Airo - Amfleet I replacement Siemens Inter City Trainsets (ICT)

Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum

Help Support Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum:

rickycourtney

Conductor
Joined
Dec 21, 2012
Messages
1,919
Location
Fresno, CA
Let's just put some of this into perspective...

As to concerns about these being semi-permanently coupled trainsets...
The Cascades has been using (functionally) permanently coupled trainsets for over 20 years with very few issues you bring up and the operation is much the same. The cars are maintained under contract with Talgo as one unit. But the Talgo trainsets require the use of a crane and specialized equipment to remove a car from a trainset. Siemens says these cars will take a team of two people about 35 minutes to couple/uncouple. It's not something they'll want to do all the time, but eliminating a bad car or expanding a trainset for surge needs? No problem! In my experience, it's rare that Amtrak makes changes to their consist as is. But maybe over time, they'll discover that it just doesn't make sense to have six cars on Keystone Corridor trains; they can remove those cars and use them elsewhere.

As to concerns about the length of time people will spend on these trains...
The seats do recline, sort of. The seat bottoms slide forward, adjusting the angle of your seat and allowing you to recline at the expense of YOUR legroom, not the legroom of the person behind you. This has always seemed like a more fair system to me, and I say this as a 6'3" tall person with long legs. Also, I don't honestly expect that many people will be traveling the entire Boston to Virginia length of the corridor. For a 14-hour trip, if you're not a die-hard railfan, it makes more sense to just fly.

As to concerns about checked baggage...
Those are fair points... but I just don't see Amtrak being all that interested in expanding checked baggage service. For better or worse, the airlines have made all of us used to NOT checking our luggage. It usually comes with added fees and increased chances of lost bags. Beyond that, eliminating (or not adding) checked baggage service means fewer baggage handlers are necessary. People are the most expensive part of any operation.
 

Stremba

Train Attendant
Joined
Apr 27, 2022
Messages
76
Location
Crafton

I saw this on the local newspaper website and this was the first I heard of it. Anyone familiar with these new Airo trains? Eliminating the long layover for the engine change in Philly certainly will speed the Pennsylvanian trip a bit. (Apparently the new train will have the ability to run on both diesel and electric power)
 

rickycourtney

Conductor
Joined
Dec 21, 2012
Messages
1,919
Location
Fresno, CA

I saw this on the local newspaper website and this was the first I heard of it. Anyone familiar with these new Airo trains? Eliminating the long layover for the engine change in Philly certainly will speed the Pennsylvanian trip a bit. (Apparently the new train will have the ability to run on both diesel and electric power)
You’ve come to the right place. Scroll back for 10 pages of discussion about the Airo.

The trains will be dual powered, so yes, much shorter layovers will be possible in Philly, as will a switch to electric power in Harrisburg.
 

Dutchrailnut

Conductor
Joined
Jul 4, 2006
Messages
1,246
Location
Brookfield, Connecticut, USA
Actually Management might not like a crew to be in designated crew compartment, and get complaints of crew not being found or crew sleeping.
either way the crew is a neccesity , their work space a neccesity in whatever form , the public will complain .
 

jis

Chief Dispatcher
Staff member
Administator
Moderator
AU Supporting Member
Gathering Team Member
Joined
Aug 24, 2003
Messages
35,192
Location
Space Coast, Florida, Area code 3-2-1
Actually Management might not like a crew to be in designated crew compartment, and get complaints of crew not being found or crew sleeping.
either way the crew is a neccesity , their work space a neccesity in whatever form , the public will complain .
I still think it would be appropriate to have designated crew space, which could very well be one table in the Lounge/Cafe. The current problem is that in a half Cafe almost all the tables are occupied by crew with one individual occupying an entire table and scowling and growling at any passenger (customers who they ostensibly are supposed to be serving) that dares to try to find a sitting place in the Cafe to eat. That is what should not be acceptable, and is generally not accepted anywhere other than at Amtrak, as routine crew behavior.
 
Last edited:

Mailliw

OBS Chief
Joined
Jun 14, 2020
Messages
697
Location
Scranton, PA
Actually Management might not like a crew to be in designated crew compartment, and get complaints of crew not being found or crew sleeping.
either way the crew is a neccesity , their work space a neccesity in whatever form , the public will complain .
I don't see this as any different than crew compartments on airliners. Only 1 or 2 crewmembers should actually be on break at anytime, the rest would still be easily found. I'd imagine having the crew take their breaks in a passenger area creates more of an impression of "laziness" than a crew compartment would.
 

zephyr17

Engineer
Joined
Jul 23, 2009
Messages
7,122
Location
Washington State
Will amtrak be getting rid of the talgo 8 sets that they are currently using?
Well, it's really not up to Amtrak, it is up to ODOT which owns the two sets (I think one is still out of service), and WashDOT, which jointly funds the service generally with ODOT and so is on the hook for part of the maintenance costs.

WashDOT, in particular, is concerned about economics of scale and no longer having maintenance one-offs different from the general Amtrak fleet. They also are pretty determined to cease doing business with Talgo, there was a major falling out over Talgo's required maintenance contracts. Pissing off their lead customer in the North American market was not a smart move for Talgo, and they are now shut out of North America for the foreseeable future.

While I don't know for sure, WashDOT announcements of the new fleet made no mention of the Talgos at all. And WashDOT, at least, would almost certainly like be done with Talgo. WashDOT is the senior partner and largest funder of the service.

Long way of getting to the same conclusion, but I don't see a future for the Talgo VIIIs once the all the "Airos" WashDOT/ODOT are buying are delivered.
 
Last edited:

jis

Chief Dispatcher
Staff member
Administator
Moderator
AU Supporting Member
Gathering Team Member
Joined
Aug 24, 2003
Messages
35,192
Location
Space Coast, Florida, Area code 3-2-1
On the argument about using locomotive hauled trains vs. articulated distributed power sets, an interesting data point has shown up over the last few weeks in India that I thought might be worth sharing. There is a route of length of 565km (351 miles) which has a loco hauled day train which is scheduled for 8.5 hours. It has numerous speed restrictions for various reason interspersed among sections of 80mph. On the same route recently a second train with similar stops, but operated using an articulated distributed power set (Vande Bharat Express) was added with initial schedule of 7.5 hours, allegedly to be updated to 7 hours after it is ascertained that the schedule can be reliably maintained. In its first week of operation it routinely ran 20 mins ahead of schedule, so it looks like that the schedule will be tightened to 7 hours.

What this suggests is that in situations where the route profile requires numerous slowdown and speedups articulated distributed power sets gives one a very significant scheduling boost of between 1 and 1.5 hours per 300 miles. This sort of a thing projected onto a 2000 mile corridor would suggest cutting schedule time by between 3 and 5 hours by just changing equipment. That translates to a 13-15 hour New York - Chicago schedule without doing any track work, provided of course dispatching can be managed better. Also since it is not an electrified route, the gains will probably be somewhat less spectacular.

As for Amtrak, it has so far steadfastly refused to consider distributed power. However the Airos, even though they are not fully distributed power, the ones with catenary APV have 2 or 4 more powered axles than pure loco hauled push-pull set, which should help performance, how much is yet to be seen. The question is will Amtrak actually take advantage of it or will it hold the schedules down for the sake of product differentiation between Regionals and Acelas?
 
Last edited:

bonzoesc

Train Attendant
AU Supporting Member
Joined
Mar 10, 2022
Messages
58
Location
Miami
On the argument about using locomotive hauled trains vs. articulated distributed power sets, an interesting data point has shown up over the last few weeks in India that I thought might be worth sharing. […]
Yeah, "multiple units" (abbreviated DMU for diesel multiple unit and EMU for electric multiple unit) have better performance because of physics, where the amount of force you can exert between wheel and rail is based on mass, but are harder operationally because you have the complexity of having that extra traction power distributed around the train.
 
Joined
Jan 9, 2021
Messages
926
Location
Boston
Yeah, "multiple units" (abbreviated DMU for diesel multiple unit and EMU for electric multiple unit) have better performance because of physics, where the amount of force you can exert between wheel and rail is based on mass, but are harder operationally because you have the complexity of having that extra traction power distributed around the train.
I'm not sure this is enough of an issue for there to be any argument against widespread adoption of the tech. EMU use is ubiquitous, and the US should absolutely utilize them (at the least, DMUs would be highly advised in many instances, especially in the Northeast).

That said, these 'american railjets' really are a significant upgrade, and will be a much more enjoyable experience, except for maybe those seats.
 
Last edited:

jis

Chief Dispatcher
Staff member
Administator
Moderator
AU Supporting Member
Gathering Team Member
Joined
Aug 24, 2003
Messages
35,192
Location
Space Coast, Florida, Area code 3-2-1
I just thought that there is something to be said for the possibility of being able to tighten schedules by an hour to hour and a half between New York and Richmond without spending many tens of Billions on track upgrade, by just making better selection of rolling stock when you are replacing them anyway. But what would I know? These things just work outside the US as we have been told multiple times. ;)
 
Last edited:

Trogdor

BURNiNATOR
Joined
Aug 3, 2004
Messages
6,007
Location
Here
Yeah, "multiple units" (abbreviated DMU for diesel multiple unit and EMU for electric multiple unit) have better performance because of physics, where the amount of force you can exert between wheel and rail is based on mass, but are harder operationally because you have the complexity of having that extra traction power distributed around the train.

I'm not sure this is enough of an issue for there to be any argument against widespread adoption of the tech. EMU use is widespread, and the US should absolutely utilize them (at the least, DMUs would be highly advised in many instances, especially in the Northeast).

That said, these 'american railjets' really are a significant upgrade, and will be a much more enjoyable experience, except for maybe those seats.

My understanding is the main argument against MUs vs. loco & trailers has been that MUs must all be maintained according to locomotive standards, vs. trailers which have less stringent inspection routines. I'm not an expert on maintenance and inspection requirements, but my vague recollection is that locomotives must undergo some sort of inspection every two days, plus additional inspections at various intervals. If that is the case, then the maintenance costs become considerably higher for MU sets vs. loco-hauled trainsets.

That this is not an issue elsewhere suggests that the regulations governing MU sets are probably not as draconian in other parts of the world as they are in the US. This wouldn't be anything new, however, as the US has this habit of regulating good ideas into oblivion while less effective things continue unabated.
 

jis

Chief Dispatcher
Staff member
Administator
Moderator
AU Supporting Member
Gathering Team Member
Joined
Aug 24, 2003
Messages
35,192
Location
Space Coast, Florida, Area code 3-2-1
Yeah, "multiple units" (abbreviated DMU for diesel multiple unit and EMU for electric multiple unit) have better performance because of physics, where the amount of force you can exert between wheel and rail is based on mass, but are harder operationally because you have the complexity of having that extra traction power distributed around the train.
This train I mentioned is not a multiple unit anything. It is a single unit articulate distributed power 16 car trainset. What is important is many powered axles distributed around the train.
 

bonzoesc

Train Attendant
AU Supporting Member
Joined
Mar 10, 2022
Messages
58
Location
Miami
This train I mentioned is not a multiple unit anything. It is a single unit articulate distributed power 16 car trainset. What is important is many powered axles distributed around the train.
The Vande Bharat Express is an electric multiple unit train. The "multiple unit" part doesn't necessarily mean that the wagons are easy to split up or run separately.
 

west point

Engineer
Joined
Jun 9, 2015
Messages
3,855
Location
SW ATL airport
So, for any route the more slow sections & distances below max speed then the more likely that distributed traction would be desired, How much time would be saved for each slow section can be calculated probably in just seconds dependingon how slow and how far slow. The NEC from north of Frankford to North PHL probably is the best known on the NEC with max speeds as low as 60? MPH. But what the best time savings per passenger seconds might be the best metric? Also regional 125 and 160 AX-2 speeds have to be considered.

So Amtrak needs to start acquiring what real eastate it needs and soon as some is acquired then elimiate those slow areas . Then take the lowest cost per passenger section and eliminate all slow speeds..

As manay slow sections that are at present on th NEC then distributed traction seems prudent. But by time AX-3s are ordered maybe only power cars wiill be needed?

Of course end of life structures have to be priority. So, Conn river bridge, new hudson tunnel bores, north and south Portal bridges, B&P tunnel, Susquehanna bridge replacements will all save a few minutesdo
 

jis

Chief Dispatcher
Staff member
Administator
Moderator
AU Supporting Member
Gathering Team Member
Joined
Aug 24, 2003
Messages
35,192
Location
Space Coast, Florida, Area code 3-2-1
The Vande Bharat Express is an electric multiple unit train. The "multiple unit" part doesn't necessarily mean that the wagons are easy to split up or run separately.
That would indeed be consistent with FRA's definition as far as inspection requirements go, though of course the rules that apply to them are not FRA's. Even though consisting of multiple powered units the train can be inspected as a single unit with a single inspection report rather than each individual powered car requiring a separate report. Thanks for clarifying.

This is true of EMUs in the USA even if a particular train consists of multiple separable units. As long as they remain together they can be treated as a single unit for the purposes of inspection reporting.
My understanding is the main argument against MUs vs. loco & trailers has been that MUs must all be maintained according to locomotive standards, vs. trailers which have less stringent inspection routines. I'm not an expert on maintenance and inspection requirements, but my vague recollection is that locomotives must undergo some sort of inspection every two days, plus additional inspections at various intervals. If that is the case, then the maintenance costs become considerably higher for MU sets vs. loco-hauled trainsets.
Incidentally, in the US power units that have microprocessor based monitoring and event recording and alarm facilities do not need to be inspected every 92 days anymore. They require inspection every 184 days, thus removing one of the major impediments to using MUs.
 
Last edited:

GDRRiley

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Sep 16, 2022
Messages
336
Location
SF bay/LA
Why? Amtrak is trying to get away from tedious and time consuming engine swaps. The Sprinters will be resold to commuter lines along the NEC. Or maybe elsewhere in the world, its a better built Euro Sprinter /Vectron.
Because I'd prefer them to put more lines under wire and have a split fleet. Yes there are routes were bi modes will work well but others where if the state DOT would stop being clowns they could easily run the whole thing under wire.
 

TransitTyrant

Train Attendant
Joined
Jul 13, 2022
Messages
98
Location
Chicago
Because I'd prefer them to put more lines under wire and have a split fleet. Yes there are routes were bi modes will work well but others where if the state DOT would stop being clowns they could easily run the whole thing under wire.
Good luck, we can barely get these state DOTs to support the trains they currently fund, let alone running more. Why has it taken WisDOT and IDOT to run a measly 3 more Hiawatha’s? Amtrak can’t force them to electrify.
 
Top