Alstom making progress on Acela 2 contract

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DSS&A

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Hi,

Alstom is making progress at their Hornell facility. They have plans in the works to build two new building, expand an existing building and construct a HSR test track. They also received the first traction motor for the first power car back in October.

Here's a link to some of the site development information that is public.

http://www.eveningtribune.com/news/20171019/alstom-expansion-approved
 

dlagrua

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I've read discussion about a Siemens-Alstom merger of railroad equipment manufacturing divisions. . Should this happen it will make the company one if not the largest manufacturer of engines and rolling stock around. Amtrak uses Siemens equipment but sadly the Viewliner II sleeper, diner and baggage car orders went to CAF that is having a hard time meeting specs and delivering. Thy can't even seem to fix the baggage dorms that were returned to them last year
 

AmtrakBlue

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I've read discussion about a Siemens-Alstom merger of railroad equipment manufacturing divisions. . Should this happen it will make the company one if not the largest manufacturer of engines and rolling stock around. Amtrak uses Siemens equipment but sadly the Viewliner II sleeper, diner and baggage car orders went to CAF that is having a hard time meeting specs and delivering. Thy can't even seem to fix the baggage dorms that were returned to them last year
Huh? The bag-dorms aren't coming till after the diners, so how do you know they haven't fixed any issues (assuming they built one and had it tested already).
 

Devil's Advocate

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Is there a primer somewhere that explains how the various orders for new passenger rolling stock became so delayed? Are similar delays expected for Acela 2 or any other orders made in the future? I realize that none of us is privy to and/or authorized to speak about internal memos and meeting minutes, and I know it's not unusual for there to be substantial hiccups with large orders of unique hardware involving potentially unusual or outdated building techniques, but I've never fully understood how these orders became such a challenge. Even a simple best guess listing the most likely causes and contributing factors would be greatly appreciated.
 
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Acela150

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I honestly wouldn't expect a delay in the Alstom order. I'd look for the prototype set next year.
 

jis

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The fact that the Avelia order is considerably less unique than the Viewliner order, and is being handled by a manufacturer who has manufacture many hundred such vehicles and systems gives some hope that they may not suffer the same fate as the Viewliners. Sort of like what happened with the Siemens order(s) for things that have been manufactured in large numbers going into the fulfillment of the order(s).

But one can never tell for sure until the proverbial fat lady sings.

I found it kind of interesting that the FRA/ASHTO Railcar Specification Writing Committee rather hurriedly made changes to the Single Level Car specification to make the Siemens offer compliant with the revised specs. Of course, they also have no specs for single level cab cars. So I suspect they will just pick up the specs of the Siemens Cab cars at some point and adopt most of it as their own, as far as Siemens will be willing to let them.
 

PVD

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Are the car shells being fabricated at Hornell?
 

jis

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The deal was that the first set would be manufactured in Europe but assembled in the US. Subsequent sets would fully meet the Make in US requirements, which implies that the car shells would be manufactured in the US using US originated Aluminum and/or Steel.
 
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PVD

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That I had, but I was just curious if it was planned for all one area, or if they had a compliant plant in another location (sort of like Kawasaki that will make shells in Lincoln but fit out in Yonkers on some contracts)
 

jis

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That I had, but I was just curious if it was planned for all one area, or if they had a compliant plant in another location (sort of like Kawasaki that will make shells in Lincoln but fit out in Yonkers on some contracts)
haven't heard anything about using multiple locations for manufacturing the Avelias. Only Hornell has been mentioned in that context.

Interestingly, Alstom's Hornell facility for acquired originally from Morrison Knudsen, and MK used that facility to manufacture the Viewliner-Is.
 

PVD

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MK did quite a bit of car overhaul work for NYCTA and NJT also. That has been a "rail shop" back to the Erie days.... Lived as Amerail for a while also.....
 

jis

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Interestingly, the Viewliner I order also involved much drama, including a period when it was not clear that anything will ever be delivered, while the assigned manufacturers were all busy going bankrupt, one after the other. Before that of course the original order was also halved before it ever was placed. And then there were endless delays in delivery.
 

PVD

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I think Amerail was the creation of the bonding company which was on the hook for major MK contract dollars because of the bankruptcy if the cars weren't delivered.
 

jis

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Yeah. Finally Alstom picked up most of the Viewliner related mess via Amerail.
 
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neroden

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The underlying unreliability of US railroad car orders weakened the old American railroad car building businesses. Following a few major screwups, most went bankrupt, leaving only Bombardier, who bought out all the remnants. Bombardier's management lost its mind a few years ago and destroyed their world-leading train building business through idiotic moves like outsourcing to Mexico.

The continued "unique American regulations" mean that European or Japanese businesses coming into the market face unusual problems. Of the foreign manufacturers, I would say that Siemens, Alstom, and Kawasaki have overcome this hurdle, while nobody else has. (Breda, later AnsaldoBreda and now Hitachi, was always junk, worldwide.) It took Kawasaki a while. Chinese firm CRRC is making its move into the US market in Boston; maybe they'll succeed.

Most of them fall for the dangled carrots from state governments of "locate your factory here", without thinking about the accessibility of competent workers (because this isn't an issue in tiny Europe or Japan). CAF fell for this. Frankly, so did Alstom. CRRC has a better factory location (as does Kawasaki), and Siemens's location is OK.
 
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afigg

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The deal was that the first set would be manufactured in Europe but assembled in the US. Subsequent sets would fully meet the Make in US requirements, which implies that the car shells would be manufactured in the US using US originated Stainless Steel.
IIRC, there were documents stating that the first 2 trainsets would be manufactured outside of the US so as to get them earlier for testing and preliminary training. Don't recall if that was changed or if there were any updates on that.

For the car shells, remember, Amtrak got a waiver on the Buy American requirements from the FRA on critical components including the aluminum car body shells. Found my copy of the FRA waiver grant letter. Key excerpt:

Amtrak seeks a waiver for the following components of Tier III high-speed rail (HSR) trainsets: (1) aluminum car body shells (shell structure/frame-end, floor, roof, side); (2) Integrated cab/CEM structure; (3) vehicle paint; (4) brake control unit; (5) disc brake equipment; (6) tread brake equipment/tread cleaners; (7) brake valves, and (8) parking brake units (Components). For the reasons contained in this letter, FRA is granting Amtrak's request.
On the contract status front, was there any discussion here of the Amtrak Inspector General report, date Nov 16 2017, which has useful information: TRAIN OPERATIONS: The Acela Express 2021 Program Faces Oversight Weaknesses and Schedule Risks? The November report stated there was already a 3 month slip or delay in the design and production schedule. The OIG report lists the 10 infrastructure projects that were funded by the RIFF loan which may be the first place I have seen them listed. The OIG iidentifies 4 of the projects as critical to the new Acelas going into revenue service.

The infrastructure portion of the Acela Express 2021 program includes 10 improvement projects on the Northeast Corridor totaling $850 million. As shown in Figure 1, four of these projects must be completed to run the new trainsets, and two must be completed to run trains on the higher-frequency timetable. The other four projects do not need to be completed by 2021 to run the new trainsets.
Anyone want to bet that all of these projects will be completed by 2021 or 2022?
 

jis

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afigg you are correct. The deal was for the first two sets for which waiver was granted.
 

PVD

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Interesting to see reference to aluminum car shells, given the issues relating to stainless steel fabrication on some recent car projects...
 

WoodyinNYC

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...was there any discussion here of the Amtrak Inspector General report, date Nov 16 2017 ? It stated there was already a 3 month slip or delay in the design and production schedule.
The infrastructure portion of the program includes 10 projects on the Northeast Corridor totaling $850 million. ... four of these projects must be completed to run the new trainsets, and two must be completed to run trains on the higher-frequency timetable.
Anyone want to bet that all of these projects will be completed by 2021 or 2022?
Completed on schedule? Nah. Alstom says they're already 89 days behind. In the end, I'm betting that the Sunnyside Yard item entangled with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is the one Least Likely To Succeed. YMMV
 

WoodyinNYC

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On the contract status front, was there any discussion here of the Amtrak Inspector General report, date Nov 16 2017, which has useful information: TRAIN OPERATIONS: The Acela Express 2021 Program Faces Oversight Weaknesses and Schedule Risks?

Anyone want to bet that all of these projects will be completed by 2021 or 2022?
Much delay and it will start to pinch. Deliver the cars on time and start to make money, to make the first payment in June. Otherwise, anyone spare some change?
 

Acela150

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...was there any discussion here of the Amtrak Inspector General report, date Nov 16 2017 ? It stated there was already a 3 month slip or delay in the design and production schedule.
The infrastructure portion of the program includes 10 projects on the Northeast Corridor totaling $850 million. ... four of these projects must be completed to run the new trainsets, and two must be completed to run trains on the higher-frequency timetable.
Anyone want to bet that all of these projects will be completed by 2021 or 2022?
Completed on schedule? Nah. Alstom says they're already 89 days behind. In the end, I'm betting that the Sunnyside Yard item entangled with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is the one Least Likely To Succeed. YMMV
89 days isn't much on such a large order like this. I have faith in Alstom. Unlike the Bombardier-Alstom Consortium.
 

DSS&A

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Alstom released a short YouTube video illustrating the progression of their HSR train set design. The link was kindly posted on railfan.net.

 
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bretton88

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I think those are going to be some beautiful trains when delivered. The question is can we wait 2-3 more years of the Acela product degrading?
 

jis

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There really is no choice on that matter. So suck it up and bear it. [emoji6]

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