin Trains was granted another extension for negotiations over locating railroad track along public roads between Orlando and Tampa but the state “cannot indefinitely offer a lease opportunity in the Interstate 4 corridor,” transportation officials said.

Florida Department of Transportation and Central Florida Expressway Authority officials agreed this week to another 90 days of talks with Virgin Trains USA, formerly Brightline, over leasing track space. Current talks lapse Jan. 1 and the extension is to run through March 31.

SpongeG Jan 14, 2020 10:20 PM

Video Link


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