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RFP issued for Amfleet I replacement

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sttom

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As for the Stadler bi level cars, there are some differences between it and the Superliners, along with Siemens Viaggio Twin. The Stadler cars are ~2 feet taller than a Superliner and ~4 feet longer than a Superliner. From the diagrams on the brochure, the Stadler cars look like they are two single level cars stacked on top of each other whereas the Superliners have a low floor section. The Viaggio Twin is basically a multilevel car that is as tall as a Santa Fe Hi Level car and ~19 inches longer. As for which one of the two could be adapted into a Superliner compatible variant, that's up to the bidding process and engineers to hash out. But they would likely be the favorites to build more Superliner compatible equipment unless Alstom modernizes the designs they've accumulated over the years. And with Alstom that seems like a big if. They seem to have gone entirely into the direction of EMUs if you look at their products and services section on their website. Given that the rail manufacturing industry is consolidating into a handful of competent and reputable companies, I see Stadler and Siemens being the ones to stick around since they have a diverse number of products, the ability to adapt their designs and will make "custom designs" when needed. I do think spreading the orders between multiple companies would be a good thing just to prevent Siemens from becoming a monopoly and whomever survives just being the company that picks up the scraps that Siemens doesn't have the capacity for. But this would require the federal government have 1 design for single level cars, multilevel cars and bilevel cars and require that these designs for any train order that is buying individual cars with federal money use 1 of the three basic designs. And have the designs be licensed to whatever manufacture wins the various contracts. But a healthy industry that lacks a monopoly is going to require a consistent stream of federal money going into the rail industry instead of doing things in fits and starts every other decade.
 

frequentflyer

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I know Stadler/Cruise cars are rated for at least 79mph running, but they do not operate at that speed. The Superliners were beautifully engineered to have a low CG. Send the Stadler cars on the CONO on some bad CN track at 79 mph then get back to me.
 

sttom

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Its extremely unlikely that Amtrak would want a car that is a 1 to 1 match to the existing Gold Leaf cars. What is likely to happen is adapting it to the requirements Amtrak would put on the project. Which would mean taking the closest existing design the company has and fitting it to the requirements. There is a reason why things are manufactured to templates. Its easier and takes less time to adapt an existing design than to it is to redesign the wheel every time consumer tastes change slightly. For example, even the new Venture cars are not the exact same as the equipment used by the Austrian Railways or even exactly the same between the California ones and the Midwest ones.
 

rickycourtney

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I just don't see Amtrak buying new bi-level equipment to replace the Superliners. They might be better for sightseeing purposes, but they're not ideal for people who use wheelchairs.

Yes, they have "accessible" roomettes and coach seating areas... but those limit people who use wheelchairs or people with limited mobility to use only a very small portion of the train. They don't have the freedom to visit the lounge car, the cafe, or the dining car. In fact, they must ask an employee to purchase food for them if they want to eat or have a drink.

By comparison, in single-level cars, everyone has the freedom to move about the train on their own schedule.

It reminds me very much about the national discussion around wheelchair lifts on buses. Many cities wanted to only provide "paratransit" services to those using wheelchairs. It provided a way to get around, but they required reservations. Once wheelchair lifts were installed, it gave everyone the freedom to travel where they wanted, when they wanted.
 

PVD

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Even the single level train have very limited access for regular wheelchairs. and full width walkers. If you are in a sleeper, you can get from the H room in the car used as the diner vestibule, but not from any further sleepers. Depending where a cafe car is, the same may apply from the coaches.
 

NES28

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Does anyone know of any present Superliner route that cannot operate with double stacks and 20 foot auto racks?
Responding to West Point's August 2 post one place that I am aware of that can accommodate Superliners but not auto racks is at the famous 3 level crossing on the former Seaboard route just south of Main Street Station in Richmond. Virginia's plan is to re-route all passenger trains to the south this way (the S Line) reducing freight conflicts on the A Line as well as serving downtown. The Auto Train must stay on the A Line.
Regarding Chicago Union Station, don't even think about running anything taller than a Superliner (or Metra gallery car.
 

west point

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NES28: Thanks for that about the 3 level crossing. That really hurts any consideration of having thru cars from the Capitol to Meteor with Superliners. However I suspect that Capitol may go single level once the Siemens single level cars are in service in large numbers ?

A possible problem of lowering the tracks at CHI Union station is that it might put the tracks below the water level of the Chicago river. Remember the great flood of the old access subways there in the past.
Now those in the know is there is a present basement below the passenger level. I seem to remember that there was a slopped baggage ramp there that went under the passenger level ? ?
 

PVD

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Switching the CL has come up before, and is always worth a look. When the Siemens cars are all in, hopefully enough single level are freed up, with enough Horizon available for refurb into LD configuration. Since I believe they have manual doors, they are better off on a long haul than a corridor anyway. Food service and sleepers we have, and the concept of a through sleeper off the Penn becomes possible, although I don't know the timekeeping well enough to say whether or not it would be a good idea.
 

NSC1109

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NES28: Thanks for that about the 3 level crossing. That really hurts any consideration of having thru cars from the Capitol to Meteor with Superliners. However I suspect that Capitol may go single level once the Siemens single level cars are in service in large numbers ?

A possible problem of lowering the tracks at CHI Union station is that it might put the tracks below the water level of the Chicago river. Remember the great flood of the old access subways there in the past.
Now those in the know is there is a present basement below the passenger level. I seem to remember that there was a slopped baggage ramp there that went under the passenger level ? ?
Yeah there are ramps that slope down at CUS. I think they’re used by both train crews and the bag guys running stuff to and from the train so they don’t deal with the mess in the waiting areas.
 

MARC Rider

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Yeah there are ramps that slope down at CUS. I think they’re used by both train crews and the bag guys running stuff to and from the train so they don’t deal with the mess in the waiting areas.
Yes, I was once taken down there when my checked baggage arrived a day before I did and was taken out of the lost and found closet upstairs.
 

Mailliw

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Even the single level train have very limited access for regular wheelchairs. and full width walkers. If you are in a sleeper, you can get from the H room in the car used as the diner vestibule, but not from any further sleepers. Depending where a cafe car is, the same may apply from the coaches.
The Siemens Venture cars actually exceed ADA requirements and provide disabled access to the entire train set.
 

PVD

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The FRA is studying new guidelines which expand access, and recognize both shifts in population, and the changes in mobility aids (like more WhMD) Would expect seeing much of this in the next gen of single level cars..
 

daybeers

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Its extremely unlikely that Amtrak would want a car that is a 1 to 1 match to the existing Gold Leaf cars. What is likely to happen is adapting it to the requirements Amtrak would put on the project. Which would mean taking the closest existing design the company has and fitting it to the requirements. There is a reason why things are manufactured to templates. Its easier and takes less time to adapt an existing design than to it is to redesign the wheel every time consumer tastes change slightly. For example, even the new Venture cars are not the exact same as the equipment used by the Austrian Railways or even exactly the same between the California ones and the Midwest ones.
The Siemens Venture cars actually exceed ADA requirements and provide disabled access to the entire train set.
The FRA is studying new guidelines which expand access, and recognize both shifts in population, and the changes in mobility aids (like more WhMD) Would expect seeing much of this in the next gen of single level cars..
I can tell you there will most likely be more orders for Venture cars with even more expanded access, namely in the bathrooms for large motorized wheelchairs.
 

sttom

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I can tell you there will most likely be more orders for Venture cars with even more expanded access, namely in the bathrooms for large motorized wheelchairs.
This doesn't exclude the possibility of more bilevel or multilevel cars being built. Chair lifts could be included and the report above shows that the FRA is looking into the possibility of including them in multilevel and bilevel cars. The questions that would follow are is putting a chair lift in trains feasible, if so should it be considered a reasonable accommodation or not and is keeping bilevel cars worth the extra capacity and good for viewing the scenery. The last one is a solid yes, the the capacity is a yes, and the last one is on the FRA and potentially Congress.

If Amtrak were to go all single level, I fully expect them to botch it. They already have a car shortage, replacing the capacity of 2 Superliners would require at least 3 single level cars. I really doubt Amtrak leadership would be smart enough or have a solid enough back bone to argue for what will seem like fleet expansion when it is really capacity preservation. This is on top of Amtrak needing more cars in general and Congress not being a home to rationality.

My only issue with pinning ourselves to Siemens is the possibility of building a monopoly on rail equipment in this country. Monopolies are not a good thing to entertain, they can sour and I'd rather not risk it.
 

jis

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The Siemens Venture cars actually exceed ADA requirements and provide disabled access to the entire train set.
Indeed, and using regular wheelchairs.

The Venture and Brightline cars will require relatively minor tweaks to meet the new standards being discussed by the FRA alluded to by @PVD.

Bi-Level cars will be a problem unless they can get the "elevator" thing figured out.
 

daybeers

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I can tell you there will most likely be more orders for Venture cars with even more expanded access, namely in the bathrooms for large motorized wheelchairs.
I am alluding to a 60" turning radius inside the bathroom for wheelchairs.

I agree, bi-levels are a problem until they can get the elevator figured out. How do carriers to it in Europe with bi-levels and accessibility?
 

jis

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I agree, bi-levels are a problem until they can get the elevator figured out. How do carriers to it in Europe with bi-levels and accessibility?
They don't. European accessibility laws do not require such. Indeed there is relatively little level boarding in Europe either. Almost evreything requires stepping up into the car from the platform.
 

joelkfla

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The Siemens Venture cars actually exceed ADA requirements and provide disabled access to the entire train set.
They're coaches. Can roomettes be placed along both sides of a car, and still leave enough room for an ADA-compliant aisle down the middle? There's already barely room to stand between the deployed lower berth and the wall of the compartment.

And then there's the issue of the transitions between the center aisle in the roomettes section and the side aisle in the bedrooms section, and back to the centered door at the end of the car, which might require the elimination of at least one room to accommodate the curves. And if it is theoretically possible, does a design exist that has been produced and placed in service anywhere in the world, or would it require starting from scratch?
 
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daybeers

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They don't. European accessibility laws do not require such. Indeed there is relatively little level boarding in Europe either. Almost evreything requires stepping up into the car from the platform.
What?! That's so silly! How do those with wheelchairs get around? I know the ADA has its issues but at least we have level boarding in many places now.
 

rickycourtney

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Yeah, glancing at that FRA report (thanks for the link PVD!) the potential issues with adding an elevator to a bi-level car are pretty significant.

The FRA would want the elevator to continue to function after a high-velocity "acceleration event" (in other words, a crash), they've never been tested at higher speeds (remember, the SWC goes 90 mph), and they need to be able to carry 800 lbs. They also pointed out that are conflicting requirements between building elevator requirements and railroad regulations, so there would need to be an effort to harmonize standards and requirements.

My only issue with pinning ourselves to Siemens is the possibility of building a monopoly on rail equipment in this country. Monopolies are not a good thing to entertain, they can sour and I'd rather not risk it.
No offense, but I think that concern is a bit overblown. There is strong competition to Siemens in the global railcar market and in North America too.

I think a lot of people are pulling for them because they have a track record for delivering a good, proven product, on time and at the agreed cost.

It's the exact opposite of the CAF Viewliner debacle. For the record, if that whole project wasn't so badly botched, they would be a serious contender to build the Amfleet II/Superliner replacements.
 

jis

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What?! That's so silly! How do those with wheelchairs get around? I know the ADA has its issues but at least we have level boarding in many places now.
Just like we do here at low level platform stations. With wheel chair lifts or with appropriate bridge plates for a short segment of higher platform. US is actually at least aspirationally one of the most disabled friendly places.

Incidentally, the UK is much better than continental Europe when it comes to level boarding, but still it is nowhere near universal and nowhere near about to become so.

As for bilevels, Except for a few exceptions like Finland, Europe mostly has multi-level cars, with a middle level like the NJT MLVs, with door vestibule at the middle level. Accommodation is provided for Wheelchairs at the middle level adjacent to a suitably equipped toilet. But getting into the middle level from a standard platform is a different matter altogether. ;)
 
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PVD

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couple of things to note: looking at 800lb lift/ramp capacity up from 600, excluding sleepers from most of the discussion, having seating to accommodate obese
 
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Anthony V

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Switching the CL has come up before, and is always worth a look. When the Siemens cars are all in, hopefully enough single level are freed up, with enough Horizon available for refurb into LD configuration. Since I believe they have manual doors, they are better off on a long haul than a corridor anyway. Food service and sleepers we have, and the concept of a through sleeper off the Penn becomes possible, although I don't know the timekeeping well enough to say whether or not it would be a good idea.
If the Capitol Limited goes single level, that should provide enough Superliners to make the Sunset Limited daily. UP has since done a lot of the upgrades they asked for in 2010 themselves. The only barriers to daily service on the SL today are lack of Superliners and adequate funding.
 

jis

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If the Capitol Limited goes single level, that should provide enough Superliners to make the Sunset Limited daily. UP has since done a lot of the upgrades they asked for in 2010 themselves. The only barriers to daily service on the SL today are lack of Superliners and adequate funding.
And of course starting and conclusion of negotiations with UP to do so. Last time as I recall it was that negotiation stage where the thing blew up. Until that happens we don;t even know what the bill will be.
 
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