New Amfleet I replacement Siemens Inter City Trainsets (ICT)

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Amtrak_Carolinian_2020

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I recently came across this video on YouTube about the new Siemens trainsets which will replace the Genesis locomotives and Amfleet 1 cars. Most of the trains listed were daytime trains that only use the Amfleet 1 including the Northeast Regional, Carolinian, Vermonter, and so on. However, the Pennsylvanian and Palmetto, trains that use mostly the Amfleet 2, were grouped in with all of these trains as scheduled to receive these new trainsets. While the Pennsylvanian isn’t considered a “long distance train” like the Palmetto, will the Palmetto still be considered a “long distance train” and grouped in with the Silvers, or will it become its own separate train?
 

Amtrak_Carolinian_2020

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I recently came across this video on YouTube about the new Siemens trainsets which will replace the Genesis locomotives and Amfleet 1 cars. Most of the trains listed were daytime trains that only use the Amfleet 1 including the Northeast Regional, Carolinian, Vermonter, and so on. However, the Pennsylvanian and Palmetto, trains that use mostly the Amfleet 2, were grouped in with all of these trains as scheduled to receive these new trainsets. While the Pennsylvanian isn’t considered a “long distance train” like the Palmetto, will the Palmetto still be considered a “long distance train” and grouped in with the Silvers, or will it become its own separate train?
 

PerRock

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While there is some element of truth to what is being said there. I wouldn't read too much into it; at the moment that information is coming from one youtuber who is referencing unnamed people at Siemens & Amtrak. Without knowing what the people he talked to actually said, or an official press release I would take what it being said with a grain of salt.
 
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While there is some element of truth to what is being said there. I wouldn't read too much into it; at the moment that information is coming from one youtuber who is referencing unnamed people at Siemens & Amtrak. Without knowing what the people he talked to actually said, or an official press release I would take what it being said with a grain of salt.

From what I understand, this information is actually pretty accurate, and should not be regarded as just a youtuber's musings/predictions.
 
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One thing that puzzles me is the use of dual modes for the Northeast Regionals. I can see it for those few trains that continue South of Washington but for the majority of runs that just go from Washington to Boston it seems a waste to carry around an unused Diesel engine. It also adds a lot of complexity which adds extra maintenance and more likely breakdowns.
 

jis

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The flip side is that these trains could keep moving when there is no power. Not only would this protect against power/wire failure but it could simplify planned maintenance.
The other operational advantage is that it is much easier to optimally allocate from a single large pool than from two smaller pools while keeping track of which pool can be used where etc. and pretty much eliminates the equivalent of things like "priority inversion" and such that people who have worked on thread scheduling algorithms are quite familiar with.
 

daybeers

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Amtrak doesn't need standardized power for all of the single-level trains. I'm sorry but there is no justifying the dual-mode trainsets for most of the NEC runs while paying an exorbitant cost for them, way above what the other Siemens trainsets have gone for. It's a bad decision. Could've spent some of it on replacing the LD fleet that needed to be replaced years ago, not starting in 2025. 🙄🙄
 

jis

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Amtrak doesn't need standardized power for all of the single-level trains. I'm sorry but there is no justifying the dual-mode trainsets for most of the NEC runs while paying an exorbitant cost for them, way above what the other Siemens trainsets have gone for. It's a bad decision. Could've spent some of it on replacing the LD fleet that needed to be replaced years ago, not starting in 2025. 🙄🙄
Suffice it to note that until the actual order is placed we really have no idea what is actually going to be ordered in what numbers.

But one thing that is not going to happen is replacement for bilevel LD trains being handled before 2025. Amfleet IIs may be handled as an add-on to the Amfleet I replacement, but not Superliner replacements AFAICT.

It occurs to me that since the power head is not articulated with the rest of the train and actually hooks on with standard tightlock coupler, Amtrak actually does not have to commit to exactly which type of powerhead will be used until very late in the game. They have made noises about dual mode for all but until we see a real order come out, we cannot fully go on what is said in a single YouTube video IMHO.
 

Cal

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What’s the reason for the Surfline and Capitol Corridor not ordering them?
 

John Santos

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The flip side is that these trains could keep moving when there is no power. Not only would this protect against power/wire failure but it could simplify planned maintenance.
I think the most common reason for power failure is the line being physically down due to ice, a falling tree or a vehicle hitting one of the catenary towers and knocking it over. In any case, with a possibly live, high-voltage wire and maybe a tree, tower or the remains of a truck on the tracks, it probably wouldn't be safe to proceed until the damage is safely cleared, which would give plenty of time to dispatch a diesel while the train was waiting. So I don't think a dual-mode on an entirely electrified route would be all that useful.
On the other hand, for any NEC routes that continue into Virginia or points south, or for the Vermonter, they would save an engine change in Washington and New Haven, though electrifying those routes would IMO be better. In addition, other routes could be considered, such as extending the Adirondack or Ethan Allan or some of the Empire routes south past NY to Washington or beyond. On yet another hand, extending routes as opposed to adding more connecting trains causes delays to cascade. On about the fourth or fifth hand, shorter connecting routes makes trips longer and puts the onus of connecting onto the passengers instead of on Amtrak, even if Amtrak guarantees connections. It all makes me glad I'm not an Amtrak route designer. Even with unlimited funds, I would definitely make some people unhappy!
 

John Santos

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Suffice it to note that until the actual order is placed we really have no idea what is actually going to be ordered in what numbers.

But one thing that is not going to happen is replacement for bilevel LD trains being handled before 2025. Amfleet IIs may be handled as an add-on to the Amfleet I replacement, but not Superliner replacements AFAICT.

It occurs to me that since the power head is not articulated with the rest of the train and actually hooks on with standard tightlock coupler, Amtrak actually does not have to commit to exactly which type of powerhead will be used until very late in the game. They have made noises about dual mode for all but until we see a real order come out, we cannot fully go on what is said in a single YouTube video IMHO.
Wouldn't the oft-mentioned replacement of the Superliners with single-level equipment alter this argument?
 
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I’d be curious to see the costs of electrifying
I think the most common reason for power failure is the line being physically down due to ice, a falling tree or a vehicle hitting one of the catenary towers and knocking it over. In any case, with a possibly live, high-voltage wire and maybe a tree, tower or the remains of a truck on the tracks, it probably wouldn't be safe to proceed until the damage is safely cleared, which would give plenty of time to dispatch a diesel while the train was waiting. So I don't think a dual-mode on an entirely electrified route would be all that useful.
On the other hand, for any NEC routes that continue into Virginia or points south, or for the Vermonter, they would save an engine change in Washington and New Haven, though electrifying those routes would IMO be better. In addition, other routes could be considered, such as extending the Adirondack or Ethan Allan or some of the Empire routes south past NY to Washington or beyond. On yet another hand, extending routes as opposed to adding more connecting trains causes delays to cascade. On about the fourth or fifth hand, shorter connecting routes makes trips longer and puts the onus of connecting onto the passengers instead of on Amtrak, even if Amtrak guarantees connections. It all makes me glad I'm not an Amtrak route designer. Even with unlimited funds, I would definitely make some people unhappy!

I’d be curious to see the costs of electrifying the routes you mentioned vs. the cost of the dual mode train sets (~7.2 billion). Could we still get train sets but not new locos and have something sort of similar to rail jet in Austria?

I personally think it was unnecessary for them to ditch the ACS64’s so early. Most of them are not even a decade old. Could that money be spent electrifying say, New Haven to Springfield, thus eliminating engine change at NHV? I don’t know much about the line, so I could totally be wrong.
 
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With equipment deliveries slated for 2024-2030 (and nothing is ever on time), they'll have plenty of age on them before they're replaced.
Given that our experience with electric locomotives is mostly the GG-1 and the AEM-7, both of which lasted for 30-50 years, I don't think that many of us realize that perhaps stuff should be replaced every 10 - 20 years for optimum performance. The ACS-64s will probably be seeing at least 15 years of service with Amtrak.
 

Ryan

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Absolutely. Also keep in mind that "replaced" means "used for LD trains on the corridor", "kept around as protect power", and "sold to commuter agencies", so it's not like they're getting thrown away with their residual value wasted.
 
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Absolutely. Also keep in mind that "replaced" means "used for LD trains on the corridor", "kept around as protect power", and "sold to commuter agencies", so it's not like they're getting thrown away with their residual value wasted.
I considered this rather obvious.
There is more than one commuter railroad that may want ACS 64s. SEPTA already operates 15 or so, and the MBTA desperately needs them.

that said, MARC Rider makes a good point. We (myself) would love to get used to a shorter lifespans being acceptable.
 

jis

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Only two train trains run through NHV to SPG. The rest of the NYP - SPG service involve a change of trains at SPG. Electrifying that route will have very minimal impact on the need for dual modes.

The big use of dual modes will be in service extending from the NEC spine in the south/west of New York and on the Empire service.

It would be more worthwhile discussing the feasibility and cost of electrifying upto RVR, though that will still leave a bulk of the south of DC service requiring either an engine change or dual mode. RVR is unlikely to be a good place for swapping engines without very significant amount of change in track layout and more clear separation of the CSX through freight tracks from the passenger station tracks.

One thing good about the ACS64s unlike the GG-1s is that they can easily be sold in the world market since they are a world standard locomotive in the guts and not terribly married to the US in any serious way.

Incidentally, I did find the insistence for powering everything with dual mode a bit doctrinaire rather than guided by real needs. But I explained earlier how one could see all dual modes being justified using the single equipment pool argument.
 

Mailliw

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Even if downed power lines prevent a train from moving forward dual-mode engines mean passengers won't be trapped without power and push-pull trainsets could simply back up to the closest station if needed.
 
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While I'm sure we won't know until the order is placed, I am curious as to the types of Venture cars. Will there still be business class, cafe cars, split cafe/coach or cafe/business? Regardless, they have to be an improvement over Amfleet I cars if only for the larger windows.

It is concerning that Amtrak is not discussing long term plans for Superliner replacements.
 
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While I'm sure we won't know until the order is placed, I am curious as to the types of Venture cars. Will there still be business class, cafe cars, split cafe/coach or cafe/business? Regardless, they have to be an improvement over Amfleet I cars if only for the larger windows.

It is concerning that Amtrak is not discussing long term plans for Superliner replacements.
Take a look at the "Amtrak-Equipment-Asset-Line-Plan-FY20-24"
Amtrak Equipment Asset Line Plan FY20-24

On page 32, in the discussion about replacement of the Superliners and bi-level California Cars:

Amtrak is interested in starting a discussion with its California state partners—Caltrans and the Joint Powers Authorities responsible for managing and funding the Pacific Surfliner, Capitol Corridor and San Joaquins—about a coordinated fleet modernization plan for Superliner and other multilevel routes.

. . .

The ideal timing to begin the procurement process will be the early 2020s after the Amfleet, trainset and diesel fleets are replaced. Deliveries should be planned from the late 2020s with options into the early 2030s, replacing current fleets based on condition, age and upcoming overhaul needs and providing capacity for California’s state corridor expansion.

Note that this plan was published before the Covid pandemic, so the timing is probably going to slip right from the start. It seems that the plan is not to start the procurement process until after the Amfleet replacements arrive. This will also need to be coordinated with California (at least according to this plan.) In any event, there are still a few years left in "the early 2020s," so it's too early to start being all worked up about this. And just because you're not hearing anything about planning for the Superliner replacements doesn't mean that there aren't busy little Amtrak cubicle elves starting to work on it. I would expect seeing actual deliveries of the new cars sometime around 2030, give or take a couple of years.
 

John Santos

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Even if downed power lines prevent a train from moving forward dual-mode engines mean passengers won't be trapped without power and push-pull trainsets could simply back up to the closest station if needed.
That is true. One more in the plus column for dual-modes. The outage could easily be miles ahead or behind the train, so it could move away (either forward or back as appropriate) until it reached a station or a section where the power was still on.

Would the money be better spent on protecting the electrical system, though? For example on ROW maintenance to cut back trees that might fall on the tracks in a hurricane or ice storm? Or protecting the towers that hold up the wires from adjacent roads by installing jersey barriers or concrete bolsters on the road side of them?
 
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