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

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BBoy

Train Attendant
Joined
Jun 6, 2019
Messages
29
Location
NewYork, NY
The way I see it, they should either use the same shells as the rest of their fleet for commonality (Siemens Venture) or go with the Bombardier Multilevel Coaches for the benefit of existing and proven off the shelf models, as well as these coaches being flexible enough to easily support whatever product Amtrak wants to offer. I would also use large luggage racks and eliminate the baggage cars.

The Multilevels offer the best of both worlds (IMHO) if you can navigate the elevator ADA issue. I could be wrong, but I believe you can you just install one of those seat elevators you frequently see on the home staircases of elderly people that they can sit on and ride up. Pop that on the existing staircase and you have an off the shelf solution that doesn't require special bespoke designs that end up never working well.

Power and Configuration:
It would make sense to use trainsets of 10-12 multilevel cars with an ALC-42 on each end. For the midlevel section (on the end of each car) you have a luggage rack and bathroom on each side (where there are currently folding seats on NJT) For those trains that pass on NEC territory, you would marry a multilevel EMU to each Charger (see NJT’s Multilevel EMU, another off the shelf product) so that they can use overhead power in electric territory and get a HP/acceleration boost as well. In diesel territory, 8800HP should be plenty sufficient for a 10 or 12 car set, and would be able to make comparable speed/acceleration to an NJ Transit consist on the NEC (not great, but decent for diesel). In electric territory you would get something closer to 14,000-1600HP which would match anything Amtrak currently uses outside of the Acela. I also think you could ask Bombardier to attempt to reduce the weight where possible given the recent change in FRA buff strength rules by using aluminum instead of stainless steel, which could reduce the weight. But that is not needed to make this work, it’s simply just nice to have. This makes it a very effective dual mode train set.

The trains are already rated for 110mph, they are affordable and have an established user base with NJT that helps reduce any teething issues Amtrak is concerned by.

Layout and Product Design:
For the coach product you use a typical Domestic First Class airline seating product in a 2x2 configuration and include modern airline like overhead bins. My quick math would imply you would be able to fit 96-104 passengers per coach class car (using 37-38 inch seat pitch and using the midlevel area as bathrooms and extra luggage racks)
For First class product, you use the Delta One Suite pods. My math estimate comes out to imply you fit 40-44 first class pods per multilevel coach.

For the cafe car or lounge car, you have the entire lower car level for a full kitchen if you desire, or can have massive seating areas on both levels instead depending on how you want to use them. Either way it provides great flexibility for Amtrak.

Overall, this gives you the ability to supply around 885 seats in a 10 coach configuration where 2 of them are first class seating coaches. They are affordable and can travel anywhere in the USA with room for tunnel clearance and have no shortage of speed capabilities.

Cost:
With each charger costing around $6.5M and each multilevel costing around 3.5M, you are looking at a cost of $45-50M per train set, but if you look at it on a per seat basis, it’s about $42K per seat if you use 12 coach trains, which is a pretty good price considering what it might cost when using single level coaches which much less seating capacity which would average around 60-68 passengers per car in a similar configuration (see Brightline)

While nothing is perfect, I think the above is a pretty strong solution and should make it very rare that Amtrak suffer any issues regarding capacity on their long distance trains. All of the trains would be off the shelf designs that help Amtrak avoid paying more than they need to. Let me know if you disagree, would love to hear what others think about it.

The way I see it, they should either use the same shells as the rest of their fleet for commonality (Siemens Venture) or go with the Bombardier Multilevel Coaches for the benefit of existing and proven off the shelf models, as well as these coaches being flexible enough to easily support whatever product Amtrak wants to offer. I would also use large luggage racks and eliminate the baggage cars.

The Multilevels offer the best of both worlds (IMHO) if you can navigate the elevator ADA issue. I could be wrong, but I believe you can you just install one of those seat elevators you frequently see on the home staircases of elderly people that they can sit on and ride up. Pop that on the existing staircase and you have an off the shelf solution that doesn't require special bespoke designs that end up never working well.

Power and Configuration:
It would make sense to use trainsets of 10-12 multilevel cars with an ALC-42 on each end. For the midlevel section (on the end of each car) you have a luggage rack and bathroom on each side (where there are currently folding seats on NJT) For those trains that pass on NEC territory, you would marry a multilevel EMU to each Charger (see NJT’s Multilevel EMU, another off the shelf product) so that they can use overhead power in electric territory and get a HP/acceleration boost as well. In diesel territory, 8800HP should be plenty sufficient for a 10 or 12 car set, and would be able to make comparable speed/acceleration to an NJ Transit consist on the NEC (not great, but decent for diesel). In electric territory you would get something closer to 14,000-1600HP which would match anything Amtrak currently uses outside of the Acela. I also think you could ask Bombardier to attempt to reduce the weight where possible given the recent change in FRA buff strength rules by using aluminum instead of stainless steel, which could reduce the weight. But that is not needed to make this work, it’s simply just nice to have. This makes it a very effective dual mode train set.

The trains are already rated for 110mph, they are affordable and have an established user base with NJT that helps reduce any teething issues Amtrak is concerned by.

Layout and Product Design:
For the coach product you use a typical Domestic First Class airline seating product in a 2x2 configuration and include modern airline like overhead bins. My quick math would imply you would be able to fit 96-104 passengers per coach class car (using 37-38 inch seat pitch and using the midlevel area as bathrooms and extra luggage racks)
For First class product, you use the Delta One Suite pods. My math estimate comes out to imply you fit 40-44 first class pods per multilevel coach.

For the cafe car or lounge car, you have the entire lower car level for a full kitchen if you desire, or can have massive seating areas on both levels instead depending on how you want to use them. Either way it provides great flexibility for Amtrak.

Overall, this gives you the ability to supply around 885 seats in a 10 coach configuration where 2 of them are first class seating coaches. They are affordable and can travel anywhere in the USA with room for tunnel clearance and have no shortage of speed capabilities.

Cost:
With each charger costing around $6.5M and each multilevel costing around 3.5M, you are looking at a cost of $45-50M per train set, but if you look at it on a per seat basis, it’s about $42K per seat if you use 12 coach trains, which is a pretty good price considering what it might cost when using single level coaches which much less seating capacity which would average around 60-68 passengers per car in a similar configuration (see Brightline)

While nothing is perfect, I think the above is a pretty strong solution and should make it very rare that Amtrak suffer any issues regarding capacity on their long distance trains. All of the trains would be off the shelf designs that help Amtrak avoid paying more than they need to. Let me know if you disagree, would love to hear what others think about it.
Oh 💯💯 spot on brother. Especially where this would work (in my humble opinion) is for single level LD trains ( Atlantic Coast Service, Crescent, LSL, Cardinal). As long multilevels the seat pitch mirrors the Superliner coaches with plenty of room when the seat is reclined and the leg rest in use.
 

fdaley

OBS Chief
Joined
Jan 25, 2020
Messages
572
Location
upstate New York
I made a very wishful proposal a while ago when I suggested that if the Superliners were rehabbed it would be really cool to put Sightseer Lounge upper windows in the sleepers so that the rather unpleasant and very catastrophic upper bunk could become a highly desirable unique "Starlight Dome Bunk".
I like the idea, and a window of some kind would definitely help, but I think the physical space still would be too tight for me. I didn't think I was claustrophobic until I tried sleeping in a Superliner upper, but there's something about not being able to sit up in bed that kind of sets me on edge.
 

Cal

Engineer
Joined
Jan 23, 2021
Messages
4,045
Location
Socal
- I doubt Americans would trust 3-5 other bunkmates in a Euro style sleeping compartment. Amtrak's current system in coach of grouping passengers by destination is helpful - for example, on my recent CHI-ROC trip, the first group that would deboard in my car was Buffalo-bound passengers. So I could reasonably expect no one is going to disembark with my bag in the middle of the night. You would need organization like this for sleeping compartments, but even beyond that I don't think there's enough trust.
I definitely agree. Many are unsettled about using downstairs luggage racks and the fact that there's no locks on the doors, so I wouldn't see this as the greatest option for Amtrak to go with.
 

Mailliw

OBS Chief
Joined
Jun 14, 2020
Messages
697
Location
Scranton, PA
It's interesting how we keep arriving at around a 40 passenger occupancy for cheaper sleeping options, Nightjet settled on the same figure for their new couchette cars (28 pod berths & 3 4-berth compartments). Too bad the design would never fly in North America.
 
Joined
Aug 27, 2002
Messages
6,698
Location
Chicago
To me, two adults in a roomette works a lot better in the Viewliner than in the Superliner. But in either case, the second bunk is really nice for people traveling with children/teenagers/young adults. If the basic rooms are standardized to single-occupancy, there's going to need to be some provision for families that's more than a couple of family bedrooms per train.
I stand corrected. I was only really thinking about myself when I mentioned the all-roomette configuration with single occupancy. This was short-sighted on my part.

Another thought could be to have all-bedroom cars with bunks perpendicular to the window and no commode in each room. Since there is a strong possibility that Amtrak would use the Siemens car as a basis for long-distance train travel this might be a way of having the best of both worlds. There could be a long couch on one side and a seat by the window across from the couch.
 

Anderson

Engineer
Joined
Nov 16, 2010
Messages
9,929
Location
Virginia
40? A Viewliner2 only holds 26 (10 roomettes, 2 bedrooms, and an accessible bedroom). And considering that for some of those rooms, Amtrak leaves fare revenue on the table when one person books the room, I would think that some sort of 40-bed lie flat budget sleeper car could be a real moneymaker.
It's 28 (a Viewliner I has 30 "slots"): You start with 14 roomette slots and 3 bedrooms, but drop one roomette for the SCA, one for the shower, and then in a Viewliner II one for the restrooms. The roomette dimensions are about the same as the roomettes in a 10-6 sleeper, which becomes a 14-4 (except for the loss of one room because of the Accessible Room's space needs). IIRC a 22 roomette car was a thing "back in the day" (so a theoretical capacity of 44, which you'd then drop down by 4 - 2 for the SCA's space and 2 for restrooms - if you deemed the shower unnecessary, or 2 for the SCA and 2 for restrooms if you needed a shower but kept the toilets in the rooms).

Edit:
(1) 40 is no accident - the 24/8 Slumbercoaches slept 40 as well (though there were some other configurations with a bit less capacity). It seems to be the "about right" number for a packed sleeping car.
(2) 22 roomette cars were also a thing (though obviously in the old configuration they'd only sleep 22, not 44).
(3) I'll just note that if you designed a longer train configuration (see my 14-car train idea), having one car's worth of "economy sleeper" space might make sense. I didn't include that because I was trying not to reinvent the wheel - I wanted to get as close to current configurations without too much fiddling so I wasn't having to mentally make sure various bits of engineering would work.
 
Last edited:
Joined
May 13, 2014
Messages
684
Location
Boston & Florida
Another thought could be to have all-bedroom cars with bunks perpendicular to the window and no commode in each room. Since there is a strong possibility that Amtrak would use the Siemens car as a basis for long-distance train travel this might be a way of having the best of both worlds. There could be a long couch on one side and a seat by the window across from the couch.

You realize that that would pretty much take the same space as the existing bedrooms? You would just lose the bathroom making it less desirable.
Amtrak-Superliner-Bedroom.png
 

Willbridge

50+ Year Amtrak Rider
AU Supporting Member
Joined
Mar 30, 2019
Messages
2,182
Location
Denver
Edit:
(1) 40 is no accident - the 24/8 Slumbercoaches slept 40 as well (though there were some other configurations with a bit less capacity). It seems to be the "about right" number for a packed sleeping car.
(2) 22 roomette cars were also a thing (though obviously in the old configuration they'd only sleep 22, not 44).
(3) I'll just note that if you designed a longer train configuration (see my 14-car train idea), having one car's worth of "economy sleeper" space might make sense. I didn't include that because I was trying not to reinvent the wheel - I wanted to get as close to current configurations without too much fiddling so I wasn't having to mentally make sure various bits of engineering would work.
I think that 22-roomette sleepers were common on Eastern roads that had a lot of business travel. In turn, the UP (and others?) had some 11-bedroom cars used on the City trains (except for the City of St. Louis).
 

Crowbar_k

Service Attendant
Joined
Jun 23, 2020
Messages
111

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Joined
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Messages
684
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I like the idea, and a window of some kind would definitely help, but I think the physical space still would be too tight for me. I didn't think I was claustrophobic until I tried sleeping in a Superliner upper, but there's something about not being able to sit up in bed that kind of sets me on edge.

If you look at the photo below you will see that this not only would provide visual openess it would actually add several inches of additional headroom. Probably not going to provide sit-up room but a lot better than the way it is now.
 

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