Acela 21 (Avelia Liberty) development, testing and deployment

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jis

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Not being an engineer, I don't understand, why that is? I thought that the NEC tracks were supposed to be good... 🤔
It is all relative. It is probably the best in the US, though Brightline may give it run for its money, but compared to tracks in many other countries it isn't really all that good. There are many reasons for that, many even legitimate reasons. But this is where the business about "fighting the battle with the army that you have, not the one you wished you had" comes into play.
 
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Trogdor

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Not being an engineer, I don't understand, why that is? I thought that the NEC tracks were supposed to be good... 🤔

There’s different levels of “good.” Compared to the rest of the US railroad network, the NEC is the gold standard. Compared to high-speed rail in the rest of the world, the NEC is pretty far behind.
 

railiner

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What is the difference, between the NEC, and “the best”? How much more would it cost to make the NEC equal to that, (not considering curvature straightening)?
I assume it is cost that is the reason for not doing that now…🤷‍♂️
 

Septa9739

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I don’t think we have the technical ability to build a world class railroad. We throw ridiculous money at the NEC for what we get out of it. Europe has the benefit of generations of linemen, track gangs, engineers, et al. who have built best in class infrastructure their whole careers, who learned from someone who did the same. It’s the same problem as rolling stock. There is no domestic manufacturer because it’s too hard to find people who actually know what they’re doing and have worked through this or that problem before. An that’s not an indictment of the men who work on this stuff. It’s just the reality that as an industry it’s not easy to get back to being the best after having given up for 70 years. That’s why I follow Dave Gunn and his inglorious incrementalism. He really understood that cultural problem and was realistic about maybe getting there one day, but that day would be many days away.
 

rookzie

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I've never heard the NEC called the best rail in the US. The two NS lines Amtrak uses in Virginia are smooth as glass compared to the NEC. It has an enviable speed rating, but it's not as comfortable as the Dismal Swamp run in Virginia, and I doubt it would be even at 79mph.
I'm thinking the "best rail in the US" to which Trogdor and jis are referring is to be understood in the context of contiguous segments linking multiple populated areas, with an FRA track rating of Class-5 or better for use in passenger service.

I used to ride that Great Dismal Swamp stretch of NS many times, when I still worked for both N&W and NS, and yes it historically has been and was well maintained long before the current NE Regionals began to serve the "Southside" of Hampton Roads Va. (South Hampton Roads) starting in late 2012. That stretch was rather "comfy" on the many freights I rode through there ─ whether on one of the company's office cars on ferry between Norfolk and Roanoke or while riding a locomotive cab on my return trip. Of course, those runs were at considerably less speed than 79, and a ride on older 6-axles units like the EMD SD40-2 could make one feel as if he were riding the Tilt-a-Whirl ─ even with that many axles (compared to 4).

But back to the intended point, "gold standard" for the US probably is to be understood as RoW which is maintained for primary use by passenger service operated in (at least) HighER Speed service. Many if not most of us are aware that Amtrak's Illinois and Michigan services include stretches that allow passenger speeds beyond 79, since they have been or are in the process of being upgraded to class-5 track speed. Much of this is shared trackage not owned by Amtrak, although Amtrak does own the 95.6-mile segment of track between Porter, IN and Kalamazoo. But the same can be said about lot of track in the West, maintained by BNSF to class-5. A ride west of Albuquerque on the "SW Chief" demonstrates how fast those big rocks zip past those Superliner windows at 90 MPH, because the BNSF has the signal equipment necessary to operate its own trains allowed by that track class. But in the case of freights, speed not only is limited by track class, but also by the engineering dynamics of the rolling stock, as well as with the gearing constraints of high-horsepower locomotives (AC4400s, SD70/90s, GEVOs [GE Evolution Series], etc.).

Finally, "gold standard" contextually implies priority scheduling for passenger-train service, generally only possible within the NEC and with existing portions of Brightline. The STB very recently approved Brightline West's request for authorization to modify portions of a previously authorized alignment, and this allows relocating the rail alignment on certain portions of the Line from the east side of the I-15 freeway to its median. Brightline West very well would augment what can be referred to as "gold standard" in the US, to incorporate the new dedicated Cocoa-to-Orlando (MCO) and the proposed extension MCO-to Tampa. Although diesel-electric as opposed to external-electric with the NEC, Brightline higher speed service appears predicated on a business model of higher-speed operation wherever possible and practical, discounting the shared segment between Miami and West Palm Beach (limited to 79 MPH).

Again, it's all relative to what North America already has had during the last 7 decades.
 
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sportbiker

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In Europe, Alstom puts out a damn fine HSR product. Alstom U.S. puts out damn fine conventional rolling stock (Pacific Surfliner cars are Alstom and they're workhorses). So I'm trying to understand what's going on with the new Acelas.

I wonder how much the manufacturing issues can be traced back to domestic manufacture and "Buy America." Given that the Libertys (Liberties?) are the first HSR product to enter domestic manufacturing within the past 20 years, Alstom had to build from scratch a new supply chain from domestic sources. To give one example, the tllt-system-related hydraulic gizmo that's leaking was likely custom built by an American company just for Alstom. If so, this is the first time that gizmo has ever been used. Thus, it's more a prototype than a tested production unit. If Alstom could have used French-supplied production gizmos, I think it likely they would not have failed. Or think about the windows popping out. How likely is it that the installation process was ever so slightly different between the workers at Toulouse who have experience with the product versus the Hornell workers who don't?

We'll likely never know for sure, but given that Euro units work and American units don't, this is the only line of reasoning that makes sense to me.
 

jis

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How likely is it that the installation process was ever so slightly different between the workers at Toulouse who have experience with the product versus the Hornell workers who don't?
Toulouse? Surely you meant to say Reichshoffen, La Rochelle or Belfort. the manufacturing facilities for High Speed Trains? Unless of course we are talking of Airbus for some reason 😁

We actually have no idea which components are imported and which are sourced locally. The made in the USA requirement requires only a certain large percentage by value to be done in the USA, not everything, and for components that are not available in the US, exemptions can be requested and are granted all the time.
 
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