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RFP issued for Amfleet I replacement

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cpotisch

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The first one being side to side, the second one is how the slumber coaches were laid out. Not sure if "staggered" is the right word, but stacking units on each other seems like it would take more resources than shifting the beds. 

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You need to remember that planes are MUCH wider than trains. For example, a 777 fuselage is almost twice the width of a slumbercoach. So what makes sense on a plane often does not make sense on a train.
 

sttom

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You need to remember that planes are MUCH wider than trains. For example, a 777 fuselage is almost twice the width of a slumbercoach. So what makes sense on a plane often does not make sense on a train.
Let me run some rough numbers.  I would be more concerned with fitting them down the length of the train rather than the width. Beds in roomettes are a little more than 2 feet wide and a pair of coach seats are 4 feet wide. Staggering could work, they may not be as wide as their airline counterparts, but if they are cheaper to make and marketable for an overnight trip, they could work. Just like an open section on an overnight train. 
 
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jis

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Actually, just to pick a random example, the staggered Polaris Pods used by United, with a little jiggering would probably fit in a 10' wide passenger car.

Afterall they do fit staggered 4 abreast with two aisles in a 19'6" width 777-300 cabin. I was in one last week, so I know for sure. They should be able to fit staggered two abreast with one aisle easily in 10'.
 

Steve4031

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I’ve flown business class on LOT with lie flat seats.  Seats like that could work on overnight trains.  But Amtrak Can’t charge those outrageous prices.  
 

VAtrainfan

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I’ve flown business class on LOT with lie flat seats.  Seats like that could work on overnight trains.  But Amtrak Can’t charge those outrageous prices.  
But unlike a transatlantic flight, the train makes stops in the middle of the night. Passengers getting on and off the train would probably wake up anyone in a sleeper seat.
 

cocojacoby

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But unlike a transatlantic flight, the train makes stops in the middle of the night. Passengers getting on and off the train would probably wake up anyone in a sleeper seat.
Amtrak would have full height walls which are not allowed on planes.  So along with full height doors, you would have full privacy and sound blockage.  
 

Steve4031

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But unlike a transatlantic flight, the train makes stops in the middle of the night. Passengers getting on and off the train would probably wake up anyone in a sleeper seat.
True.  But on a plane there are activities from flight attendants and other pax that could wake you up. 
 

frequentflyer

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In this cost conscious society, it would be smart of Amtrak to reintroduce a 21rst century Slumbercoach product. Just as on airlines, the high yielding product is no longer First Class but Business Class, its time to for a product below sleeper or roomettes but above coach. Especially with the dining car going away. It would be extremely popular with new millennial families.
 

sttom

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Not to mention if we are converting amfleet cars, they won't be compatible with west coast trains. Which would mean them getting their own lines created. Also they would lack the upper windows that old slumber coaches had. So we wouldn't get the traditional ones, but more than likely staggered bends a la a trans oceanic flight.

I would also recommend having an open section as well. At that point Amtrak would be trading privacy for cost and volume. And although I doubt anyone riding in a sleeper would downgrade for one, assuming they were available on all existing overnight trains, but you'd be pushing them towards people upgrading from coach (like me) who just want to be able to sleep normally. Or people that probably wouldn't be taking the train due to timing. 

And timing is why having a few overnight lines would make sense. Thing putting converted cars on the over night Northeast Regionals, reviving the Spirit of California or other overnight trains that leave on station at night and arrive the next morning at their terminating point. There would be almost no reason for a train like this to make all stops and if it has to, you can just have only certain stops capable of reserving a sleeping spot. 
 

cpotisch

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Not to mention if we are converting amfleet cars, they won't be compatible with west coast trains. Which would mean them getting their own lines created. Also they would lack the upper windows that old slumber coaches had. So we wouldn't get the traditional ones, but more than likely staggered bends a la a trans oceanic flight.

I would also recommend having an open section as well. At that point Amtrak would be trading privacy for cost and volume. And although I doubt anyone riding in a sleeper would downgrade for one, assuming they were available on all existing overnight trains, but you'd be pushing them towards people upgrading from coach (like me) who just want to be able to sleep normally. Or people that probably wouldn't be taking the train due to timing. 

And timing is why having a few overnight lines would make sense. Thing putting converted cars on the over night Northeast Regionals, reviving the Spirit of California or other overnight trains that leave on station at night and arrive the next morning at their terminating point. There would be almost no reason for a train like this to make all stops and if it has to, you can just have only certain stops capable of reserving a sleeping spot. 
I really don't think that a typical American long distance passenger will be willing to have a bed but no real privacy (and not just a curtain). There is reason Amtrak never ran open sections.

That said, I do think some sort of Amfleet-turned-slumbercoach (maybe with added upper windows) would work. Also bear in mind that decades ago, they actually tried configuring two Amfleets as "AmPads" with Superliner Roomette modules installed. So never say never.
 
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jis

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You cannot just willy nilly add windows at random places in a car frame that is not designed for them.

I also find it intriguing that people generally sleep in Coach with 60 degree tilt surface with no curtain or even dividing armrests, but they’d have difficulty sleeping if the surface became flat. And those very same people pay many thousand dollars to sleep on flat surfaces on planes with minimal curtain separation.

In short I think it is pure poppycock. [emoji57] If it is priced appropriately they will use it.
 

sttom

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I really don't think that a typical American long distance passenger will be willing to have a bed but no real privacy (and not just a curtain). There is reason Amtrak never ran open sections.

That said, I do think some sort of Amfleet-turned-slumbercoach (maybe with added upper windows) would work. Also bear in mind that decades ago, they actually tried configuring two Amfleets as "AmPads" with Superliner Roomette modules installed. So never say never.
I don't know if the structure of the Amfleets can even have a window inserted into it. I am not an engineer, but that doesn't sound like a good idea. As for Amtrak not running open sections, I am not entirely sure, but did they even get that many in the heritage fleet? I assume they got some, but did they run long enough for them to get a feel for them? I personally doubt it since not a lot would have been left anyways given their age. 

 As for inserting seats, putting in an adapted lie flat business seat/compartment into an Amfleet would be easier than stacking rooms like in an old slumber coach and punching a window into the side. (Assuming the cost of such would be worth it). Now I can't find an exact foot measurement of the seating area of an Amfleet 1, but they are 85 feet long. Based on a seat diagram, lets assume around 60 feet of the car is sitting space. The seats are 4 feet on each side. A roomette is 6 ft 6 inches long. So beds without staggering are 13 feet. Off set them by 3 feet and we have a pair of beds taking up 10 feet of the car, so 12 per side, 24 per car. (Assuming a 1 class configuration).

As for open sections, 6'6" over 60 feet is 8 sections per side, so 32 beds in an Amfleet car with 4 feet left over. People will use them. Even airline first class is rarely fully enclosed. Most people that would be willing to take a stripped down bed probably are already riding in coach, taking greyhound or flying. A sleeping car rider might not downgrade, but lets face it, a good chunk of them probably won't. Mostly since they are tourists and a stripped down sleeper would be for those of us in coach. 

Worst comes to worst, they take 36 cars, modify them and run them on demonstration trips. Then see what the customers think. Get some college students, run them between two cities and give them a chance to try both options. Do a tour on local news and get some of the general non train riding public to give the new options a go. Given that people are fine sleeping in coach at no where near lie flat, on planes and Amtrak, a bed with a curtain is a big step up compared to that. Especially if the price and schedule are competitive.  Not to mention tastes have changed since the 1950s. 
 
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Steve4031

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You cannot just willy nilly add windows at random places in a car frame that is not designed for them.

I also find it intriguing that people generally sleep in Coach with 60 degree tilt surface with no curtain or even dividing armrests, but they’d have difficulty sleeping if the surface became flat. And those very same people pay many thousand dollars to sleep on flat surfaces on planes with minimal curtain separation.

In short I think it is pure poppycock.
If it is priced appropriately they will use it.
I’m thinking this lie-flat product could be more easily implemented in an order for long distance single level coaches.  Even if there was one seat on each side of an aisle, it could be possible to get between 30 and 40 lie-flat seats in the car.  The other selling point is guaranteed window seat as long as they can properly align seats with windows in the upright position.  
 

jis

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I was thinking exactly that.

Also, a lie flat seat is not a sleeper bunk. It is a seat that reclines to flat position with a leg rest that extends to a flat position. It will never be as luxurious as a sleeper bed in terms of comfort or privacy. So arguing that it is not is chasing a red herring.
 

sttom

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I’m thinking this lie-flat product could be more easily implemented in an order for long distance single level coaches.  Even if there was one seat on each side of an aisle, it could be possible to get between 30 and 40 lie-flat seats in the car.  The other selling point is guaranteed window seat as long as they can properly align seats with windows in the upright position.  
The problem with the federal government is that getting replacement equipment is hard enough even with Democrats. Given that we have to deal with Republicans for the foreseeable future, converting Amfleet cars for an experiment would be a far easier sell than buying new cars. Not to mention I am talking about this as an experiment to have overnight trains between city pairs to someday justify a car order. When I looked up the Viewliner order, the first on was supposed to be over 200 cars and only 50 came. 

Why reinvent the wheel? Qld  rail "Seat Beds" operate on the 1681 km route from Brisbane on the 3 foot six inch gauge. See https://www.queenslandrailtravel.com.au/toolbox/Documents/Sales Presentations/SpiritofQueensland.pdf

Can't find the length of each car but they are short by NA standards, 65 feet is the Australian standard but these could be shorter.
I was figuring slightly staggered ones of those for the sake of trying to get extra seats in the car.

I was thinking exactly that.

Also, a lie flat seat is not a sleeper bunk. It is a seat that reclines to flat position with a leg rest that extends to a flat position. It will never be as luxurious as a sleeper bed in terms of comfort or privacy. So arguing that it is not is chasing a red herring.
But But But economy options have to appeal to sleeper car passengers and consumer tastes from the 1950s! I don't get why arguing for something is seen as arguing against what already exists. 
 

cpotisch

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I was thinking exactly that.

Also, a lie flat seat is not a sleeper bunk. It is a seat that reclines to flat position with a leg rest that extends to a flat position. It will never be as luxurious as a sleeper bed in terms of comfort or privacy. So arguing that it is not is chasing a red herring.
I wasn't talking about lie flat seats. I was responding to the suggestion of bringing back open sections and/or slumbercoaches. So I disagree that I was chasing a red herring.
 

sttom

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I wasn't talking about lie flat seats. I was responding to the suggestion of bringing back open sections and/or slumbercoaches. So I disagree that I was chasing a red herring.
I also for the record wasn't recommending converting Amfleet cars into slumber coaches. Mostly because I don't think it would be worth the cost compared to a lie flat seat and open sections. (or even doable from an engineering perspective) They could very well work if part of a new equipment buy, but as a conversion, I am doubtful. The lie flat seats or adaptation of an airline's business class would be more a return of single roomettes rather than a full slumber coach. 

I also think an open section would work. Privacy is less an issue now than it was in the 1950s when slumber coaches were built and we are also removed from Amtrak almost 25 years ago. A lower portion of the people riding today know what a slumber coach is, let alone have used one. I was only going on first train rides as a kid when the last of the slumber coaches would have been pulled from service. If you are going to try to attract people closer to my age, you (being Amtrak) are going to have to deal with out tastes and generally speaking, we've flown or taken Greyhound. A normal bed would be much welcomed on longer trips. 

I am also advocating for having both the open sections and lie flat beds/cheapo roomettes as an experiment. If you wouldn't like them, you wouldn't have to use them if they were to come back. But that doesn't take away that they could be successful because people now are not used to having individual compartments when we travel anymore. Like I mentioned in on response, an open section would be appealing to someone in coach, someone who'd take the bus or drive or fly. Even by my rough numbers, if there is 3 more feet in the sitting area on an Amfleet 1, you can get 36 sections in the car based on roomette dimensions. 
 
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jis

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cpotisch said:
I wasn't talking about lie flat seats. I was responding to the suggestion of bringing back open sections and/or slumbercoaches. So I disagree that I was chasing a red herring.
I was responding to someone who said lack of privacy would be an issue for lie flat seat. Was that you? If it wasn’t then the comment does not apply to you. If it was then though protesteth too much.
 

cpotisch

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Who said I was talking about you? You are disagreeing with the wind or something
Two questions:

  1. Who was that post directed at, then? The points you were disputing sounded like what I had been saying, so I got confused (happens to me all too often).
  2. How did you get that emoji in? Whenever I try to post or even quote a "custom" emoji, the software gets angry and tells me I can't.
Thanks!
 

jis

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1. There is a reason that I did not want to specifically identify anyone. The statement stands on its own.
2. I am using the AU App on iPhone. I have no idea what happens on any other platform.
 

neroden

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Remember, the Acela trainsets have been in service since 2000. The Brightline trainsets entered service in 2018. That's nearly a 20-year difference. Granted, I'm far from an expert on semi-permanently coupled trainsets and what exactly was doable in those days, but I doubt that Amtrak would take an entire Acela trainset OOS for one car unless they had no other option. They may not always be the most efficient, but I find it difficult to believe that the transportation and mechanical departments would be that idiotic. 

As for the idea of fixed trainsets in general, I certainly see the appeal. There's always a risk when going over the couplers, especially with the moving footplates and various hard edges to fall on. At the same time, it can potentially be a nightmare if a trainset or even a pair of cars (like what Illinois is doing) have to be taken out of service because of an issue on just one car. Granted, Illinois ordered some individual coaches in an apparent attempt to help mitigate the issue, but the cafe and business class cars are still in pairs with coaches. If you lose that pair, you better hope you have another handy. 

Below is the planned setup for the Siemens cars operating out of Chicago. Please note that the " - " indicates a Type H coupler while a " / " indicates a semi-permanently coupled married pair:

Locomotive - Individual Coach - Individual Coach - Coach/Cafe - Coach/BusEcon - Locomotive

This is the CalTrans setup: 

Locomotive - Coach/Coach/Coach/Cafe/Coach/Coach/Cab Car 

Here's a breakdown of who ordered what: 


Customer


Car Type


Quantity


Description


# Doors


Coupler

Configuration


Caltrans


CT-1A


21


Mid coach car


2


S-S


Caltrans


CT-1B


7


End coach car coupled to locomotive


4


H-S


Caltrans


CT-1C


7


Mid coach car with wheelchair lifts


4


S-S


Caltrans


CT-4A


7


Cab Car


2


S-H


Caltrans


CT-5A


7


Café Car


4


S-S


IDOT


ID-1A


20


Individual coach car


2


H-H


IDOT


ID-1B


34


Coach car for business or café married pair


2


S-H


IDOT


ID-3A


17


Business/ economy car


4


S-H


IDOT


ID-5A


17


Café Car


4


S-H





As you can see above, only IDOT has taken steps to have spare equipment available to mitigate any sort of impact from a bad ordered car. All of CalTrans' cars will be semi-permanently coupled. Now, I don't have any sort of data that would indicate the primary causes of bad-ordering, but I figure that if CalTrans didn't feel the need to have individual replacements on hand, a large part of the concern could be weather-related, as we tend to have worse weather (the current snowstorm, for example) than California does. 
Weird order.  Most of IDOT's trains will have to run with *three* coaches (not the four in your consist diagram) because, well, they've ordered 17 sets plus three extra individual coach cars.

Also, the choices on number of doors are *wacky*.  I'd love to hear the logic behind some of this.
 

Thirdrail7

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Not like Amtrak bought 70 brand spankin new electric motors about 5 years ago.  :help:

And it’s not a slam dunk for Siemens either. Per the doc,the rfp is vague to see what new ideas some companies present..Smart move.

Anderson has already given Siemens a bone, the 75 unit order.

Better to stick with a known quantity at this point.  Siemens is it imho.  
Another thing that is kicked around is since the Chargers already are known to work with the ACS-64s (the can control each other), you buy the train set, stick and ACS on one end, an SC-44 on the other end, and you have a seamless on corridor/off corridor trainset that remains semi permanently attached. When the 92 day inspections occur on the engine, you can swap them out and leave the train set intact.
 

Steve4031

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Thiswould cut down dwell time in Washington, DC for the NEC trains operating south of Washington.  

Another thing that is kicked around is since the Chargers already are known to work with the ACS-64s (the can control each other), you buy the train set, stick and ACS on one end, an SC-44 on the other end, and you have a seamless on corridor/off corridor trainset that remains semi permanently attached. When the 92 day inspections occur on the engine, you can swap them out and leave the train set intact.
 
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