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New Superliners for Amtrak

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Shanghai

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The Department of Transportation is proposing spending 500 million

for new double decker (Superliner) cars for Amtrak.
 
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Devil's Advocate

Sarcastic Misanthrope
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The Department of Transportation is proposing spending 500 million

for new double decker (Superliner) cars for Amtrak.
Are we talking about 110-125 MPH cars running at 79 MPH until retirement in 2050 or thereabouts?
 
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Shanghai

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The pictures I saw on TV were Superliners.

The newscaster referred to them as bilevel cars,

so you may be correct that they are for Corrider service.
 

Texan Eagle

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The pictures I saw on TV were Superliners.

The newscaster referred to them as bilevel cars,

so you may be correct that they are for Corrider service.
Do not trust what you see on TV. They merely run a quick search on internet and pick up the first photo/video that looks good to their eyes. Last week while reporting the Boeing 737 crash in Pakistan, CNN or Fox News (I forgot which one I was seeing) showed a photo of Boeing 747, and as you may know, in spite of close resemblance in numbers, the two planes are as different as chalk and cheese.
 

afigg

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The pictures I saw on TV were Superliners.

The newscaster referred to them as bilevel cars,

so you may be correct that they are for Corrider service.
A TV new report? Well, that explains it. :giggle:

The news is about the release of the RFP for an order of 130 bi-level corridor cars for use in the Midwest and Calfornia. The order is fully funded for $551 million available. Now the states and the FRA wait to receive official bids from the manufacturers on prices and their capability to build the cars. The US DOT press release on the RFP can be found here.

These bi-level corridor cars will be owned by the states, not Amtrak. These are not Superliner replacements. Amtrak will have to get funding and/or take out a very large loan when it comes time to order the Superliner I replacements.
 

Devil's Advocate

Sarcastic Misanthrope
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The pictures I saw on TV were Superliners. The newscaster referred to them as bilevel cars, so you may be correct that they are for Corrider service.
A TV new report? Well, that explains it. :giggle:

The news is about the release of the RFP for an order of 130 bi-level corridor cars for use in the Midwest and Calfornia. The order is fully funded for $551 million available. Now the states and the FRA wait to receive official bids from the manufacturers on prices and their capability to build the cars. The US DOT press release on the RFP can be found here. These bi-level corridor cars will be owned by the states, not Amtrak. These are not Superliner replacements. Amtrak will have to get funding and/or take out a very large loan when it comes time to order the Superliner I replacements.
Now it's clear.

False alarm.

Nothing to see here.

Standard Superliner rules remain in effect.
 

afigg

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When Amtrak orders Superliners, they should keep the Superliner Is in service because of the railcar shortage.
The plan would be to retire the Superliner Is at a lower rate than the annual rate the new Superliners are delivered (if that is what the replacements are called). That way they expand the fleet capacity. The V2 Fleet Strategy for single and bi-level car orders is not for one-time large orders for 200-500 cars to be delivered in a 2-3 year period, as was done in the past. But, instead strive for a more steady rate order of so many cars per year over many years. That way they can maintain production lines and increase the annual production rate if they need additional capacity.
 

Anderson

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When Amtrak orders Superliners, they should keep the Superliner Is in service because of the railcar shortage.
The plan would be to retire the Superliner Is at a lower rate than the annual rate the new Superliners are delivered (if that is what the replacements are called). That way they expand the fleet capacity. The V2 Fleet Strategy for single and bi-level car orders is not for one-time large orders for 200-500 cars to be delivered in a 2-3 year period, as was done in the past. But, instead strive for a more steady rate order of so many cars per year over many years. That way they can maintain production lines and increase the annual production rate if they need additional capacity.
Part of the problem is that in order to do this, Amtrak would need either a committed source of capital funding or a fairly large one-time loan that could be used to fund such an order. It is easier to appropriate, say, $2 billion at one time than it is to appropriate $250 million/year in each of 8 years.

What's been gnawing about the Superliner situation is that we are probably at about the last time it will make any sort of sense for Amtrak to grab RRIF loans to pay for new trains. Per Amtrak's desire to retire equipment after 40 years or so, I wish Amtrak would just bite the bullet, get new cars, and then if major cuts happen they would look to retire Superliner I sleepers and to convert the coaches for corridor-ish use and "sell" them to the states setting up/expanding those routes.
 

afigg

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Part of the problem is that in order to do this, Amtrak would need either a committed source of capital funding or a fairly large one-time loan that could be used to fund such an order. It is easier to appropriate, say, $2 billion at one time than it is to appropriate $250 million/year in each of 8 years.

What's been gnawing about the Superliner situation is that we are probably at about the last time it will make any sort of sense for Amtrak to grab RRIF loans to pay for new trains. Per Amtrak's desire to retire equipment after 40 years or so, I wish Amtrak would just bite the bullet, get new cars, and then if major cuts happen they would look to retire Superliner I sleepers and to convert the coaches for corridor-ish use and "sell" them to the states setting up/expanding those routes.
I would argue that it is probably easier for Amtrak to get $250 or $300 million a year for rolling stock purchases than a single big $2 billion grant. Or get those funds in stages through HSIPR applications to the FRA under the umbrella of an ongoing federally funded passenger rail program. What will be rather difficult is to get the $5.4 billion over the next 5 years called for in the five year financial plan.

On the other hand, between:

-$562.9 million in RIFF loans for the ACS-64 electric locomotive order,

-$298 million for the 130 CAF Viewliner order,

-$551 million of HSIPR + state funds for the 130 bi-level corridor car RFP,

-up to several hundred million? of HSIPR + state funds for the 35 Next Gen diesel locomotives (don't have a breakout of the funding for the corridor diesel loco order).

-presumably a pending RIFF loan application of several hundred million for the 40 Acela coach car order.

Amtrak is further along in funding their equipment needs than we give them credit for.

As for getting additional RRIF loans, I don't see why we are at the last time it would make sense to get them. The RRIF program is authorized to provide up to $35 billion in total loans and is a very long way from hitting that limit (although DesertXpress will put a sizable dent in it). US Treasury interest rates will rise, but should still stay comparatively low for the next several years. Yes, I think Amtrak should go ahead and get RRIF loans for Amfleet II replacements because US Treasury rates are incredibly low, but I can see why they would rather wait to see what happens this year. Of course, if we have a President Romney administration, it is going to be tougher for Amtrak to get RRIF loans, although a lot depends on what Romney actually does.
 

Anderson

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Well, and the "President Romney" bit is the big jam...Obama/Geithner are more likely to be up for signing off on those loans, which is the other thing. Mind you, if we wind up in "wring out inflation" mode at some point that's going to kill any grants. On the other hand, if Amtrak were to have a big equipment order "sunk in", it might be all the harder for Romney to do damage to Amtrak...after all, the idea of discarding a bunch of brand new equipment isn't going to help any "kill Amtrak" case for much the same reason that the 1945-55 equipment orders caused a bunch of the freights to stick it out with passenger service for as long as possible.

Moreover, I wish Amtrak could refinance the remaining Warrington-era debt at RRIF rates (if just to remove that recurring cost from the books).
 
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