I found that Amtrak published a new FY20-FY25 Asset Line Plan document
with a section called "Amfleet I Replacement / Intercity Trainset Procurement; Acquisition of Dual-Power Equipment" which has some interesting information...
In January 2019, we issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for 75 new trainsets (or railcar equivalents) to replace our fleet of 458 Amfleet I railcars, 16 ex-Metroliner railcars, and five Talgo VI trainsets jointly owned by us and the Washington state partner. The RFP also called for up to 50 additional trainsets as options. Bids have been received and are being evaluated. An award is expected later in 2020.
The new trainsets are slated to operate on Northeast Regional, the long-distance Palmetto and a series of state corridors, including Amtrak Cascades, Northeast Regional Virginia extensions, Keystone Service, Empire Service, Downeaster, Pennsylvanian, Carolinian, Adirondack, Vermonter, Ethan Allen Express, and New Haven-Springfield trains. As nearly half of our nationwide ridership occurs on these routes, we are enthusiastic about this once-in-a-generation opportunity to significantly improve both train performance and customer experience. Additionally, options to the base equipment order are intended to equip service growth on state corridors into the 2030s and can be used to replace the Horizon fleet.
We seek equipment of a common trainset product family which can come in varying consist capacities and with varying propulsion types including diesel, catenary-electric and dual-power propulsion for both diesel-catenary and diesel-third rail environments. Dual power, catenary-electric consists will enable us to eliminate engine changes in Washington, DC, Philadelphia, PA and New Haven, CT. Eliminating engine changes will bring several benefits for our customers, including:
- Speeding up passenger trips through Washington through the removal of engine change time from train schedules between the NEC and stations on state corridors (and the Palmetto).
- Eliminating delays in Washington Terminal through reduced platform dwell time utilization for existing frequencies, elimination of light engine movements in the First Street Tunnel, and a reduction in station-to-yard light engine movements before and after engine changes.
- Continuous operation of on-board lighting, climate control and restrooms, all of which are disrupted during engine changes today.
On-board the trains, we seek improvements to reliability, performance and customer experience. Double-ended consists will reduce requirements for turnaround time on some Northeast Regional, Empire Service and other corridor trains which currently do not have engineer’s cabs on both ends of the train, providing redundancy in case of a failure in one cab through the use of a wye or loop track. Well-known problem areas for customer satisfaction and mechanical reliability such as restrooms, vestibules, HVAC systems and door systems will be addressed through new design and configuration. Semi-permanent couplings between trainset units are under consideration and would provide an additional layer of reliability for trainwide systems (such as public address systems) and climate control when passing through cars. The new equipment would be fully compliant with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements for new-build equipment rather than grandfathered equipment, providing a better experience for customers with disabilities. We also seek a TSSSA as part of this trainset procurement which, similar to the agreement in place for ALC-42 units, would provide for stiff penalties unless a material reduction in en route failures and ready availability of spare parts are achieved.
Since the Amfleet railcar order was placed nearly fifty years ago, most nations with advanced rail passenger networks have migrated away from individual rail cars in favor of integrated, double-ended trainsets with hardened connections between cars. Maintenance is performed at the trainset level as opposed to the individual car level, and often in modern facilities as opposed to open rail yards. Trainset units are now constructed for modular replacement; a critical failure to any one component in a railcar can be addressed through removal and replacement of that component (e.g., crane replacement of overhead HVAC unit) during an overnight servicing, instead of having to “set out” an individual railcar for days. Tasks historically assigned to major multi-year overhauls are instead performed one-at-a-time as add-ons to shorter, scheduled maintenance tasks at outlying maintenance facilities. This “continuous maintenance” program yielded positive results when we applied it to our Acela trainsets; continuous maintenance decreased downtime, allowing us to extend Acela service later on weeknights in January 2013, expand weekend Acela service in April 2017, and introduce Acela Nonstop on top of a full hourly pattern of weekday service in September 2019. As a result of this generational evolution in trainset maintenance, mechanical facilities and servicing schedules are being reviewed as part of the operational and technical evaluations of vendor bids underway.
Funding for the trainsets will come from a variety of sources, including cash reserves, NEC operating surpluses (which can be reinvested for NEC capital uses, such as Northeast Regional fleet replacement), and state partner funding under the PRIIA 209 Equipment Capital Use Charge. We also collaborate with our state partners on applications for federal discretionary grants (such as Federal-State Partnership grants) for portions of the procurement.
We anticipate the new base order of equipment to start entering service in the mid-2020s, with any options trainsets coming online in the late 2020s.