• Brightline Orlando Launch Discussion

  • This is a forum for all operations, both current and planned, of Brightline, formerly All Aboard Florida and Virgin Trains USA:
    Websites: Current Brightline
    Virgin USA
    Virgin UK
This is a forum for all operations, both current and planned, of Brightline, formerly All Aboard Florida and Virgin Trains USA:
Websites: Current Brightline
Virgin USA
Virgin UK

Moderator: CRail

  by JohnFromJersey
Gilbert B Norman wrote: Tue Sep 26, 2023 7:19 am Now Orlando is a horse of a different color; the FAA does "not exactly" appreciate high rises around an airport's perimeter.
A big complaint about the Orlando station I've heard is how it goes to the airport, and there is nothing around the airport to go to without having to pay for an Uber, etc. Not even SunRail goes to the airport, and they have access to now!

However, with the Orlando airport, that is part of Brightline's model of catering to tourists. If someone goes to Orlando for a trip/vacation, they now have the option to spend a day or so in South Florida without having to rent a car and drive it on highways unbeknownst to them, go through airport security again, etc.

Going from South Florida to Orlando might be inconvenient for some, given that once you're at the airport, you're SOL, but if your origin is Orlando, and you want to spend some time in South Florida, almost all the Brightline stations there empty out to where you want to be.
  by Gilbert B Norman
An aside.

Last January, when I was in Miami to hear the Cleveland Orchestra as part of their Miami residency, the Sunday after the Saturday performance I attended, they were performing in Orlando at the new PAC they have there. They were all standing about their hotel (mine as well; wonder why?) awaiting busses. One of the musicians told me of their Orlando performance and how they were flying up there. And much to my surprise, there was Franz Weiser-Most, the Orchestra's Music Director, and was going to ride the same bus and fly the same plane as the musicians (I would have expected he would be chauffeured and flying "private") :-D

But nevertheless, if they are to repeat that same itinerary this year, might they, just might they, use.......
  by Jeff Smith
I wonder if they’ve had a beer or meal at an airport restaurant recently… $$$$$$$$$$$$$
  by RandallW
Unusually for most US airports, substantial dining/shopping at MCO is outside security along with a 445 room Hyatt Regency hotel in Terminal A/B.

Also of interest, the Brightline terminal is in the International terminal (C), so if catering to tourists, catering to tourists presumably from areas where the automatic expectation is not to get a rental car.
  by Gilbert B Norman
Your point is noted, Mr. Randall W, in that here at ORD, there is as good as nothing "streetside". I found same to be the case at SZB when I took a city bus out there "just to say I saw it" (I'm honestly too old to think of further trips overseas to Salzburg).

But that was worth it as I met musicians with the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra who had performed the evening before and were flying to Berlin - and I had been at that concert. I could tell them face to face how much I enjoyed both Beethoven Concerto #1 and Brahms Symphony #2..

But to close back on the rails Stateside, good to know that if you want to "enjoy" a $50 Burger 'n Beer before your return Brightline, you can do so without obtaining that noted Pass.
  by Jeff Smith
Doubling service: Sun-Sentinel
Brightline doubling new Orlando service to 15 daily roundtrips next week, company president says

Two weeks after launching its service to Central Florida, Brightline expects to start operating a full schedule of 15 daily roundtrips between South Florida and its new station in Orlando with train speeds reaching 110 mph, the Miami-based company’s president told a gathering of business and political leaders in West Palm Beach.

The higher speed railroad, which opened its long-awaited 170-mile extension between West Palm Beach and Orlando late last month, sold out 18 trains over the last weekend and has operated at 75% capacity along the segment, Patrick Goddard told an audience of several hundred people on Monday at The Forum of the Palm Beaches at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts.
But the immediate future entails adding more trains and easing the throttle forward a notch on the trains’ speeds.
“The trains are going to start moving faster,” Goddard added. “They’re currently topping out on some segments at 90. That’s going to be 110 in a few weeks’ time. The travel times are going to continue to get better.”
  by Gilbert B Norman
Indeed encouraging!!!

Now will it be enough to have Brightline become a private sector "Going Concern"; that remains to be seen. But I'm now starting to hold, it's here to stay. Really, Florida is quite pro-passenger rail - just so long as the operator is other than Amtrak.

I know I've linked this around here umpteen times (only way I ever knew such existed was watching Tony about to get whacked), but even I (and yes I know how skeptical I was ten years ago when I thought the initiative was a ploy to sell the FEC Ry to the State) am now starting to become "a Believer".

I'm sure I'll take a "bumper to bumper" joyride this coming February. After that, on future trips "down below", if there are to be any, will be just to get to performances at either Arsht or Kravis from Boca.
  by JohnFromJersey
Gilbert B Norman wrote: Tue Oct 03, 2023 7:01 am Really, Florida is quite pro-passenger rail - just so long as the operator is other than Amtrak.
Which is surprising, given the number of HOAs down there, you'd think it would be NIMBY central, and they would have a ton of political power.

There may be a lot of NIMBY's, but as seen with Brightline, they had no power in stopping them.
  by Gilbert B Norman
Jeff Smith wrote: Mon Oct 02, 2023 1:45 pm I wonder if they’ve had a beer or meal at an airport restaurant recently… $$$$$$$$$$$$$
You ain't kidding, Sgt. Smith:

https://www.wsj.com/lifestyle/travel/ai ... lead_story

Fair Use:
My mission: See how far $100 would go in an era of high inflation and daily social-media posts on outrageous airport prices. That’s a deceptively complicated task in a place where the same two bottles of water cost $5 in one spot and $8 down the hall.
  by JohnFromJersey
Looking like I will be taking Brightline from Orlando - WPB sometime next weekend. If it ends up happening, I will post my experiences here.
  by JohnFromJersey
I have just returned from my Brightline trip, from Orlando (MCO) to West Palm Beach (WPB) and back. I was visiting a long-time friend and former college roommate of mine, who I don't get to see that often, due to him living in Florida and me living in New Jersey.

Going Down
My train was at 8:3something am. Got there about a half hour before. The Mary Mary bar is pretty good. Prices are a bit elevated for some items, and are definitely a good price for others. Depends on what you get.

Boarding started 10 minutes before, ended 5 minutes before departure. Train left on time.

The train going from MCO down to WPB was PACKED. I was in the last passenger train (Coach 4), which wasn't that full, but the other Coaches looked jam-packed. Looked like a lot of families were taking the train to go to the coast.

The ride from MCO to WPB was just over 2 hours, and was pretty pleasant. Great views. Arrived shortly before 11am, about a 2 hour and 15 minutes trip.

Coming Back
The train was supposed to leave WPB for MCO at 5:59pm. The train did not arrive at the WPB station until 6:05pm, but the Brightline employees made sure that everyone was ready to board before the train arrived, and we left the station at 6:09. Not a big delay whatsoever, especially when I am used to MTA and NJT delays. The train going back to MCO wasn't as filled as the morning one I took was, but there were a fair amount of people in each car - just sparsely populated among the seats of the coach. I assume the morning train from WPB and points south to MCO will be packed, but I won't know that, since I will be preparing to fly back to New Jersey tomorrow.

We arrived at the station at the stated arrival time on my ticket, despite the 10-minute delay. Not sure how that math adds up, but I am not complaining. TMI, but it was quite interesting to go #1 and #2 on a train going 130MPH.

Complaints / Areas for Improvement
I don't have much at all, honestly. First and foremost, the cost is a lot. From MCO to WPB, the starting price was $69 when I was going to book ahead of time. Due to some last-minute rescheduling between my friend and I that was not reserved until yesterday afternoon, I booked the tickets to and from really late, and round trip, it cost me $220. A lot of money! But I got to see my friend, and I got to ride Brightline, something I have been meaning to do for almost ten years, back when this project was just starting to be built back in 2014. So you know what? It was worth it.

Lastly, the seats aren't the most comfortable if you are trying to sleep. If you are working or aren't tired, they are fine, but if you're trying to get some shut-eye on the train, good luck.

Final Thoughts
Brightline is definitely worth the convenience and the comfort, over driving or flying between Orlando and WPB/points south, but the cost is definitely steeper than I had initially planned for. I would recommend that you plan your trip at least a few days ahead of time to get the best prices.

The service, the atmosphere, the comfort, the timing, all of it was downright impeccable, and puts the NJT/MTA/Amtrak we are used to up north to shame. Amtrak between Orlando and WPB was only 20something dollars, but would have taken over 5 hours!

I expect Brightline will continue to do nothing but the best and be an innovator in passenger rail, something that the United States so desperately needs.
  by Erie-Lackawanna
To be clear: it is inappropriate to compare Brightline to any other US passenger rail service except Amtrak. MTA and NJT are mass transportation for short, commuter trips to and from a city center. Brightline is an intercity passenger service with a completely different market than any commuter rail operator, and it offers amenities that are expected by consumers in that market.

Comparing Brightline to Amtrak, however, is completely fair. Amtrak can, and should, learn a lot from Brightline.

  by JohnFromJersey
Jim, with all due respect, since Brightline's opening in 2018 until just a couple of months ago, Brightline was basically operating as if it was just a commuter service with the relatively short distance between WPB and Miami and some subsidiary stops in Boca and Aventura. A lot of people in South Florida have been using Brightline to get to work, since traffic on the I-95 corridor is horrific and only gets worse.

Now with the Orlando connection, yes, I would say Brightline is finally a true inter-city passenger service.
  by Gilbert B Norman
There's a very favorable Brightline article within a real estate ad supplement in today's Journal.

It cannot be linked as it appears print only. So if anyone else around here reads the Journal in print other than me (I'm too old to learn how to read a newspaper on the web), it's out there and worth a peek.
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