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RFP issued for Amfleet I replacement

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jis

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There is a somewhat amusing article in a recent Modern Railways about the goofiness of the decision making process in determining what to do next at National Railway.

A lot of things that are very ill advised for the long run are being done to cover for the incompetence of the infrastructure folks to deliver almost anything on schedule and on budget in England. This of course includes electrification in a big way. That is leading to poor suboptimal choices which is actually increasing the long term costs for the infrastructure folks who managed to get the system in this mess in the first place, alleging cost issues.

The prime example given is that of the extensive unplanned deployment of dual mode trains. These trains are much heavier than the pure electrics and cause significantly more damage tot racks causing the to require more maintenance causing their total cost of operation over their lifetime to be significantly higher than that of pure electrics. While reading it I was thinking how in the US, track maintenance cost does not seem to enter any discussion at equipment acquisition time. This maybe because of a more cavalier attitude about track maintenance or not based on if money is available to do so at the time it is needed. The que sera sera approach.

The author is also wondering why ostensibly the same outfit is able to deliver electrification on time and more or less on budget in Scotland but be completely flummoxed in England.

Incidentally, the MDBF (or the equivalent measure in the UK) is pretty abysmal for the Class 8xxs at present but is slowly improving.

Anyway, it is a well written and at places humorous article.

But we should probably get back to Amtrak. Trailer cars can be acquired that are as light as possible given the collision protection standards by choosing appropriate lightweight components for internal furnishing etc., notwithstanding how the train is powered. It becomes an issue when distributed power is considered, and my guess is that the US trains may not be as efficient in the D/EMU form as their European or other places in the world counterparts. Hopefully the new FRA standards will at least bring them within shouting distance.
 

rickycourtney

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I knew I should have done more research on the Hitachi A-Train before making that comment. I knew jis would know the full story.

So my quick prediction is...
The pitch from Siemens will lean in on the “proven” Venture trainset and will highlight the cost savings of re-using the Sprinters and their experience with TSSSA maintenance contracts.

That makes the Siemens Venture trainsets, in my opinion, the clear favorite.

The question is... how badly does Amtrak want to switch to DMU/EMU/DMMU trainsets? If the MU operation ends up being the most important part, it will be an open race.
 

jiml

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The question is... how badly does Amtrak want to switch to DMU/EMU/DMMU trainsets? If the MU operation ends up being the most important part, it will be an open race.
For reasons of fleet commonality, I've never thought MU's of any flavor were viable outside the Northeast (Empire Service, NEC and extensions to the south, Keystone corridor). How often do NE Regional marked Amfleet make it outside those confines? (We occasionally see them in Toronto and Montreal, but still really Empire Services.) If MU's were wanted, then we're really talking about 3 varieties: EMU's to replace NE Regional corridor services, Dual-modes that work with third rail for Empire Service and dual-modes that switch seamlessly between catenary and diesel operation for Virginia and points south. No DMU's needed, unless I'm missing something.
 

sttom

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The question is... how badly does Amtrak want to switch to DMU/EMU/DMMU trainsets? If the MU operation ends up being the most important part, it will be an open race.
I would still expect Siemens or Alstom to be the favorites given Alstom is building the new Acelas. But the question is would Congress go along with an order that would displace fairly new equipment given that the money they appropriate for anything good is worth more than gold as far as they're concerned.
 

rickycourtney

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No DMU's needed, unless I'm missing something.
Amtrak Cascades is part of the order. Also Amtrak wants a fleet that will be ready create new corridors in other parts of the country.
I would still expect Siemens or Alstom to be the favorites given Alstom is building the new Acelas. But the question is would Congress go along with an order that would displace fairly new equipment given that the money they appropriate for anything good is worth more than gold as far as they're concerned.
I just don’t see Alstom’s current product (Avelia Liberty) as being that — umm — translatable? to the requirements of this order. It’s a tilting, articulated (Jacob’s bogie) trainset designed for very high speeds. It’s total overkill for this, but I supposed it could be stripped down (although it would still be articulated). However I could see them proposing to import and localize their Coradia family of MU trains.
 

Mailliw

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Wouldn't the Acela replacement have been the most logical time to implement multiple units? Acela only runs on electrified routes. Keystone service is another great candidate for EMUs.
If the goal is to reduce costs with a uniform fleet then wouldn't it make sense to stick with locomotive hauled coaches since the same trainsets could be hauled by diesel-electric, electric, or dual locomotives vs having to order a combination of EMUs, DMUs, and BMUs?
 

rickycourtney

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Wouldn't the Acela replacement have been the most logical time to implement multiple units? Acela only runs on electrified routes. Keystone service is another great candidate for EMUs.
If the goal is to reduce costs with a uniform fleet then wouldn't it make sense to stick with locomotive hauled coaches since the same trainsets could be hauled by diesel-electric, electric, or dual locomotives vs having to order a combination of EMUs, DMUs, and BMUs?
Yes.

But the most logical choice isn’t always the one that’s made.
 

NSC1109

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I knew I should have done more research on the Hitachi A-Train before making that comment. I knew jis would know the full story.

So my quick prediction is...
The pitch from Siemens will lean in on the “proven” Venture trainset and will highlight the cost savings of re-using the Sprinters and their experience with TSSSA maintenance contracts.

That makes the Siemens Venture trainsets, in my opinion, the clear favorite.

The question is... how badly does Amtrak want to switch to DMU/EMU/DMMU trainsets? If the MU operation ends up being the most important part, it will be an open race.
I think a good idea of how badly Amtrak wants to switch to trainsets outside of the NEC is displayed by the history of the trainset with Amtrak. Wasn’t exactly a lasting solution. I’m sure technology has advanced since the Turboliners and I commend Amtrak for checking things out again but I’m still pretty confident that we’ll see typical coaches.

For reasons of fleet commonality, I've never thought MU's of any flavor were viable outside the Northeast (Empire Service, NEC and extensions to the south, Keystone corridor). How often do NE Regional marked Amfleet make it outside those confines? (We occasionally see them in Toronto and Montreal, but still really Empire Services.) If MU's were wanted, then we're really talking about 3 varieties: EMU's to replace NE Regional corridor services, Dual-modes that work with third rail for Empire Service and dual-modes that switch seamlessly between catenary and diesel operation for Virginia and points south. No DMU's needed, unless I'm missing something.
NE Regional branded cars have a habit of showing up on the AML. I couldn’t tell you why, we don’t have a direct connection to the Corridor, but I guess if that’s what the yardmaster has, that’s what we get.
 

sttom

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Wouldn't the Acela replacement have been the most logical time to implement multiple units? Acela only runs on electrified routes. Keystone service is another great candidate for EMUs.
If the goal is to reduce costs with a uniform fleet then wouldn't it make sense to stick with locomotive hauled coaches since the same trainsets could be hauled by diesel-electric, electric, or dual locomotives vs having to order a combination of EMUs, DMUs, and BMUs?
The Acela replacement isn't an EMU, its a trainset with 2 power cars at each end. If Amtrak were to use the "car" portion of the trains as an Amfleet replacement, it would be similar to the Talgo sets in the sense that they are cars that are married together, but don't have distributed motors like multiple units tend to have.
 

jiml

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NE Regional branded cars have a habit of showing up on the AML. I couldn’t tell you why, we don’t have a direct connection to the Corridor, but I guess if that’s what the yardmaster has, that’s what we get.
True, which is why I prefaced fleet commonality as the first hurdle. If Amtrak wants to continue sending cars everywhere it's the only thing that matters. I will however be surprised if Midwest coaches paid for by those states start showing up in New York.
 

jis

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True, which is why I prefaced fleet commonality as the first hurdle. If Amtrak wants to continue sending cars everywhere it's the only thing that matters. I will however be surprised if Midwest coaches paid for by those states start showing up in New York.
They won't. Just like Piedmont Cars do not show up in the Northeast either.
 

NSC1109

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True, which is why I prefaced fleet commonality as the first hurdle. If Amtrak wants to continue sending cars everywhere it's the only thing that matters. I will however be surprised if Midwest coaches paid for by those states start showing up in New York.
As jis said, they won't be going anywhere outside of the Chicago Corridor Network. Wouldn't be too difficult to program a fleet management system (I'm sure Amtrak has one) that would classify certain cars as "qualified" or "not qualified" (to put it simply) for a certain service based on the equipment number. For example, Horizon-class 54507 would qualify for the Blue Water, Wolverine, Hiawatha, Illini, Saluki, Carl Sandberg, etc but would not qualify for the Lake Shore Limited, and the system would not let the orders be cut with an equipment mismatch without a supervisor override (to facilitate ferry movements on revenue service trains). You could probably adapt SAP to do it.

Probably just made it more complicated than it needs to be really.
 

me_little_me

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The question is... how badly does Amtrak want to switch to DMU/EMU/DMMU trainsets? If the MU operation ends up being the most important part, it will be an open race.
I heard that in Texas, Amtrak was planning to run SMUs instead to fit in better and get support from the state. Texas liked the idea so much, they offered $1B until they found out they were engines and not Mustangs. :)
 

PVD

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Even companies with top shelf computer systems fleet & dispatch control somehow find a way to screw up. AA accidently dispatched a non etops plane to Hawaii a few years back. Return flight canceled, flown back empty, plane could not legally carry passengers on the route. Another plane had to be flown empty to Hawaii to take over the route.
 

railiner

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Used to be during periods like Thanksgiving, cars belonging to certain equipment pools, even leased commuter cars, could end up far from their normal domain.
Sometimes by design, and other times in an "emergency replacement", if some regular car happened to be bad-ordered, and anything that could run would be snagged... :)
 

jis

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I would note though that I have never seen a Talgo set by chance show up outside the Cascade Corridor. I have also never seen a Piedemont car show up anywhere other than on Piedmont service.

There are certain cars that are qualified to roam the system and others that are not, and for the latter mistakes are very very rare.
 

Andrew

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How do you folks think that a Biden White House with a Republican senate would impact procurement of new Amfleet coaches (and Gateway funding)?
 

me_little_me

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How do you folks think that a Biden White House with a Republican senate would impact procurement of new Amfleet coaches (and Gateway funding)?
It all depends on whether both sides will work with each other so each gains some of what they want.
One thing has changed - no more Trump and his "winner take all" and "if you cross me, you die" attitude which stopped Republicans from negotiating compromises.

One thing that has not changed is the far left which, if you remember, were so critical of Biden during the primary campaign for having compromised on some civil rights issues 40+ years ago to gain other civil rights. Those people now have some power and, unless Biden takes command, they will keep the animosity going.

Both sides have to remember that they are paid and are required to work for the whole country, not the president, not their personal feelings and not their rich PACs.
 

mainemanman

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How do you folks think that a Biden White House with a Republican senate would impact procurement of new Amfleet coaches (and Gateway funding)?
Hard to say. I don't think they'll be as resistant as a lot of people think they will be, if the executive branch works with the house to push legislation through I think they can negotiate enough to make it suit Republican interests. Keep in mind, the end goal of all of these actions are for Amtrak to be a profitable service, so efforts like this may be appealing to both democrats and republicans.

While this isn't related to rolling stock procurement, I'm skeptical about this "second rail revolution" people are talking about at the moment. If the states aren't on board (Minnesota, Wisconsin come to mind) new procurements of rolling stock and new routes could be very difficult to introduce, if not impossible.
 

jis

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For reasons of fleet commonality, I've never thought MU's of any flavor were viable outside the Northeast (Empire Service, NEC and extensions to the south, Keystone corridor). How often do NE Regional marked Amfleet make it outside those confines? (We occasionally see them in Toronto and Montreal, but still really Empire Services.) If MU's were wanted, then we're really talking about 3 varieties: EMU's to replace NE Regional corridor services, Dual-modes that work with third rail for Empire Service and dual-modes that switch seamlessly between catenary and diesel operation for Virginia and points south. No DMU's needed, unless I'm missing something.
You don't need third rail dual mode for Empire Service. Catenary ones will do, since there is catenary a short distance out of the Empire Connection tunnel out of Penn Station. exactly for serving such an eventuality. They can run pure diesel the rest of the way and save on a bit of headache of maintaining a third variety of rolling stock.
 

jiml

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You don't need third rail dual mode for Empire Service. Catenary ones will do, since there is catenary a short distance out of the Empire Connection tunnel out of Penn Station. exactly for serving such an eventuality. They can run pure diesel the rest of the way and save on a bit of headache of maintaining a third variety of rolling stock.
Very true - I wasn't sure if it ran far enough to meet the city requirements, not knowing exactly where the boundary is. It does make you wonder why we have P32's though.
 

Palmetto

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If nothing else, P32s will allow service to GCT, in the event they need to run there. I believe that was the case a few years ago.
 

jiml

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If nothing else, P32s will allow service to GCT, in the event they need to run there. I believe that was the case a few years ago.
I didn't think the P32's arrived until long after the Empire Connection opened, shifting operations to Penn. I'm pretty sure Amtrak used FL9's for some time after they stopped serving Grand Central.
 
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