Hypothetical High Platform Superliner Replacements

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Cal

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I couldn't use 128 as an example since Superliners can't get there.
What about Rockville, MD?

Note I live in Socal, I don't know if this is a good example. Just looks to be of a similar distance
 
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The advantage of using Superliners is that they can provide more seats and rooms within the length of train that Amtrak is likely to actually run.

Amtrak can and should run longer trains. That isn't really an advantage.

The disadvantages (in summary):
* Higher center of gravity means it costs a lot more to build a new car to the same safety specs as a single-level car.
* Accessibility concerns onboard
* Having to rebuild rail infrastructure from platforms, tunnels, etc.
* Lack of standardization across the Amtrak network
* Lack of ability to eventually electrify under current clearances

There's really no good reason to entertain dual level carriages outside of the commuter rail segments they're already deployed on.
 
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I've mentioned this a few times, but the whole "non standard equipment" thing is only a problem if you have 3 cars that are different in a fleet of 500 than two different types in a fleet of several hundred cars.

Amtrak is not an airline. Amtrak crews go way deeper into the rolling stock than airlines go into their aircraft. Amtrak rebuilds of cars from manufacturers no longer in business because there's no alternative, where airlines generally avoid anything beyond routine maintenance and rely on the manufacturer where possible.

Every different platform means you'll have at least 5 different kinds of cars for specialty use. Different diners, lounges, baggage, sleeper, coach, first class, etc. cars. Each car having their own weird quirky issues and antiquated systems sucks up more time/energy from an already thinly stretched maintenance system.

Adopting a common standard across the entire network would allow for greater flexibility, substitution, service possibilities and maintenance.

Right now we're at the point where SL routes don't get a SSL because there just aren't any available. I do hope they eventually get some kind of suitable single-level sightseer, but that alone is not reason enough to keep running dual-level trains.
 
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Amtrak can and should run longer trains. That isn't really an advantage.

The disadvantages (in summary):
* Higher center of gravity means it costs a lot more to build a new car to the same safety specs as a single-level car.
* Accessibility concerns onboard
* Having to rebuild rail infrastructure from platforms, tunnels, etc.
* Lack of standardization across the Amtrak network
* Lack of ability to eventually electrify under current clearances

There's really no good reason to entertain dual level carriages outside of the commuter rail segments they're already deployed on.
Pretty much every point he listed, especially accessibility concerns, is a game changer.

I love superliners. I always will. There is not reason however, why their replacement should be anything like them, especially in number of floors.
 
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Cal

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* Having to rebuild rail infrastructure from platforms, tunnels, etc.
We're talking about replacements for the superliners, there wouldn't need to be any rebuilding of tunnels or platforms. Unless they also replace Viewliners but I don't think that's what we were suggesting
* Lack of ability to eventually electrify under current clearances
Superliners have ran under the wires on the Keystone service, and under the wires at WAS.
 
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We're talking about replacements for the superliners, there wouldn't need to be any rebuilding of tunnels or platforms.

So you're totally fine building a new platform that's locked into the same stations/routes currently served with no hope of expanding further.

There's something to be said for a national standard for long distance passenger rail platforms, if you're going to rebuild them anyway.
 
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87YJ

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Seams the best that standardization across the country will be the best for Amtrak. Hard to say what kick back money will give us for cars. Hope for the best. thanks to all for letting me stir things a bit, let me know who to listen to and......... Well you know. :)
 

Cal

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So you're totally fine building a new platform that's locked into the same stations/routes currently served with no hope of expanding further.
How would new bilevel cars prevent/hinder building platforms at new routes and expanding platforms? What am I missing here?
 

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Amtrak can and should run longer trains. That isn't really an advantage.
Amtrak can do all sorts of things but where I travel they have repeatedly shrunk trains rather than extend them.

* Higher center of gravity means it costs a lot more to build a new car to the same safety specs as a single-level car.
Dual levels can be similar or cheaper in terms of per-seat costs and that's why they are still being used today.

* Accessibility concerns onboard
If the B748 and A380 can maintain ADA compliance then so should dual level long haul trains.

* Having to rebuild rail infrastructure from platforms, tunnels, etc.
Why would anyone need to rebuild the infrastructure that already supports Superliners today?

* Lack of ability to eventually electrify under current clearances
Superliners can run under catenary now and there are no serious plans to electrify Superliner routes.

* Lack of standardization across the Amtrak network
This must be the primary rant since the rest of these concerns fall apart unless we make this a requirement.
 
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Cal

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If the B748 and A380 can maintain ADA compliance then so should dual level long haul trains.
To be fair, most of the 747s and a380’s deck is on the lower deck, not requiring stairs. And you can board directly to the upper deck (although I don’t know if this is a normal practice for 747s) However the aisles are tight.
 

sttom

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Amtrak can and should run longer trains. That isn't really an advantage.

The disadvantages (in summary):
* Higher center of gravity means it costs a lot more to build a new car to the same safety specs as a single-level car.
* Accessibility concerns onboard
* Having to rebuild rail infrastructure from platforms, tunnels, etc.
* Lack of standardization across the Amtrak network
* Lack of ability to eventually electrify under current clearances

There's really no good reason to entertain dual level carriages outside of the commuter rail segments they're already deployed on.
There are accessibility concerns with the Viewliners too. Currently only the Accessible Room next to the diner can access it. If unobstructed access comes down the pike, sleepers are going to get axed at some point since the aisles on either type of sleeper can't clear a wheelchair.

Requiring the rest of the country to have 4 foot high platforms to accommodate level boarding is a cost that most of the country is going to have to bear. Which is highly unlikely to be funded by the federal government. And our legal system takes issue with unfunded mandates.

Just because something looked different, doesn't mean it shares no components. Plenty of different car models have part commonality, like aircraft and other things.

Capacity is still a major issue with forcing us to switch to single level cars that you haven't addressed. A 12 car Superliner train would need at least 18 Viewliners to have approximately the same capacity.

On distributing cars, I'm under no illusions that if Amtrak could do that, that Western routes would benefit from that. If Superliners could run into Penn Station, we all know the Eastern trains would get first dibs on equipment, not the Starlight or Eagle.

As for ADA and airlines, why should airlines not be required to have an ADA bathroom when someone can be subjected to a 9 hour domestic flight, but a train with a 2 hour end to end run time has to be fully accessible, regardless of amenities? That is going to be the stark contrast our ground transportation and air transportation might be if the new rules are found to be viable. And that's before we get to who's paying to raise the platform at my local station 3 feet to comply with NEC based requirements?

Also, Siemens cites being able to build rolling stock to 4 platform heights, one of which is 25 inches over the rails or the height of a Superliners door. And Gen 3 of the California cars were cancelled due to our antiquated crash safety standards, not anything to do with fleet commonality or ADA.

Electrification? I'm 27 and I doubt I'll see any major electrification projects outside the Northeast in the next 20 years. And it's not like we can't build the wires and pantographs taller. We have the knowledge to hang wires.
 
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jis

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To be fair, most of the 747s and a380’s deck is on the lower deck, not requiring stairs. And you can board directly to the upper deck (although I don’t know if this is a normal practice for 747s) However the aisles are tight.
Also regulations are created by humans in regulatory bodies. The aviation ADA regulations are very different from the FRA ones.
 

87YJ

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ADA Question:
Airlines do not allow power chairs(very heavy)! so a folding or light non folder chair gets put under in baggage. You transfer to a very narrow aisle chair that will go down the aisle to get to your seat.
Do they use transfer/aisle chairs on the single level Viewliners to go between cars?
 
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ADA Question:
Airlines do not allow power chairs(very heavy)! so a folding or light non folder chair gets put under in baggage. You transfer to a very narrow aisle chair that will go down the aisle to get to your seat.
Do they use transfer/aisle chairs on the single level Viewliners to go between cars?

actually heavier wheelchairs do get stowed in luggage. Sometimes at the gate.
As heavy as those chairs get, it really doesn’t matter too much with someone as large as a B767...
 
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There are accessibility concerns with the Viewliners too. Currently only the Accessible Room next to the diner can access it. If unobstructed access comes down the pike, sleepers are going to get axed at some point since the aisles on either type of sleeper can't clear a wheelchair.

This is a reasonable accommodation. All the ADA requires is a reasonable accommodation.

Requiring the rest of the country to have 4 foot high platforms to accommodate level boarding is a cost that most of the country is going to have to bear.

You're saying that like Amtrak has no ability or agency to control modifications at the stations and platforms they stop at. I don't think this is the case.

Further, the height of platforms has nothing to do with whether or not bi-level cars are feasible or desirable. They are not. Stations have bridge plates for boarding off the platform and they go up and down. Even if you aren't in a wheelchair, there are a host of difficulties presented by a full set of narrow or steep stairs that are not presented by aisles across a wide range of disabilities.

Capacity is still a major issue with forcing us to switch to single level cars that you haven't addressed. A 12 car Superliner train would need at least 18 Viewliners to have approximately the same capacity.

The capacity issue you're talking about is theoretical and can be fixed by adding cars. The capacity issue we're facing is that we don't have enough rail cars available. The replacement bi-level for the Superliner failed safety tests and was abandoned. In the time it takes to reboot a bi-level car program, you've lost the ability to serve entire routes.

As for ADA and airlines, why should airlines not be required to have an ADA bathroom when someone can be subjected to a 9 hour domestic flight, but a train with a 2 hour end to end run time has to be fully accessible, regardless of amenities?

First off, the longest domestic flight in CONUS is 6 hours 40 minutes. It isn't until you get to Hawaii that you have a 9 hour flight.

Airlines have attendants that are trained on how to make that bathroom work that are on every flight that are available to assist in that situation. They have to be there because wheelchair-bound passengers almost always need to be buckled into a regular airline seat for safety purposes.

Amtrak can't have an attendant on call and has the ability to allow wheelchair passengers to safely ride in their chairs. Given that circumstance, a self-service bathroom is the ADA option. Also, it doesn't cost that much extra to make space on a rail car for an ADA bathroom when you're ordering new equipment. I don't even believe airlines have that as a logical design option on aircraft,

Also, Siemens cites being able to build rolling stock to 4 platform heights, one of which is 25 inches over the rails or the height of a Superliners door. And Gen 3 of the California cars were cancelled due to our antiquated crash safety standards, not anything to do with fleet commonality or ADA.

They were cancelled because they couldn't be built to the same safety standards that apply to single-level trains.

Electrification? I'm 27 and I doubt I'll see any major electrification projects outside the Northeast in the next 20 years. And it's not like we can't build the wires and pantographs taller. We have the knowledge to hang wires.

So which one is it? There's going to be no electrification or you simply change the electrification standard because you want to have a bi-level train that's less safe, is restricted to serving a portion of the country, less accessible all in the name of...higher passenger density?
 

neroden

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This isn’t true.
if every city has as central a station as any NE Corridor station (or the train stations they used to have before taking them down), more people would take the train. This isn’t a prediction, it’s a fact. The NE corridor has European level ridership. There is no corridor anywhere else in the country that comes even close.
Well, San Diego to LA comes close, but again, it's a string of well-located downtown stations with frequent service. Chicago doesn't have any one good corridor, but Chicago itself has great ridership, because, again, well-located downtown station.
 
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neroden

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Amtrak can and should run longer trains. That isn't really an advantage.
The fundamental capacity advantage of trains comes from the ability to make trains long, so yes, agreed, Amtrak can, should, and must run longer trains. Trains scale up by getting llllooonnngggeeerrr. That's how it works! There are a few stations which definitely need platform lengthening, but a lot fewer than you might think; less than 10, I'd say.
 

neroden

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Also regulations are created by humans in regulatory bodies. The aviation ADA regulations are very different from the FRA ones.
Aviation isn't subject to the ADA, it's subject to a much narrower law, the Air Carrier Access Act. This has been a problem and there are moves afoot to make it subject to the ADA. (This wouldn't change much physically but might stop airlines from destroying wheelchairs which are sent as checked luggage -- something they currently do routinely and do not pay appropriate compensation for.)
 
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Trogdor

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If the B748 and A380 can maintain ADA compliance then so should dual level long haul trains.

They do not. ADA does not apply to airlines.

The ACAA (Air Carrier Access Act) is what applies to airlines, and has different sets of rules depending on number of seats and number of aisles on the plane. Whether or not the 747 or A380 complies with ACAA is irrelevant with respect to whether a modern bi-level long-distance railcar would be compliant with ADA.
 
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