Quantcast

RFP issued for Amfleet I replacement

Help Support Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum:

Andrew

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
May 3, 2013
Messages
471
Would it make sense for Amtrak to use one only company to replace the entire Amfleet or go with a mixed fleet built by different companies, such as Alstom, Siemens and Stadler?
 

Chris I

Train Attendant
Joined
Jan 8, 2019
Messages
39
Location
Portland, OR
Would it make sense for Amtrak to use one only company to replace the entire Amfleet or go with a mixed fleet built by different companies, such as Alstom, Siemens and Stadler?
There are benefits and drawbacks to both approaches. There are definitely maintenance and operational benefits to having a unified fleet, and you can negotiate lower unit prices when making large orders. However, it can be risky to put all your eggs in one basket. If this new unified fleet has defect or longevity issues, it could be hugely expensive and disruptive. Lastly, with a country this large, does it make sense to apply the same equipment on every route? Some routes have different needs and customers who demand different things.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Ziv

cocojacoby

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
May 13, 2014
Messages
391
Standardization for reasons of equipment, servicing, parts, tools, interchangeability, training, etc., etc., etc.
 
  • Like
Reactions: jis

Andrew

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
May 3, 2013
Messages
471
Amtrak is looking at DMU's and electric powered trainsets so maybe they can use Stadler for the DMU and someone else for the Regional, Keystone and Empire Services, etc.

(I would find it hard to believe that one company could quickly manufacture 500 coaches).
 
  • Like
Reactions: Ziv

PVD

Conductor
Joined
Jul 8, 2015
Messages
4,897
Location
NYC/Queens
Time to manufacture and deliver is often a consideration in major acquisition programs. They don't have to be winner take all. In NYC when buying transit buses a split award between NovaBus and New Flyer is not uncommon, allowing them to get into service more quickly. ex: we want to buy 500 buses.. if Nova or NF gets the whole deal maybe 2 1/2 years, split, maybe 2 years (6 month's sooner) considering companies can only build at a certain pace without incurring considerable added costs
 

MARC Rider

Conductor
Joined
Apr 5, 2011
Messages
2,235
Location
Baltimore. MD
Time to manufacture and deliver is often a consideration in major acquisition programs. They don't have to be winner take all. In NYC when buying transit buses a split award between NovaBus and New Flyer is not uncommon, allowing them to get into service more quickly. ex: we want to buy 500 buses.. if Nova or NF gets the whole deal maybe 2 1/2 years, split, maybe 2 years (6 month's sooner) considering companies can only build at a certain pace without incurring considerable added costs
In the Defense procurement world, the "loser" of the bidding process often gets to build some of the product, I think mainly so that our military might isn't dependent on a monopoly source. I once visited the Bath Iron Works in Maine, where they were building guided missile destroyers, and the tour guide mentioned that they were actually a subcontractor for their competitor, a shipyard in Mississippi, that actually won the contract.
 

jis

Conductor
AU Lifetime Supporter
Gathering Team Member
Joined
Aug 24, 2003
Messages
25,976
Location
Space Coast, Florida, Area code 3-2-1
In rail equipment procurement usually you need to have a large volume to split orders and yet remain cost effective. I suspect Amtrak probably does not quite make the volume thing to be fully cost effective, since its funding tends to have the orders roll out in dribs and drabs. But of course we'll see. NYMTA does split orders quite regularly for the same class of cars with slightly different design coming from different vendors.

Currently, collectively they have to maintain a parts inventory for the Siemens cars. Adding another type will mean adding a completely separate set of parts inventory on an ongoing basis. That is usually also a consideration.

Really large systems acquire a license to do derivative manufacturing and then choose manufacturing outfits to sublicense it to, so they can spread out the order among multiple manufacturers. But that requires huge needs running into thousand plus cars per year usually. This is the standard practice at outfits like the Indian and Chinese railways. For example Indian Railways has the Alstom/LHB derivative cars manufactured at 4 different factories, some publicly owned and some privately owned. But then they by at least a couple of thosand cars a year, year in and year out.
 
Last edited:

railiner

Conductor
Joined
Mar 20, 2009
Messages
8,274
Location
Palm Beach County
I think it is a good thing to split large order's among more than one builder, for all the reasons previously cited. Like as jis pointed out, the NYMTA does. The MTA 'owns' the design, then awards contracts from several builder's to build essentially the same car. One other benefit of 'spreading the wealth', is to insure that there are more than one source of future orders...
 
  • Like
Reactions: Ziv

west point

Conductor
Joined
Jun 9, 2015
Messages
2,224
The best way for a really large order is get 2 or more bilders to build the shells. Same exact exterior and connection design but each meet the 800,000# requirement. Then specify the auxillaries to be of same dimensions for all cars and be modular for quick replacement. All modular connections the same. Provide extra spaces for A/C units in case more efficient units be developed which are usually larger in today's market. Then any builder of various parts can compete with a large performance bond say 10 years MTBF . For electrical and electronics use common connectors such as usb , coax, HDMI, etc. As well car shells have extra conduits for anything conceived in the future.
 

rickycourtney

Conductor
Joined
Dec 21, 2012
Messages
1,797
Location
Fresno, CA
In the plan Amtrak speaks to the maintenance question. The plan is to have more modular components. They also plan to have a TSSSA (Technical Support and Spares Supply Agreement) as part of the procurement. The agreement, “would provide for stiff penalties unless a material reduction in en route failures and ready availability of spare parts are achieved.”
 

NSC1109

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Aug 14, 2016
Messages
351
Location
MI
Would it make sense for Amtrak to use one only company to replace the entire Amfleet or go with a mixed fleet built by different companies, such as Alstom, Siemens and Stadler?
This is exactly my area of expertise, since Supply Chain is my area of study at school.

Everything I have read this far is generally correct. Standardization is a big thing in transportation.You want something, or maybe a few somethings, that can cover as many missions as possible but at the same time, have the same parts across the board so you can keep your costs down. That’s why you see variants of aircraft in an airline fleet. The A318/319/321 are all variants of the same thing, the A320, just lengthened (321) or shortened (318/319) to cover a wide range of missions for the airlines.

At the same time, the supplier selection also has a big role in how you pick. We’ll use your three examples: Siemens, Stadler, and Alstom.

Siemens is currently building the CALIDOT order for locomotives and cars as well as the ALC-42s and SC-44s for a variety of commuter services. They have a good working relationship with Amtrak. They have an idea what Amtrak is looking for since they are replacing the P-series, and the quality they have put out is generally good. Not to mention the fact that they’re a little ahead of schedule for CALIDOT. However, this is a large order, and it might spread Siemens too thin.

Stadler hasn’t built anything for Amtrak or for heavy rail in the US (that I know of, please correct me if I am wrong). They do have experience in DMU/EMU and therefore could be an attractive candidate. But the inexperience with the US heavy rail regulations (again, correct me if I’m wrong) may result in another N-S conundrum, which wouldn’t be good.

Alstom is building the Liberty trainsets, has a good working relationship with Amtrak, and is especially tuned to the limitations and specifics of the NEC that Siemens and Stadler may not necessarily have. Additionally, Alstom (I believe) also does DEMU production for Europe, so that gives them a technical advantage as well.

It would not be unheard of to split suppliers. If Amtrak can determine that the fleet needs within the NEC and outside the NEC are different, then they can have Alstom build DEMUs for the NEC and have Siemens build coaches like CALIDOT for the NN. You’ll lose your standardization, the ability to shift capacity during fluctuations in demand, and it might be more expensive (suppliers generally give a bigger discount the more you buy).

The big thing my profs taught me about procurement was this: there is almost never a “right/wrong” answer. You have to justify the selection you make and why it’s best for the company. But you will likely never be in a situation with a clear winner.
 

jis

Conductor
AU Lifetime Supporter
Gathering Team Member
Joined
Aug 24, 2003
Messages
25,976
Location
Space Coast, Florida, Area code 3-2-1
Right, I knew some commuter lines had them, but I wasn't sure if they were considered heavy or light rail.
According to the admittedly odd FRA definitions, Heavy Rail is what normal people call Subway. Light Rail is - well - Light Rail. What runs on main line railroad is Commuter Rail and Regional and Long Distance Service. Admittedly there is some confusion of categories in the way they define things.

What is important though, irrespective of what it is called, is whether they fall under the jurisdiction of FRA and if they do whether they meet the FRA Buff Strength regulations or not. Even if the don't they can be operation under an exemption based on Temporal Separation, like the RiverLINE in NJ. There are lines that are basically Subway lines that for weird historical reasons fall under FRA jurisdiction - like PATH in NY-NJ.
 

railiner

Conductor
Joined
Mar 20, 2009
Messages
8,274
Location
Palm Beach County
There are lines that are basically Subway lines that for weird historical reasons fall under FRA jurisdiction - like PATH in NY-NJ.
Or, the Staten Island Railway...even though they used the same R-44 subway car as the NY Subway, they had to add high headlight, certain grab irons, and other hardware differences to meet FRA requirements.
 

NSC1109

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Aug 14, 2016
Messages
351
Location
MI
According to the admittedly odd FRA definitions, Heavy Rail is what normal people call Subway. Light Rail is - well - Light Rail. What runs on main line railroad is Commuter Rail and Regional and Long Distance Service. Admittedly there is some confusion of categories in the way they define things.

What is important though, irrespective of what it is called, is whether they fall under the jurisdiction of FRA and if they do whether they meet the FRA Buff Strength regulations or not. Even if the don't they can be operation under an exemption based on Temporal Separation, like the RiverLINE in NJ. There are lines that are basically Subway lines that for weird historical reasons fall under FRA jurisdiction - like PATH in NY-NJ.
The issue is that I’m not sure you’re going to get temporal separation on basically any Amtrak corridor service out of Chicago. My understanding is that freight and passenger can’t be anywhere near each other in such an environment. I would presume that includes adjacent tracks as well as the one the Stadler is on.

I think it could potentially work on the NEC provided that the freight railroads play ball, but anywhere else I think it’s very unlikely, resulting in a split order.
 

rickycourtney

Conductor
Joined
Dec 21, 2012
Messages
1,797
Location
Fresno, CA
Stadler hasn’t built anything for Amtrak or for heavy rail in the US (that I know of, please correct me if I am wrong). They do have experience in DMU/EMU and therefore could be an attractive candidate. But the inexperience with the US heavy rail regulations (again, correct me if I’m wrong) may result in another N-S conundrum, which wouldn’t be good.
They are also building the EMU trainsets for Caltrain. Those are built to heavy/commuter/intercity/whatever rail standards. Although the point remains, they’ve only tackled relatively small orders up until now

Additionally, Alstom (I believe) also does DEMU production for Europe, so that gives them a technical advantage as well.
They have. Siemens has built MU trainsets for the European market as well.
 

AGM.12

Train Attendant
Joined
Jan 3, 2018
Messages
77
Location
SC
I believe Stadler, in their plant in Europe, built eight cars for the Rocky Mountaineer. I am not sure of the configuration of these cars, but this could be a potential Superliner replacement? They do have a plant here in the US.
 

jis

Conductor
AU Lifetime Supporter
Gathering Team Member
Joined
Aug 24, 2003
Messages
25,976
Location
Space Coast, Florida, Area code 3-2-1
The issue is that I’m not sure you’re going to get temporal separation on basically any Amtrak corridor service out of Chicago. My understanding is that freight and passenger can’t be anywhere near each other in such an environment. I would presume that includes adjacent tracks as well as the one the Stadler is on.

I think it could potentially work on the NEC provided that the freight railroads play ball, but anywhere else I think it’s very unlikely, resulting in a split order.
You won't need temporal separation with the current Stadlers that are the evolution from what is used on the RiverLINE because they are compliant with the new FRA standards. So it is a non-issue.
 

Andrew

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
May 3, 2013
Messages
471
Maybe Amtrak can choose the Venture Coaches for the Cascades Service but Alstom for all of the NEC trains?
 

jis

Conductor
AU Lifetime Supporter
Gathering Team Member
Joined
Aug 24, 2003
Messages
25,976
Location
Space Coast, Florida, Area code 3-2-1
Maybe Amtrak can choose the Venture Coaches for the Cascades Service but Alstom for all of the NEC trains?
What Alstom passenger cars did you have in mind? Currently, other than the LHB cars, which are entirely manufactured in India at present, Alstom really does not have a single self standing passenger car product, other than what they have manufactured in the US based on old designs essentially handed to them. They do however have some excellent DMU/DEMU/EMU products, but all will require some tweaking for the American market.

After they merge with Bombardier's Rail Transport division they will have a bunch, almost all we are familiar with, since they are all 20th century technology products and derivatives based in North America. For single level cars, Comet/Horizon Cars anyone? 🤪
 
Last edited:
Top