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

Help Support Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum:

rickycourtney

Conductor
Joined
Dec 21, 2012
Messages
1,884
Location
Fresno, CA
These same folks did a bunch of research and came up with a Sacramento focused service plan, including cutting one train from Bakersfield. It was an enormous failure.

Pure coincidence, Im sure, but all of them are based in the north valley and probably have never been to Bakersfield.

The busiest traffic driver to the San Joaquin is actually LA. All the data told them this, but they ignored it.
The huge elephant in the room is CAHSR -- the state seems unwilling at the moment to invest in major improvements to traditional rail service between SoCal, Central CA, and the Bay Area.

SJJPA was looking for something that they could do that would complement the future HSR business plan.

Personally, I think it's a bad idea to focus on the "Merced and north" market until HSR is closer to completion -- but that's where the political winds are blowing.
 

jamess

Train Attendant
Joined
Apr 23, 2017
Messages
71
The huge elephant in the room is CAHSR -- the state seems unwilling at the moment to invest in major improvements to traditional rail service between SoCal, Central CA, and the Bay Area.

SJJPA was looking for something that they could do that would complement the future HSR business plan.

Personally, I think it's a bad idea to focus on the "Merced and north" market until HSR is closer to completion -- but that's where the political winds are blowing.
I get what theyre doing, but it doesnt even make sense post HSR.

My memory is that the biggest station pair on the San Joaquin is Hanford-Fresno. Thats a market that wont get served by HSR! Maintaining the existing SJ service for stations like Hanford, Madera, Wasco etc is a perfectly good way to complement HSR.

When they build CA-99, they didnt close Golden State. They left it there to continue to serve local trips. Rail should be no different.
 

rickycourtney

Conductor
Joined
Dec 21, 2012
Messages
1,884
Location
Fresno, CA
I get what theyre doing, but it doesnt even make sense post HSR.

My memory is that the biggest station pair on the San Joaquin is Hanford-Fresno. Thats a market that wont get served by HSR! Maintaining the existing SJ service for stations like Hanford, Madera, Wasco etc is a perfectly good way to complement HSR.

When they build CA-99, they didnt close Golden State. They left it there to continue to serve local trips. Rail should be no different.
Actually, the first segment of HSR is going to include Fresno-Hanford (although not downtown Hanford). Your point is taken, but that’s not the business plan. The current plan is to abandon the alignment south of Madera once HSR opens.
 

jamess

Train Attendant
Joined
Apr 23, 2017
Messages
71
Actually, the first segment of HSR is going to include Fresno-Hanford (although not downtown Hanford). Your point is taken, but that’s not the business plan. The current plan is to abandon the alignment south of Madera once HSR opens.
My understanding was that the Visalia/Hanford station is still a maybe
 

PVD

Engineer
AU Supporter
Joined
Jul 8, 2015
Messages
5,922
Location
NYC/Queens
When did Hanford get something called a downtown? It didn't look like much when my sister taught there.
 

PVD

Engineer
AU Supporter
Joined
Jul 8, 2015
Messages
5,922
Location
NYC/Queens
Actually she graduated Fresno State, lived there for some time, all I remember about Fresno was Blackstone and Peach, and she had a little condo near rail tracks and a place they loaded vegetables on trains. When she taught in Hanford, she lived on Neville, but I never stayed there on a visit.
 

EchoSierra

Train Attendant
Joined
Aug 26, 2017
Messages
46
I do apologize if this was mentioned before, but I didn't really find anything specific on this with a quick search.

Does Amtrak California *need* bilevels? Since the contract has been taken over by Siemens for single level cars, is there still a need for bilvels? If so, could Amtrak just do tack on order on the Metra/VRE/MARC order of (North American-ized) Alstom Coradia multilevel cars and swap with the single level Siemens cars to augment other single level routes on Amtrak? Or, alternatively, could whoever owns these Siemens cars (State of CA?) offer them to other state funded Amtrak corridors or commuter operations and order the Alstom bilevels instead?

The Alstom cars that Metra is ordering looks like what the order initially awarded to Sumitomo was trying to accomplish.
 
Last edited:

NSC1109

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Aug 14, 2016
Messages
483
Location
MI
I do apologize if this was mentioned before, but I didn't really find anything specific on this with a quick search.

Does Amtrak California *need* bilevels? Since the contract has been taken over by Siemens for single level cars, is there still a need for bilvels? If so, could Amtrak just do tack on order on the Metra/VRE/MARC order of (North American-ized) Alstom Coradia multilevel cars and swap with the single level Siemens cars to augment other single level routes on Amtrak? Or, alternatively, could whoever owns these Siemens cars (State of CA?) offer them to other state funded Amtrak corridors or commuter operations and order the Alstom bilevels instead?

The Alstom cars that Metra is ordering looks like what the order initially awarded to Sumitomo was trying to accomplish.
From what I know about the California services, those bi-levels are owned by Cal DOT, at least on the Capitol Corridor. I’m pretty sure the Surfliner equipment is State owned too.

Those lines, especially the Surfliner, are pretty popular. You could check out the ridership states on Amtrak’s website or RPA. They should break it down by state and specific service.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Cal

Cal

Foamer
Joined
Jan 23, 2021
Messages
2,987
Location
Socal
Those lines, especially the Surfliner, are pretty popular. You could check out the ridership states on Amtrak’s website or RPA. They should break it down by state and specific service.
The Capitol is pretter popular from what I can tell as well, they have more weekday round trips than the Surfliner as well.

Not sure about the California ones, but the Surfliner ones were ordered in two batches. One batch was bought by Amtrak, the other was bought by the State. You can tell which is which by the seats, they have a difference design.
 

PRR 60

Engineer
Staff member
Administator
Moderator
Joined
Feb 18, 2003
Messages
8,431
Why are the cars, many having been delivered months ago, still not in service. This may be the reason (from the Sacramento Bee, 6/2/21):

Nine years after the contract was announced, not a single car has gone into service. The original manufacturer couldn’t make cars that met crashworthiness tests. And now the second manufacturer — the Siemens assembly plant in Sacramento, which took over in 2017 — has been wrestling for months with a plumbing-fixture problem that rendered the cars unfit for passengers.

The issue with Siemens: Excessive levels of lead have been found in some of the cars’ restroom water supplies, discovered during routine testing last November, said Caltrans spokesman Christopher Clark.
The full article can be found here: SacBee
 

me_little_me

Engineer
AU Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Jul 16, 2010
Messages
4,500
Lead in the restrooms. Probably from the lead lining because of the radiation leaks! ;)
 

NSC1109

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Aug 14, 2016
Messages
483
Location
MI
Why are the cars, many having been delivered months ago, still not in service. This may be the reason (from the Sacramento Bee, 6/2/21):



The full article can be found here: SacBee
Interesting. I’m not sure if maybe it was missed somewhere, but I don’t recall ever once reading about any of that in the NGEC meeting notes.
 

west point

Engineer
Joined
Jun 9, 2015
Messages
2,787
Could be water source. Bet the water authority is getting big flak with this article. After Flint there is going to be demands from public to verify no lead in water. It only takes on water fountain that back flows into system to cause lead.
 

neroden

Engineer
Joined
Feb 23, 2014
Messages
8,806
Location
Ithaca, NY
There are no details on the source of the problem. I know two likely sources: using the wrong weld to put the plumbing together (the progress towards lead-free welding was slow); and buying mislabeled, lead-contaminated brass plumbing parts from China (you have to be very careful about what plumbing parts you order; I discovered that when doing a renovation project on my own house). I am sure it will get fixed by replacing the at-fault parts.
 

nullptr

Train Attendant
Joined
Jan 16, 2020
Messages
68
Location
Michigan
Interesting. I’m not sure if maybe it was missed somewhere, but I don’t recall ever once reading about any of that in the NGEC meeting notes.
The way this came out is pretty odd. They have known for 7 months and this is the first time its been reported? Caltrans gave a presentation about the Venture cars in February where they listed issues they had found and solutions they had come up with, but I don't see any mention of this lead issue.


I was curious and looked through recent SJJPA board meeting minutes as well. They recently took custody of the cars, which were transferred from Caltrans, but no mention there either. (Item 5 here https://sjjpa.com/wp-content/uploads/SJJPA-March-26-2021-Board-Packet.pdf)

Maybe everyone else involved doesn't think its as big of an issue as this article makes it out to be?
 

plane2train

Train Attendant
Joined
Apr 6, 2015
Messages
22
not sure any Murican is sane enough to drink water from a railcar spigot, most will even drink bottled water in own home.
Many simply do not have access to good-tasting water. Just look at Flint and the amount of lead in the water and the health disaster that was. Have you tasted Amtrak water? It's disgusting and not appropriate for drinking. The NL has great, soft water that many places in the States do not have because of the high degree of mineralization in their water. City pipes are also old, so you either have to filter the water or use bottled water if you actually want to drink it. The only way train water would be consumed is if it came out of a water dispenser with a bottle on top.
 
Joined
Mar 20, 2009
Messages
9,735
Location
x
There are no details on the source of the problem. I know two likely sources: using the wrong weld to put the plumbing together (the progress towards lead-free welding was slow); and buying mislabeled, lead-contaminated brass plumbing parts from China (you have to be very careful about what plumbing parts you order; I discovered that when doing a renovation project on my own house). I am sure it will get fixed by replacing the at-fault parts.
What really irks me is that we find it necessary to buy plumbing parts, or any parts for that matter, from China, or other foreign places. I feel that we need to go back and reinvent manufacturing in this country, and not have to depend on getting building materials and manufactured goods, abroad...that would be the best way to insure a vibrant national economy, good paying jobs, and even national security....JMHO....
 

PVD

Engineer
AU Supporter
Joined
Jul 8, 2015
Messages
5,922
Location
NYC/Queens
Lots of plumbing parts still made here, but they cost more, and many consumers will not spend the extra money....
 

nti1094

Service Attendant
Joined
Apr 9, 2015
Messages
117
I get what theyre doing, but it doesnt even make sense post HSR.

My memory is that the biggest station pair on the San Joaquin is Hanford-Fresno. Thats a market that wont get served by HSR! Maintaining the existing SJ service for stations like Hanford, Madera, Wasco etc is a perfectly good way to complement HSR.

When they build CA-99, they didnt close Golden State. They left it there to continue to serve local trips. Rail should be no different.
Exactly! It is one of the many oddities of the San Joaquins. It is in fact one of the busiest city pairs in the Amtrak system (something like mild-40th place). But the demographics seem to indicate that there is no way this will move over to the High Speed rail line. Although there HSR might find another market, its unlikely since the station is a little outside Hanford and still a 15 to 20 minute driver from the largest source market of Visalia.

Also I think the local transit authority buys bulk tickets and sells them at a discount to residents for travel between Corcoran and Hanford.

On one level they get that LA is the biggest generator of passengers, but on an other they fail. The combined system with the Merced Connector track does cut some time off the whole trip, but not enough to be a game changer. Its even less a time savings from Tulare/Kings and Fresno, with the added inconvenience (admittedly a quick cross-platform one) of a transfer of trains in Merced. No matter how easy they make this, the idea of changing trains is a deterrent for many.

The current plan they seem to hint at is that the San Joaquins will begin and end in Merced utilizing the new downtown HSR station accessed via the Merced Intermodal Connector Track which will be built to connect the BNSF and UP right of way. They will have to terminate there because otherwise it would involve a backup move and reversal of direction to get back on the BNSF line. There is no other point where they connect until Bakersfield. (Even in Fresno where they cross back over each other there is a diamond but no connection).
 
Top