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Amtrak issues RFI for NEC HSR trainsets

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afigg

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Amtrak has formerly posted the RFI today for the Acela replacement HSR trainsets. The news release is here. The RFI is on the Amtrak Procurement Portal for those interested.

Excerpt:

WASHINGTON – Amtrak and the California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) are joining forces in the search for proven high-speed rail (HSR) train sets currently being manufactured and in commercial service that are capable of operating safely at speeds up to 220 mph on both Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor (NEC) and on California’s developing HSR corridor.
Amtrak, in conjunction with California, is today formally issuing a Request for Information (RFI) to start the process. The partnership advances each of their respective HSR programs, and could create efficiencies by ordering trains of similar specifications and develop a U.S. standard for HSR train equipment that can be manufactured and supplied domestically and produced for the rest of the world. A Request for Proposal could be issued by September 2013 with an order placed during 2014.
An RFP issued by September? Ambituous. With an order placed during 2014? That would be impressive.

What are they asking for (from the Amtral procurement page)?

The objective of this Request for Information (RFI) is to gain additional understanding of the latest in high-speed trainset technology innovations and to explore the extent to which high-speed trainsets currently being manufactured could be used for Amtrak’s existing NEC and proposed Next Gen HSR services and on California’s proposed high-speed rail corridor. Of primary interest for this RFI are the following areas: Tilting Technology; Curving Performance, Truck Design; High Speed Performance; Car Width; Floor Height; Passenger Capacity; and the ability to meet required Trip Times. Information regarding these areas and others are included in Amtrak’s Performance Specification No. 1005 Summary (Performance Spec). Amtrak’s Performance Specification 1005 Summary and other supporting documentation will be provided to eligible Car Builders responding to this request.
I will leave it to the moderators to decide whether this critical NEC development belongs in the Amtrak or the HSR forum.
 
J

Jack

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The present Acela Train Sets were manufactured by a French company who has refused to further service them. The Amtrak Vision for the Northeast Corridor calls for adding additional cars, but, as they are complete train sets, how can they add cars. I further understand that the same French company was contracted to update all the other electric locomotives, which they did, but now they refuse to service any of these. This means that there are many electric locomotives that are unusable, except for a source for cannibalized parts. Is this any way to run a railroad? Amtrak is having Siemens build new locomotives in California, but one one has been delivered and it is being tested presently. Why couldn't we have had GE build these in Erie? I suspect Congressional interference.
 

Rob_C

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My votes for the Alstom Duplex. (and yes they fit into NYP). Here's video of one done up in the California Scheme:


Okay, I guess I'm biased towards this design!
 

Ryan

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The present Acela Train Sets were manufactured by a French company who has refused to further service them. The Amtrak Vision for the Northeast Corridor calls for adding additional cars, but, as they are complete train sets, how can they add cars. I further understand that the same French company was contracted to update all the other electric locomotives, which they did, but now they refuse to service any of these. This means that there are many electric locomotives that are unusable, except for a source for cannibalized parts. Is this any way to run a railroad? Amtrak is having Siemens build new locomotives in California, but one one has been delivered and it is being tested presently. Why couldn't we have had GE build these in Erie? I suspect Congressional interference.
Yeah, you're nowhere close to being correct there.
 

jis

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First time I heard of Bombardier being characterized as a French company. Oh well....

GE? Really? Why would anyone contemplate having someone who has zero experience building high speed trains or engines to build them now on the backs of taxpayers is not clear at all.

My preference would be the Valero from Siemens. I would prefer not to suffer through the cramped Alstom TGV Duplexes having experienced them in France.
 
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Bob Dylan

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Bombardier is a Canadian Company last time I checked! ;) As one of our Members likes to Point out:

"You can't always believe what you read on the Internet!" Thomas Jefferson ^_^
 

afigg

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The present Acela Train Sets were manufactured by a French company who has refused to further service them. The Amtrak Vision for the Northeast Corridor calls for adding additional cars, but, as they are complete train sets, how can they add cars. I further understand that the same French company was contracted to update all the other electric locomotives, which they did, but now they refuse to service any of these. This means that there are many electric locomotives that are unusable, except for a source for cannibalized parts. Is this any way to run a railroad? Amtrak is having Siemens build new locomotives in California, but one one has been delivered and it is being tested presently. Why couldn't we have had GE build these in Erie? I suspect Congressional interference.
First, thanks for resurrecting an older post of mine that was sadly neglected. ;) But I will take a shot at correcting some of the major errors in your post.

1. Bombardier is a Canadian company with the corporate headquarters in Quebec. That does not make them a French company.

2. Amtrak asked Bombardier for a price estimate to build 40 new Acela coach cars to insert into the 20 existing Acela trainsets which are approximately halfway through their projected operational lifespan.Bombardier was not that interested in undertaking such a limited production run and the economics of building new Acela coach cars for what would be 15+ year old Acelas by the time the cars were delivered were shaky. Amtrak's relationship with Bombardier is also rather frosty according to unofficial reports. So Amtrak changed course and is now looking to order new Acela II trainsets from other vendors.

3. Amtrak has 15 HHP-8 electric locomotives they brought from Bombardier with the Acela order. I think most of the HHP-8s are in working service on any given day, but they have not proven as reliable or serviceable as Amtrak wants.

4. GE does not make electric locomotives. Amtrak ordered 70 ACS-64 electric locomotives from Siemens based on a widely used type in Europe with a proven record.

5. Amtrak took the initiative on ordering the Siemens locomotives with no funding to pay for the ACS-64s from Congress. They needed to replace the AEM-7 DC units and the HHP-8s and could not wait on Congress, so Amtrak took out a FRA RIFF loan to pay for the order. There was far less Congressional involvement in the order than there is in Amtrak food service.
 

Paulus

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First time I heard of Bombardier being characterized as a French company. Oh well....
Why would anyone contemplate having someone who has zero experience building high speed trains, to build them now on the backs of taxpayers is not clear at all.

My preference would be the Valero from Siemens. I would prefer not to suffer through the cramped Alstom TGV Duplexes having experienced them in France.
It would be AGVs if Alstom won the contract, don't think the Duplex would fit in NEC tunnels anyhow.
 

leemell

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The present Acela Train Sets were manufactured by a French company who has refused to further service them. The Amtrak Vision for the Northeast Corridor calls for adding additional cars, but, as they are complete train sets, how can they add cars. I further understand that the same French company was contracted to update all the other electric locomotives, which they did, but now they refuse to service any of these. This means that there are many electric locomotives that are unusable, except for a source for cannibalized parts. Is this any way to run a railroad? Amtrak is having Siemens build new locomotives in California, but one one has been delivered and it is being tested presently. Why couldn't we have had GE build these in Erie? I suspect Congressional interference.
Really? It is a Canadian company.
 

PerRock

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First time I heard of Bombardier being characterized as a French company. Oh well....
Why would anyone contemplate having someone who has zero experience building high speed trains, to build them now on the backs of taxpayers is not clear at all.

My preference would be the Valero from Siemens. I would prefer not to suffer through the cramped Alstom TGV Duplexes having experienced them in France.
It would be AGVs if Alstom won the contract, don't think the Duplex would fit in NEC tunnels anyhow.
Duplexes are about 14' tall. They really do feel cramped inside in my opinion, and I'm a small guy. Most Americans are going to hate them.

You can see the Duplex interior here (scroll down) http://www.seat61.com/tgv.htm#.UdG_tWLXQj4

Personally I think the Velaro is the best bet. We're also forgetting the Japanese who make the Shinkansen (Bullet Trains).

peter
 

Fan Railer

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Yea, seeing as Amtrak's relationship with Siemens is pretty lovey dovey with those new locos, I am willing to bet that the new HSR sets are more than likely going to either be the Velaro, or something that has involves a Siemens partnership or something.
 

gmushial

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The latter.
How much does the width miss by? Currently in the double track configuration, what is the minimum spacing btwn sets of tracks (I assume this is to allow for a certain minimum clearance btwn passing trains)... and if one were to use the Japanese cars, would that simply decrease the spacing btwn passing trains, or would they "merely" collide?

Doing a little more digging - though I'm not sure it's definitive: looks like American rail systems are built around 15' centers (is that correct?)... and what would one need to run the Japanese cars?
 
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MattW

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As I understand it, it's not so much the track width, as the platforms. Even if it's the former, it really doesn't make sense to try and modify hundreds of miles of track to accommodate a slightly wider loading gauge, when there are options that should work with the existing infrastructure. Plus, you'd lose compatibility between the platforms and existing equipment, unless you use some kind of retractable platform, but again, why spend so much money, when you wouldn't have to?
 

gmushial

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As I understand it, it's not so much the track width, as the platforms. Even if it's the former, it really doesn't make sense to try and modify hundreds of miles of track to accommodate a slightly wider loading gauge, when there are options that should work with the existing infrastructure. Plus, you'd lose compatibility between the platforms and existing equipment, unless you use some kind of retractable platform, but again, why spend so much money, when you wouldn't have to?
Hadn't considered that aspect - was thinking more along the line of rail centers... but the picture of losing 4" of car to concrete platform is not a pretty one.
 

PerRock

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Knowing Amtrak they probably won't just take a train off the shelf sadly. It'll probably be something specific for them. But just because the current Shinkansens are too wide doesn't mean they can't make narrower ones.

peter
 

afigg

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Doing a little more digging - though I'm not sure it's definitive: looks like American rail systems are built around 15' centers (is that correct?)... and what would one need to run the Japanese cars?
15' between track centers is preferred, but the NEC is a legacy system and is tighter than that in segments. The Acela is not allowed to tilt on the New Haven line because of the tight spacing. For the Acela IIs, Amtrak might specify cars that are 4" narrower than the current Acelas; certainly not wider.
 

gmushial

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Doing a little more digging - though I'm not sure it's definitive: looks like American rail systems are built around 15' centers (is that correct?)... and what would one need to run the Japanese cars?
15' between track centers is preferred, but the NEC is a legacy system and is tighter than that in segments. The Acela is not allowed to tilt on the New Haven line because of the tight spacing. For the Acela IIs, Amtrak might specify cars that are 4" narrower than the current Acelas; certainly not wider.
To allow them to lean in the corners, and compensating for the narrower track centers, independent of where tracks they're running on?
 

gmushial

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Knowing Amtrak they probably won't just take a train off the shelf sadly. It'll probably be something specific for them. But just because the current Shinkansens are too wide doesn't mean they can't make narrower ones.
peter
But being able or willing to use something off the shelf - wouldn't that be an appreciable cost savings... or is the rolling stock a minor cost of running Amtrak?

W/re シンカンセン / 新幹線 : that would be a huge step up in class and comfort... but I suspect such doesn't come free - any idea of the cost difference btwn such and the current stock (assuming they could be made for 10' 8")... though it sure would make a huge difference in the appeal of "Flying Amtrak."
 

PerRock

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Well usually the big hurdle causing them to have everything custom is FRA regulations. There's only been two foreign trains that I know of that Amtrak properly uses (I'm not counting the demo trains), and one of them runs with an FRA waiver. They would be the Talgos & the AEM-7. I highly doubt that the Velaro, any Shinkansen, or TGV meets FRA regulations, causing Amtrak to have order a custom build.

peter
 

Paulus

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FRA is reforming the regulations and making noises that they'll be in line with international norms (read: UIC, Shinkansen are built to a different norm) and that internationally acceptable trains will be allowed.
 
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