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Sumitomo/Siemens Contract for 137 Cars (former bi-levels)

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jis

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I think there would have been a strong case for continuing with the original Amtrak designed cars, if there was any sign that Amtrak was going to grow by leaps and bounds. Absent that it is hard to justify maintaining a design group beyond one that is needed to put together RFIs and RFPs and carry out monitoring and governance of them from vendor selection, through order placement, delivery and deployment.

Incidentally, the biggest main line passenger car purchaser in the US today is NY MTA (LIRR + MNRR) AFAICT. Their order sizes, which are much larger than Amtrak's has ever been, almost justify doing their own design, but they tend to work with vendors using vendor shell design to furnish cars the way they need.

But as Walter correctly points out, the situation back when Amtrak was ordering Amfleets and Superliners was very different. There were no vendors that were not about to go under around to work seriously with, so a lot had to be done in house. Also FRA's revision of standards allowing CEM in cars was many decades away.
 

jamess

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The IDOT portion of the order will have cafe cars, while the Caltrans portion will not, just as Caltrans will be getting cab cars, while IDOT will not.
This is not good.

People traveling 10 hours between LA and Bay Area are with Amtrak for 10 hours.

How can they think that vending machines will cut it?
 

jis

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The only train that runs from LA to Bay area is the Coast Starlight which is not an Amtrak California train and carries a full Diner and Lounge/Cafe.

I suspect that the Amtrak California Lounges will have some form of Cafe service, though probably more like what they have in Amtrak California Business Class type of setup than a full fledged Cafe. But we will have to wait and see.
 

PVD

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People often are unaware that the states that pay for corridor trains really call the shots on many of the service levels.
 

jamess

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The only train that runs from LA to Bay area is the Coast Starlight which is not an Amtrak California train and carries a full Diner and Lounge/Cafe.

I suspect that the Amtrak California Lounges will have some form of Cafe service, though probably more like what they have in Amtrak California Business Class type of setup than a full fledged Cafe. But we will have to wait and see.
I didnt say train, I said "with Amtrak". The San Joaquin + San Joaquin bus is packed with folks making trips across the state. Thats where they would be cutting the cafe car.

Theres no need to wait and see.

 

jis

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It is Caltrans that will be doing that. Not Amtrak. Amtrak is just a contract operator for Caltrans. Amtrak does not decide what service to provide on Amtrak California trains.
 

jamess

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It is Caltrans that will be doing that. Not Amtrak. Amtrak is just a contract operator for Caltrans. Amtrak does not decide what service to provide on Amtrak California trains.
I dont understand how being pedantic about this helps.

This is what I said:

People traveling 10 hours between LA and Bay Area are with Amtrak for 10 hours.

How can they think that vending machines will cut it?

Let's say I change my phrasing to:

People traveling 10 hours between LA and Bay Area on an Amtrak® branded train funded by California taxpayers under the direction of Caltrans and managed by the San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority with bus connection service operated by a 3rd party contractor deserve more than a vending machine.

That doesn't change what I am saying.

Buying these trains without a cafe car of any kind is a mistake.
 

jis

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Hey I love being pedantic. If that bothers you just ignore my postings. Nobody is forcing you to read them and try to convince me not to post. Trust me it is a fools errand. [emoji51]

So to carry on being pedantic, my favorite activity mind you [emoji57] it is California DOT’s mistake, not Amtrak’s.

So wanna go another round having a pedantic discussion?
 
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Perhaps you are correct, but looking at the Powerpoint "CALIDOT" presentation from the 2019 NGEC meeting, found here-

hmmm. Looks like it morphed into a Lounge car? Wonder what the differences are? (not snarky, wondering)
Also now there are 6 car types with 7 mid coach cars becoming mid coach car with gap filler. So on car of each set has wheel chair lifts and one has level boarding gap fillers? overly specialized designs?

On the idot side what do you suppose is meant by the business/economy coaches, the 17 to be married to 17 of the 34 'regular(?) coaches? Deciding whether to make them higher priced business class 2 x 1 seating OR economy cars with gosh forbid 2 x 3 seating or some such?


http://www.highspeed-rail.org/Documents/Caltrans_IDOT New Single-Level Passenger Railcars “CALIDOT”.pdf


It mentions a "Lounge Car" for Caltrans, while referring to "Lounge Car" and "cafe" for IDOT.

Also in the minutes of the May 21, 2019 Executive Committee meeting, found here-

http://www.highspeed-rail.org/Documents/305 Exec Brd minutes - 5-21-19 final.doc



It is mentioned that IDOT, and IDOT alone, had a cafe car and galley design review meeting with Siemens, while Caltrans alone had a cab car design review with Siemens, and we know Caltrans is the only entity getting cab cars.

Perhaps I'm reading too much into the fact that only IDOT has a cafe car listed on the presentation and that they alone took that meeting with Siemens. We'll see.
 
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I didnt say train, I said "with Amtrak". The San Joaquin + San Joaquin bus is packed with folks making trips across the state. Thats where they would be cutting the cafe car.

Theres no need to wait and see.

Well, I should have read to the very last post before I mused about what the lounge car replacing a café concept meant. Vending machines. Wow that is quite a departure from what I think is really nice café car service as on the Cap Corridor trains. Some circular seating areas to socialize, along with the employee serving up food/drink, crossword puzzles to work if that is what one enjoys, to brand spanking new cars with vending machines. let down... but easy for me to say, I don't have to pay staff I suppose.

 

CSXfoamer1997

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Perhaps you are correct, but looking at the Powerpoint "CALIDOT" presentation from the 2019 NGEC meeting, found here-

http://www.highspeed-rail.org/Documents/Caltrans_IDOT New Single-Level Passenger Railcars “CALIDOT”.pdf


It mentions a "Lounge Car" for Caltrans, while referring to "Lounge Car" and "cafe" for IDOT.

Also in the minutes of the May 21, 2019 Executive Committee meeting, found here-

http://www.highspeed-rail.org/Documents/305 Exec Brd minutes - 5-21-19 final.doc



It is mentioned that IDOT, and IDOT alone, had a cafe car and galley design review meeting with Siemens, while Caltrans alone had a cab car design review with Siemens, and we know Caltrans is the only entity getting cab cars.

Perhaps I'm reading too much into the fact that only IDOT has a cafe car listed on the presentation and that they alone took that meeting with Siemens. We'll see.
In the coupler configuration box, what do "S" and "H" stand for?
 

MisterUptempo

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In the coupler configuration box, what do "S" and "H" stand for?
The "H" refers to an AAR Type "H" coupler, which is the standard coupler used by Amtrak. The "S" refers to a semi-permanent coupler. Caltrans intends to run their new Siemens cars as unified trainsets, which helps explain why all the mid coaches have "S" couplers on both ends, and the end coach has an "S" on one end to connect to the mid coaches and an "H" to connect to the locomotive.

Some of the IDOT cars will run as semi-permanently connected matched pairs, but not as a trainset.
 

MARC Rider

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Looking at the RPA ridership stats, the average trip length for California State Supported Services in in the neighborhood of 120 miles, and that's because the San Joaquins have a longer average trip length than the othe 2 services. Both the Capitol Corridor and Pacific Surfliner average trip lengths are less than 100 miles. Infact, on the Capitol corridor over 90% of the trips are less than 100 miles, on the Oacific Surfliner 90% of the trips are under 200 miles and even on the San Joaquins, 75% of the trips are less than 200 miles.

Whether or not there's a cafe or lounge probably doesn't matter to the vast majority of California Amtrak patrons.

By the way, when I travel to California, I usually fly Southwest, as I fly out of BWI. They seem to do quite fine business on a 5-6 hour nonstop flight offering inly a dinky drink and a little bag of pretzels. People travel to get to places, not to eat while they're traveling. Yeah, once the travel times start exceeling a certain point, you might want to make food available to keep the cattle from stampeding, but those sort of travel times aren't what Amtrak California offers.
 
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NSC1109

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I dont understand how being pedantic about this helps.

This is what I said:




Let's say I change my phrasing to:

People traveling 10 hours between LA and Bay Area on an Amtrak® branded train funded by California taxpayers under the direction of Caltrans and managed by the San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority with bus connection service operated by a 3rd party contractor deserve more than a vending machine.

That doesn't change what I am saying.

Buying these trains without a cafe car of any kind is a mistake.
You’re still missing the part that there is no direct service between LA and the Bay Area that would have this equipment...and the Coast Starlight still has its diner.
 
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CAMISSY55

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Looking at the RPA ridership stats, the average trip length for California State Supported Services in in the neighborhood of 120 miles, and that's because the San Joaquins have a longer average trip length than the othe 2 services. Both the Capitol Corridor and Pacific Surfliner average trip lengths are less than 100 miles. Infact, on the Capitol corridor over 90% of the trips are less than 100 miles, on the Oacific Surfliner 90% of the trips are under 200 miles and even on the San Joaquins, 75% of the trips are less than 200 miles.

Whether or not there's a cafe or lounge probably doesn't matter to the vast majority of California Amtrak patrons.

By the way, when I travel to California, I usually fly Southwest, as I fly out of BWI. They seem to do quite fine business on a 5-6 hour nonstop flight offering inly a dinky drink and a little bag of pretzels. People travel to get to places, not to eat while they're traveling. Yeah, once the travel times start exceeling a certain point, you might want to make food available to keep the cattle from stampeding, but those sort of travel times aren't what Amtrak California offers.
I disagree. Having traveled quite a lot on the Pacific Surfliner, I can attest that the café is very popular. Within minutes after most stops, a line quickly forms for the upscale sandwiches, craft beers, bottled waters, and other snacks. In the late afternoon or on get-away weekends the café facilitates an enjoyable happy hour experience. In the morning nice juices, coffee drinks, teas, and a few nice breakfast items enable travelers to have some semblance of a meal on their way to work.
Many of the station stops do not have places nearby to purchase anything but low quality processed, fast food and beverages. I think your minimalist tastes and preferences are great for you. But my experience on the Surfliner (no experience on the Joaquins or Capital Corridors) tells me folks would definitely object to the elimination of the café.

Even for a trip of less than a hour and a half, I am thrilled that the café exists.
 

rickycourtney

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The cafe is insanely successful on the Surfliner. Dunno about the San Joaquins, but trip times on the San Joaquins are *long*.
Perhaps Caltrans intends to use these new trainsets exclusively on the Capitol Corridor? That route has comparatively short trip times and the full café isn’t as necessary. In fact the café is closed on some runs.

It is however worth noting that the Surfliner cars have a café, but no real “lounge” area. If I recall correctly, the reason why the California Cars have a lounge was they used to offer full, sit down dining service on the long routes like the San Joaquin.
 

seat38a

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I disagree. Having traveled quite a lot on the Pacific Surfliner, I can attest that the café is very popular. Within minutes after most stops, a line quickly forms for the upscale sandwiches, craft beers, bottled waters, and other snacks. In the late afternoon or on get-away weekends the café facilitates an enjoyable happy hour experience. In the morning nice juices, coffee drinks, teas, and a few nice breakfast items enable travelers to have some semblance of a meal on their way to work.
Many of the station stops do not have places nearby to purchase anything but low quality processed, fast food and beverages. I think your minimalist tastes and preferences are great for you. But my experience on the Surfliner (no experience on the Joaquins or Capital Corridors) tells me folks would definitely object to the elimination of the café.

Even for a trip of less than a hour and a half, I am thrilled that the café exists.
I've been on multipe Surfliner trains where the Cafe Car was completely sold out and had to restock during the crew change at LAUS. Beer and liquor are very popular on the Surfliner, with complete sellouts down to the last mini bottle of liquor quite common. There's quite a bit of subtle encouragement to drink on the Surfliner and its not a hard sell with craft beer and wine. A year or so ago they even came out with a nice color cocktail menu just for the train.
 

jamess

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Looking at the RPA ridership stats, the average trip length for California State Supported Services in in the neighborhood of 120 miles, and that's because the San Joaquins have a longer average trip length than the othe 2 services. Both the Capitol Corridor and Pacific Surfliner average trip lengths are less than 100 miles. Infact, on the Capitol corridor over 90% of the trips are less than 100 miles, on the Oacific Surfliner 90% of the trips are under 200 miles and even on the San Joaquins, 75% of the trips are less than 200 miles.

Whether or not there's a cafe or lounge probably doesn't matter to the vast majority of California Amtrak patrons.

By the way, when I travel to California, I usually fly Southwest, as I fly out of BWI. They seem to do quite fine business on a 5-6 hour nonstop flight offering inly a dinky drink and a little bag of pretzels. People travel to get to places, not to eat while they're traveling. Yeah, once the travel times start exceeling a certain point, you might want to make food available to keep the cattle from stampeding, but those sort of travel times aren't what Amtrak California offers.
Sure, many people are riding from Hanford to Fresno and don't need a cafe car.

But from personal experience going LA-Fresno (5 hours), many people who got on the bus with me in LA were still on the train when I got off in Fresno. I spoke with one lady who had gotten off a cruise in Long Beach that day and was taking Amtrak home to Modesto.

And while both LA and Fresno do have food options (a 7-11 at least), many of the smaller stations have nothing at all.

You’re still missing the part that there is no direct service between LA and the Bay Area that would have this equipment...and the Coast Starlight still has its diner.
We are talking about the new cars on order for Amtrak California which will run on the San Joaquin. The San Joaquin connects riders from LA to the Bay Area via Amtrak branded thruway bus service. The buses have never offered food service, the trains have. For a long journey like that, food service is essential.
 

cocojacoby

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Great info Walter although I can't agree that Sumitomo/Nippon Sharyo is an inexperienced builder.

I think most of the problems would be eliminated if Amtrak could buy off-the-shelf equipment and get exempted from the buy-America provision. I understand that the new Acela coaches are made in Italy and are exempt so we just might be heading in the right direction.
 

jis

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Great info Walter although I can't agree that Sumitomo/Nippon Sharyo is an inexperienced builder.

I think most of the problems would be eliminated if Amtrak could buy off-the-shelf equipment and get exempted from the buy-America provision. I understand that the new Acela coaches are made in Italy and are exempt so we just might be heading in the right direction.
The exemption is only for the prototype sets. There is no exemption for the rest of the order. They will be built in the US. Even most of the assembly of the prototypes is in the US. So really not much has changed, as things stand.

Interestingly, All Aboard Florida/Brightline/VT USA insisted on buy-America for their Siemens order, even though there is no law that requires such for their order, and made use of it in their marketing blurbs extensively. Of course the design and engineering is entirely based on the Viaggio Comfort cars, but they are manufactured completely in the US.
 
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cocojacoby

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Are you sure about that? This is from the Trains Magazine article:

— Aluminum passenger car shells manufactured in Italy. Alstom received a waiver from FRA “buy America” requirements to go outside the U.S. for these because, according to Cuadrado, no U.S. facility is available to manufacture aluminum shells of the required length.
 

Acela150

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Are you sure about that? This is from the Trains Magazine article:

— Aluminum passenger car shells manufactured in Italy. Alstom received a waiver from FRA “buy America” requirements to go outside the U.S. for these because, according to Cuadrado, no U.S. facility is available to manufacture aluminum shells of the required length.
Jis is spot on. He usually is. [emoji6]
 

jis

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Are you sure about that? This is from the Trains Magazine article:

— Aluminum passenger car shells manufactured in Italy. Alstom received a waiver from FRA “buy America” requirements to go outside the U.S. for these because, according to Cuadrado, no U.S. facility is available to manufacture aluminum shells of the required length.
The original waiver is for the initial batch of shells. Alstom is supposed to be setting up the facility for manufacturing those shells in the US for line production. Of course in these things nothing is certain until the proverbial fat lady sings. So we will see. I have not heard of any general waiver yet, and Trains is not a source that I particularly trust on these things. They are better than Railpace, but only by a smidgen.

Sometimes bizarre things do happen. For example Rotem got permission to fabricate shells in Korea for the Silverliner Vs but they were required to ship the Stainless Steel sheets from the US to Korea for fabrication in Korea! Their excuse was they could not find enough skilled labor in the US to handle Stainless Steel. So go figure! Given CAF's alleged experience there may be some truth to it, at least for the price they were willing to pay. Now with all these tariffs on metal flying around there would be an even greater incentive to do things within the US one would think.
 
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