Why isn't Amtrak copying Brightline?

Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.

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Re: Why isn't Amtrak copying Brightline?

Postby Noel Weaver » Sat Jan 27, 2018 7:36 pm

Amtrak was created way back when the freight railroads and nobody else for that matter either would or could operate rail passenger service and make a go of it. Amtrak does not have the power to create a new corridor where there is not even rail today, indeed they can not even if they wanted to which they are interested in anyway. Brightline has a winning concept with the real estate that they own or have an interest in, a corridor type service with a great potential and a potential to grow their business to other corridors in time. They are free to exploit their potential but that is their decision. Amtrak was created to run on freight railroads and except fhe NEC and a few other places they are depended on the freight railroads for cooperation. Brightline might sometime down the road need cooperation from another freight railroad other than the Florida East Coast or they could deal with various states in building a rail corridor in the middle of another expressway. Again, the potential is there and their management sees that potential in a positive way. The future can be very interesting to say the least, stay tuned.
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Re: Why isn't Amtrak copying Brightline?

Postby SouthernRailway » Sun Jan 28, 2018 9:11 am

Not sure if I follow.

Amtrak owns its own track mostly in the NEC, but it also owns its own track in places outside of the NEC.

Amtrak does real estate development around stations. Lots of transit agencies spend heavily on commercial real estate development, including in partnership with the private sector.

Amtrak has created new corridors (e.g., the Downeaster).

So Amtrak can have its own track, do real estate development and create new corridors. Why isn't it doing this on the scale that others are? I get that Amtrak wasn't set up with that in mind, but no corporation does exactly the same thing over 40 years after it was first created; corporations grow and evolve, both in the public sector and in the private sector.
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Re: Why isn't Amtrak copying Brightline?

Postby BandA » Sun Jan 28, 2018 11:41 am

Amtrak should copy Brightline's sense of urgency. It should take years, not decades to acquire rolling stock, build track, tunnels, bridges and stations.

If it is desirable to do something, why wait to do it? Because you have to save up your subsidy money & apply for grants. Do you want to wait for a Tesla Model 3 or will some Toyota get the job done?
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Re: Why isn't Amtrak copying Brightline?

Postby BlendedBreak » Sun Jan 28, 2018 1:47 pm

Q:Why isn't Amtrak copying Brightline?


A:Because Amtrak is ran by a mafia of idiots. Seriously consider the following.
    +Most of the mid-level management are life-long railroaders. 20+ years of dealing with trains.


    +0 family time as most of it is or was spent chasing $$ causing ruined relationships and the resultant burning internal anger that causes serious social behaviors that would make psychopaths seem like model citizens.

    +No formal educations. College degrees are only required in upper level positions-even then experience can trump education at the NRPC.Thinking outside the box is impossible when you have spent years inside the box.

A hole so deep has been dug by the mishaps, incidents, and failures that there is no way out of it.

Consider this, the Engineer of the ill fated #89 out of New York was hired by his NJ Transit buddies in NY - to become an eventual Road Foreman. Mr.Hunter (his name as available on NTSB reports) knew he could get away with alot because he was friendly with management. Within his first year he had been put out of service several times due to a RULE G and a restricted speed violation that caused a broken switch in Sunnyside Yard. A few joints later he is sitting on a curb in middle of nowhere Pennsylvania getting a splint placed on his arm asking-"what happened?". Meanwhile the substance ridden bodies of two track workers are spread in between the irons and ballast of a portion of AMTRAK owned NEC. Mr.Hunter is allowed to resign...dispatcher fired-before the investigation is complete(now suing Amtrak), and what have we learned as employees? Nothing.

A young engineer with a promising future(30 years of making $$$ on the NEC) gets lost one night and whips his train around a curve so quickly it kills a few and injures hundreds...we know...I think, Frankford was the location? In any regard he is still listed as employed by Amtrak on the Engineer Roster...After another couple years he will probably be holding a nice Sunnyside Yard drill job. Just like the engineer before him that whip his train around the same curve so fast that it caused several injuries minus the news coverage...What did we learn? Nothing.

Pride and prejudice on the rails...We don't learn from mistakes...we point fingers and carry on as if nothing happened...

Funny story, I check google to find the status of train 188, but all i can find are results of a horrible tragedy...maybe i should just call the 800 number..."hello? julie? is that you?"
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Re: Why isn't Amtrak copying Brightline?

Postby jcpatten » Sun Jan 28, 2018 3:58 pm

"Amtrak" did not create the Downeaster corridor. The service was in large part thanks to lobbying efforts by Wayne Davis and Trainriders Northeast, which eventually spawned the creation of Northern New England Rail Passenger Authority (NNEPRA), a quasi governmental organization that's (I think) a part of Maine State government. NNEPRA got the service going, but the service provider didn't necessarily have to be Amtrak. I recall when bids did go out on the service, I think Guilford Transporation (now Pan Am Railway) put in a bid for it. I don't recall who the others were. Likewise the Brunswick extension and possible Rockland service, they weren't thanks to Amtrak they were thanks to NNEPRA.

My guess is that today Amtrak doesn't go looking to start up a brand new service, instead there has to be some local or grassroots effort to get a train to a particular place.
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Re: Why isn't Amtrak copying Brightline?

Postby Tadman » Sun Jan 28, 2018 8:33 pm

I would assume if Amtrak were to borrow a bunch of money (the only way to do it) and conduct a transit-oriented development, the private sector would howl in protest that the government was taking opportunity from them. The same would probably happen with any other facet of Amtrak's business if they made money at it. For example, M&E is profitable for UPS and the Class 1's, and they were understandably unhappy when Amtrak started into the market. That's when timekeeping went to heck about 15-20 years ago.

Also, let's look at it this way: do you really want Amtrak doing real estate development? The group that after 40 years cannot put together a standard boarding procedure is now risking billions? I know of a number of projects where they partner with development companies (for a hefty fee) and that makes much more sense. Amtrak makes money that pays for trains, the building is developed, more passengers are nearby to buy tickets. This is going on in Chicago Union Station right now and it just makes much more sense.

Look at it from the flip side. If Brightline and Fortress didn't have a relationship to FEC at the beginning, they'd probably hire FEC or someone like Keolis or First to run the trains while Fortress developed the skyscrapers.
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Re: Why isn't Amtrak copying Brightline?

Postby ngotwalt » Mon Jan 29, 2018 7:54 am

The question of Amtrak copying Brightline and should Amtrak do it, one need look at ongoing projects in Washington DC, Philadelphia, New York, Baltimore, and Chicago to realize Amtrak is already in fact copying it. Remember how you used to see daylight coming out of the Hudson River tubes before entering Penn Station, but you don’t anymore, because there a building over that hole now. Amtrak is making huge real estate investments which will likely end up being a massive source of income for them. I think all this could be game changing for Amtrak.
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Re: Why isn't Amtrak copying Brightline?

Postby CentralValleyRail » Tue Jan 30, 2018 1:54 am

BlendedBreak wrote:
Q:Why isn't Amtrak copying Brightline?


A:Because Amtrak is ran by a mafia of idiots. Seriously consider the following.

      +No formal educations. College degrees are only required in upper level positions-even then experience can trump education at the NRPC.Thinking outside the box is impossible when you have spent years inside the box.
"


I have no college education so does that mean I'm stupid? Maybe in your eyes. Maybe in your eyes I'm not qualified to run Amtrak. But I do run my own 7 figure business that does business in 10 countries, I own property, I own a new Mercedes. I have more than most in this world But hey I'm not qualified right.
SO Please don't equate college education and work positions.

The two don't intertwine. NOT HERE.

Ask any air traffic controller if they went to college a majority have not and they control hundreds of lives in their hands at once. It's all on the job training.

Railroading is on the job training, yes you need to know basics, (and all the architects, statisticians, etc can be brought in 3rd party.)


You ethier know your railroad or you don't you either have it in you or you don't.



Unless your becoming a lawyer, doctor, scientist etc etc you don't need a piece of paper with a signature on it. A majority of the people that I graduated high school with (a top 25 public school in NJ) with that believed that if they went to college that they would be hired successful etc are not. In their late 20s making 50K a year give or take (which is peanut change in the NY metro area, I know bartenders making more than that) some of them with 200K in college loan debt (that went to top colleges like Penn State, Perdue, Maryland, UF, etc).

While Amtrak's problems do stem from management, it also stems from those who are just plain street dumb. Havard degree looks great but if you don't know that your tunnel is going to be gone in 5 years and your Acela's are coming to the end of their lives and all you have is some sort of vision your beyond helpless.
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Re: Why isn't Amtrak copying Brightline?

Postby Noel Weaver » Tue Jan 30, 2018 2:00 pm

I still remember the problems that my mother created for me when I first got a job on the New Haven Railroad back in 1956. She wanted me to go to college and become a doctor, lawyer or dentist not necessarily in that order. I did just fine on the railroad with just a high school education all through my 41 year career. The only thing I might have gained by going to college would have been big bills and a loss of seniority. I knew when I finished high school that I wanted to work for the railroad and nothing else and I was lucky to get exactly what I wanted. It isn't whether you have a college education or not but what you do with that education after you get it that counts. You can have the best education and still be a failure.
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Re: Why isn't Amtrak copying Brightline?

Postby Arlington » Tue Jan 30, 2018 2:21 pm

Brightline has a uniquely-high ratio of added-real-estate-value per track-mile-costs. They began with super low value cleared lots in super well connected sites, and only had to develop a system exact-sized for profits (real estate profits, operating breakeven, and an option to make money on double stack port freight)

If Amtrak could cherry pick itself and just run WAS-BAL-PHL-NYP-STM and only serve stations where it had real estate development deals in just those cities, well, they'd be just like Brightline.
"Trying to solve congestion by making roadways wider is like trying to solve obesity by buying bigger pants."--Charles Marohn
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Re: Why isn't Amtrak copying Brightline?

Postby Tadman » Tue Jan 30, 2018 4:50 pm

For what it's worth, the very early predecessors of Amtrak, and any railroad, were the Brightline of their day. NYC owned half of midtown manhattan at the PC merger, because they bought it when it was cheap and developed it into hotels, buildings, etc... that then supported the trains with passengers and goods traffic. The western railroads were given large land grants that they sold off and/or developed which provided raw materials and crops as traffic.

It's interesting just how back-to-basics this business model is. It's just hard to find a combination of a friendly host, good city pair in terms of distance and population, lack of competition, open space, and backers. Most cities in the northeast already have plenty of service and no space to build a train. Texas has the right cities at the right distance, but you won't find UP too excited about this idea. Detroit-Chicago has the right combo but Amtrak owns the main and probably isn't about to give that up, in addition to that 20 mile nightmare stretch in Indiana. And they have to go to Michigan for money, which I'm sure Michigan already feels they are spending like mad.
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Re: Why isn't Amtrak copying Brightline?

Postby SouthernRailway » Tue Jan 30, 2018 8:12 pm

ngotwalt wrote:The question of Amtrak copying Brightline and should Amtrak do it, one need look at ongoing projects in Washington DC, Philadelphia, New York, Baltimore, and Chicago to realize Amtrak is already in fact copying it. Remember how you used to see daylight coming out of the Hudson River tubes before entering Penn Station, but you don’t anymore, because there a building over that hole now. Amtrak is making huge real estate investments which will likely end up being a massive source of income for them. I think all this could be game changing for Amtrak.
Nick


You're correct; I was thinking about "why isn't Amtrak copying Brightline by developing new corridors"?

Atlanta-Charlotte seem like a good bet, if Norfolk Southern would go for it.
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Re: Why isn't Amtrak copying Brightline?

Postby electricron » Tue Jan 30, 2018 8:49 pm

SouthernRailway wrote:You're correct; I was thinking about "why isn't Amtrak copying Brightline by developing new corridors"?

Atlanta-Charlotte seem like a good bet, if Norfolk Southern would go for it.


Doesn’t Amtrak already serve the Charolette to Atlanta route with the Crescent?

The route Amtrak should be doing is the Dallas to Houston route, but it looks like private enterprise will do it. Why? Because Texas is reluctant to subsidize Amtrak ran regional trains when it appears private enterprise will do it.
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Re: Why isn't Amtrak copying Brightline?

Postby Suburban Station » Tue Jan 30, 2018 10:02 pm

electricron wrote:
SouthernRailway wrote:You're correct; I was thinking about "why isn't Amtrak copying Brightline by developing new corridors"?

Atlanta-Charlotte seem like a good bet, if Norfolk Southern would go for it.


Doesn’t Amtrak already serve the Charolette to Atlanta route with the Crescent?

The route Amtrak should be doing is the Dallas to Houston route, but it looks like private enterprise will do it. Why? Because Texas is reluctant to subsidize Amtrak ran regional trains when it appears private enterprise will do it.

You probably should have stopped at " reluctant to subsidize amtrak." After all these years there's still no Dallas to Houston and even Houston to San Antonio is three days a week. In Texas trains are for cattle
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Re: Why isn't Amtrak copying Brightline?

Postby Philly Amtrak Fan » Wed Jan 31, 2018 7:00 am

electricron wrote:Doesn’t Amtrak already serve the Charolette to Atlanta route with the Crescent?



Sure! Leaving Charlotte 2:45am and returning at 1:21am! Interested?

https://www.amtrak.com/content/dam/proj ... 010918.pdf

electricron wrote:The route Amtrak should be doing is the Dallas to Houston route, but it looks like private enterprise will do it. Why? Because Texas is reluctant to subsidize Amtrak ran regional trains when it appears private enterprise will do it.


How long have we been waiting for Texas Central now? All Amtrak needs is through cars off the Texas Eagle at Dallas to Houston via College Station (less than 300 miles). They did it back circa 1994. It shouldn't even require state funding since it would be considered part of the TE.
http://timetables.org/full.php?group=19 ... &item=0031
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