The Five Year Financial Plan for FY12-16 showed the then plan for rolling stock counts through FY16 which had 25 Heritage baggage car staying in the fleet in FY15 and FY16 (down from 73). The FY14 budget and five year plan document does not show rolling stock counts projected out 5 years, but it does have projected capital expenditures through FY18 and the overhaul budget for the heritage equipment is zeroed out after FY14.The ones which were actually built as baggage cars are holding up better, but according to On Track On Line, there's only 27 of them. If Amtrak is keeping ~12 of them as a reserve fleet for excess baggage, that's actually quite a large percentage.
There's a 1957 lot built for ATSF, a 1953 lot built for ATSF, and some oddballs built for other railways. I've also read that *individual baggage cars* have separate speed limits, so I imagine Amtrak will get rid of the oddballs and try to have a consistent reserve fleet.
Having old rolling stock has not exactly helped to get funding from Congress for equipment acquisition in the last few years. Besides, by the end of 2015, Amtrak will be able to point to 40 year old Amfleet Is for examples of old equipment with a lot of miles on them. And the Superliner Is will start hitting 40 years old before the end of the decade.It might be worth mentioning that keeping a batch of those cars in reserve arguably serves a certain political goal as well: Setting aside the Great Dome (which is an excursion car in many respects) and the PPCs, those dozen-or-so baggage cars provide a small regular-use fleet that can be used to wave around "We're still regularly using equipment from the 1950s!" when funding matters come up without breaking the bank to do so, with the hope of inducing another round of Viewliner II purchases (or something similar).
Even if every baggage car was permanently retired Amtrak could still say that their newest long distance passenger cars are based on designs from the 1980's. Considering that we're currently just a few years away from 2020 I'm fairly certain these too will be forty or fifty years old before anyone considers replacing them.It might be worth mentioning that keeping a batch of those cars in reserve arguably serves a certain political goal as well: Setting aside the Great Dome (which is an excursion car in many respects) and the PPCs, those dozen-or-so baggage cars provide a small regular-use fleet that can be used to wave around "We're still regularly using equipment from the 1950s!" when funding matters come up without breaking the bank to do so, with the hope of inducing another round of Viewliner II purchases (or something similar).
You want entire trains of baggage cars and diners? The Heritage equipment is old and has served well. Let them go. The Viewliner I sleepers aren't going away, they'll be refurbished and put back into regular service.Instead of dumping the remaining Heritage equipment, Amtrak should do one of two options:
Option 1 (Shift surplus Viewliner I and Heritage equipment onto at least two of the following routes)
Option 2 (Send all remaining Heritage equipment to North Carolina)
- Reinstate the Three Rivers route (Viewliner I & Heritage)
- Make the Cardinal daily (Viewliner I)
- Put sleepers back on #66 & #67 (Viewliner I)
- Extend the Palmetto to Tampa via the S-Line (Viewliner I & Heritage)
- Reinstate the Montrealer (Viewliner I & leftover equipment other states may be giving up once they get new cars; e.g., Horizon Cars)
How do you think Piedmont service is so successful down here? If Amtrak doesn't want decades-old equipment, NCDOT knows how to make such equipment look and feel brand new.
With the Viewliner Is now approaching 20 years in service, the cars are likely due for a major mid-life overhaul anyway. Why do a half-assed upgrade, instead of a full upgrade with new roomette and bedroom modules to have the Viewliner Is match the internal configuration of the new Viewliner IIs? Simplifies maintenance and spare parts inventory to have identical Viewliner modules across the fleet for one thing.It shouldn't be very expensive to retrofit the Viewliner Is... they're all modular, right?...
(a) buy new bathroom modules (we worked out these are probably pretty cheap actually)
(b) pull out the roomette modules
(c ) throw out the worst-condition 1/12 of them
(d) seal the toilets and remove the toilet plumbing from the remainder
(e) replace the electronics and replace lights with LED (needed to be done anyway)
(f) retrim them if it is thought necessary (optional)
(g) put 'em back in
The upfront cost is 50 extra bathroom modules, and Amtrak should be able to find the budget for that. The rest of it is less work than Amtrak does in a typical Level 2 overhaul, even if it technically qualifies as "level 3 overhaul" work; it can simply be worked into the regular schedule at Beech Grove.
It seems like a waste to toss modules which are in perfectly good condition mechanically.With the Viewliner Is now approaching 20 years in service, the cars are likely due for a major mid-life overhaul anyway. Why do a half-assed upgrade, instead of a full upgrade with new roomette and bedroom modules to have the Viewliner Is match the internal configuration of the new Viewliner IIs?
Yeah, sometimes. The enormous number of toilets... there's a lot of places stuff can go wrong...What about the Superliners that still haven't been rebuilt to flush correctly? Are today's Viewliners starting to suffer from putrid air flow and raw sewage on the floor?
(a) Because Superliners were designed to be extremely difficult to renovate, as far as I can tell, while Viewliners were designed to be easy to renovate. ("Non-modular" vs. "Modular"). So far more should get done for the same amount of money.(b) Because of the different internal configuration between Viewliner Is and Viewliner IIs, they can't be used interchangeably in the reservations system unless renovated, and if Is are subbed for IIs, it gives customers a "don't know what to expect" situation. Admittedly there's some of this with the Superliner Is and IIs, but at least they have the same number of rooms.If not why should they be prioritized before cars with serious problems?