Hypothetical High Platform Superliner Replacements

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Trogdor

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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.

Off topic, but you cannot board a 747 from the upper deck. The upper deck door is an emergency exit only.
 
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neroden

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Off topic, but you cannot board a 747 from the upper deck. The upper deck door is an emergency exit only.
I am old enough to have watched direct upper-deck boarding of a 747 at some foreign airport. It does seem to be something which is not done in normal practice nowadays, or ever in the US.
 

Trogdor

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I am old enough to have watched direct upper-deck boarding of a 747 at some foreign airport. It does seem to be something which is not done in normal practice nowadays, or ever in the US.

The upper deck door of a 747 has a giant exit slide in the way, and also pops open vertically:

 

neroden

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The upper deck door of a 747 has a giant exit slide in the way, and also pops open vertically:

I don't know what was going on at that airport where I saw it, but yep, it was open and had the exit slide shoved out of the way and a rather poorly-matched-up jetway. Something to do with keeping VIPs separate from the general public, probably; I think the upper deck had been isolated from the rest of the plane for some VIP or something. Don't remember which foreign airline it was. ***Obviously*** not standard procedure.

(I only remember it because I noticed that it was weird.)
 

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They were cancelled because they couldn't be built to the same safety standards that apply to single-level trains.
One bungled project with expiring funds does not prove dual level designs cannot meet relevant safety standards.

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?
It is extremely unlikely we'll see substantial electrification across the the national network and if such electrification did take place it would create no special problem with Superliner sized hardware in the future.

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.
That really chaps my hide. I do not want trains adopting tiny airline lavatories but I also think both industries should have similar requirements. I realize that is not currently the case but that is what I would support.
 
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sttom

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



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.



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.



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,



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



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?

Bombardier and Alstom have built what they classify as bilevel cars and are built to similar dimensions as the old Santa Fe hilevels that meet the modern requirements. The Cal3s failing is more likely down to incompetence, not building compliant rolling stock being against the laws of physics.

Platform heights can be a problem because it will either mean taller bilevel cars to not have a dip like a multilevel car or an ADA nightmare dealing with stairs on the end of each car.

If having one out of how ever many ADA rooms be next to the dining car is good enough, then an accommodation can be made for Superliners.

On electrification, it's not hard to see that we aren't going to be doing any large scale electrification in this county. Even if we did start, the railways aren't going to give up double stack container trains for it. Double stack trains can be 18 feet tall and bilevel passenger cars are around 16 feet. Just to accommodate the minimum clearance of a double stack is enough for a Superliner or similar car. Not to mention multilevels run on the NEC without problems at 14.5 feet. Not to mention they use similar cars in Europe where they have a lot of electrification and more sensible safety regulations than we did until recently.

So a new bilevel car can be built to modern safety standards, run under wire, have level boarding, and carry more people in fewer cars. Running longer trains also isn't the only solution, running more would do way more for Amtrak than running a longer one that will hold up traffic in many places that will get on people's nerves.
 

Cal

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Bombardier and Alstom have built what they classify as bilevel cars and are built to similar dimensions as the old Santa Fe hilevels that meet the modern requirements. The Cal3s failing is more likely down to incompetence, not building compliant rolling stock being against the laws of physics.

Platform heights can be a problem because it will either mean taller bilevel cars to not have a dip like a multilevel car or an ADA nightmare dealing with stairs on the end of each car.

If having one out of how ever many ADA rooms be next to the dining car is good enough, then an accommodation can be made for Superliners.

On electrification, it's not hard to see that we aren't going to be doing any large scale electrification in this county. Even if we did start, the railways aren't going to give up double stack container trains for it. Double stack trains can be 18 feet tall and bilevel passenger cars are around 16 feet. Just to accommodate the minimum clearance of a double stack is enough for a Superliner or similar car. Not to mention multilevels run on the NEC without problems at 14.5 feet. Not to mention they use similar cars in Europe where they have a lot of electrification and more sensible safety regulations than we did until recently.

So a new bilevel car can be built to modern safety standards, run under wire, have level boarding, and carry more people in fewer cars. Running longer trains also isn't the only solution, running more would do way more for Amtrak than running a longer one that will hold up traffic in many places that will get on people's nerves.
One bungled project with expiring funds does not prove dual level designs cannot meet relevant safety standards.


It is extremely unlikely we'll see substantial electrification across the the national network and if such electrification did take place it would create no special problem with Superliner sized hardware in the future.
Ditto, ditto, ditto! The biggest problem bi-levels face is not meeting ADA requirements which is definitely a valid point, and I find it likely that the superliner replacements will be single-level.

However, bi-level replacements would not cause as many problems as you are suggesting.
 

Ryan

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Fleet commonality remains a stated goal of Amtrak’s fleet strategy.

LD equipment is already a small part of the overall fleet.

They aren’t going to further fragment that small part by purchasing LD equipment that can’t go everywhere LD trains go.

Everything else is just meaningless arm flappery and pointless hot air.

Ride ‘em while you got ‘em.
 

John819

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You could build a double level car that is ADA compliant. But it is much less costly to build single level cars.

The downside with the single level cars is that the trains must be longer. But the operating crew (as distinguished from the OBS crew) requirements are the same for five cars or for ten cars. The most probably downside is that two stops may be needed at a number of stations for passengers to get on and off; this is already the case in La Plata MO for example.
 

Trogdor

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I've boarded up top on a 747 before, but as was said, not in the US.

How did they move the exit slide out of the way and fold the swing open door down? Everything I've read says the 747 is not certified for top-level boarding.
 

Bob Dylan

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How did they move the exit slide out of the way and fold the swing open door down? Everything I've read says the 747 is not certified for top-level boarding.
Honestly I'm not sure, it's been so long and it was a Foriegn Carrier not going to the US, perhaps the configuration was different and/ or it was Certified under a different Countries Rules??
 

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Fleet commonality remains a stated goal of Amtrak’s fleet strategy. LD equipment is already a small part of the overall fleet. They aren’t going to further fragment that small part by purchasing LD equipment that can’t go everywhere LD trains go.
If Amtrak truly cared about fleet commonality they would not have created five single level sub-fleets.

Everything else is just meaningless arm flappery and pointless hot air.


You could build a double level car that is ADA compliant. But it is much less costly to build single level cars.
Fair point. If the ADA sledgehammer was not threatening dual level viability for generations I'd have a lot more confidence in a third Superliner fleet.
 
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That is if the flight is a B767 or other widebody. But not so much on a regional jet or commuter carrier.

you are over estimating the amount of influence that an electric wheelchair would have on the weight and balance of any given commercial aircraft.

It matters far less than the shape + size.
I was in a Pilatus PC-12 (a very small 9 seater used for charters most often) the other day flying with a Tradewinds captain. He basically told me that as long as you can shut the door, the plane can more or less takeoff.

Not saying this is true for an ERJ or CRJ (anything bigger than that won’t be a problem) but the anecdote puts perspective on your claim. The weight matters a lot more with regard to fuel than anything else. A 737 800 has a useful load of about 71,000 lbs with a fuel capacity of around 26,000 lbs. a 100 lbs wheelchair is not much.

If an airline refuses ones chair, it probably has to do with size impeding ability to properly stow the chair and not the weight.
 
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basketmaker

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you are over estimating the amount of influence that an electric wheelchair would have on the weight and balance of any given commercial aircraft.

It matters far less than the shape + size.
I was in a Pilatus PC-12 (a very small 9 seater used for charters most often) the other day flying with a Tradewinds captain. He basically told me that as long as you can shut the door, the plane can more or less takeoff.

Not saying this is true for an ERJ or CRJ (anything bigger than that won’t be a problem) but the anecdote puts perspective on your claim. The weight matters a lot more with regard to fuel than anything else. A 737 800 has a useful load of about 70,000 lbs with a fuel capacity of around 26,000 lbs. a 100 lbs wheelchair is not much.

If an airline refuses ones chair, it probably has to do with size impeding ability to properly stow the chair and not the weight.
No not just weight. You're very correct size matters. I have done weight & balance on many small airline aircraft up to DC-3s. Some with baggage doors big enough and some that aren't. I have also assisted (lifted up and over the wing and into the cabin) challenged passengers on small(er) aircraft i.e. Piper Aztecs, Cherokees and DC-3s. As an airline (PBA) station manager with just me in the station it was to do all I could to help the passenger. This was before ADA. You are right on the PC-12 is a stout bird! I remember one of Denver's local TV traffic reporters flew one around the world.
 
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No not just weight. You're very correct size matters. I have done weight & balance on many small airline aircraft up to DC-3s. Some with baggage doors big enough and some that aren't. I have also assisted (lifted up and over the wing and into the cabin) challenged passengers on small(er) aircraft i.e. Piper Aztecs, Cherokees and DC-3s. As an airline (PBA) station manager with just me in the station it was to do all I could to help the passenger. This was before ADA. You are right on the PC-12 is a stout bird! I remember one of Denver's local TV traffic reporters flew one around the world.
Fair enough! Now, I truly know nothing about electric wheelchairs, nor plan to do any research. Maybe there are some truly gargantuan ones that would effect a CRJ cog.
 

basketmaker

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Fair enough! Now, I truly know nothing about electric wheelchairs, nor plan to do any research. Maybe there are some truly gargantuan ones that would effect a CRJ cog.
Really other than size (actually fitting) and weight for CG purposes. I think that batteries could be an issue (haz-mat) depending on what type. I have no idea what is or isn't allowed these days. Partner periodically uses an everyday wheelchair but he/we haven't traveled in a few years so I haven't looked into either.
 

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I know the weight of power chairs, lets just say no way to pick it up. And no safe way you can pick it up even with your friends help. Baggage handlers are limited to what they can pickup. Again my wife has one "I KNOW"

Enough on powerchairs as they should never be operational on any train. Controls can stick and people will get hurt.

Sounds like the forum is saying the viewliner wins out on the superliner. It's OK, as someone posted "enjoy them while you can"
 

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If Amtrak truly cared about fleet commonality they would not have created five single level sub-fleets.





Fair point. If the ADA sledgehammer was not threatening dual level viability for generations I'd have a lot more confidence in a third Superliner fleet.

There is a You Tube video with Roger Harris on this subject. There are serious supply chain questions of whether we can build a bilevel car in this country now. It’s hard to believe we could almost effortlessly build the Superliners in the ‘70s (I saw them under construction at Pullman), and we can’t now, but that the state of US manufacturing in 2021.
 

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There is a You Tube video with Roger Harris on this subject. There are serious supply chain questions of whether we can build a bilevel car in this country now. It’s hard to believe we could almost effortlessly build the Superliners in the ‘70s (I saw them under construction at Pullman), and we can’t now, but that the state of US manufacturing in 2021.
Isuspect given enough money we can re-setup the necessary infrastructure to build bilevel LD cars again, but the question is whether the amount of money needed to setup the infrastructure for a relatively small order of cars can be spent better in getting many more cars from a supply chain that is in place.

Ultimately it boils down to deciding whether we want to get maximum bang for the buck to setup an as large a passenger system as we can using the resources that we have, or we will spend money on getting a much smaller but fancier system. The rest of the minor decisions about car layouts come after this core decision is made.
 

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Is it really that hard to design a sleeping car that wheelchair users could pass through? Especially if an airline style transfer chair qualifies as a reasonable accommodation?
 
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