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  #1581  
Old Posted Oct 17, 2019, 4:53 AM
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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.
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  #1582  
Old Posted Oct 17, 2019, 1:14 PM
dave8721 dave8721 is offline
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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.
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  #1583  
Old Posted Oct 19, 2019, 11:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dave8721 View Post
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.
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  #1584  
Old Posted Oct 21, 2019, 6:29 PM
digitallagasse digitallagasse is offline
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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.

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  #1585  
Old Posted Oct 21, 2019, 6:29 PM
digitallagasse digitallagasse is offline
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https://agenda.co.clark.nv.us/sirepu...9111846135.PDF

The slide deck didn't link but here is the path.
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  #1586  
Old Posted Oct 21, 2019, 10:50 PM
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^^^
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!
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  #1587  
Old Posted Oct 22, 2019, 4:25 PM
digitallagasse digitallagasse is offline
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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.
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  #1588  
Old Posted Oct 23, 2019, 3:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by atlantaguy View Post
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
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  #1589  
Old Posted Oct 23, 2019, 5:13 AM
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Originally Posted by bobdreamz View Post
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...
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  #1590  
Old Posted Nov 21, 2019, 6:42 PM
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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!
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  #1591  
Old Posted Nov 24, 2019, 9:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hatman View Post
^^^
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!


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.
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  #1592  
Old Posted Nov 24, 2019, 2:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bobdreamz View Post
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..
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  #1593  
Old Posted Nov 25, 2019, 11:27 PM
N830MH N830MH is offline
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Originally Posted by electricron View Post
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.
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  #1594  
Old Posted Nov 27, 2019, 4:20 PM
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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.
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  #1595  
Old Posted Dec 11, 2019, 11:50 PM
N830MH N830MH is offline
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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
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