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RFP issued for Amfleet I replacement

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Andrew

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Suppose Amtrak's choices for new Amfleets come down to the Siemens Venture Coaches or versions of the Alstom Acela coaches, which bid would you choose?
 

jis

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Suppose Amtrak's choices for new Amfleets come down to the Siemens Venture Coaches or versions of the Alstom Acela coaches, which bid would you choose?
It is highly unlikely that Alstom Acela coaches would be under consideration at all, since they are non-standard length and they ride on articulated Jacobs Trucks.
 

Andrew

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I wonder if Amtrak is going to order fewer coaches than they were originally planning to order due to Covid reducing ridership.
 

rickycourtney

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I wonder if Amtrak is going to order fewer coaches than they were originally planning to order due to Covid reducing ridership.
I agree with NSC1109 -- the order won’t change. I think we're already seeing the first impact of COVID-19 on this order... the contract should have been signed weeks, if not months ago. Amtrak is either slow-walking placing the order for financial reasons, or they're being slowed down by having staff working remotely, or both.
 

sttom

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I wonder if Amtrak is going to order fewer coaches than they were originally planning to order due to Covid reducing ridership.
Considering how fast ridership levels recovered after 2008, I doubt ridership levels will be highly depressed 2 years after COVID, assuming everything outside of the NEC is back to it's normal schedule by then. If anything, they should be looking into getting more coaches, not less. If anything is slowing things down at this point, it's Congress posturing instead if working.
 

NSC1109

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I agree with NSC1109 -- the order won’t change. I think we're already seeing the first impact of COVID-19 on this order... the contract should have been signed weeks, if not months ago. Amtrak is either slow-walking placing the order for financial reasons, or they're being slowed down by having staff working remotely, or both.
Chances are it’s primarily financial-related.
Kinda hard to convince Congress to give you more money with one hand when you’re signing a deal to completely overhaul your single-level fleet with the other. All passenger-carrying entities are struggling right now, and Amtrak is no exception. Hopefully once they stabilize things will move more quickly.
 

Andrew

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Siemens appears to be the front runner to build the new coaches but what would be the arguments for choosing Hitachi or Kawasaki?
 

NSC1109

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Siemens appears to be the front runner to build the new coaches but what would be the arguments for choosing Hitachi or Kawasaki?
Hitachi (to my knowledge, and according to their website) has never made rolling stock for the US. The chances that they will do so are not great.

Kawasaki has made heavy rail rolling stock for a variety of commuter lines in the US, but nothing like what Amtrak is looking for.

Take it from someone who has supply chain experience: when you are cost-constrained (like Amtrak is), then you want a simplified, standard fleet with TSSSA with one or two companies. This helps keep the costs under control. The race is between Alstom (the Avelia Liberty) and Siemens (everything else), and chances are, Siemens is gonna get the win. It makes no sense to think that anyone other than those two companies are even being considered and it still doesn’t make sense to be running a mixed Siemens/Alstom operation anywhere outside of the NEC. Amtrak has a huge opportunity here to get their costs down and I’m sure their supply folks know that.
 
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PVD

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Hitachi is Breda, they certainly have built for the US. The WMATA order will likely give them a subsidized factory deal which they may wish to leverage with more work affecting how they bid. Kawasaki and Breda have certainly built heavy rail for US rapid transit and commuter, just not (in the US) the type of car Amtrak is likely looking for. It is very likely they have the ability to do it if they want to. quite a bit of the work is assembling equipment from other sources. The car shells are not radically different to fabricate. We still don't know if they will split types and vendors, what type of delivery schedule they are looking for, and the degree to which the political process (who builds/sources where) will figure in.
 

frequentflyer

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Comes in Diesel and Electric. Pretty sure Hitachi has put in a bid and dropped off a few brochures, pens, coffee mugs and mouse pads. Premium Floor mats and paint protection are extra of course.

Just like the Siemens Viaggio, ASC-64 (Vectron) and the new Alstom Acela 2s have proven themselves in Europe, so has this. Nothing Amtrak is looking at is new, be it Siemens, Alstom, Stadler, or Hitachi. Whatever Amtrak is looking at has proven itself around the world.
 
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Mailliw

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I predict Amtrak will go with Siemens Venture coaches; semiperminant trainsets like the San Joaqins for Northeast Regional & a few other corridors, and a mix of single cars and twinsets like Amtrak Midwest for everything else.
 

rickycourtney

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Hitachi is Breda, they certainly have built for the US.
Hitachi is Breda... but Breda is not known for building amazing products. I'd put them in the same category as Bombardier or CAF.
Examples of Breda's problems...
  • San Francisco's Breda LRV 2 & LRV 3 break down, on average, every 617 miles -- SFMTA prohibited Breda from bidding on future orders.
  • Los Angeles Metro's Breda P2550 LRVs were delivered years late and overweight -- LACMTA prohibited Breda from bidding on future orders (although Breda tried to woo LA by offering to build a factory)
  • Denmark's Breda IC4 trainsets have been a disaster... they were delivered nearly a decade late, have had many problems, and will be retired soon.
  • Boston's Breda Type 8 LRVs have been very problematic with MBTA calling them "their worst purchase ever."
  • WMATA said in 2005 that their older Breda units were significantly more likely to break down than those of other manufacturers in the fleet.
...that's just five customers and there's plenty more where that came from.

Hitachi may be able to improve Breda's quality problems, but until that's proven, Amtrak should avoid.
Kawasaki and Breda have certainly built heavy rail for US rapid transit and commuter, just not (in the US) the type of car Amtrak is likely looking for. It is very likely they have the ability to do it if they want to. quite a bit of the work is assembling equipment from other sources. The car shells are not radically different to fabricate.
Building an LRV is radically different from intercity rail cars, and the requirements are intense. Just ask Nippon Sharyo which botched the order for Caltrans and IDOT.
 

NSC1109

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Hitachi is Breda... but Breda is not known for building amazing products. I'd put them in the same category as Bombardier or CAF.
Examples of Breda's problems...
  • San Francisco's Breda LRV 2 & LRV 3 break down, on average, every 617 miles -- SFMTA prohibited Breda from bidding on future orders.
  • Los Angeles Metro's Breda P2550 LRVs were delivered years late and overweight -- LACMTA prohibited Breda from bidding on future orders (although Breda tried to woo LA by offering to build a factory)
  • Denmark's Breda IC4 trainsets have been a disaster... they were delivered nearly a decade late, have had many problems, and will be retired soon.
  • Boston's Breda Type 8 LRVs have been very problematic with MBTA calling them "their worst purchase ever."
  • WMATA said in 2005 that their older Breda units were significantly more likely to break down than those of other manufacturers in the fleet.
...that's just five customers and there's plenty more where that came from.

Hitachi may be able to improve Breda's quality problems, but until that's proven, Amtrak should avoid.

Building an LRV is radically different from intercity rail cars, and the requirements are intense. Just ask Nippon Sharyo which botched the order for Caltrans and IDOT.
I was just seeing the same stuff in my research. WMATA called the Breda cars the most unreliable units in their fleet. Hardly a glowing report.
 

PVD

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And yet WMATA is buying them anyway....I agree about LRV being a different animal, but quite a bit of the commuter car market is heavy rail....not LRV
 

NSC1109

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And yet WMATA is buying them anyway....I agree about LRV being a different animal, but quite a bit of the commuter car market is heavy rail....not LRV
They’re buying the 8000 series cars from Hitachi Rail, not the Breda subsidiary from what I understand. At least that’s what it says on the Wiki page.
 

jis

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They’re buying the 8000 series cars from Hitachi Rail, not the Breda subsidiary from what I understand. At least that’s what it says on the Wiki page.
I have not seen anything in any oif the documentation that suggests that Hitachi cannot use its Breda subsidiary to produce the cars. Have you? Specially considering that Hitachi Rails global HQ is now in Italy, I think it is a pretty bold prediction to state categorically that the Breda subsidiary, which is essentially the where th HQ is, will not be involved in delivering these cars.
Washington Post said:
Hitachi Global is a more than 100-year-old Japan-based corporation with rail subsidiaries based across the world. Its main rail headquarters is in Italy. The Washington-based limited liability corporation is a new entity. Records show that the LLC was founded and based in Medley, Fla., in May 2019, according to business data provider Dun & Bradstreet. The lone employee listed in records is Giampaolo Nuonno, the chief executive of Hitachi Rail USA.
Of course I am always happy to be corrected should additional information become available.
 

NSC1109

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I have not seen anything in any oif the documentation that suggests that Hitachi cannot use its Breda subsidiary to produce the cars. Have you? Specially considering that Hitachi Rails global HQ is now in Italy, I think it is a pretty bold prediction to state categorically that the Breda subsidiary, which is essentially the where th HQ is, will not be involved in delivering these cars.

Of course I am always happy to be corrected should additional information become available.
It’s absolutely possible that Hitachi will use the Breda subsidiary to help produce the cars. All I’m saying is that it doesn’t say Hitachi Rail Italy (the new name for Breda), just Hitachi Rail. From what I’ve read the two entities are separate but that could’ve easily been changed.
 
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rickycourtney

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The fact that the lone employee of Hitachi Rail USA is based in Medley, Fla. is not surprising. Miami's Metrorail purchased a bunch of rail cars from Breda. Mid-order Breda was purchased by Hitachi and the order has been branded as "Hitachi" and -- stop me if you've heard this before -- the order is now at least three years behind schedule.

Now -- in defense of Hitachi (but not Breda) -- their A-train series of MU trainsets seems to be generally well-received in the UK. That product could meet the expectations of Amtrak if it's brought to the US... but they'll need to keep Breda away. 😁
 
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jis

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Now -- in defense of Hitachi (but not Breda) -- their A-train series of MU trainsets seems to be generally well-received in the UK. That product could meet the expectations of Amtrak if it's brought to the US... but they'll need to keep Breda away. 😁
Actually both the Javelins and the Class 8xxs were delayed considerably in their introductions due to various teething troubles for which responsibility is probably shared equally by the British rail establishment and Hitachi.

The Class 8xx's in spite of being distributed power trains are surprisingly, unable to maintain the same schedule that the 20th century vintage HST125s with power heads at each end have been able to for many decades. That has been a disappointment since schedules have had to be stretched to maintain OTP when a service is operated with the newer trains.

Modern Railways has been following this for many months now, and it is a fascinating reading about what happens when there are way too many cooks stirring the broth.

Any A train derivating for use in the US will need to be considerably different from the British versions of them, not just because the loading gauge is different, but also because the British units are seriously under powered for typical operation in the US.
 
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NSC1109

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Actually both the Javelins and the Class 8xxs were delayed considerably in their introductions due to various teething troubles for which responsibility is probably shared equally by the British rail establishment and Hitachi.

The Class 8xx's in spite of being distributed power trains are surprisingly, unable to maintain the same schedule that the 20th century vintage push-pull HST125s have been able to for many decades. That has been a disappointment since schedules have had to be stretched to maintain OTP when a service is operated with the newer trains.

Modern Railways has been following this for many months now, and it is a fascinating reading about what happens when there are way too many cooks stirring the broth.

Any A train derivating for use in the US will need to be considerably differnt from the British versions of them, not just because the loading gauge is different, but also because the British units are seriously under powered for typical operation in the US.
It doesn’t help that UK trains all have to be custom-built due to the restrictive loading gauge. The technical issues that need to be overcome to effectively shrink the units are likely complex.
 
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jrud

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...

The Class 8xx's in spite of being distributed power trains are surprisingly, unable to maintain the same schedule that the 20th century vintage HST125s with power heads at each end have been able to for many decades. That has been a disappointment since schedules have had to be stretched to maintain OTP when a service is operated with the newer

...

Any A train derivating for use in the US will need to be considerably different from the British versions of them, not just because the loading gauge is different, but also because the British units are seriously under powered for typical operation in the US.
At least from what I read, the inability to make schedule ties directly to the trains being underpowered when using diesels. And, the low diesel power is the result of an assumption that all the electrification projects that were planned would be completed resulting in a higher percentage of running under catenary at increased speeds. A portion of this electrification did not occur. Amusing, one of the excuses used for not electrifying was that the trains could run on diesel when needed, so it wasn’t as important.
 

jis

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They certainly accelrate better under electric power, though not extremely noticeably so in my experience. I have ridden them extensively on the London to West service (GWR). If you know where the power change point is and are looking for difference you can notice it, but if you are not aware of the change point it is unlikely that you'd notice. They are surprisingly quiet under Diesel mode.

But they have timekeeping issue even between London Paddington and Reading which is all electric. I am not sure what the exact deal is. Maybe it is something that is fixable by tweaking the wheel slip control stuff or such. I don;t know.
 

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The 800 Azuma series on the East Coast Main Line were able to to meet and fractionally exceed the HST's on the same route, but agreeing with both previous posters, that was all on electrified tracks. The problems have been most noticeable in primarily diesel sections such as the Trans-Pennine and southwestern routes. Some of the former's issues should be met with the Stadler locomotive-powered Nova 3 trains now arriving. I wouldn't be surprised if the Hitachi 802's went elsewhere.
 
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