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Old 05-25-2016, 07:56 PM   #1
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Big Upcoming Railroad Projects

> Florida: Brightline is running trains now (pictures below),
> Vegas-California: XpressWest is uncertain, although Brightline bought the passenger-rail route in September, 2018, and
> Dallas-Houston: Texas Central announced environmental impact statement milestone on December 15, 2017. Since then more team building has occurred making it seem like more of a certainty. See updates below.


Miami Herald headline dated November 17, 2018:
“After announcing rebrand, Virgin Trains USA, formerly Brightline, files to go public”

Trains magazine, August 2018

“Sold-out trains featuring $3 and $5 introductory pricing to and from Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach began calling at MiamiCentral on May 19 and 20. Up to eight round trips are offering fares generally in the $15 (for “Smart class) to $25 range (for “Select class). Work on the “phase 2” extension to Orlando is set to begin this summer.”

USAToday, May 11, 2018
“Brightline trains to start Miami service May 19”
Several photos

USAToday, January 12, 2018
“First ride: Aboard Florida’s new Brightline train”
360 video and 38 photos

"Our vision doesn't stop here," said Wes Edens, co-founder of Fortress Investment Group, Brightline's parent company. "Our goal is to look at other corridors with similar characteristics — too long to drive, too short to fly."

Beginning in mid-2017, the All Aboard Florida's Brightline train route will open with service between Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. Service between Miami and Orlando will follow.

All Aboard Florida, the United States’ first privately owned and operated intercity passenger rail system.

Development includes updates to the existing Florida East Coast Corridor as well as new construction of a 40-mile track between Cocoa and Orlando that runs along State Road 528.

* Orlando: The Orlando station will be part of a new Inter-modal Transportation Center at the Orlando International Airport, allowing visitors from around the world to take advantage of train routes in Orlando. They’ll be able to use Orlando as a launching point for exploring Central and South Florida.
* West Palm Beach: The West Palm Beach Station is conveniently placed blocks from the Palm Beach County Convention Center, the downtown Clematis Street District, a short drive to the Palm Beach International Airport and just across Lake Worth Lagoon from the Atlantic Ocean.
* Fort Lauderdale: The Fort Lauderdale Station will connect directly to the existing Broward County Transit System and Sun Trolley, as well as the planned Wave Streetcar and Tri-Rail Coasting Link station.
* Miami: The Miami Station, known as MiamiCentral, will serve as part of a mixed-use development and connect to the Metromover, Metrorail, County bus and City of Miami trolley systems.

RailwayAge - "Brightline trainsets taking shape"

USAToday, June 10
Excellent pictures of train parts and assembly in the Siemens Sacramento plant.


Overview, station construction updates

Wednesday, June 29, 2016
Brightline gears up with first engine install
Written by Ben Vient, Managing Editor

Brightline announced June 28 that it is celebrating another milestone in the building of its trainsets as it installed the Cummins prime-mover into its first diesel-electric Charger locomotive at the Siemens manufacturing facility in Sacramento, Calif. where the trainsets are being built.

The EPA Tier 4-compliant Cummins QSK95 engine weighs 30.5 tons. Installation took approximately six hours, during which the engine was lowered into the locomotive by an overhead crane.

“The fuel-efficient Cummins diesel engine, built in the heart of Indiana, will power the locomotive with 16 cylinders pumping up to 4,000 horsepower for optimum reliability and consistency,” Brightline said. “The lightweight engine is certified to meet the ultra-low emissions required by EPA Tier 4 standards, with additional benefits including reduced noise and the lowest fuel consumption.”

Built as integrated trainsets, Brightline’s trains are comprised of two locomotives and four stainless steel passenger cars. The trains can be extended to include up to 10 passenger cars as the system and ridership grows. “The integration improves ride quality and makes for a quieter ride,” Brightline said. ”There will be a locomotive on each end for high reliability. The locomotives will also feature an ergonomic cab design for the train’s engineers.”

“The 60-acre Siemens rail manufacturing plant is home to nearly 1,000 highly-skilled employees and sources up to 80% of its energy from two megawatts of solar energy,” Siemens noted. “The plant recently completed a 125,000 square-foot expansion to help accommodate its growing production needs, including the manufacturing of Brightline’s trains. Siemens has also developed a robust and diverse base of U.S. rail suppliers to support the next-generation of rail manufacturing for Brightline, including components from more than 40 suppliers across 20-plus states with additional suppliers still being added. The company will also be performing maintenance on the Brightline trainsets, supporting full-time employment for 36 Siemens employees alongside 40 Brightline employees at Brightline’s maintenance facility in West Palm Beach, Fla.”

The first completed trainset is expected to be delivered to Brightline later this year. Vertical construction is well under way on Brightline’s train stations in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, with service scheduled to begin in mid-2017. Brightline service will be operated by Florida East Coast Industries subsidiary All Aboard Florida, using Florida East Coast Railway right-of-way upgraded to accommodate higher-speed passenger trains.

August 10th, USAToday
Railfan Fantasy: Riding nation's newest locomotive
Charger testing at Pueblo

January 11, 2017, USAToday
First look: New Florida passenger train unveiled

Brightline’s MiamiCentral Station under construction, December 4, 2017, seen below.

MiamiCentral food hall opening targeted for Spring 2018:

The Architect’s Newspaper, January 24, 2018

Florida’s Brightline makes private, high-speed transit a reality
By MATTHEW MARANI • January 24, 2018

Two paragraphs included:
“Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and Zyscovich Architects are designing the stations located in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach. All of the stations share a material palette and design aesthetic, while conforming to their individual environments.”

“Fortress Investment Group, the parent company of the Brightline, is hedging that its investment in new transit hubs will increase property values surrounding stations as well as revenue generated by real estate development. Forrest Investment Group is already building more than 800 high-priced rentals at its Miami station and close to 300 in West Palm, in tandem with new skyscrapers dedicated to commercial and retail functions.”

Metromover is a free, automated (driverless) transport system in downtown Miami.

MiamiCentral is adjacent to the Metrorail heavy rail line.

Metrorail’s Government Center Station platform is a short distance away.

Ft Lauderdale station

Brightline will share tracks with freight trains.

Bridge over New River, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Additional photos:

Tri-Rail commuter trains serve Miami at a much cheaper cost
than the MBTA’s commuter rail. A round trip ticket for a ride from
Fort Lauderdale to Miami airport, a distance of, approximately, 29 miles one way,
costs $8.45.

A second Tri-Rail line on the Florida East Coast Railway corridor, dubbed the "Coastal Link", is being planned, to be operational by 2020. The planned line will operate between Jupiter and Government Center in Downtown Miami, and add passenger rail between the downtown areas of West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, and Miami.

Tri-Rail’s Fort Lauderdale Station

Metrorail Transfer Station connects Tri-Rail commuter trains to
Metrorail’s Green Line/Orange Line heavy rail line to Government Center Station, downtown Miami.

Metromover and Metrorail

Government Center Station

Earlington Heights Station where Orange Line and Green Line diverge

Metromover, a handy-dandy way to get around downtown Miami

Texas Central Railway:


Texas Central putting its team together.

Progressive Railroading, 10/11/2018
Texas Central picks Spanish firm Renfe as bullet train operator

“Based in Spain, Renfe has more than 25 years of experience operating high-speed trains in Europe and other countries, Texas Central officials said in a press release.”

“The selection of Renfe marks another milestone in the Texas Central Railroad's plan to bring a 200 mph train that will connect the state's largest population and economic regions in 90 minutes.”

“"Having the operator, the design build and technology teams all on board and able to collaborate will ensure all aspects of the railroad are integrated and efficient," said Aguilar.”

“Last week, Texas Central announced it chose global construction and engineering firm Salini Impregilo — operating in the U.S. market with The Lane Construction Corp. — to lead the civil construction consortium that will build the company's proposed bullet train service.”

“Amtrak, Texas Central OK ticketing agreement”
progressiverailroading, 5/07/2018

“Amtrak and high-speed rail developer Texas Central have reached an agreement that will enable passengers to use Amtrak's reservation system to buy tickets for the future Dallas-to-Houston bullet train.”

“The "through-ticketing" option is aimed at facilitating transfers between the high-speed route and Amtrak stations in the area, Texas Central officials said in a press release.”

“The joint agreement comes as the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) works to complete a final environmental study of Texas Central's proposed 240-mile route between Houston and Dallas.”

Another significant step for Texas Central.

progressiverailroading, 5/03/2018
“Texas Central picks Bechtel to manage bullet-train project”

“Bechtel will support the company in managing the project as it moves from development to implementation, Texas Central officials said in a press release.”

“"We look forward to using our international high-speed train experience to progress this transformative project in the United States," said Scott Osborne, Bechtel’s infrastructure general manager, Americas.”

Texas Central Railway,, December 15, 2017

“MAJOR MILESTONE: Texas Bullet Train moves ahead with Federal Draft Environmental Impact Statement”

“Federal Railroad Administration releases its Draft Environmental Impact Statement
on high-speed train
Preferred North Texas-to-Houston route outlined
Passenger station locations identified, boosting local economy”


Texas Central Partners, LLC (Texas Central) is a private company backed by private investors.

Texas Central will deploy Central Japan Railway Company’s (JRC) “N700-I Bullet” high-speed rail system based on their “Shinkansen” system that has been refined over more than 50 years of operation into the most reliable, comfortable and safe high-speed rail system in the world.

The approximately 240-mile high-speed rail line will offer a total travel time of less than 90 minutes, with convenient departures every 30 minutes during peak periods each day, and every hour during off-peak periods – with 6 hours reserved each night for system maintenance and inspection.

Two-way departures every 30 minutes during peak travel periods, with passengers able to review schedules, select seats, purchase tickets, change travel plans, order on-board food and drinks, reserve rental vehicles at their destination and book onward travel connections online or via mobile apps.

In Dallas, two potential station locations are being considered. In Houston, the station is planned for the area along the 610 Loop between 290 and I-10.
The Brazos Valley Station will be located on the rail line in Grimes County. The final station locations will be determined and announced as engineering, design and environmental analysis is completed.

Cannot open the current issue of Train Magazine without a subscription, so, I typed portions of the text and inserted below. August 2016

Texas high speed project looks to use utility line corridor, Interstate 45 median in effort to minimize impact of route. These alternatives are under review by the Federal Railroad Administration, due to release a Draft Environmental Impact Statement in a few months for Texas Central Partners 205-mph route.

Texas Central, a private company, has attracted $75 million of seed money from Texas investors, $130 million of in-kind planning and development work from local contractors, and $140 million from the Japan Overseas Infrastructure Investment Corp. The company is waiting on a ruling from the Surface Transportation Board to confirm the board’s authority to permit construction and rule on land condemnation proceedings, should that become necessary.

A trip is expected to take less than 90 minutes. A midpoint stop is planned where the route crosses a highway linking College Station and Huntsville, Texas, a region with 75,000 students enrolled in four schools.

Assuming objections of the not-in-my-backyard crowd can be reasonably debunked, who can dispute that much of the remaining $10 to $12 billion required to actually build the system will come from Japanese backers anxious to have Shinkansen trainsets become the U.S high speed rail standard?



Progressive Railroading, September, 19, 2018
Brightline acquires Vegas-California passenger-rail route

“Brightline, the passenger-rail service operating in southeastern Florida, has agreed to acquire XpressWest, a proposed high-speed rail project with rights to develop a federally approved corridor between Southern California and Las Vegas.”

"Brightline is changing transportation in our country by connecting heavily trafficked corridors that are too long to drive and too short to fly," said Wes Edens, co-founder and co-chief executive officer of Fortress Investment Group, which owns All Aboard Florida, Brightline's parent. "Our experience in Florida is proving that private-sector investment has a meaningful role to play in developing transportation infrastructure."

“The corridor's first phase is expected to be built on right of way within and adjacent to Interstate 15, traversing 185 miles with no grade or pedestrian crossings. Construction is expected to begin next year. Brightline officials anticipate beginning service in 2022.”


XpressWest will initially be built on exclusive, new double track over approximately 185 miles between Southern California and Las Vegas. Built primarily within or adjacent to the I-15 freeway, XpressWest will have no at-grade crossings with vehicle or pedestrian traffic.

XpressWest will utilize fully electric, next generation train rolling stock capable of speeds in excess of 150 MPH that will deliver passengers to Las Vegas in 80 minutes with non-stop service every 20 minutes during peak times and up to every 12 minutes as demand requires

With an average round trip fare of $89, XpressWest will generate enough revenue to pay for its own operating and capital costs.

Cannot open the current issue of Train Magazine without a subscription, so, I typed the text and inserted below (library resource). August 2016

About Las Vegas?
Until “additional required regulatory approvals” are obtained, XpressWest, the Chinese-backed company planning a high speed system from Las Vegas to Southern California, says it will reveal few project details. But TRAINS has identified the likely site of its planned “Phase I” terminal, shown on maps as just north of Victorville, California, adjacent to an Interstate 15 interchange. The location is about 180 miles from Las Vegas, 90 miles from downtown Los Angeles, and at the end of a utility corridor about 50 miles east of Palmdale, CA. There, a “Phase 2” extension would connect with Metrolink’s Antelope Valley trains to Los Angeles, and to the San Francisco-to-Los Angeles 220-mph network, whenever that is completed.

Fun Fact: Trains Magazine’s Top 10 greatest train movies ever (2010):

10. “Murder on the Orient Express” (dir. Sidney Lumet)
9. “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” (dir. George Roy Hill)
8. “The General” (dir. Buster Keaton)
7. “Brief Encounter” (dir. David Lean)
6. “High Noon” (dir. Fred Zinnemann)
5. “La Bête Humaine” (dir. Jean Renoir)
4. “The Lady Vanishes” (dir. Alfred Hitchcock)
3. “Twentieth Century” (dir. Howard Hawks)
2. “North By Northwest” (dir. Alfred Hitchcock)
1. “The Train” (dir. John Frankenheimer)

I would include “The Narrow Margin”, 1952.

Last edited by EdMc; 12-26-2018 at 05:51 PM. Reason: Brightline acquires XpressWest, Sept. 19, 2019
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Old 05-31-2016, 02:18 PM   #2
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Re: Big Upcoming Railroad Projects

That new intermodal station at Orlando International is quite impressive. In addition to the Brightline connection, it will also expand the new commuter rail SunRail with a stop at the airport, and a future possible light rail connection to the theme parks.
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Old 05-31-2016, 03:02 PM   #3
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Re: Big Upcoming Railroad Projects

XpressWest is still unfunded, and not having a whole lot of luck securing funding. To-date, they've only managed to partner with a Chinese consortium to begin tackling the regulatory approvals. This one is still far, far away from graduating out of vaporware into something real. Despite all the promise that makes it seem like a no-brainer, such as contiguous connection to California HSR and co-usage by multiple potential Amtrak routes.

Nevada's still got a long, long way to go at wrapping brain around transit. The various incarnations of this project shouldn't have had to languish for 20 years, but there's just not a very organized public-private relationship at work here compared to elsewhere. I'd be mildly surprised if this latest plan makes any more progress than all the vaporware that came before it.

Texas Central had a lot of momentum going for it in the early going, and the promise of robust private funding getting it done relatively drama-free. Now that the corridor has actually been chosen, however, it's starting to get eaten alive by eminent domain fights. A known Achilles heel of HSR projects attempting to cleanroom ROW's. Texas, unfortunately, has pretty strong land ownership protections which are going to make fighting these disputes very time-consuming for Texas Central.

It's more than vaporware, but it's way way premature to be calling this a done deal. They've got a long slog ahead of them.

Brightline/All Aboard Florida...yes, that one's the real deal. They've already placed their rolling stock order: Siemens Charger locomotives just like Amtrak, and Siemens single-level coaches which they hope to later bid as a proven product for Amtrak's humongous Amfleet replacement order. It helps a lot that the project is being funded by the hedge fund that owns the freight railroad it runs on, and that the corridor pretty neatly matches up with that railroad's mainline...eliminating need for negotiations with other parties. That's allowed them to make a lot more progress a lot faster within-cost through vertical integration.

It'll be a fascinating case to watch in action. All Aboard Florida isn't true HSR, but rather mid-speed 'fast diesel' at 110 MPH on an upgraded existing corridor. Something you only see today on parts of the NY Empire Corridor and a small segment of Chicago Hub through Illinois and Indiana. That sort of emerging standard is where a lot of potential HSR corridors in the country need to pass through. Especially the ones that don't have the luxury of a singular linear network like the NEC or CAHSR to glom off of. Chicago Hub, for instance, gets its biggest bang-for-buck getting all of its radiating lines up to 110 MPH before it even attempts its first electrification to, say, Chicago-St. Louis. It's no single corridor; to prime it for an HSR future requires cranking up a whole spider map's worth of existing corridor routes to peak efficiency on their existing infrastructure first. Simply because that's the only way to prime the ridership pump. If AAF can find new efficiencies for quickly deploying that kind of route performance and getting private investors and private RR's involved, there are many places--none moreso than Chicago Hub, but also a lot of places in the South--where that same scalability can be applied.

Very exciting project as a potential icebreaker for getting similar mid-speed/emerging corridors to graduate from endless studies to greenlit builds. Well-executed, it'll take a lot of the fear and anxiety out of pursuit of similar builds elsewhere.
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Old 05-31-2016, 05:10 PM   #4
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Re: Big Upcoming Railroad Projects

Thanks for the additional information, F-Line. Never been to Miami or Orlando, I hope to fly Southwest into Ft. Lauderdale someday and bounce back and forth between these cities using Brightline.

I hope this private initiative is successful and leads to other successful private railroad projects across the country. Is Acela in the black operating between Boston and New York? If not, I wonder if Amtrak would allow a well-funded private consortium to complete a railroad from Boston to New York, going through Worcester and Hartford, and replace Acela between Boston and New York along this inland route. It would lighten the load on the Northeast Corridor for Amtrak and allow more attention to the Hudson River tunnels that are sorely needed(?). Are there too many obstacles, or simply out of the question, politically? Thoughts, F-Line?
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Old 05-31-2016, 06:57 PM   #5
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Re: Big Upcoming Railroad Projects

Let's put most of the NEC & alternative spine question in the thread we already have going on that, such as

Amtrak's NEC (Acela & NER) and its Virginia Extensions (engine-change to 79mph diesels at WAS) are all profitable above-the-rails, as they say. The problem is that the NEC's rails depreciate/wear each year at about what the NEC's profit is, and they need more $ to move ahead on capacity & reliability to stay competitive.

The accounting for Amtrak Virginia is also such that they appear to be able to pay for their rails (as part of costs paid to CSX and NS), but they will never never pay back Virginia's capital investment (upgrades to platforms and CSX/NS in order to get permission for added frequencies.) Right now Virginia's spending $75m on a freight line (the Virginian) owned by NS (and supposedly going to take diverted trains) as part of the deal to extend 1 train just Lynchburg to Roanoke. (the state lays out big $ for ROW upgrades up front--they justify it as being like highway spending and then they like to pretend they're thrifty because they don't subsidize train operations (also like highways)). Its actually a bad deal for taxpayers, but it preserves an important political fiction of not subsidizing operations, and the railroads love being the bag-man, receiving big fat captial-spending checks.

Except for NHV-SPG which is now under construction for 110mph service (and is techno-legally part of Amtrak's NEC) most other work ripening in the near future is going to be 90mph (like DC-Richmond), even though VA&NC continue to nudge along several 110mph through the EIS process.

As F-line says, Brightline is going to be in the rare 110mph Diesel club alongside Illinois' CHI-STL, Michigan's CHI-DET, and Amtrak NHV-SPG lines.
"Trying to solve congestion by making roadways wider is like trying to solve obesity by buying bigger pants."--Charles Marohn

Last edited by Arlington; 05-31-2016 at 07:08 PM.
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Old 05-31-2016, 07:43 PM   #6
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Re: Big Upcoming Railroad Projects

Okay, I've got enough information. Thanks.
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Old 06-16-2016, 08:17 AM   #7
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Re: Big Upcoming Railroad Projects

XpressWest's Chinese partners just pulled out. Vaporware has now been downgraded from "slightly humid" to "semi-arid".
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