Author Topic: Brightline ready to expand rail system to Tampa  (Read 207809 times)

marcuscnelson

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2117
  • Gen Z - Tired of the status quo
Re: Brightline ready to expand rail system to Tampa
« Reply #420 on: April 06, 2022, 10:25:41 PM »
There have been some very interesting developments in Brightline's effort to cross Orlando.

The most informational article from the Orlando Sentinel
Florida Politics Article
Business Journal Article

Orlando-area officials announced that they are in the process of creating the "Sunshine Corridor Program," a federally-funded project that would build tracks along SR-528 (not the SR-417 alignment Brightline has previously focused on that would go directly to Disney), including a stop at I-Drive and the Convention Center. The new alignment would be shared by Brightline trains and a new SunRail service. The plan is backed by the mayors of Orlando and Orange County as well as Congressman Darren Soto, with support from Brightline, Universal Studios, and the I-Drive Chamber of Commerce. Notably, it appears that FDOT and Disney were not invited to a key meeting in Washington last week, and were largely informed about it this week.

I think there are a lot of potential lessons for Jacksonville in seeing this process, even from afar. With some critical supporters in local and federal leadership, Orlando is putting together a partnership to finally deliver rail service in Central FL. Obviously it's not a sure thing yet, but it looks like a key step forward. It's leadership we'll hopefully find in our next mayor to work towards here.
So, to the young people fighting in this movement for change, here is my charge: march in the streets, protest, run for school committee or city council or the state legislature. And win. - Ed Markey

Charles Hunter

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4900
Re: Brightline ready to expand rail system to Tampa
« Reply #421 on: April 06, 2022, 11:01:45 PM »
Except Disney isn't running its free Magical Express between the airport and The World. That service stopped in January 2022. Mears Transportation is now providing - and charging for - shuttle service between MCO and WDW.
https://thekingdominsider.com/mears-connect-replacing-disneys-magical-express-starting-january-2022-ks1/

Pottsburg

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 167
  • Always Carry Always Conceal
Re: Brightline ready to expand rail system to Tampa
« Reply #422 on: April 09, 2022, 12:17:15 PM »
Quick Brightline update. South Florida service resumed in November. I took a few different trips to Miami during the holidays and it was packed each time. They have some great deals too. They offer free entrance to Frost Science Museum in Miami, Norton Museum in West Palm Beach, and Museum of Science and Discovery in Fort Lauderdale. They did the Polar Express again around Christmas, which is awesome for kids. And they restarted the Heat game specials where you can ride to games from WPB and FTL and have the train leave as soon as everyone gets shuttled back to the station from the game.

They are now doing test runs/training between West Palm Beach and Cocoa to get their people acclimated with the route in advance of opening. "The company expects the extension, which is 70% built, to be completed by the end of this year, Ben Porritt, senior vice president of corporate affairs, said by phone on Monday."
 https://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/fl-ne-brightline-starting-crew-tests-20220111-i5dowrdwnvekvjqlukvrzxwcey-story.html

Errrrrrr hit the breaks there bud. The trains are running in the area to get their employees qualified for the new territory. The aren’t going over 60mph anywhere north of WPB. A realistic timetable for fully operational at the speeds they want to run at is mid 2024. They still have a lot of work to do.  Including some major bridge projects. Now I can totally see them starting when things aren’t fully ready and running 80mph most of the way. Just to say they kept to a timetable.
Forza Napoli!  EPL has nothing on the Serie A

marcuscnelson

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2117
  • Gen Z - Tired of the status quo
Re: Brightline ready to expand rail system to Tampa
« Reply #423 on: October 10, 2022, 12:51:09 AM »
Figured I'd come by and make a few updates.

There have been a few snags with the further expansion plans. Disney predictably decided to pull out after the announcement of the Sunshine Corridor, so Brightline won't stop on-property. The new plan is to build a station on an empty part of I-Drive north of the Gaylord Palms resort, which is close enough to Disney that presumably Brightline+ or some other shuttle service can make the final connection. The other hitch is that the current estimated cost of the Sunshine Corridor (including SunRail service and plus the extension to Tampa, I think) is at around $6 billion, of which FDOT is angling for about half to come from the federal government. All of Brightline's development up to OIA, plus the interest on their loans and bonds, comes out to about $6.7 billion, so this is certainly a big project. This is (now nearly) the same stretch of railway that was scuttled under Rick Scott over a decade ago, so the question's out there as to whether they can make it this time.

The feds did provide a $25 million RAISE grant to improve grade crossings in South Florida, which hopefully will help with protecting the 328(!) grade crossings between Miami and Brevard County from more crashes.

Finally, service expansion in South Florida is moving forward in some ways. The Aventura and Boca Raton stations are still expected to open before the end of the year, while the commuter rail projects along the same corridor are entering engineering phases. Broward County decided to simply punt on deciding how to cross the New River, so instead they're only working on the corridor south of that. It'll still likely be several years before we see commuter service there, so don't hold your breath on how that all turns out.

Errrrrrr hit the breaks there bud. The trains are running in the area to get their employees qualified for the new territory. The aren’t going over 60mph anywhere north of WPB. A realistic timetable for fully operational at the speeds they want to run at is mid 2024. They still have a lot of work to do.  Including some major bridge projects. Now I can totally see them starting when things aren’t fully ready and running 80mph most of the way. Just to say they kept to a timetable.

This was (thankfully) pretty much wrong. Test runs at 110 are starting next week. Unless they've somehow catastrophically screwed up to the point the FRA won't allow it, it seems pretty likely they're going to get at least that segment to the speeds they want. The question spot will probably be the 125 portion once that's wrapped in the next few months. They have pushed back opening dates a few months to early-mid 2023, but certainly not to mid 2024. They certainly won't have revenue service this year, but there's a decent chance they'll be largely done with the major infrastructure, and just completing some remaining track or bridge work by the new year. Pretty exciting all around.
So, to the young people fighting in this movement for change, here is my charge: march in the streets, protest, run for school committee or city council or the state legislature. And win. - Ed Markey

Pottsburg

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 167
  • Always Carry Always Conceal
Re: Brightline ready to expand rail system to Tampa
« Reply #424 on: October 10, 2022, 09:13:05 AM »
I stand by my statement. No way they run that train at the speeds they promised the people in 2023. Have they moved faster than I thought they would? Yes.  Will they run revenue service before 2024? Yes. That being said it won’t be fully operational (running the speeds they want in all areas) until 2024. Now that may not be a big deal to some, but when it adds an extra hour to the trip, it will make people think twice. I hope they get it done next year just as much as anyone else here, but I know the hurdles ahead of them, and they are pretty big.
Forza Napoli!  EPL has nothing on the Serie A

thelakelander

  • The Jaxson
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 34657
    • Modern Cities
Re: Brightline ready to expand rail system to Tampa
« Reply #425 on: October 10, 2022, 06:10:18 PM »
There have been a few snags with the further expansion plans. Disney predictably decided to pull out after the announcement of the Sunshine Corridor, so Brightline won't stop on-property. The new plan is to build a station on an empty part of I-Drive north of the Gaylord Palms resort, which is close enough to Disney that presumably Brightline+ or some other shuttle service can make the final connection.

This is a project in the FDOT District where I have worked in-house for the last five years. The site at the SE quad of I-4 and SR 536 has been the proposed station site for a while now. Well before the Sunshine Corridor announcement. I wouldn't consider the location a snag. It's pretty accessible to all the autocentric spaces like Disney, that are located in the Kissimmee/Lake Buena Vista area.
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali

marcuscnelson

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2117
  • Gen Z - Tired of the status quo
Re: Brightline ready to expand rail system to Tampa
« Reply #426 on: April 29, 2023, 05:51:56 PM »
It's been a while, so let's see how things are going.

Since my last update, the infill stations in Boca Raton and Aventura have opened to great success. Although there are now additional coaches on order (which won't arrive until 2024 and 2025), they've resorted to removing coaches from some of their newer trainsets stationed in Orlando for testing to attach to the trains currently operating in South Florida. The WPB-MIA corridor is now in fact so successful that in March, Brightline made an operating profit for the first time ever, which they didn't anticipate doing before Orlando opened.

Speaking of Orlando, pessimists were partially correct about delays. The infrastructure is now projected for substantial completion sometime in May, around which ticket sales for service to Orlando will begin. Brightline did hold a flashy grand opening ceremony for the Orlando station this month, showing off its amenities. According to a talk given the next day by SVP for Corporate Affairs Ben Porritt, service is currently projected to begin sometime in July once FRA-mandated testing and certification is complete. Those tests include successful 130mph runs along the dedicated passenger corridor between Orlando and Cocoa, which officially make Brightline the fastest train in the Americas outside of the Northeast Corridor.

Regarding Tampa, it sounds like there are some locally-focused issues holding up progress on the Sunshine Corridor at the moment. Porritt did announce that there will be no Lakeland station upon opening, but it is being considered for infill after the initial service to Tampa opens. SunRail has provided more details as to the current challenges, most glaringly the existing project to extend SunRail to the airport (which is already in FTA project development) conflicting with the new plan, and whether to throw out that work and start over entirely or continue it in some form and separate the rest of the new project from it.

Finally, regarding Jacksonville, they did acknowledge that they hold rights to the FEC corridor to Jacksonville, but made clear that they are currently focused on opening Orlando, completing the Florida system to Tampa, and getting Brightline West under construction before they look to other expansions. There was an interesting aside where they discussed how getting the West system shovel-ready cost them $600 million, and that they'd really prefer it if state DOTs would handle the permitting process for potential HSR corridors and then put it out to bid for them or other companies to actually build and operate.

So that's what's new.
So, to the young people fighting in this movement for change, here is my charge: march in the streets, protest, run for school committee or city council or the state legislature. And win. - Ed Markey

thelakelander

  • The Jaxson
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 34657
    • Modern Cities
Re: Brightline ready to expand rail system to Tampa
« Reply #427 on: April 29, 2023, 06:13:09 PM »
I'm very surprised to see them make a profit on the operation side in South Florida so quick. Kudos to them.
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali

thelakelander

  • The Jaxson
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 34657
    • Modern Cities
Re: Brightline ready to expand rail system to Tampa
« Reply #428 on: May 01, 2023, 12:25:07 PM »
Some video of the new Orlando Station. It looks pretty nice....

Unveiling Brightline's Orlando Station: A First Look Inside the All New Station

https://youtu.be/eCsb7OPNX1M

"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali

Jagsdrew

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 284
Re: Brightline ready to expand rail system to Tampa
« Reply #429 on: May 01, 2023, 02:20:23 PM »
Was in Terminal C this weekend and saw the station (from a short distance), it looks real nice. Still the terminal C is not fully built out and there are some permanent construction barricades/cones with no construction equipment. Would be nice if they cleaned it up a little bit more.

Sidenote: Orlando's airport (MCO) is probably the worst airport in the world, change my mind.
Twitter: @Jagsdrew

marcuscnelson

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2117
  • Gen Z - Tired of the status quo
Re: Brightline ready to expand rail system to Tampa
« Reply #430 on: May 01, 2023, 05:28:57 PM »
In the world? There are a lot of airports, man…

MCO is kind of a weird airport in how it's setup but once they've actually built the South Terminal complex out and have enough gates to turn around and reconstruct the original terminal it'll probably be fine, pretty good even. Especially as Brightline expands, being able to focus on international or cross-continent travel while shorter distance trips are by train will be good for them.
So, to the young people fighting in this movement for change, here is my charge: march in the streets, protest, run for school committee or city council or the state legislature. And win. - Ed Markey

thelakelander

  • The Jaxson
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 34657
    • Modern Cities
Re: Brightline ready to expand rail system to Tampa
« Reply #431 on: May 01, 2023, 05:51:17 PM »
Sidenote: Orlando's airport (MCO) is probably the worst airport in the world, change my mind.

I like MCO better than Atlanta's. The last thing I need in my travel life is having to run to a train a million gates away, to then ride a few concourses down and run past another 40 gates to not miss the connecting flight.

With that said, if driving and trying to park at MCO, you're better off going to the Terminal C garage (or the long term surface lot across from Terminal C) and coming in from the south, as opposed to fooling with parking in the main terminals.
« Last Edit: May 01, 2023, 05:55:31 PM by thelakelander »
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali

HeartofFlorida

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 30
Re: Brightline ready to expand rail system to Tampa
« Reply #432 on: May 07, 2023, 06:58:51 PM »
Sidenote: Orlando's airport (MCO) is probably the worst airport in the world, change my mind.

I like MCO better than Atlanta's.The last thing I need in my travel life is having to run to a train a million gates away, to then ride a few concourses down and run past another 40 gates to not miss the connecting flight.

With that said, if driving and trying to park at MCO, you're better off going to the Terminal C garage (or the long term surface lot across from Terminal C) and coming in from the south, as opposed to fooling with parking in the main terminals.
The last time I flew out of TLH with a connecting flight to O'Hare from ATL, I experienced that same nightmare scenario.  The flight circled Atlanta for 30 minutes and by the time we landed, my connecting flight was already taxiing.  ATL is like the movie Home Alone, on Steriods.

Pottsburg

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 167
  • Always Carry Always Conceal
Re: Brightline ready to expand rail system to Tampa
« Reply #433 on: May 13, 2023, 04:58:45 PM »
I had a chance to ride the brightline from Fort Lauderdale to Miami week ago. I caught the train about 2 PM and there was 50 people on it. They ran a free shuttle to Marlins Park when I arrived in Miami. Leaving the baseball game I took the free shuttle back to Miami Central, and about 75 people got on the train there and headed north. I was very impressed. I spoke with a couple on the shuttle, leaving the baseball game, they lived in Vero and drove down to West Palm Beach and hopped on the train, and took it all the way to the game. Everyone I spoke to really enjoyed the service.
Forza Napoli!  EPL has nothing on the Serie A

thelakelander

  • The Jaxson
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 34657
    • Modern Cities
Re: Brightline ready to expand rail system to Tampa
« Reply #434 on: May 15, 2023, 09:46:56 AM »
I'm really looking forward to the Orlando segment finally opening. I will definitely take a joyride between Orlando and Miami and back, this summer.
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali