Virgin Rail née Brightline/AAF Orlando - Miami FL FEC

This is a forum for all operations, both current and planned, of Virgin Rail USA formerly known as Brightline, and Virgin Worldwide Rail operations, past and present.
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Gilbert B Norman
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Re: Virgin Rail née Brightline/AAF Orlando - Miami FL FEC

Post by Gilbert B Norman » Fri Feb 01, 2019 4:30 pm

Tadman wrote:Does FEC have a railroad police department?
Mr. Dunville, I think you will find FEC Police are sworn Peace Officers, i.e. they can "Bust" you and I. Brightline only has "rent a cops".

Secondly, when I got off the flight home from MIA on Tuesday, some guy noticed my Brightline hat. He said "Brightline, you rode it"? "Sure have and it's "Super".

Simply because I'm skeptical of their Business Plan, does not mean I think their on-board and pre-departure service is other thsn superb. Why get wasted at a hotel bar @ $12 per Chardonnay when you can do it for the price of a Select class ticket at their stations?

SouthernRailway
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Re: Virgin Rail née Brightline/AAF Orlando - Miami FL FEC

Post by SouthernRailway » Sun Feb 03, 2019 4:47 pm

I'm planning to do a one-day trip down to Miami to ride on Brightline, either Saturday, 2/9 or Saturday 2/23. Flying into MIA at around 9am and leaving late afternoon.

Anyone else is welcome to come.

Gilbert B Norman
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Re: Virgin Rail née Brightline/AAF Orlando - Miami FL FEC

Post by Gilbert B Norman » Mon Feb 04, 2019 9:23 am

I don't think this Tampa Bay Times report breaks any new ground, but it's a "lead in" for discussion:

https://www.tampabay.com/business/virgi ... n-20190130" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Fair Use:
Virgin Trains USA, the Sir Richard Branson-backed company that has partnered with Florida's Brightline passenger train, on Wednesday announced an initial public offering of stock to raise up to $619 million.

Altogether, Virgin Trains is offering to sell more than 32.5 million shares of stock at $17 to $19 per share. The shares will be listed on the Nasdaq stock exchange under the ticker symbol VTUS.
Of course, this is all well and good for an outfit about which I have been mistaken more than any in the sixty five years I have followed railroad industry affairs, and for which, so far as I'm concerned (six trips to date), offers an entire (station and on-board) product never found anywhere in all three "Americas"(of course, let it be noted the only South American country in which I have set foot is Venezuela).

Now, first $600M (if they get it) is only a "down payment" on the $1.6B they need to "build out" to MCO - never mind all the rest. The Private Activity Bonds (exempt from Federal Income Tax) have been rated "junk", and at present "they're losing their shirts" even with the apparent "post-intro" fares (my MIA-WPB-MIA was $80).

How do I know they're losing their shirts? If otherwise, they'd be trumpeting it from the wherever (can't say hilltops in South Florida :-D :P).

Finally, let us not lose sight that Sir Richard is a showman - and this is just one more outlet to sell "I slept on a..." T-Shirts.

HenryAlan
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Re: Virgin Rail née Brightline/AAF Orlando - Miami FL FEC

Post by HenryAlan » Thu Feb 07, 2019 1:34 pm

Jadebenn wrote:I'm curious. If you treated Brightline as an Amtrak service and compared its passenger numbers to the other Amtrak trains, where would it stack up? Less than the NEC for sure... but I feel like it'd be in the top ten routes as far as ridership goes. And this is only it's first full year of operation!
The numbers are similar to the Downeaster, though I don't know whether that's a decent comparison in terms of distance and traveler profile. The Downeaster achieves these numbers with only five daily round trips between Boston and Portland, ME, although I think the trains are about twice as long as the Brightliner/Virgin trains.

Arlington
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Re: Virgin Rail née Brightline/AAF Orlando - Miami FL FEC

Post by Arlington » Thu Feb 07, 2019 5:39 pm

I want to call this to Mr. Norman's attention:
Brightline’s presentation to bond investors projected 240,000 passengers a month by 2020. Analyst Fitch Ratings calculated the company would “break even” if it attained 56 percent of that ridership forecast.
2020 Forecasts are on the WPB-MIA route alone (MCO is a "2022" thing). So that's

1.0M Passengers in 2019, basically if growth stopped right now
1.5M Passengers in 2018, if growth stalls midyear
1.6M Passengers to breakeven, according to Fitch Ratings
2.9M Passengers in 2020, in BL's forecast

Which is pretty much the kind of inflection point at which companies go public. Losing money now, breakeven soon, profitable business "in the can", very specific use (MCO extension) for IPO next round of funding.
HenryAlan wrote:
Jadebenn wrote:I'm curious. If you treated Brightline as an Amtrak service and compared its passenger numbers to the other Amtrak trains, where would it stack up?
The numbers are similar to the Downeaster, though I don't know whether that's a decent comparison in terms of distance and traveler profile. The Downeaster achieves these numbers with only five daily round trips between Boston and Portland, ME, although I think the trains are about twice as long as the Brightliner/Virgin trains.
Brightline compares very favorably to the Downeaster (particularly given that the DE is matured and BL is still in its growth ramp). Here are some quick ratios:

DE = 550k riders in 2018
BL = 600k riders in 2018...but 239k in Q4 alone

So their 2019 is probably going to look like:
DE = 550k riders on 145 miles of track and 5x145 = 725miles of round trip each weekday
BL = 1,000k riders on 70 miles of track and 17x70 = 1190miles of round trip each weekday

DE = 750 riders per weekday round trip mile
BL = 840 riders per weekday round trip mile (about 10% better per train-mile)

If you think about labor costs, and power-by-the-hour, try riders per scheduled operating minutes

DE = 400 scheduled minutes per round trip (3h20 ...200 minutes each way)
BL = 150 scheduled minutes per round trip (1h15 ...75 minutes each way)

DE = 5 x 400 = 2000 scheduled minutes per weekday
BL = 17 x 150 = 2550 scheduled minutes per weekday

DE = 550k/2000 = 275 riders per weekday schedule minute
BL = 1000k/2550 = 392 riders per weekday schedule minute (about 40% better per scheduled weekday minute)

You could redo all the above to a crazy level of detail, but frankly rivet-counting on questions of deadheading, staffing, seat capacity, etc. will be swamped by the question of whether Brightline simply keeps growing for another year at the rate it has been (which isn't crazy: most new services have crazy growth in their initial years)
"Trying to solve congestion by making roadways wider is like trying to solve obesity by buying bigger pants."--Charles Marohn

benboston
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Re: Virgin Rail née Brightline/AAF Orlando - Miami FL FEC

Post by benboston » Thu Feb 07, 2019 7:02 pm

I wonder market share of travelers traveling between the three cities that they currently serve they have obtained.

Arlington
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Re: Virgin Rail née Brightline/AAF Orlando - Miami FL FEC

Post by Arlington » Thu Feb 07, 2019 10:13 pm

benboston wrote:I wonder market share of travelers traveling between the three cities that they currently serve they have obtained.
If I'm reading https://www.fra.dot.gov/Elib/Document/15092" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; correctly, they think the 2010 SE Fla cities had:
36,000,000 car trips (100k per day "center to center")
92,000 air trips (only connections and charters are offered)

Scale that up to
40M car trips per year, and you'd call BL's 1M = 2.5% right now and their long-term projected 4M = 10% at maturity. 90% of trips will still be by car (but if they get to 4M trips per year, they'll be printing money)
"Trying to solve congestion by making roadways wider is like trying to solve obesity by buying bigger pants."--Charles Marohn

benboston
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Re: Virgin Rail née Brightline/AAF Orlando - Miami FL FEC

Post by benboston » Fri Feb 08, 2019 5:21 am

Honestly, I don't see why anybody would want to drive Downtown to Downtown when Brightline is available.

Arlington
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Re: Virgin Rail née Brightline/AAF Orlando - Miami FL FEC

Post by Arlington » Fri Feb 08, 2019 7:27 am

If you live in a 'burb, work downtown, have a client in the other downtown, but can go home after your meeting, a car seems like a good idea.

What takes time is that that person might realize that the right idea is to take a Lyft for their home legs of the trip.

The other thing that keeps people in their car is childcare and child seats.
"Trying to solve congestion by making roadways wider is like trying to solve obesity by buying bigger pants."--Charles Marohn

Jeff Smith
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Re: Virgin Rail née Brightline/AAF Orlando - Miami FL FEC

Post by Jeff Smith » Fri Feb 08, 2019 3:10 pm

MassTransitMag.com: Hefty debt, station naming rights: Takeaways from Virgin Trains' IPO
...
Virgin Trains has yet to hire a contractor to connect West Palm Beach to Orlando. The company says it aims to open service between West Palm Beach and Orlando International Airport in three years, placing the launch date in 2022. "We have not yet entered into certain construction contracts for the completion of the North Segment, including contracts for the construction of rail infrastructure and our Orlando vehicle maintenance facility, as well as contracts for the completion of signage, off-site roadway work and utility connections," Virgin Trains says.
...
Next stop, Willoughby
~Jeff Smith (fka "Sarge") :: RAILROAD.NET Site Administrator/Co-Owner

benboston
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Re: Virgin Rail née Brightline/AAF Orlando - Miami FL FEC

Post by benboston » Sat Feb 09, 2019 2:06 pm

Arlington wrote:If you live in a 'burb, work downtown, have a client in the other downtown, but can go home after your meeting, a car seems like a good idea.

What takes time is that that person might realize that the right idea is to take a Lyft for their home legs of the trip.

The other thing that keeps people in their car is childcare and child seats.

That's why there's other transit on the other end.

Gilbert B Norman
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Re: Virgin Rail née Brightline/AAF Orlando - Miami FL FEC

Post by Gilbert B Norman » Mon Feb 18, 2019 9:40 am

First chapter of my best-seller "How To Lose Friends And Make Enemies" is shouting "I told you so".

So I refrain from that and offer this ominous report in the spirit of "they sure have tried":

https://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/2019 ... xperts-say" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Fair Use:
Financial experts say it’s unclear how long Virgin Trains USA can continue to operate after putting the brakes on a stock offering that would have raised nearly $500 million in much-needed capital.

With a cash flow of negative $6.8 million per month, the money-losing parent of the Brightline train service must look outside passenger revenue for a financial lifeline, said Ozgur Ince, a finance professor at the University of South Carolina.

“Their cash position looks very precarious,” Ince said. “With only $273,000 in cash and cash equivalents, they really needed the $500 million or so cash infusion from the IPO.”

Richard Rampell, a Palm Beach CPA and former board member of the RailAmerica freight line, also sees financial trouble down the track.

“At this rate, they could last maybe a year,” Rampell said. “Then they’re going to be in big trouble unless they can get some more capital.”
Best advice; "get on down" and "on the pronto" for a taste of what rail travel can be.

gokeefe
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Re: Virgin Rail née Brightline/AAF Orlando - Miami FL FEC

Post by gokeefe » Mon Feb 18, 2019 6:58 pm

I'm curious why the IPO got pulled in the first place. Branson would have seen the books ahead of time ...
gokeefe

Gilbert B Norman
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Re: Virgin Rail née Brightline/AAF Orlando - Miami FL FEC

Post by Gilbert B Norman » Mon Feb 18, 2019 9:03 pm

Mr. O'Keefe, I can only reiterate, Sir Richard is a showman. He looks for ways to attach, in exchange for royalties, his name to "whatever".

Virgin Trains UK reportedly has serious customer service issues; so did Virgin America Airlines. My Sister has flown Virgin Australia on what is becoming her annual trek to see the Grandchildren; "it's an airline" was her comment to me.

mtuandrew
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Re: Virgin Rail née Brightline/AAF Orlando - Miami FL FEC

Post by mtuandrew » Mon Feb 18, 2019 9:47 pm

Picture Virgin somewhat like Our Dear Orange Leader’s brand, as a license, a marketing tool, and a standard of service that includes cross-business support. For Virgin America Trains, the real power behind the throne is SoftBank, and if recent reporting is any guide SoftBank’s major backer is the Saud family and government. That connection may very well be providing the “alternate form of financing” alluded to in their press release, especially since now-Senator Rick Scott has been a vocal defender of their government.

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