RFP issued for Amfleet I replacement

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MARC Rider

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The best choice for Amtrak in this situation is going to be EDMUs (Amtrak needs to also solve the engine switch problem). There will ultimately be two contenders (Stadler and Hitachi Rail), though I think Hitachi's A-Train might win out over Stadler's FLIRT because the A-Train is not articulated (makes maintenancr easier). Perhaps this design would be called the Cityliner.
Of course this would supplant many ACS-64s but they can find new life with MBTA and SEPTA
Does Stadler make the FLIRT in and 8 or 9 car configuration? Most Northeast Regionals are at least 8 cars long, and maybe they should even be longer (or be able to be made longer) to increase capacity. Based on the examples we rode in Texas at the Gathering, the design seems to be more like an upgraded light rail car, which provides level boarding at low platforms. I'm not sure how the design would be modified for the high platforms of the NEC.
 

NeueAmtrakCalifornia

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Does Stadler make the FLIRT in and 8 or 9 car configuration? Most Northeast Regionals are at least 8 cars long, and maybe they should even be longer (or be able to be made longer) to increase capacity. Based on the examples we rode in Texas at the Gathering, the design seems to be more like an upgraded light rail car, which provides level boarding at low platforms. I'm not sure how the design would be modified for the high platforms of the NEC.
They did make a 12-car FLIRT

Stadler has made higher-floor FLIRTs for the UK and Scandinavia (which tend to have higher platform heights than the rest of Europe), so they can build a high-floor one adapted to the NEC.
 

frequentflyer

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They did make a 12-car FLIRT

Stadler has made higher-floor FLIRTs for the UK and Scandinavia (which tend to have higher platform heights than the rest of Europe), so they can build a high-floor one adapted to the NEC.
After thinking about Anderson stating they would be lightweight cars, I am leaning more towards Stadler's Flirt like the ones built for UK's Greater Anglia. 12 car consists with two diesel power cars for Virginia and Pennsylvania running. Build them at Stadler's Utah plant.
 

NeueAmtrakCalifornia

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12 car consists with two diesel power cars for Virginia and Pennsylvania running. Build them at Stadler's Utah plant.
Don't forget the New Haven-Springfield segment of the NEC.
Maybe Stadler could also build a varation of the Cityliner/FLIRT for the MNCR and LIRR to replace those P32s and DE30AC/DM30ACs respectively (are third-rail FLIRTs possible?).
 

rickycourtney

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Does Stadler make the FLIRT in and 8 or 9 car configuration? Most Northeast Regionals are at least 8 cars long, and maybe they should even be longer (or be able to be made longer) to increase capacity. Based on the examples we rode in Texas at the Gathering, the design seems to be more like an upgraded light rail car, which provides level boarding at low platforms. I'm not sure how the design would be modified for the high platforms of the NEC.
Stadler makes two models:
The GTW looks very much like a light rail car. That model is used by CapMetro in Austin and the A-train in Denton County, near Dallas.
The FLIRT looks like a larger heavy rail train. That model is used by TEXRail in Fort Worth. Currently, that's the only like using the FLIRT in the US, but Stadler has orders for more.​

The downside to the design is the single truck shared by adjacent cars. There are benefits to that design, but one huge downside: it's really difficult to add and remove cars from a trainset. It can be done, but it takes several hours to add or replace just one car. That means that during busy periods (like Thanksgiving) Amtrak won't be able to simply add a few cars to the NER trains, but is that downside a dealbreaker for Amtrak?

The other head-scratching thing is that it takes Amtrak 30 minutes to switch from an electric locomotive to a diesel locomotive and that the only solution is to buy dual-mode locomotives or dual-mode multiple unit trainsets. That misses the totally obvious solution: find a way, using new technologies, to shorten the exchange. Railroads worldwide have found ways to do this in under 5 minutes.

Also, based on Anderson's testimony, it sounds like Amtrak is not interested in purchasing new cafe cars or cab cars for the NEC corridor trains.

I believe the part about the cafe cars, but if they're really looking at EMU/DMU trainsets, cab cars are kind of a big deal. Which is why I caution that you can't read too much into this testimony.

We will know everything once the purchase announcement is made.
 

NeueAmtrakCalifornia

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The downside to the design is the single truck shared by adjacent cars. There are benefits to that design, but one huge downside: it's really difficult to add and remove cars from a trainset. It can be done, but it takes several hours to add or replace just one car. That means that during busy periods (like Thanksgiving) Amtrak won't be able to simply add a few cars to the NER trains, but is that downside a dealbreaker for Amtrak?
Thanksgiving is when Amtrak NEC ridership peaks at its highest for the year, so it could take too much time for Amtrak to add cars to it. Which was why I brought up the Hitachi A-Train/Class 802/Azuma as another contender design for an Amtrak EDMU, as it is not articulated like the FLIRT.

The other head-scratching thing is that it takes Amtrak 30 minutes to switch from an electric locomotive to a diesel locomotive and that the only solution is to buy dual-mode locomotives or dual-mode multiple unit trainsets. That misses the totally obvious solution: find a way, using new technologies, to shorten the exchange. Railroads worldwide have found ways to do this in under 5 minutes.
Wonder what's making engine switching take too long for Amtrak compared to elsewhere like in Europe?
 

frequentflyer

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Stadler makes two models:
The GTW looks very much like a light rail car. That model is used by CapMetro in Austin and the A-train in Denton County, near Dallas.
The FLIRT looks like a larger heavy rail train. That model is used by TEXRail in Fort Worth. Currently, that's the only like using the FLIRT in the US, but Stadler has orders for more.​

The downside to the design is the single truck shared by adjacent cars. There are benefits to that design, but one huge downside: it's really difficult to add and remove cars from a trainset. It can be done, but it takes several hours to add or replace just one car. That means that during busy periods (like Thanksgiving) Amtrak won't be able to simply add a few cars to the NER trains, but is that downside a dealbreaker for Amtrak?

The other head-scratching thing is that it takes Amtrak 30 minutes to switch from an electric locomotive to a diesel locomotive and that the only solution is to buy dual-mode locomotives or dual-mode multiple unit trainsets. That misses the totally obvious solution: find a way, using new technologies, to shorten the exchange. Railroads worldwide have found ways to do this in under 5 minutes.

Also, based on Anderson's testimony, it sounds like Amtrak is not interested in purchasing new cafe cars or cab cars for the NEC corridor trains.

I believe the part about the cafe cars, but if they're really looking at EMU/DMU trainsets, cab cars are kind of a big deal. Which is why I caution that you can't read too much into this testimony.

We will know everything once the purchase announcement is made.
There was a post by Amtrak or former Amtrak employees describing the process. It boils down to new FRA rules and its not changing. 30 minute engine changes are here to stay.
 

rickycourtney

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Wonder what's making engine switching take too long for Amtrak compared to elsewhere like in Europe?
I think in large part it comes down to technology.

The US has stubbornly held onto the Janney or knuckle coupler for use on passenger trains. While the physical coupler is at least semi-automatic, crews still need to manually detach/attach the brake hose, the cable for power and in many cases the cable for push-pull control. So when a locomotive change is required, crews need to set handbrakes on the passenger cars, shut down the head-end power, detach the power cable from the locomotive, release the coupler, remove/replace the locomotive, connect the brake hose, re-pressurize the brake line, connect the power cable, restart head-end power, release the handbrakes, do a brake check, and then the train can depart.

Meanwhile in Europe, passenger trains use the Scharfenberg coupler, which allows for fully automatic coupling. When the trains make contact, the coupler automatically connects the brake line and makes the electrical connections for push-pull control. When I was in France, it took about 90 seconds for the SNCF crew to decouple two TGV trainsets, pull them apart, do a brake check, close the shroud over the couplers and continue on down the tracks. Honestly, yer part that seemed to take the most time was closing the shroud over the couplers because that involved opening a hatch on the side of the locomotive and closing it.

Problem is, that as far as I can recall, the Scharfenberg coupler does not support head-end power connections. But, that doesn't mean the process can't be automated.
 

NeueAmtrakCalifornia

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What has the FRA said about scharfenberg couplers? If they're not prohibited then Amtrak can start buying fleet that has them
 

rickycourtney

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What has the FRA said about scharfenberg couplers? If they're not prohibited then Amtrak can start buying fleet that has them
I don't think that the FRA has any rules against Scharfenberg couplers on passenger railroads. All of the Stadler equipment we were discussing use Scharfenberg couplers here in the US. The biggest issue for Amtrak would be that it regularly borrows freight locomotives to "tow" trains when their equipment dies. If Amtrak switches to Scharfenberg couplers, that's no longer an option, and trains could be stuck until another Amtrak train can reach the disabled train.

In practice, that means that Amtrak would need to have a much larger locomotive fleet. They would likely need to return to using three locomotives on long-distance trains, or strategically place spare locomotives along lines (like the spare locomotive they used to keep in Albuquerque).
 

NeueAmtrakCalifornia

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In practice, that means that Amtrak would need to have a much larger locomotive fleet. They would likely need to return to using three locomotives on long-distance trains, or strategically place spare locomotives along lines (like the spare locomotive they used to keep in Albuquerque).
Which will cost more? Amtrai buying more locomotives with Scharfenberg couplers (as well as modifying their fleet to have them) or the freight railroads sending their locos to get fitted with Scharfenberg couplers
 

rickycourtney

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Which will cost more? Amtrai buying more locomotives with Scharfenberg couplers (as well as modifying their fleet to have them) or the freight railroads sending their locos to get fitted with Scharfenberg couplers
The freight railroads would never fit their locomotives with Scharfenberg couplers, they aren't suited for pulling heavy loads. Plus it would be a very involved process to change out a coupler.

There are pros and cons to everything... MU trainsets vs. locomotive-hauled trainsets... articulated connections vs. individual cars with open gangways vs. individual cars with traditional gangways... Janney couplers vs. Scharfenberg couplers... cab cars vs. no cab cars. Amtrak is almost certainly weighing those choices right now and I think nothing is completely "settled" until it's delivered.
 

jis

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Scharfenberg Couplers are usually not used in heavy drawbar load situations. For that reason there are very few locomotives (specially powerful ones) fitted with Scharfenberg Couplers.

They are typically used to couple together self contained self powered units of EMU/DMU with other ones to make longer trains, so that one just needs to connect control lines and brake lines, and not hotel power lines, and there is relatively low drawbar load on the coupler. They facilitate quick separation/joining of units allowing a train to depart with multiple units from a central station and then easily split it into separate units headed to different terminals.

I have mentioned this earlier in a discussion of this subject - mainly in response to Thirdrail7 about something that I forget the details of. In particular it is unlikely that Scharfenberg couplers will be useful on P42s and Amfleet/Superliner/Viewliner cars. So we may be barking up a wrong tree here.
 

Bluejet

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I’ve ridden the Stadler Flirt over in Switzerland. It was nice but the seating was a bit odd at different levels depending on your position in the car. I think at least it was the flirt. Cool cool train... narrow gauge and a cog capability to climb the steep mountain passes between Lucern and Interlaken.
 

rickycourtney

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Scharfenberg Couplers are usually not used in heavy drawbar load situations. For that reason there are very few locomotives (specially powerful ones) fitted with Scharfenberg Couplers.

They are typically used to couple together self contained self powered units of EMU/DMU with other ones to make longer trains, so that one just needs to connect control lines and brake lines, and not hotel power lines, and there is relatively low drawbar load on the coupler. They facilitate quick separation/joining of units allowing a train to depart with multiple units from a central station and then easily split it into separate units headed to different terminals.

I have mentioned this earlier in a discussion of this subject - mainly in response to Thirdrail7 about something that I forget the details of. In particular it is unlikely that Scharfenberg couplers will be useful on P42s and Amfleet/Superliner/Viewliner cars. So we may be barking up a wrong tree here.
Interesting, thanks for sharing.
 

railiner

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There was a post by Amtrak or former Amtrak employees describing the process. It boils down to new FRA rules and its not changing. 30 minute engine changes are here to stay.
I am wondering what those new FRA rules are?
Years ago, Amtrak routinely changed locomotives in New Haven in what, 7 minutes?
Similar times at Harrisburg and Croton-Harmon...
 

PerRock

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I’ve ridden the Stadler Flirt over in Switzerland. It was nice but the seating was a bit odd at different levels depending on your position in the car. I think at least it was the flirt. Cool cool train... narrow gauge and a cog capability to climb the steep mountain passes between Lucern and Interlaken.
I believe the low-level Flirts, like what is used in Switzerland, have the "multiple" levels; but the high-level Flirts, like what we'd use on the NEC or are in use in the UK, are all one level.

As for other DMU/EMU platforms beyond Stadler:
  • Alstom has the Coradia (used in Ottowa) [both]
  • Siemens has the Desiro (used in San Diego) & Mireo [Both, EMU]
  • CAF has the Civity [Both]
  • Hitachi has the A-Train [Both]
  • Bombardier has the Aventra & Talent [EMU, EMU]
  • Skoda has the 7Ev [EMU]
  • Newag has the Impuls & Vulcano [EMU, DMU]

And then there are these companies that make EMUs & DMUs (or similar products) but don't have a platform:
  • Kawasaki
  • Nippon Sharyo
  • J-TREC
  • Hyundai Rotem
  • Kinki Sharyo
  • Bookville
  • Wabtec
Peter
 

frequentflyer

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I am wondering what those new FRA rules are?
Years ago, Amtrak routinely changed locomotives in New Haven in what, 7 minutes?
Similar times at Harrisburg and Croton-Harmon...
https://discuss.amtraktrains.com/threads/the-engine-switcharoo.63037/#post-581322

Scenerio for ground Power

1.Show up as train arrives,

2.Call K Tower to lock up switches for Blue Flag Protection

3. When confirmed put Blue lights in track front and rear.

4.Put Blue light in engine cab

5..Power Off

6. Detach locomotives cables, turn off air supplies

7.. call K tower and remove blue flag protection.

8. Take blue lights off track

9. Take blue light off engine

10. Turn off overhead lights

11. uncouple locomotive

12. wait for locomotive to clear track and switches

13. Call K Tower to lock up switches for Blue Flag Protection

14. When confirmed place blue light in track in front and rear.

15. Turn on Blue overhead lights

16. Attach Ground power cables at one end of consist

17. Loop 480 cables at other end of consist

18. Turn on Ground Power

19. Call K Tower give up Blue Flag Protection

20. Remove Blue lights from track

21.Turn off overhead lights.

21. Diesel Locomotive arrives

22. Couple up locomotive

23. Call K Tower to lock up switches for Blue Flag Protection

24. Put Blue lights in track front and rear. Put Blue light on engine

25. Turn on Blue overhead lights

26. Turn off Ground power

27. Detach Ground power cables

28. attach cables, brake hoses and main recseviour air to locomotive

29. Do brake test

30. Call K tower and give up Blue Flag Protection,

31. blue take lights out of track

32. turn off overhead blue lights

33. remove bue light from engine cab

33. Train can leave

Putting the train on ground power will likely lengthen the time the train is without power!
 

frequentflyer

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From the above thread by Third Rail, again why it takes so long to change locomotives in DC

VentureForth:

The funny thing about your post is your statement about 100-year old procedures and process that can't be changed because this is the way we've always done it. The truth is, nothing could be further from the truth. This stuff wasn't done 100 years ago. It was barely done 30 years ago. Such onerous rules have been building in the name of safety over time but they've become almost crippling in the last 10 years. The procedure that guest laid out only rose in the last 10 years or so. This is why when people comment about how quickly things were done years ago, most of us say the rules were completely different.

Besides, your comparison to a plane is unrealistic. When they chock the plane and put it on ground power, are they attempting to remove the engines from the wing? I suspect not. Trains are removing part of the consist and the FRA is quite insistent that people not get injured by mistake while they are in between equipment.

Again, this is a far cry from yesteryear where we used to couple on one end while uncoupling on the other end at the same time. If the equipment rolled, the employees would roll right with it. Employees were taught how to get on and off moving equipment as well. Try that now and you'll receive an astronomical fine. Washington Terminal and Penn Station Baltimore have overhead blue lights that allowed personnel to work on the equipment without putting a supplemental flag in the gauge at each end of the equipment. Some years ago, the FRA decided this longstanding practice was no longer good enough. If the procedures that Guest was kind enough to type up are not followed (and technically Guest never actually coupled up the new engine or re-looped the auxiliaries) in that order, the fines will flow.

These are NEW procedures. I watched a train go down recently, waiting for protection on an adjacent track. It's called a hold because the FRA decreed that only certain people are now allowed to "foul" a track and the procedure now requires paperwork and additional training. By the time the dispatcher was able to provide the "hold," it was entirely too late to save the train. Years ago, when the first train went by, the crew would have hopped off, gone between the equipment and had the whole procedure done in 2 minutes.

If that crew took that chance today and got caught by the FRA or something went wrong, things would get ugly and fast.
 

west point

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Can steps 12 - 21 be skipped if the diesel is ready to back up to train set as soon as first motor ( loco ) clears ?
 

Palmetto

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ALL the steps could be skipped if the appropriate equipment is used for regional trains heading to Virginia. Amtrak is thinking the same way apparently. There's no reason, I guess, that dual mode engines couldn't be used on trains going south of Richmond.
 

jis

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Can steps 12 - 21 be skipped if the diesel is ready to back up to train set as soon as first motor ( loco ) clears ?
In all my travels through Washington DC on Silver Service or Carolinian I have never seen ground power connected to the train during loco change in Washington. So all the bits about ground power are generally not done.

Once they get the ground crew in place I have seen loco changes take as little as 15 minutes. Usually what takes time is marshaling the necessary crew in place. This is even more so at Albany than in Washington.

ALL the steps could be skipped if the appropriate equipment is used for regional trains heading to Virginia. Amtrak is thinking the same way apparently. There's no reason, I guess, that dual mode engines couldn't be used on trains going south of Richmond.
I think dual mode makes sense for the Virginia trains. I would not use a dual mode for trains going south into NC and further. You will require way too many dual modes to pull that off, and those suckers are expensive and less reliable than single mode units. Additionally, they also carry a lot of extra dead weight around - not good for energy efficiency either.
 
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west point

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Dual modes have to carry diesel fuel and when it spills what then? Can remember GCT tracks that had the dual modes with the diesel fuel smell and track structure black.
 

Seaboard92

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Of all my travels on the EC with PVs I think Albany is by far one of the most efficient engine change locations.

DC can be a complete mess and generally it’s that way.
 
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