Alstom making progress on Acela 2 contract

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Pere Flyer

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Glad to see the good people of Alma welding, adhering, and screwing this project together. Avelia Liberty’s, Michigan Made!
 

Acela150

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Glad to see the good people of Alma welding, adhering, and screwing this project together. Avelia Liberty’s, Michigan Made!
This particular shell came from Alstom’s factory in Italy. As part of the waiver.
 

Pere Flyer

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Glad to see the good people of Alma welding, adhering, and screwing this project together. Avelia Liberty’s, Michigan Made!
This particular shell came from Alstom’s factory in Italy. As part of the waiver.
I wasn’t clear. I was responding to post No. 129 with the Rail Journal article. Apologies for the confusion.
 
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DSS&A

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cirdan

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jis

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Won’t these max out at 160?
They will be capable of 186mph if tracks to support such were available. They can be tweaked to upto 200 with a little work. As such they are unlikely to operate on the NEC above 160 for the foreseeable future.
 

cpotisch

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Thanks. I still feel like the statement “trains traveling upwards of 200 miles an hour” is warping the truth a bit. I mean, what even would the point be in them “tweaking” them enough to bring it up to 200, if they won’t be exceeding 160 in service anytime soon?
 

jis

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Thanks. I still feel like the statement “trains traveling upwards of 200 miles an hour” is warping the truth a bit. I mean, what even would the point be in them “tweaking” them enough to bring it up to 200, if they won’t be exceeding 160 in service anytime soon?
US at present does not appear to have the capability to effectively test a train at "upward of 200 mph". There is no established practice. There is upgraded documents that define a new class of trains, and basically requires a case by case evaluation of the entire train/track/traction etc.. AFAIK only EU, Japan and China are actually capable of off the shelf testing and certifying such a beast but of course to their established practices and standards, not the theoretical US ones. So it is pure feel good BS.
 
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dlagrua

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Talk about the new Acela speed. In the 1960's The New York Central RR built an experimental train called "The Black Beetle" The Black Beetle ran a series of time trials over existing tracks running between Butler, Indiana and Stryker, Ohio. The long, straight, and level stretch of railway provided an ideal testing area for the train. During its trial runs, the Black Beetle hit an astounding 183.681 mph, which still stands as the high speed record for self-propelled light rail in the United States. 

https://youtu.be/w8ZIJFlU_pA

If a train went that fast in the 1960's ,track technology  must be there to take speeds like that 50-+ years later
 
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cpotisch

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Talk about the new Acela speed. In the 1960's The New York Central RR built an experimental train called "The Black Beetle" The Black Beetle ran a series of time trials over existing tracks running between Butler, Indiana and Stryker, Ohio. The long, straight, and level stretch of railway provided an ideal testing area for the train. During its trial runs, the Black Beetle hit an astounding 183.681 mph, which still stands as the high speed record for self-propelled light rail in the United States. 

https://youtu.be/w8ZIJFlU_pA

If a train went that fast in the 1960's ,track technology  must be there to take speeds like that 50-+ years later
Yeah, and it was ******* jet powered. Does that seem like a reasonable standard for full size passenger trains?
 

Acela150

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Thank God they ditched the utterly horrific name “Avelia Liberty”.  :ph34r:
Keep in mind the name "Avelia Liberty" is the product name that Alstom came up with. The Amtrak name is Acela. ;)  

They will be capable of 186mph if tracks to support such were available. They can be tweaked to upto 200 with a little work. As such they are unlikely to operate on the NEC above 160 for the foreseeable future.
It'll also be interesting to see how long it'll take Amtrak to upgrade track speed from 150 to 160. But that is a bigger task then meets the eye. 
 

Amtrak706

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It'll also be interesting to see how long it'll take Amtrak to upgrade track speed from 150 to 160. But that is a bigger task then meets the eye. 
Oh that's already a lost cause. They bungled the "upgrade" between County and Ham so badly that there will be basically no speed upgrades. Not to mention that the FRA has still not responded about upping Tier II crash standards to 160mph from 150.
 

Acela150

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Oh that's already a lost cause. They bungled the "upgrade" between County and Ham so badly that there will be basically no speed upgrades. Not to mention that the FRA has still not responded about upping Tier II crash standards to 160mph from 150.
Not as much of a lost cause as you'd think. The signaling was upgraded to Rule 562 meaning Cab Signals only between interlockings and Tracks 1, 3, and 4 have the upgraded overhead. I believe they will be working on Track 2 this year. Yes the project was completely botched, but things are still progressing with it. 

Keep in mind that the trackage and overhead on the Shoreline is already capable for 160 mph running. And that's a total of about 35 miles. 

Hey, two out of three for the NEC isn't bad!!!
I do have to agree with you here. :)  
 

Amtrak706

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Keep in mind that the trackage and overhead on the Shoreline is already capable for 160 mph running. And that's a total of about 35 miles.
The problem is that the FRA specs don’t line up with each other on this. The track is Class 8 which allows 160, but the Tier II crashworthiness standards that are required for >125mph running on non-exclusive track (this standard was basically made just for the Acela) only allow 150. Amtrak submitted a request to raise this to 160 a few years back, but the FRA response has not been made public. It was also submitted only a few weeks before the Philly wreck in 2015, so the ensuing string of wrecks immediately followed by the unnecessary management-induced existential crisis at the company may have put a damper on things.
 
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jis

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Also the original Tier II standard has been modified in the overhaul of those standards to allow CEM, supposedly. That is what makes a more or less off the shelf TGV with some tweaks acceptable, which was not back in the Acela days. Tier II in its original form was written by what amounted to a bunch of rank amateurs when it came to doing any high speed standards. The question is, has FRA managed to hire enough 21st century engineers or is it still pushing 1950 vintage stuff upscaled or is it now actually upto speed to handle anything above 125mph reasonably.

Frankly, the American federal transportation regulation agencies which used to be envy of the world, are collectively not having a very good time these days.
 
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bretton88

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Also the original Tier II standard has been modified in the overhaul of those standards to allow CEM, supposedly. That is what makes a more or less of the shelf TGV with some tweaks acceptable, which was not back in the Acela days. Tier II in its original form was written by what amounts to a bunch of rank amateurs when it come to doing any high speed standards. The question is, has FRA managed to hire enough 21st century engineers or is it still pushing 1950 vintage stuff upscaled or is it now actually upto speed to handle anything above 125mph reasonably.
Frankly, the American fedral transportation regulation agencies which used to be an envy of the world, are collectively not having a very good time these days.
Tier 2 Alternate compliance is acceptable for above 125, so we can essentially buy European units now. With that comes Amtrak being able to upgrade the mas from 150 to 160 on all appropriate sections (i.e. the catenary still has to support it and the track has to be the appropriate class). I'm not sure how much track that applies to, but I've heard it's not insignificant.
 

jis

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Tier 2 Alternate compliance is acceptable for above 125, so we can essentially buy European units now. With that comes Amtrak being able to upgrade the mas from 150 to 160 on all appropriate sections (i.e. the catenary still has to support it and the track has to be the appropriate class). I'm not sure how much track that applies to, but I've heard it's not insignificant.
Could you point me to the CFR revision section where this "Tier 2 Alternative" is specified by FRA? Did you simply mean Tier III by that phrase?

The reason I ask is, I looked carefully through all of 49 CFR Parts 229, 231, 236, and 238 [Docket No. FRA–2013–0060, Notice No. 3] RIN 2130–AC46 Passenger Equipment Safety Standards; Standards for Alternative Compliance and High-Speed Trainsets (Final Rule November 21, 2018) and could not find that phrase anywhere.

It would appear that a Tier III compliant equipment could possibly be certified to run mixed with legacy Tier II equipment under special waiver at above 125mph, like many other things could be acceptable under special waiver. But there is no Tier II Alternative standard as such. That is actually reasonable since the current Acelas would probably be the last of a breed, and one way to fix this issue would be to simply restrict the current Acela sets to run at 125mph or less to allow the Tier III trains to operate at above 125mph on the NEC. This would imply that initially the new Acelas would be restricted to 125mph, until there are enough of them around so that either the old Acelas can be downgraded to 125mph schedules allowing the Alstom sets to run at 160mph, or (and of course eventually the plan is to) completely withdraw the old Acelas.

Does my understanding make sense? Or what am I missing?

BTW, the 160mph for Tier II is part of this rule making, but it also requires special approval for allowing existing Tier II equipment cleared for 150mph to undergo additional testing and certification for 160mph.
 

MARC Rider

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Frankly, I think there would be a lot more benefit if they could get Metro North to upgrade the maximum speed between New Rochelle and New Haven to 80 mph rather than worrying about 160 mph vs. 150 mph. On my recent Acela trip, we were mostly going ~40-50 mph through that section, occasionally speeding up to 70 mph on short stretches. The cars on the paralleling I-95 were definitely going faster, even when they were jammed up. I'll bet if you could upgrade that section, you might shave 30 minutes off the NYP-BOS times.
 

Amtrak706

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*Edit: I am wrong, Tier II actually was upped to 160 in November. https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2018/11/21/2018-25020/passenger-equipment-safety-standards-standards-for-alternative-compliance-and-high-speed-trainsets#h-81

Tier II has been modified to allow more European designs with CEM systems like Acela II, that is what "Tier II Alternative" refers to. It is not the same thing as Tier III, which is was created to allow future high speed rail using stock European or Japanese/Chinese trainsets, but only on track not shared by any conventional equipment.

Tier II Alternative did not change the top speed which remains 150 mph. As I said, Amtrak's waiver request four years ago was the only movement on this, and there has been nothing since. Acela II will top out at 150 mph on the corridor even though the track is rated for 160 mph, and will continue to do so until Tier II is ever possibly changed to match the track class speed of 160.
 
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Amtrak706

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Frankly, I think there would be a lot more benefit if they could get Metro North to upgrade the maximum speed between New Rochelle and New Haven to 80 mph rather than worrying about 160 mph vs. 150 mph. On my recent Acela trip, we were mostly going ~40-50 mph through that section, occasionally speeding up to 70 mph on short stretches. The cars on the paralleling I-95 were definitely going faster, even when they were jammed up. I'll bet if you could upgrade that section, you might shave 30 minutes off the NYP-BOS times.
The whole point of the 150 to 160 upgrade is that it requires no work besides updating ACSES. The track, catenary, and rolling stock is already capable, it's just one single regulation that doesn't match up with the others that needs to be changed.

Realigning or bypassing the old New Haven would definitely make a big difference, but it would be extremely expensive, politically difficult, and probably impossible for Amtrak to do it without making a big mess like they did with the NJ upgrade.
 
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