Long Distance (LD) fleet replacement discussion (2022-23)

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jis

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Would be smart for Amtrak to add an order for single-level long distant coaches, dining cars, lounge cars, and sleeping cars. Haveing standardized equipment system-wide would solve many maintenance issues.
Amtrak has stated that they are in early stages of determining whether Superliners will be replaced by single or bilevel equipment, and there are strong camps on both sides of the argument in the design team. So it would be premature to order something specially given that no design exists for some of the car types that would be needed in the single level form that would be appropriate for induction in five to ten years.
 
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Amtrak has statd that they are in early stages of deterining whether Superliners will be replaced by single or bilevel equipment, and there are strong camps on both sides of the argument in the design team. So it would be premature to order something specially given that no design exists for some of the car types that would be neede in the single level form that would be appropriate for induction in five to ten years.
I didn't know this. This is interesting to hear.
 

JWM

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Single level (i.e., modified Siemens "Railjet" and "Nightjet" equipment would be easier and less expensive, but for long haul American trains they may be too confining. I have no idea who is capable of building bi-level replacements. Amtrak made an error when they bypassed Budd on the original ones in my opinion. I'd much prefer equipment like the original "California Zephyr", but it probably is not cost effective today.
 

jis

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Single level (i.e., modified Siemens "Railjet" and "Nightjet" equipment would be easier and less expensive, but for long haul American trains they may be too confining. I have no idea who is capable of building bi-level replacements. Amtrak made an error when they bypassed Budd on the original ones in my opinion. I'd much prefer equipment like the original "California Zephyr", but it probably is not cost effective today.
Almost any European manufacturer is quite capable of building sill-less bilevel cars. They do it all the time in Europe. Being able to build body shells is not the issue. Fleet planning and cost of lifetime ownership and ease of operation and maintenance which goes hand in hand are the issues.
 
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I think a better approach is to rebuild the existing Superliners and order additional new designs (single or bilevel).

Amtrak originally ordered 479 SLs over two phases, of which <430 are still on the roster. So, it would take an order of 430 new cars (more if they choose a lower capacity single level design) just to maintain the status quo. If we want improved service frequencies, expanded consists, and dare I say a new/restored route or two, it's going to require hundreds more cars than that.

Do you foresee an order of 700+ new Superliner replacements in Amtrak's future at a cost of over $3B? Under current management I sure don't, and it would be a decade or more before they all come online. But I can envision an order of several hundred new cars which would be used to augment rebuilt SLs.
 

jis

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MODERATOR'S NOTE: There was an earlier thread in 2021 that some here might find interesting. Any further discussion along thse lines should be carried on here as that thread is locked as we are trying to consolidate all Superliner replacement discussion in a single place.


Thank you for you understanding cooperation and participation.
 
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JWM

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Almost any European manufacturer is quite capable of building sill-less bilevel cars. They do it all the time in Europe. Being able to build body shells is not the issue. Fleet planning and cost of lifetime ownership and ease of operation and maintenance which goes hand in hand are the issues.
You are correct as I have ridden bi-level German, Austrian and Swiss trains. TGV as well.
 

Ryan

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Is this FY22-FY27 5 year plan the latest and greatest?

This is what is says about LD Rolling Stock:
While the refleeting of Amtrak’s long-distance network is a major priority and an excellent use of IIJA funding, a new railcar order of this magnitude for unique equipment cannot occur overnight. During FY 2022, Amtrak expects to commence preparations for acquiring a new long-distance fleet, including customer and market/supplier research, rolling stock engineering, and other steps necessary to develop the specifications for a long-distance railcar order. Market and supplier research may include a Request for Information (RFI). Once specifications have been developed, Amtrak can launch a Request for Proposals (RFP) for new equipment, receive vendor bids, negotiate with vendors, and ultimately award a contract. Amtrak will likely seek a TSSSA with any vendor to ensure that its Mechanical forces will have access to original equipment manufacturer (OEM) expertise and a ready supply of spare parts throughout the service life of the new equipment. Amtrak anticipates the award of a contract, and for new railcar construction to be well underway, by the end of the five-year horizon of these Service and Asset Line Plans.

Significant customer and marketplace research is necessary for this once-in-a-generation procurement. The bi-level Superliner fleet’s original design roots trace back to the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway’s Hi-Level railcar design from the 1950s, while single level Amfleet II is based upon the design of the original Metroliner railcars of the 1960s. The new fleet must reflect the major changes in customer preferences and rolling stock design over the past six to seven decades.

While specific delivery timelines for new equipment will be negotiated with the vendor, new railcars generally require about four years from the time of contract award until the first new unit enters service, and deliveries of hundreds of railcars from an order usually take place over the span of three to five years. Therefore, Amtrak anticipates that the first new long- distance railcars will arrive towards the end of the current decade, with deliveries continuing into the early 2030s.
 

rickycourtney

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The other interesting consideration is accommodating passengers with disabilities. The current method of relegating people to a room downstairs and bringing them food isn't equitable access. That means that a future bi-level may need to include an elevator and wider, wheelchair-accessible aisles. Something that will need to be considered as part of the costs/benefits of bi-level equipment.
 

Touchdowntom9

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For the sake of cost management and simplicity, I would assume that the best route would be to use the Siemens Venture car with an interior design that takes alot of ideas from the Nightjet etc. Worth noting that they have an extra foot of width to work with on these cars compared to their Euro counterparts which should help reduce some of the concerns regarding space. Having numerous types of rollingstock seems to be something Amtrak is trying to eliminate right now given their recent charger order.
 
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The other interesting consideration is accommodating passengers with disabilities. The current method of relegating people to a room downstairs and bringing them food isn't equitable access. That means that a future bi-level may need to include an elevator and wider, wheelchair-accessible aisles. Something that will need to be considered as part of the costs/benefits of bi-level equipment.
ADA, in this case, becomes a strong argument against bi-level trains.
 

GDRRiley

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ADA, in this case, becomes a strong argument against bi-level trains.
it would be fairly easy to make some/all of the coaches/sleepers have elevators for wheelchair users. Some cars like dinning and lounge cars assuming they keep the same layout would not need them.

I think a better approach is to rebuild the existing Superliners and order additional new designs (single or bilevel).
they are 30 and 50+ years old they just need to be replaced at this point.
Amtrak originally ordered 479 SLs over two phases, of which <430 are still on the roster. So, it would take an order of 430 new cars (more if they choose a lower capacity single level design) just to maintain the status quo. If we want improved service frequencies, expanded consists, and dare I say a new/restored route or two, it's going to require hundreds more cars than that.

Do you foresee an order of 700+ new Superliner replacements in Amtrak's future at a cost of over $3B? Under current management I sure don't, and it would be a decade or more before they all come online. But I can envision an order of several hundred new cars which would be used to augment rebuilt SLs.
Amtrak has 4.27B for new railcars, locos and required shops for LD.
125 locos is ~1.25B with 175 being ~1.75B.
that leaves 2.5-3B for new coach. They should be under 4m a unit ideally 3m. even at that 4m each and with only 2.5B thats 625 cars with 3B that becomes 750
They also take out interest free loans to order more cars

Its been confirmed the state of California is in talk with Amtrak to combine orders if they go bi level. VIA rail may also be interested in joining given their current fleet issues.

Single level (i.e., modified Siemens "Railjet" and "Nightjet" equipment would be easier and less expensive, but for long haul American trains they may be too confining.
the price difference has to be under 50% for bi levels to make sense. as typically 2 bi levels have the same capacity as 3 single levels
I have no idea who is capable of building bi-level replacements. Amtrak made an error when they bypassed Budd on the original ones in my opinion. I'd much prefer equipment like the original "California Zephyr", but it probably is not cost effective today.
Everyone of the major railcar makers can; Stalder, Siemens, Alstom, Nippon Sharyo, Hyundai Rotem, Kawasaki Railcar, ect.
the first 3 still have plants in the US are actively making railcars

budd single level cars? they ran lots of them into the 90s with some lasting till 2015
 

Siegmund

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I would note there are factors to consider other than purchase cost and ease of maintenance. (Indeed the maintenance savings would pretty much only apply to Chicago: right now, LA is maintaining only bilevels and Miami is maintaining only single-levels, despite the fact we have 2 types in the fleet. Or 5 types, as each of Viewliner, Amfleet I, Amfleet II, Horizon have their own parts.)

If Amtrak starts operating single-level cars in the West, they are going to have to deal with a couple hundred stations that have only low-level platforms; a bunch of freight railroads that don't want high-level platforms next to their freight cars; a bunch of commuter railroads that will continue to operate bilevels with low-level doors out of shared stations in WA, CA, and elsewhere. They may well decide they'd rather pay a little extra for a new bilevel design, than pay a billion dollars for station enhancements.

IMO the ADA requirements mean only that the current Superliner floor plan doesn't work. Put out an RFP saying "we want an ADA-compliant car 85 feet long and 16 feet high" and people will design one. I daresay I am not the only one who has doodled some on scratch paper just out of curiosity.
 

frequentflyer

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And while Amtrak is at it, come up with new sleeping car products. A 21rst century Slumbercoach. Something more premium than a coach seat yet does not cost a left kidney for a First Class Bedroom. Would be a good opportunity to rethink the LD train consist. Should have more sleeping cars with its various products than coaches. Make LD trains fun again and yet civilized. And bring in more revenue per train.
 
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The stadler cars could work if they could build a sleeping car version. Maybe rooms on the lower level and seats on the upper level. Not every car would need dining room tables. I think staffing levels are much higher on the Rocky Mountaineer.
 

Willbridge

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Regarding the idea of a joint order with VIA, remember that political leadership in Canada nixed purchase of built-in-Canada Bombardier Superliners because of so much of the design work already having been done in the States. That was in spite of a successful demonstration set run on the Panorama. It would have been great to have compatible cars for tour operators and special events, but an actual joint purchase would get tangled up.
 
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