Siemens Venture Coaches: What Purpose Will They Serve?

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Trogdor

Conductor
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Aug 3, 2004
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CAF really has been a disaster. They actually managed to build the shells for all of the cars in fairly short order, but then had to store them because they couldn’t fit out the interiors properly, so they had empty shells strewn all across their property (see for one photo of a bunch of diners sitting around waiting for parts).

Considering that the order was announced in July 2010, delivery was supposed to begin in 2012/13, and be complete by the end of 2015, and yet here we are halfway through 2020 and they still haven’t completed the order should really tell you something. They give Bombardier a run for their money in terms of being ridiculously late in delivering equipment.
 

NeueAmtrakCalifornia

Service Attendant
Joined
Oct 25, 2019
Messages
140
CAF really has been a disaster. They actually managed to build the shells for all of the cars in fairly short order, but then had to store them because they couldn’t fit out the interiors properly, so they had empty shells strewn all across their property (see for one photo of a bunch of diners sitting around waiting for parts).

Considering that the order was announced in July 2010, delivery was supposed to begin in 2012/13, and be complete by the end of 2015, and yet here we are halfway through 2020 and they still haven’t completed the order should really tell you something. They give Bombardier a run for their money in terms of being ridiculously late in delivering equipment.
Seems they should just focus on Mexico and Brazil then.
 

railiner

Conductor
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Mar 20, 2009
Messages
7,687
What's the basic problem with these company's today? Ages ago, Pullman, Budd, St. Louis, ACF, et al... they used to crank out new cars almost like Model 'T's...
And they had all sorts of custom derivatives for different roads, and even trains...

Is it the buyer's fault for constantly changing specs, mid-production?
 

Green Maned Lion

Conductor
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Dec 27, 2007
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8,116
God help Brazil. I think they should focus on filing for receivership and put the worlds rail operators out of its misery.

What's the basic problem with these company's today? Ages ago, Pullman, Budd, St. Louis, ACF, et al... they used to crank out new cars almost like Model 'T's...
And they had all sorts of custom derivatives for different roads, and even trains...

Is it the buyer's fault for constantly changing specs, mid-production?
Budd, Pullman, and whatever else had perpetually rolling assembly lines, and for the most part, they did NOT have custom designs. They generally speaking built just one shell. Furthermore, those shells did not have to conform to regulations the FRA, FTA, ADA, EPA, and a bunch of other alphabet soup. They also built these cars in a country well-known for its industrial capacity.

Nowadays the car companies build cars sporadically, each time usually with entirely different regulatory requirements, having to set up a new factory basically every time, often with stupidly super-custom design (I believe their are three entirely different NEC bi-level car designs, for instance) and find what few factory workers remain that know how to assemble rail cars.

Don't confuse custom interior layouts with a custom design. 90% of Budd intercity rail cars, for instance, had the same shell. Some had a modification for a dome, and different cutouts for windows, and different interior layouts, but they were really the same basic car, built the same way. Same, really, with intercity coaches built by ACF and Pullman.
 

jiml

OBS Chief
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Feb 27, 2019
Messages
895
CAF isn't doing that well internationally either. Lots of reports about the problems with their products for the UK's Caledonian Sleeper.
 

sttom

Lead Service Attendant
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Jan 23, 2019
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408
As for an Amfleet replacement, I'm gonna go over replacing Amfleet II's since my idea is that the Amfleet I's would largely be replaced by electro-diesel (or electro-battery) multiple units. This replacement design would physically resemble the Viewliners (call them Viewliner III) for uniformity, and CAF would again be commission to make the cars.
This isn't necessarily true, OBB's Railjet train sets are basically what we are getting stuck with in California, so its not like they wouldn't be the prime contender for to replace the Amfleets vs a DMU that they may have to get certified. The Vectron that the Chargers are based on already has a dual mode variant that they could build for the Springfield line, Virginia Services and the Empire/Vermont Services.

I can't remember where I read this, but I think New York and Vermont still want individual cars and the Viaggio Comfort can easily fit the bill of train sets for the Northeast and individual cars in the parts of the country that want them.

What's the basic problem with these company's today? Ages ago, Pullman, Budd, St. Louis, ACF, et al... they used to crank out new cars almost like Model 'T's...
And they had all sorts of custom derivatives for different roads, and even trains...
Back then, or at least until the mid 1950s, there was constantly money going into passenger equipment which meant assembly lines could keep running. We wouldn't have this problem if trains had a guaranteed sum of federal money going into them. As pointed out, each company more or less made one car shell. Most European coaches are based on a standard EU-wide design (except the UK and Ireland).

Also, didn't the safety regulations change about a year or so ago that would allow US rail operators to use European designed trains some point soon?
 

NeueAmtrakCalifornia

Service Attendant
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Oct 25, 2019
Messages
140
This isn't necessarily true, OBB's Railjet train sets are basically what we are getting stuck with in California, so its not like they wouldn't be the prime contender for to replace the Amfleets vs a DMU that they may have to get certified. The Vectron that the Chargers are based on already has a dual mode variant that they could build for the Springfield line, Virginia Services and the Empire/Vermont Services.

I can't remember where I read this, but I think New York and Vermont still want individual cars and the Viaggio Comfort can easily fit the bill of train sets for the Northeast and individual cars in the parts of the country that want them.
There's the FLIRT and the Hitachi Azuma (just widen and lengthen it) for an electro-diesel (or electro-battery) multiple unit that Amtrak can use (they even talked about it). The reason I brought that up is because south of DC, west of Harrisburg, and north of New Haven to Springfield, the tracks are not electrictrified, and due to FRA laws, engine switching from electric to diesel (and vice versa) takes more than an hour long, which can and does affect travel time on corridor services. Amtrak has looked into getting an electro-diesel locomotive like the ALP-45DP but came to the conclusion that they're too heavy and slow for their corridor services and have looked into buying EDMUs. Getting EDMUs would kill two birds with one stone (replacing at least the Amfleet Is and solving the engine switch problem). Multiple units also have better acceleration and are overall lighter than loco-hauled trains (which bodes well for corridor services).
 

sttom

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Jan 23, 2019
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There's the FLIRT and the Hitachi Azuma (just widen and lengthen it) for an electro-diesel (or electro-battery) multiple unit that Amtrak can use (they even talked about it). The reason I brought that up is because south of DC, west of Harrisburg, and north of New Haven to Springfield, the tracks are not electrictrified, and due to FRA laws, engine switching from electric to diesel (and vice versa) takes more than an hour long, which can and does affect travel time on corridor services. Amtrak has looked into getting an electro-diesel locomotive like the ALP-45DP but came to the conclusion that they're too heavy and slow for their corridor services and have looked into buying EDMUs. Getting EDMUs would kill two birds with one stone (replacing at least the Amfleet Is and solving the engine switch problem). Multiple units also have better acceleration and are overall lighter than loco-hauled trains (which bodes well for corridor services).
The Chargers and ACS-64s are already heavier than the existing Vectron locomotives. Their weights being ~132 tons, ~98 tons and 87 tons respectively. Unnecessary weight is just a part of life for US railroads, there is no reason to assume that some weird regulatory requirement wouldn't get forced onto a multiple unit order that would extend the time necessary to fulfill the order. Also, comparing Bombardier's work to...frankly anyone's is a bit of a stretch considering they've decided that selling off their rail division was a smarter business move than continuing it.

Also, just because Amtrak has looked into multiple units doesn't mean they will follow through when presented with all of the issues that can come up in a train order and any alternatives. If Amtrak is desperate to get new cars now or having a consistent single level fleet (minus the Viewliners) is more important to them, they could make a less efficient decisions. Or the fact that they have replaced the AEM-7s with the ACS-64s would make a multiple unit order hard to get through Congress because we all know Congress is a bastion of idiocy and ideology. If members of Congress are going to make a stink over buying multiple units with the implication that the fairly new ACS-64s getting replaced with nowhere really to stick them, that alone could kill a multiple unit order.

Also, a dual mode engine, assuming Amtrak leadership doesn't want to deal with a political fight, wouldn't be any worse when it comes to turn around times compared to a dual mode multiple unit. And not to put too fine of a point on it, but ordering a few extra engines, train sets and some number of individual cars would likely be easier to get through Congress than a new equipment type that would replace fairly new equipment that they had to fund. And we all know money from Congress is worth more than gold when it goes to a public service.
 

Thirdrail7

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The reason I brought that up is because south of DC, west of Harrisburg, and north of New Haven to Springfield, the tracks are not electrictrified, and due to FRA laws, engine switching from electric to diesel (and vice versa) takes more than an hour long, which can and does affect travel time on corridor services.

I'm not sure what laws you're quoting, (I'm guessing blue flag rules) but it doesn't necessarily take an hour to change an engine. A lot of that time is the actual loading and unloading of passengers. Train 92 managed a 19-minute dwell in WAS a few days ago. Train 50 had a 15-minute dwell last week and these included engine changes and train watering. That's what happens when you don't have a lot of traffic interference and heavy passenger loads.
 
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cirdan

Conductor
Joined
Mar 30, 2011
Messages
2,376
What's the basic problem with these company's today? Ages ago, Pullman, Budd, St. Louis, ACF, et al... they used to crank out new cars almost like Model 'T's...
And they had all sorts of custom derivatives for different roads, and even trains...

Is it the buyer's fault for constantly changing specs, mid-production?
I think at the time there were orders coming in from all sides all the time.

These days car building is very much a boom and bust operation. Amtrak only orders new cars every so often and in between, what is there to do? With the loss of continuity also comes a de-skilling. If you fire people with specific skills they find other jobs or move away and you can't just hire them back when you need them again. So manufacturers find themselves in a constant learning curve, only to cast everything in the wind once they are approaching some sort of skills and competency plateau.

Maybe with there being more commuter and light rail operations these days than there were 20 years ago, such orders can provide some work to fill in the gaps and help retain some skills and capacities. But not all skills associated with building light commuter trains are necessarily applicable to Amtrak equipment.
 
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