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.