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

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toddinde

Service Attendant
Joined
Apr 23, 2015
Messages
116
It’s more than “just paint”. Early on in my business education at University, we were taught that branding is everything, and that not having a unified brand can lead to consumer confusion, a perception of “in-cohesiveness” within the company, and in the end, rising costs for doing things like individual websites for various services, painting costs, etc. I realize that most of us on this site don’t really care. But it’s a real problem in the transportation/business world.

A personal example that occurred earlier this year, pre-COVID: I had a passenger come up to me and ask me why her flight was being marketed as “on time” when the aircraft “obviously hadn’t arrived yet” and proceeded to make various demands (hotel, vouchers, etc). She didn’t realize that the aircraft she was flying on was a spare operated by one of Delta’s regional carriers (SkyWest) and the aircraft was lettered for SkyWest, not Delta Connection as per normal.

Branding matters.
I agree that branding is important, but I’m not sure a common paint scheme is important. The appearance was much more important in the days before mass communication. A beautiful streamlined streaming by with a matched consist set it apart from the mundane, Pullman green trains. In the digital age, I’m not sure it makes much difference. As for the airlines, I never care what the thing is painted. It’s if I have status and points. But I’ll leave that to the psychologists to figure out.
 

PVD

Conductor
AU Supporter
Joined
Jul 8, 2015
Messages
4,624
Because of where I generally get on and off, as well as time of day, I've just never gotten to appreciate the looks of the train as much as others. Nothing looks particularly snappy at NYP, WAS, or CHI. Arriving Denver is ok, but the sleepers are at the end where you just go into the station, its always late heading back so its usually dark when I board going home. When I take the LSL, I'll usually step off in Albany and walk the platform, thats's not bad...
 

sttom

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Jan 23, 2019
Messages
489
It’s more than “just paint”. Early on in my business education at University, we were taught that branding is everything, and that not having a unified brand can lead to consumer confusion, a perception of “in-cohesiveness” within the company, and in the end, rising costs for doing things like individual websites for various services, painting costs, etc. I realize that most of us on this site don’t really care. But it’s a real problem in the transportation/business world.

A personal example that occurred earlier this year, pre-COVID: I had a passenger come up to me and ask me why her flight was being marketed as “on time” when the aircraft “obviously hadn’t arrived yet” and proceeded to make various demands (hotel, vouchers, etc). She didn’t realize that the aircraft she was flying on was a spare operated by one of Delta’s regional carriers (SkyWest) and the aircraft was lettered for SkyWest, not Delta Connection as per normal.

Branding matters.
Branding is important, but a consist of California Cars or Piedmont equipment or the Talgos aren't likely to get assigned outside of where they normally run. If anything, for marketing purposes, it would make more sense for the state supported trains to have their own branding from the rest of Amtrak in an attempt to say that they are more than the once a day train that run through most of the country.

If having a national brand was that important, Amtrak wouldn't have given the Acelas a different brand or attempt to give the whole NEC a different branding like the state supported trains were getting.

As for people getting confused should a Horizon consist get subbed for whatever style of fleet, that is kind of on them. Planes get subbed or routed through different airlines all the time and I'm willing to be the confused woman you ran into wasn't a frequent traveler or if she was she was either extremely lucky to never have had a subbed plane or code shared onto a different airline or was trying to get a freebie from the airline. I once booked a flight to Europe that was on British Airways, and one leg was on Qatar Airways and the whole flight back was on Aer Lingus, but I didn't throw a fit because it was the "wrong airline".
 

Seaboard92

Conductor
Joined
Dec 31, 2014
Messages
3,523
It’s more than “just paint”. Early on in my business education at University, we were taught that branding is everything, and that not having a unified brand can lead to consumer confusion, a perception of “in-cohesiveness” within the company, and in the end, rising costs for doing things like individual websites for various services, painting costs, etc. I realize that most of us on this site don’t really care.

Branding matters.
I agree with you completely it is always more than just paint. It shows how strong the brand is, and at the end of the day it doesn't look professional to have multiple paint schemes on one train. Look at the current Silvers right now, Phase Vb on the locomotives, Phase IVb for the coaches, and lounge, Phase IIIb for the diner, Phase IVb on the sleepers, and Phase IIIb on the baggage car. It isn't uniform and it looks bad. I understand it takes time to out shop cars in the new paint, and substitutions can happen.

I am sad though to hear that Delta won't paint heritage jets because I love aviation history, and Delta has a very storied history.

When the states are forced to subsidize the trains or own them but pay Amtrak to run them, they are entitled to decide what they look like (the latter case) or at least have an input on it.
This is true when the state choses to run a train they can paint it in whatever paint they want if they are willing to pay for it. I believe most of the state paint schemes are local in design, and thought of to incorporate local elements. I believe both the Cascades and Pacific Surfliners are that way. I believe specifically on the Cascades the brown signifies coffee (Seattle Starbucks), the green is the forest, and the white is the snow on top of the Cascades range.

I have a feeling that some state run trains don't even want to be associated with Amtrak. I believe the Peidmont trains don't have the word "Amtrak" written anywhere on them.
This is correct the Piedmont trains do not have any Amtrak markings on them period and they have their own reporting mark "RNCX" for their entire fleet. By far some of the best and nicest equipment in Amtrak service today.
 

me_little_me

Conductor
Joined
Jul 16, 2010
Messages
3,180
This is correct the Piedmont trains do not have any Amtrak markings on them period and they have their own reporting mark "RNCX" for their entire fleet. By far some of the best and nicest equipment in Amtrak service today.
I don't blame our state. One doesn't want to associate our equipment with "that other company" even if we have to pay them to run our trains. I understand the governor is trying to negotiate with Amtrak to loan is some P42s but the sticking point is that he wants them to be enclosed in brown paper bags. He's already asked Amtrak employees to use them in lieu of covid masks. :)
 

NSC1109

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Aug 14, 2016
Messages
306
Great news... earlier today (Tuesday) a test train consisting of five Siemens Venture cars, Charger 2108 and NPCU 90218 travelled from the ACE yard in Stockton to the Amtrak California yard in Oakland.
Any photos around? And I assume these are the CalTrans cars, not IDOT.
 

rickycourtney

Conductor
Joined
Dec 21, 2012
Messages
1,770
There are pictures on the Calrailfans FB page.

It appears these are the Caltrans cars for the San Joaquins.

What's not clear to me is if these are test cars that will need modifications before final delivery.
 

Agent

Conductor
Joined
Nov 30, 2011
Messages
1,414
Here's a video of the train of new Siemens coaches from yesterday taken by Roseville Sacramento Railfan.

 

rickycourtney

Conductor
Joined
Dec 21, 2012
Messages
1,770
One complaint: the livery of the Venture cars doesn't really match up with the Charger livery... and it's a bit off-putting.
 

jiml

Conductor
Joined
Feb 27, 2019
Messages
1,344
What is the difference between the coaches with two yellow doors and those with one?
 

rickycourtney

Conductor
Joined
Dec 21, 2012
Messages
1,770
When you watch the video you can see some of the yellow doors are long for low platforms and some are short for high (or mini high) platforms. There’s also some cars with just one door and what appears to be a plate over where the other door would be.
 

NSC1109

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Aug 14, 2016
Messages
306
When you watch the video you can see some of the yellow doors are long for low platforms and some are short for high (or mini high) platforms. There’s also some cars with just one door and what appears to be a plate over where the other door would be.
Yes, the CalTrans cars are designed generally with two boarding doors (one on each side). The IDOT cars will have four (two on each side).
 

rickycourtney

Conductor
Joined
Dec 21, 2012
Messages
1,770
Yes, the CalTrans cars are designed generally with two boarding doors (one on each side). The IDOT cars will have four (two on each side).
It makes sense to me. Caltrans opted for semipermanent “open gangway” connection cars... so having side by side doors isn’t necessary.
 

Seaboard92

Conductor
Joined
Dec 31, 2014
Messages
3,523
I assume if the IDOT cars are ready to head east they will move as a special move to Beech Grove to get the shops familiarized with them.
 

KnightRail

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Apr 24, 2015
Messages
486
I assume if the IDOT cars are ready to head east they will move as a special move to Beech Grove to get the shops familiarized with them.
Beech Grove really doesn‘t need to see them. They hopefully won’t need overhauling for awhile and when they do, who’s to say that Beech Grove will even be doing the work at this point. Chicago is the location that would need familiarization right away being the facility that would see them on a nightly basis for inspection and repair.
 

rickycourtney

Conductor
Joined
Dec 21, 2012
Messages
1,770
I found that Amtrak published a new FY20-FY25 Asset Line Plan document. Unlike almost all of Amtrak's "plan" documents... this one is a total rabbit hole of information.

There's a whole section called "CALIDOT / Midwest & California State Partner Railcar Acquisition" and while it has a lot of information we knew, there are a few interesting nuggets in here...


Midwest and California state partners will receive 137 single-level Siemens single level railcars, a derivative of the Siemens Viaggio product family. Cars of this general design have received FRA certification and are in service on Brightline/Virgin Trains USA services in Florida. The new cars are currently forecast to arrive between FY 2021 and FY 2023.​
Specifically, the 137-car base order includes:​
  • Seven 7-car semi-permanently coupled trainsets, with cab control coach on one end, business class, and checked baggage, for use in California on the San Joaquins corridor.
  • Twenty single coaches for use on Midwest corridor routes.
  • Seventeen married pairs consisting of one coach and one business class/coach combination car for use on Midwest corridor routes.
  • Seventeen married pairs consisting of one coach and one café/coach combination car for use on Midwest corridor routes.
In addition to the 137 cars under manufacture for the original order, the Wisconsin state partner was awarded a federal discretionary grant to acquire nine additional cars for Hiawatha service. This acquisition includes six coaches and three cab control coaches to supplement the Midwest railcar order.​
The delivery of Siemens single level cars for the Midwest and California will replace most of our Horizon Fleet and about two dozen Amfleet I railcars currently in Midwest state corridor service. We plan to re-deploy these railcars to other state corridors to facilitate growth until sufficient Intercity Trainsets / Amfleet Replacement equipment enters service in the mid-to-late 2020s.​
The introduction of seven Siemens single level trainsets for San Joaquin service enables the re-deployment of some single level and bi-level equipment currently used on the route. Additional single-level corridor coaches will also likely remain available for re-deployment even after equipping the nationwide service expansions outlined above. We anticipate collaboration with our state partners in California over the next year to determine how available equipment can best be re-deployed to accommodate planned growth over the next decade, including the following proposed initiatives from the state’s 2018 Rail Plan:​
  • Proposed Coast Daylight service (San Francisco–Los Angeles–San Diego)
  • Proposed Los Angeles–Coachella Valley service
  • Capitol Corridor service improvements (Roseville, Salinas, and core frequency increases)
  • San Joaquins improvements (Natomas, added frequencies, integration with HighSpeed project)
  • Pacific Surfliner service improvements (more frequent service corridor-wide)
 
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