Amtrak Announces Siemens as Preferred Bidder for New Equipment

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If and when Amtrak replaces the Superliners, it'd be nice if they'd include replacement cars for the current Sightseer Lounge cars. Cars, even single-level (like on the Swiss Glacier Express or Bernina Express), with panoramic windows would probably be very popular with passengers riding the SW Chief, Coast Starlight, California Zephyr, and Empire Builder, as well as, other scenic routes.
 

jis

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Posting this here just as a refresher and context material for this discussion. Amtrak seems to be following the plan laid out in this document more or less as it is, with some minor changes.

Amtrak Equipment Asset Line Plan

It is now becoming quite clear that the 2020 Reauthorization will require continuation and enhancement even of the Long Distance network which apparently the Anderson-lings were not necessarily expecting. So that should solidify the nature of the LD fleet replacement,, the Superliner part of which is said to be 2025 onward. So expect some work starting to become visible by the end of 2023 on it.
 

brianpmcdonnell17

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I wonder how feasible it would be to convert the Viewliner Diners into cafe/sightseeing cars. The shell is already suitable for the purpose, although changes to the food service area and seating would likely be needed. If the entire LD network becomes single level, that would allow for sightseeing cars to operate on most of the western trains without having to order new single-level versions. There are currently 26 Viewliner diners, whereas the EB, CZ, SWC, SL, and CS require 23 consists. Given the need for maintenance, 26 probably wouldn't be enough, but the number doing something like adding/removing the car at Denver on the CZ could get the number of in-service cars down from 23 to 21. Since food service cars would likely be included in the order anyway, it may be cheaper to just order enough the Viewliners than to order a small number of speciality sightseeing cars.
 
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jis

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I wonder how feasible it would be to convert the Viewliner Diners into cafe/sightseeing cars. The shell is already suitable for the purpose, although changes to the food service area and seating would likely be needed. If the entire LD network becomes single level, that would allow for sightseeing cars to operate on most of the western trains without having to order new single-level versions. There are currently 26 Viewliner diners, whereas the EB, CZ, SWC, SL, and CS require 23 consists. Given the need for maintenance, 26 probably wouldn't be enough, but the number doing something like adding/removing the car at Denver on the CZ could get the number of in-service cars down from 23 to 21. Since food service cars would likely be included in the order anyway, it may be cheaper to just order enough the Viewliners than to order a small number of speciality sightseeing cars.
What relevance does the current 26 VL Diners have to what happens to the Western fleet ten years from now? Are you expecting the Eastern trains not to need those Viewliner Diners in ten years? Or are you expecting the entire Eastern Viewliner Diner fleet to be replaced one more time by then?

It is actually quite unlikely that any more Viewliners will be ordered or built. When the Western fleet is being replaced in five to ten years, why wouldn't an appropriate number of cars that have big wrap around windows with food service be built as part of the replacement order, irrespective of how many levels those cars have?
 

rickycourtney

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Okay, so instead of wildly speculating about a future western LD fleet... let’s get back on topic...
Wild speculation about the Amfleet I replacements!

My conversation starters...
Will Amtrak go with semipermanently coupled trainsets with open gangways (like Caltrans and Brightline) or individual cars and married pairs (like the Midwest)?
Will there be fully trainlined automatic doors? Trap doors? A 50/50 split of doors for high and low platforms?
Onboard wheelchair lifts for low platforms?
 

jiml

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Okay, so instead of wildly speculating about a future western LD fleet... let’s get back on topic...
Wild speculation about the Amfleet I replacements!

My conversation starters...
Will Amtrak go with semipermanently coupled trainsets with open gangways (like Caltrans and Brightline) or individual cars and married pairs (like the Midwest)?
Will there be fully trainlined automatic doors? Trap doors? A 50/50 split of doors for high and low platforms?
Onboard wheelchair lifts for low platforms?
Is "All of the above" an option? ;)
 

brianpmcdonnell17

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What relevance does the current 26 VL Diners have to what happens to the Western fleet ten years from now? Are you expecting the Eastern trains not to need those Viewliner Diners in ten years? Or are you expecting the entire Eastern Viewliner Diner fleet to be replaced one more time by then?

It is actually quite unlikely that any more Viewliners will be ordered or built. When the Western fleet is being replaced in five to ten years, why wouldn't an appropriate number of cars that have big wrap around windows with food service be built as part of the replacement order, irrespective of how many levels those cars have?
My thought process was that a standardized diner could be purchased for both the eastern and western trains as part of the Superliner replacement, allowing the Viewliner diners to be converted to lounges for the western trains. I don't necessarily think that's the best option; the possibility just occured to me. Ideally a new car would be bought with wrap around windows as you said, but it seems like that's not a given.
 
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railiner

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I never was a fan of semi-permanently coupled cars or trainsets. From the first articulated streamliners, to the present day, those types of trains take away full flexibility to change consists to fulfill what is required. The ability to adapt to changing requirements is one of the advantages a "train" has over other modes.
 

rickycourtney

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I never was a fan of semi-permanently coupled cars or trainsets. From the first articulated streamliners, to the present day, those types of trains take away full flexibility to change consists to fulfill what is required. The ability to adapt to changing requirements is one of the advantages a "train" has over other modes.
Yeah, but how often does Amtrak change their consists around? To be clear, when Siemens says “semi-permanently” coupled — two people can couple/uncouple cars in about 35 minutes. Not something you want to do every day... but unlike the Alstom Avela Liberty or the Talgo trainsets, it doesn’t require a crane and a bunch of people.

The gain is a much better experience for passengers.
 

railiner

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Yeah, but how often does Amtrak change their consists around? To be clear, when Siemens says “semi-permanently” coupled — two people can couple/uncouple cars in about 35 minutes. Not something you want to do every day... but unlike the Alstom Avela Liberty or the Talgo trainsets, it doesn’t require a crane and a bunch of people.

The gain is a much better experience for passengers.
Maybe if the process was improved, it might occur more often?
 
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joelkfla

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Yeah, but how often does Amtrak change their consists around? To be clear, when Siemens says “semi-permanently” coupled — two people can couple/uncouple cars in about 35 minutes. Not something you want to do every day... but unlike the Alstom Avela Liberty or the Talgo trainsets, it doesn’t require a crane and a bunch of people.

The gain is a much better experience for passengers.
How about the Texas Eagle & LSL?
 
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Will there be fully trainlined automatic doors? Trap doors? A 50/50 split of doors for high and low platforms?
Onboard wheelchair lifts for low platforms?
I’d imagine we’ll see the same low level plug doors with traps that are on the new Midwest venture cars. Since the NEC doesn’t really need the automatic gap filler it makes sense to stick with traps on every door for added flexibility. Unless the low level plug doors won’t fit in a high platform...
 

Gemuser

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That's not every day, even pre-COVID. And I believe he said what you wouldn't want to do, not need to do.
“semi-permanently” does not necesserially mean its a whole consist for a particual train. They can be set up however vthe customer wants them, “semi-permanently” coupled in sets of two, three, four, six or eight cars [or whatever] in a set. The customer can then build a given consist as required & if Amtrak has half a brain they'll put Schafenburg couplers on the outer ends of the “semi-permanently” coupled sets which will make the LSL & TE switching very simple PROVIDED they do their planning & specify the sets correctly.
 

jiml

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if Amtrak has half a brain they'll put Schafenburg couplers on the outer ends of the “semi-permanently” coupled sets which will make the LSL & TE switching very simple PROVIDED they do their planning & specify the sets correctly.
Why would they use Schafenburg couplers on the outer ends of a married consist, as opposed to standard AAR couplers? The latter would allow the new equipment to be intermingled with existing stock, e.g. Viewliners. North American railroads that have had (or still use) European rolling stock have traditionally had conventional coupling on the ends. Examples include VIA Renaissance equipment and even ONR's old TEE sets.
 

adamj023

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Siemens is just a “preferred” bidder so other companies can still bid on the contract. The Alstom trains will still be the best trains on the NEC for their premium product once it is released. Siemens venture based trains could be a possibility considering they have already invested and tested these out. No reason to speculate as we should know likely later this year when bidding is finalized.
 

Ryan

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No. The competitive portion of the bidding started in 2019 and is over (as of this press release) with Siemens being selected.

From the press release:
After a competitive procurement launched in January of 2019, Amtrak has identified California-based Siemens Mobility Inc. (Siemens) as the preferred bidder to manufacture a new fleet of 83 Intercity Trainsets (ICTs),
 

adamj023

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It says “preferred” bidder. A bidder is not someone who has won a bid. I can be a preferred bidder at an auction but it does not guarantee the winning bid will be myself. Same concept here. They met Amtrak‘s requirements and they are a company they prefer to deal with but other companies can indeed present their products and bids for the contract. Industry is extremely competitive. They were not guaranteed anything as they are a preferred bidder. They are still a bidder that they prefer to deal with but they are a bidder and there has been no accepted bid. Once Amtrak finalizes the bidding then we will know who the real winner is.

Siemens is being used by Amtrak now and Brightline and trains seem to perform well for higher speed routes and have been well tested. I have not been on one myself. I can see why Siemens is the preferred bidder.
 
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joelkfla

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Why would they use Schafenburg couplers on the outer ends of a married consist, as opposed to standard AAR couplers? The latter would allow the new equipment to be intermingled with existing stock, e.g. Viewliners. North American railroads that have had (or still use) European rolling stock have traditionally had conventional coupling on the ends. Examples include VIA Renaissance equipment and even ONR's old TEE sets.
I have questions:
  • Can passengers move freely between a semi-permanently coupled set and whatever is coupled to its end?
  • Do the Siemens cars need to be joined and detached in a shop, or can it be done online with passengers aboard?
 

MARC Rider

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“semi-permanently” does not necesserially mean its a whole consist for a particual train. They can be set up however vthe customer wants them, “semi-permanently” coupled in sets of two, three, four, six or eight cars [or whatever] in a set. The customer can then build a given consist as required & if Amtrak has half a brain they'll put Schafenburg couplers on the outer ends of the “semi-permanently” coupled sets which will make the LSL & TE switching very simple PROVIDED they do their planning & specify the sets correctly.
These cars are being designed for corridor service. Why should there be any need to use them on long-distance trains?
 
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Andrew

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Siemens is just a “preferred” bidder so other companies can still bid on the contract. The Alstom trains will still be the best trains on the NEC for their premium product once it is released. Siemens venture based trains could be a possibility considering they have already invested and tested these out. No reason to speculate as we should know likely later this year when bidding is finalized.
If Amtrak chooses Alstom instead of Siemens, than Alstom would have to come up with a bi-mode train that can meet Amtrak's technical specifications.
 
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