Are there any plans to enlarge the NY Penn station tunnels?

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west point

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IMO the only way to get more V-2s is to transfer the CAF facility to Siemens along with all builders drawings.
 

John819

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The problem with a new double decker LD car is that it almost certainly will not comply with the ADA. Under the current interpretation all cars, including the diner and the observation car, must be accessible to wheelchair passengers, something that would require elevators.

It would make far more sense for Siemens to use the Venture platform to build new sleepers, diner cars, observation cars, and perhaps slumbercoach cars, all of which could run on both the east coast (low overhead, high level platform) routes and on the rest of the system.
 

Ryan

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The Superliners are going to have to be replaced sometime in the next decade.

They just finished a run of Viewliner IIs whereas nobody could get past the crash test phase of a bi-level car.

Why do you think another run of Viewliners is so unlikely?
These guys basically nail it. The CAF order has been a disaster. Highly likely they never build a car for Amtrak again. There is a reason all subsequent procurements have been for proven off the shelf designs, not a bespoke recreation of a decades old unicorn. I agree that it’ll be single level, but it won’t be a Viewliner.

Because it's probably cheaper to just have a company like Siemens build long-distance cars based on their off-the-shelf Venture platform than having them take the 40 year old Viewliner design and update it. Certainly, neither Amtrak nor CAF want to work together on anything for the foreseeable future. :)
The biggest problem is that CAF seems to be extremely slow in getting VLIIs out - I don't think all the sleepers have been delivered yet and we're already at least 5 years past the promised last-delivered date when the contract was signed. If we want enough cars to replace the Superliner fleet within the next 50 years, it'll be best to find an off-the-shelf rail car (even if it's single level) and use that instead of trying to build from scratch (even with a known design.)
 

Anderson

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I recall reading somewhere the Seimens is currently only providing a replacement for coaches, not anything else. That said, no idea if they have something of the like up their sleeve.
Siemens already has something that can be worked with:

At worst, they'd need to fiddle with the design a little for US loading gauges, equipment requirements, and passenger needs (e.g. replacing couchettes with roomettes) vs European ones, but this is...basically off-the-shelf stuff.
 

AmtrakBlue

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The biggest problem is that CAF seems to be extremely slow in getting VLIIs out - I don't think all the sleepers have been delivered yet and we're already at least 5 years past the promised last-delivered date when the contract was signed. If we want enough cars to replace the Superliner fleet within the next 50 years, it'll be best to find an off-the-shelf rail car (even if it's single level) and use that instead of trying to build from scratch (even with a known design.)
The last two sleepers were delivered August 24th
 

PVD

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What others (reliable folks) have posted is NY section LSL, that would be 2x3 sets or 6 more. If the current info on deployment stands, 3 x 4 sets is 12, so 18 will be deployed, leaving 7. Not sure what shop margins are being used, no need to change the protects, a VL1 can "cover"
 

me_little_me

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Given that the next generation of Superliners officially got cancelled, the only thing preventing the use of Viewliner IIs are the lower platforms in the places the Superliners roam.
There are also issues of the additional required cars fitting stations that even now require multiple stops by a Superliner (one for coach passengers, one for sleeper passengers and possibly one for baggage).

Now, if instead, they ran a separate sleeper train from coach train or two combo trains a day on each route, that would be different.
 

George Harris

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There are also issues of the additional required cars fitting stations that even now require multiple stops by a Superliner (one for coach passengers, one for sleeper passengers and possibly one for baggage).

Now, if instead, they ran a separate sleeper train from coach train or two combo trains a day on each route, that would be different.
Increasing number of trains would drastically increase costs. The practical answer to short platforms is to build longer platforms. This should be an Amtrak basic long term policy. That it is a problem doesn't seem rational, as for the most part the Amtrak trains are shorter than those run on these routes in the past. Even if the platform itself is no longer there, the ground to support it should still be there.

The entire northeast clearance problem is based on shortsightedness in the original design. First and foremost in building any transportation structure is, DON"T SHRINK WRAP THE EQUIPMENT!!!!! This message does not see to have even gotten to the rebuilds and "improvements" under construction in the Northeast. I put improvements in quotations because if you do not improve your clearances you are not really doing the whole improvement job.
 

Anderson

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Increasing number of trains would drastically increase costs. The practical answer to short platforms is to build longer platforms. This should be an Amtrak basic long term policy. That it is a problem doesn't seem rational, as for the most part the Amtrak trains are shorter than those run on these routes in the past. Even if the platform itself is no longer there, the ground to support it should still be there.
The issue is that Amtrak doesn't own a lot of the stations. However, I'd point out that in quite a few cases, two spots should still cut it if you're not doing checked luggage at the station in question: Needing more than that is (arguably) down to the on-board staff not managing seat allocations properly (or, perhaps, being subject to a computer being stupid about it)...a lot of the stations in question only manage a few thousand passengers per year.

Of course, adding trains is a more complicated question.

[Edit to add: The complication here is as follows:
-The train's direct cost would necessarily scale roughly with the number of sections being run.
-However, station costs wouldn't necessarily scale accordingly...that's schedule-dependent.
-On the plus side, a second [or third] frequency on various routes would likely help drive ridership. For probably the best examples here, the service times at SLC and in Ohio are pretty bad and second frequencies on those routes would likely improve travel options for a lot of people. There are plenty of other stops where the train runs at a mediocre hour one way or another, and in some cases 2-3 trains/day would allow "day trips" on different portions of the line and so on, depending on scheduling decisions.

So while costs would assuredly go up, the net overall impact would inevitably be quite complicated. Splitting trains into coach/sleeper probably isn't the best answer, but having two trains on well-spaced schedules with both options might be a winner.]

The entire northeast clearance problem is based on shortsightedness in the original design. First and foremost in building any transportation structure is, DON"T SHRINK WRAP THE EQUIPMENT!!!!! This message does not see to have even gotten to the rebuilds and "improvements" under construction in the Northeast. I put improvements in quotations because if you do not improve your clearances you are not really doing the whole improvement job.
The NEC wasn't subject to a "short-sighted" design. Penn Station was built in 1910 and planning began in 1901. The first bilevel cars in the US weren't deployed until 1950 (commuter cars on the CB&Q). The first long-haul cars were, of course, the Santa Fe Hi-Levels. Many other "choke points" on the NEC long pre-date Penn Station (e.g. the Baltimore tunnels, which date back to 1871). Expecting the planners and builders of the NEC to "future-proof" their designs by 40-80 years is just absurd.

The fact that Amtrak hasn't opted to fix this (even "one piece at a time") can, in turn, be blamed on the lack of funding Amtrak has gotten. Remember, Amtrak didn't even get their plans in the 1970s fully funded. It would arguably simply be cheaper to extend at least two tracks' worth of platforms (either one or two platforms) at all Amtrak-served stations to accommodate 16-car trains (vs the current tendency to "cap out" around 10-12) with level boarding than it would to fix the clearance issues to accommodate Superliner-specced equipment.
 
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neroden

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It would arguably simply be cheaper to extend at least two tracks' worth of platforms (either one or two platforms) at all Amtrak-served stations to accommodate 16-car trains (vs the current tendency to "cap out" around 10-12) with level boarding than it would to fix the clearance issues to accommodate Superliner-specced equipment.
An awful lot of the platforms from New York to Miami were originally long enough for 16-car trains already, and so are a bunch of the older stations on the Water Level Route (LSL). They just need new concrete poured. There are a few problem locations like Syracuse (where the original station had the tracks replaced with an expressway, forcing the new station to be in a disadvantageous location) but not many, and even Syracuse can have the platforms extended, physically speaking.
 

west point

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1. The north river and East river tunnel bores cannot be expanded. Those tunnels were built using cast Iron sections bolted together. Further the North River tunnels were laid on a partially trenched river bed. Now that area is all covered with a toxic witches brew not present when the North river bore sections were laid . So cannot replace cast iron tubes with larger diameter tubes.
2. For the new tunnel bores the bores are going under the Hudson river bed to avoid all the toxic materials on the river bed. To make a larger bore diameter the bores would need to go deeper. That would cause a too steep slope . That slope would prevent a rescue loco from being able to extract a long train from the bottom of the bore. Unacceptable in case of a fire.

3. The old NYP station overhead clearances are at its limits so higher cars would foul the CAT. I personally observed the 8th Avenue Subway's base that is one area of overhead clearance problems.
 

John819

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If you wanted to make Penn Station able to accommodate Superliners (or equivalent) you would need to build entirely new tunnels under both the Hudson (North) River and the East River and then rebuild Penn Station itself to raise the overhead. Plus, you would need to rebuild many bridges and other structures to allow for raising the catenary wires. Sounds like a $50 billion job in and of itself.
 

Anderson

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An awful lot of the platforms from New York to Miami were originally long enough for 16-car trains already, and so are a bunch of the older stations on the Water Level Route (LSL). They just need new concrete poured. There are a few problem locations like Syracuse (where the original station had the tracks replaced with an expressway, forcing the new station to be in a disadvantageous location) but not many, and even Syracuse can have the platforms extended, physically speaking.
I'd also point out that depending on the number of stations involved, absorbing a few "double spots" isn't the end of the world for the LD trains while after you cross a point, shorter-distance trains almost assuredly make sense to add frequencies to instead. The NEC is somewhat unique in this respect (or at least, was unique pre-pandemic) insofar as the raw amount of traffic (particularly at peak hours) stressed capacity.

[I mean, given the choice, presuming that the Hudson and Baltimore tunnel bottlenecks get dealt with, south of NYP I think we'd probably be better off with 2-4x/hour Regionals at 8-9 cars than 1-2x/hour Regionals at 16 cars since the former case starts getting close to "don't have to check the timetable" territory. North of NYP is complicated by the frequency limits due to some of the bridges, but even there I think resolving those so you can run one Regional and one Acela per hour also makes more sense as an approach.]
 
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It's not just the North River and East River tunnels which would have to be enlarged. There are probably many more places and overpasses where the catenary would have to be raised.

You're talking big bucks. Where would the money come from?

jb
A country such as India already has high catenaries for freight and tall passenger cars and can get them at low prices. With that in mind, getting high catenaries should not be that much of an issue in the east. In the west, I can see the concerns as to why but besides tunneling high catenaries in the east are the least of worries in price.
 

jis

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A country such as India already has high catenaries for freight and tall passenger cars and can get them at low prices. With that in mind, getting high catenaries should not be that much of an issue in the east. In the west, I can see the concerns as to why but besides tunneling high catenaries in the east are the least of worries in price.
India has high catenary only for double stack on very select routes known as Dedicated Freight Corridors, and some associate regular main lines e.g. Delhi Cantt. to just outside of Rewari. None of it is for high passenger cars of which India has none. There are no major passenger stations with high catenary.

If you can figure out how to get away with paying Indian labor rates you can get catenary and new routes of rail as cheap as India manages - maybe.

BTW US already has catenary in parts of the NEC that is high enough to fit the tallest standard AAR Plate (H and K) cars under them. So you don't have to go all the way to India for it. Incidentally the Indian high catenary is a few feet higher than the highest catenary in the US because India does its double stack on standard flats, and not in well wagons. Also the engines have a special high catenary pantograph which cannot be used in low catenary areas, which is most of India. They have a separate standard pantograph so that they can operate anywhere in India.
 
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