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

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John Bredin

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After watching a couple videos of presentations by the High Speed Rail Alliance (former Midwest HSR Association), I'm less worried about the 90 vs. 110 mph issue on the Lincoln Service than about how many -- or how relatively few -- of the new train cars have been ordered.

Of the $1.886 billion spent on the Lincoln Service, only about $200 million of that was spent on the flawed signaling/PTC system. The rest (stretches of double-tracking, longer sidings, improved grade crossings, new or remodeled stations, and the new trainsets) is still useful, and we don't know how much of the PTC system is salvageable. As I understand it, the flawed system is the one the freight railroads settled upon [link] so they have an incentive to salvage it, but on the other hand they may consider adequate a system that works up to 90 mph but not faster.

Once we're past Covid and have enough new trainsets, I'd rather see Amtrak & Illinois DOT get more Lincoln Service trains running at 90mph then deal more decisively with the signaling/PTC issue, rather than waiting until we can get to 110mph to expand service with the new trainsets.

The 88 new train cars for the Midwest is 17 trainsets: 17 cafe/coaches, 17 business/coaches, and the rest coaches. But 17 trainsets seems like just enough for the existing Midwest service. Looking at the pre-Covid schedules, and not accounting for any creative use of trainsets, I see 17 trainsets in use.* (Someone correct me if I'm wrong.) If Wisconsin adds to the order for the Hiawathas or a second train to St. Paul, as some have said, that frees up two trainsets for planned Quad Cities service or Rockford service but not both. Any further expansion would require either exercising options I hope IDOT has, or continuing to use some of the existing Horizon/Amfleet trains in daily service.

*4 Lincoln Service, 3 for the Wolverines, 2 each for the Missouri River Runner, Illinois Zephyr/Carl Sandburg, Illini/Saluki, and Hiawathas, and 1 each for the Pere Marquette and Blue Water.
 

nullptr

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*4 Lincoln Service, 3 for the Wolverines, 2 each for the Missouri River Runner, Illinois Zephyr/Carl Sandburg, Illini/Saluki, and Hiawathas, and 1 each for the Pere Marquette and Blue Water.
Not that it changes your conclusion much, but I don't think the two Hiawatha trainsets are included in the 17 trainset number. They were ordered separately and will be getting 9 cars (three of which are cab-coach).

 

neroden

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Your revised calculations are correct: the state orders are quite specifically enough to replace all the existing short-haul midwest services, plus Quad Cities. Rockford equipment is not funded at this time. That is correct. Any further expansions would mean ordering more trainsets.

On the other topic, the double-tracking, grade separations, and so forth are nice, except that ***UP owns them***. Free money for UP to upgrade its line. This should have been done after the State of Illinois bought the track, so that the state was upgrading its *own* line. This is, in the end, what is being done in Michigan, Virginia, North Carolina, and Massachusetts, where the states are upgrading lines where they own the track. If you upgrade someone else's line, they are perfectly likely to steal the capacity for themselves, as CSX did with the several (I think it was four) "passenger bypass tracks" for Acca Yard funded at one time or another by Virginia before Virginia wised up.
 

rickycourtney

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TL;DR: The operator of the San Joaquins is planning to dump Amtrak when it comes to maintaining the Venture cars.

In a board resolution packed with California governmental jargon... the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) plans to transfer custody and control as well as maintenance of the Venture cars to the San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority (SJJPA)... the SJJPA in turn says it plans to contract with the San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission (SJRRC) to provide maintenance of the Venture cars... the SJRRC will almost certainly sub-contract the actual work to Herzog Transit Services who operates the SJRRC's brand new maintenance facility in Stockton for the Altamont Corridor Express trains.

Clear as mud, right?

The move isn't totally surprising. Stacey Mortensen, the Executive Director of the SJJPA (who is also the Executive Director of the SJRRC) has been a vocal critic of Amtrak's opaque accounting practices.
 

Bob Dylan

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TL;DR: The operator of the San Joaquins is planning to dump Amtrak when it comes to maintaining the Venture cars.

In a board resolution packed with California governmental jargon... the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) plans to transfer custody and control as well as maintenance of the Venture cars to the San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority (SJJPA)... the SJJPA in turn says it plans to contract with the San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission (SJRRC) to provide maintenance of the Venture cars... the SJRRC will almost certainly sub-contract the actual work to Herzog Transit Services who operates the SJRRC's brand new maintenance facility in Stockton for the Altamont Corridor Express trains.

Clear as mud, right?

The move isn't totally surprising. Stacey Mortensen, the Executive Director of the SJJPA (who is also the Executive Director of the SJRRC) has been a vocal critic of Amtrak's opaque accounting practices.
California gets alot of deserved criticism for its Government Operations, but they do seem to be doing OK with their Trains!
 

nti1094

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TL;DR: The operator of the San Joaquins is planning to dump Amtrak when it comes to maintaining the Venture cars.

In a board resolution packed with California governmental jargon... the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) plans to transfer custody and control as well as maintenance of the Venture cars to the San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority (SJJPA)... the SJJPA in turn says it plans to contract with the San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission (SJRRC) to provide maintenance of the Venture cars... the SJRRC will almost certainly sub-contract the actual work to Herzog Transit Services who operates the SJRRC's brand new maintenance facility in Stockton for the Altamont Corridor Express trains.

Clear as mud, right?

The move isn't totally surprising. Stacey Mortensen, the Executive Director of the SJJPA (who is also the Executive Director of the SJRRC) has been a vocal critic of Amtrak's opaque accounting practices.
This would be the first step in getting ready to move operations over to, say... Herzog. (Stacey would love to have that be the case, and for good reason.)

Interestingly it seems that BNSF is supportive of that as well. It is not entirely clear to me why that is, but its another sign.
 

Cal

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So the San Joaquins will not longer be an Amtrak service? Or simply not operated by Amtrak
 

rickycourtney

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So the San Joaquins will not longer be an Amtrak service? Or simply not operated by Amtrak
Right now -- it's just talk.

The big things that tie Amtrak and the San Joaquins together are the T&E (Train and Engine crews) contract and the ticketing systems contract.

In terms of the T&E contract, the leadership of the San Joaquins seems to be signaling that they'd like to drop Amtrak as their T&E contractor in favor of Herzog.

When it comes to the ticketing contract, the state is looking at launching a new ticking system called the "California Integrated Travel Program" (Cal-ITP).

If Cal-STA can be fully integrated into Amtrak's Arrow ticketing system... I'm not sure this question matters that much. I'd be able to book a ticket from Fresno to Denver and back... just like how American Airlines can book me onto a British Airways flight.
 

railiner

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This makes me curious...how many non-Amtrak train services including commuter, does Amtrak operate around the country, and which are they?
IIRC, Amtrak lost one very large one, the MBTA commuter routes out of Boston.
I wonder how much profit Amtrak makes on these services?
 

Cal

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This makes me curious...how many non-Amtrak train services including commuter, does Amtrak operate around the country, and which are they?
IIRC, Amtrak lost one very large one, the MBTA commuter routes out of Boston.
I wonder how much profit Amtrak makes on these services?
They also operate Metrolink routes out of Los Angeles.
 

Cal

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This makes me curious...how many non-Amtrak train services including commuter, does Amtrak operate around the country, and which are they?
IIRC, Amtrak lost one very large one, the MBTA commuter routes out of Boston.
I wonder how much profit Amtrak makes on these services?
In addition to MARC
 

PVD

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I was just looking at it in terms of someone elses' service that they operate, even if integrated (like most of Ca) as opposed to an Amtrak route that is subsidized by a state like Adirondack or Empire Service...
 
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Cal

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I was just looking at it in terms of someone elses' service that they operate, even if integrated (like most of Ca) as opposed to an Amtrak route that is subsidized by a state like Adirondack or Empire Service...
Fair
 

jis

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This makes me curious...how many non-Amtrak train services including commuter, does Amtrak operate around the country, and which are they?
IIRC, Amtrak lost one very large one, the MBTA commuter routes out of Boston.
I wonder how much profit Amtrak makes on these services?
The other one that Amtrak lost while throwing a massive hissyfit was VRE.

Amtrak is not allowed to make any loss on these contracts, i.e. they cannot divert money from regular Amtrak account to fund any outages in these contracts. Occasionally they do make some money on these Commuter contracts, but not any huge amount since the States are very careful in making sure they are not overpaying.

I was just looking at it in terms of someone elses' service that they operate, even if integrated (like most of Ca) as opposed to an Amtrak route that is subsidized by a state like Adirondack or Empire Service...
Actually they are no different except in who provides the equipment and sometimes variations in the OBS. New York State chooses to lease the equipment from Amtrak, whereas California, which used to lease equipment has progressively transitioned to their own equipment. North Carolina uses their own equipment for Piedmont and leases Amtrak equipment for the Carolinian.

As far as accounting goes, they are all PRIIA 209 services.
 

PVD

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The Downeaster is different in the way it was established in that it uses non Amtrak food service....
 

jis

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The Downeaster is different in the way it was established in that it uses non Amtrak food service....
As I said, some have different food OBS arrangements. Piedmonts have vending machines, and use their own equipment, unlike the Downeasters, which use Amtrak equipment.
What about the Capitol corridor?
Is that one?

And where else...what about Seattle based?
All of Amtrak California with its various corridors are operated by Amtrak at present. I am sure if a corridor is hived off and contracted to someone else, it will lose the "Amtrak" moniker in its branding. Amtrak California and other Caltrans service cooperate closely on the LosSan Corridor too.

Cascades are also another example of PRIIA 209 service run by Amtrak using sometimes state provided equipment and sometimes Amtrak equipment, with state sponsored OBS, staffed by Amtrak AFAIR.

In contrast to these PRIIA 209 services, things like Metrolink or MARC are self standing operating contracts and are not covered by PRIIA 209.
 

me_little_me

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North Carolina uses their own equipment for Piedmont and leases Amtrak equipment for the Carolinian.
I thought the Carolinian was an Amtrak train, not owned or leased by NC and, basically, in the same category as the Palmetto.
 

jis

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I thought the Carolinian was an Amtrak train, not owned or leased by NC and, basically, in the same category as the Palmetto.
It is a State of North Carolina PRIIA 209 train off the NEC. I am not quite sure what it is on the NEC.

Nope, it would use Amtrak equipment then.
Carolinian does use Amtrak Regional equipment from the NEC pool.

But at least veryr ecently you used to get a few extras beyond the normal Amtrak fare - which is mostly nothing other than soft drink and coffee in BC. And there used to be a car attendant in the BC. I am sure at least for the duration of COVID that is all on hold.
 
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