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

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NSC1109

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It tells you something when the PRIIA 305 Committee reports, as of early September, that of 94 railcars under construction or completed that IDOT has conditionally accepted only 8 cars and Caltrans has not yet conditionally accepted a single railcar.

Caltrans is the lead agency on the project, but Sumitomo is technically the lead contractor, no? Does Sumitomo have any decision making authority at this point, and, if so, were they engaging in "value engineering" by going cheap on some of the finishes and fittings? Did the Sumitomo cash run out and Caltrans and/or IDOT are trying to get these cars under the wire by pinching pennies?

ETA - Happy 1800th post on this thread!
There should be information on the 305 website regarding $ on hand still. Whether or not that’s money that includes what was put towards these cars is not something I know.

I believe the lack of acceptance of the cars started with the lead issue and then other problems slowly started revealing themselves. I can tell you as a stone cold fact that there are more than eight of the new cars sitting in Chicago. Last count I had was something like 32, but it was from a distance and could easily be in error.
 

Steve4031

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If the cars are sitting in the Chicago yard does this mean they’ve been accepted to be put into service? If not where do the improvements get done?
 

NSC1109

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If the cars are sitting in the Chicago yard does this mean they’ve been accepted to be put into service? If not where do the improvements get done?
I would imagine the changes are being done by either Amtrak Mechanical or a Siemens contractor. For the time being they are simply in storage.
 

neroden

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I would imagine the changes are being done by either Amtrak Mechanical or a Siemens contractor. For the time being they are simply in storage.
If it's a matter of parts which were supposed to be lead-free but contained lead -- as we all suspect -- then they're waiting for the replacement parts to arrive. And there's nothing they can do until the parts arrive. And there are supply chain delays in everything, worldwide, right now.
 

NSC1109

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If it's a matter of parts which were supposed to be lead-free but contained lead -- as we all suspect -- then they're waiting for the replacement parts to arrive. And there's nothing they can do until the parts arrive. And there are supply chain delays in everything, worldwide, right now.
The issues are beyond suspected lead in components.

I thought they never even left the Chicago yards after the test runs?
As far as I am aware, that is correct. The cars have been used for test runs but none have entered revenue service. Currently around 30 sitting at the 14th Street Yard, I’m not sure if there are any at Brighton Park.
 

neroden

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The issues are beyond suspected lead in components.
So you're saying there are issues they *could* be fixing right now? Hmm.

I was just pointing out that if it was a matter of waiting for replacement components, it would explain why they're sitting without anything being done.
 

NSC1109

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So you're saying there are issues they *could* be fixing right now? Hmm.

I was just pointing out that if it was a matter of waiting for replacement components, it would explain why they're sitting without anything being done.
I am not sure how the issues are being fixed, only that they exist and are the reason that the cars have not entered service yet.

Ceiling panels falling at random would probably not be something IDOT wants to show off…
 

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I am not sure how the issues are being fixed, only that they exist and are the reason that the cars have not entered service yet.

Ceiling panels falling at random would probably not be something IDOT wants to show off…

Jesus. Something so damn basic. I rode similar cars in Austria this summer. And ceiling panels were not falling on my head. To be fair, we were not riding on the CN route to Carbondale. Those tracks could cause a suitcase to fall on your head!
 

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Jesus. Something so damn basic. I rode similar cars in Austria this summer. And ceiling panels were not falling on my head. To be fair, we were not riding on the CN route to Carbondale. Those tracks could cause a suitcase to fall on your head!
Brightline has the same cars, and I've not heard any reports of the ceiling panels falling.

peter
 

NSC1109

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Brightline has the same cars, and I've not heard any reports of the ceiling panels falling.

peter
Indeed, neither have I, which is part of the reason why I’ve been so hesitant to share specifics. I trust the source, he’s one who would know what’s going on with the equipment. But I don’t understand why Brightline cars aren’t affected unless the interior fittings are drastically different.
 

Cal

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Indeed, neither have I, which is part of the reason why I’ve been so hesitant to share specifics. I trust the source, he’s one who would know what’s going on with the equipment. But I don’t understand why Brightline cars aren’t affected unless the interior fittings are drastically different.
What was the gap between the time the two orders of cars were built? Would it be enough for something to change (maybe with how it was built, or the supplier)? Sorry for my, lack of proper terms, not familiar with this stuff.
 

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Indeed, neither have I, which is part of the reason why I’ve been so hesitant to share specifics. I trust the source, he’s one who would know what’s going on with the equipment. But I don’t understand why Brightline cars aren’t affected unless the interior fittings are drastically different.
I can think of three ways ceiling panels might be attached, and different ways the attachments might fail for one particular set of cars. 1) If they are glued on, they might have a bad batch of glue. The fix would probably be to remove them and reattach with good glue, but some of the panels might only be partially loose and difficult to remove without breaking them, so they would need at least some replacement panels. Also, having fixed them, they might have to let them just sit for a month or more to make sure they are okay. Think Space Shuttle heat-shield tiles, which were a major pain for the shuttle program. 2) If they are bolted on, there might be a defective batch of bolts, or a design error of having an insufficient number of bolts, or bad threads in the roof where the panels attach. You would think the only difference between different sets of cars would be the color of the panels, but maybe Amtrak insisted on something different. 3) The panels snap into place and there was a defective set of snaps on the panels or the fittings on the roof of the cars that the panels snap into. Bad batch of parts? Maybe they changed the design to make them cheaper or easier to fasten or more reliable, and instead made them worse in every way? 4) The ceiling panels are massive concrete structures supported by pins epoxied into holes drilled into the ceiling and both the design, materials and installation were incompetent. This is what happened to the $15B Big Dig/Ted Williams Tunnel in Boston when it first opened, killing a couple of people when one of the panels fell on their car and costing millions to repair.
 

John Santos

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Brightline has the same cars, and I've not heard any reports of the ceiling panels falling.

peter
Isn't Brightline mostly running on brand-new track specifically designed for high speed? Not ancient, Civil War Era track that hasn't been properly maintained by a freight railroad noted for trying to maximize passenger discomfort and delays?
 

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Isn't Brightline mostly running on brand-new track specifically designed for high speed? Not ancient, Civil War Era track that hasn't been properly maintained by a freight railroad noted for trying to maximize passenger discomfort and delays?
New tracks yes. High speed, not really. At least none of the service that has run commercially so far has been above 79mph like our mundane Amtrak services outside the northeast and California.
 

John Santos

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New tracks yes. High speed, not really. At least none of the service that has run commercially so far has been above 79mph like our mundane Amtrak services outside the northeast and California.
Hmm, by "High Speed", I meant 100-110mph, not true first world high speed like Europe or Asia, nor even "second world" high speed like the Acela, but Brightline seems to be, let's say, optimistic. They claim 110mph for Palm Beach to Cocoa and 125mph for Cocoa to Orlando, but neither of those segments is open, and the existing Miami-Palm Beach is 79mph like you said. So if the coaches start falling apart when they open the newer segments, we'll know they have generic design or manufacturing problems, but if they are fine, then we'll know Amtrak has just gotten a bad batch. Hope for the latter because it will be fixable, and quickly, and at Siemens' (or their subcontractors') expense. Hasn't Siemens been building these things for decades and shouldn't they know how by now?
 

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My sources at Brightline tell me that their coaches do not have any of the problems that the California and Midwest cars appear to have. They also point out that they do not share common internal fittings in many areas.

But of course we will see.

At this point I am more interested in seeing if the new Brightline sets they are about to receive have been infected in any way by Midwest and California. Of course their power heads are also different in many details including power rating.
 

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I think Brightline wasn't tied to Buy America, so they could source parts from their suppliers they use in Germany; whereas the Midwest & Cali sets are Buy America tied, so have to use US suppliers.

peter
But Brightline has self-certified that they did abide by Buy America. Hopefully they were not blatently lying when they did that. But it is possible that they used more expensive parts from alternative American sources in many cases since they were not tied to the myriads of restrictions even other than Buy America that comes with federal funding.
 

me_little_me

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Jesus. Something so damn basic. I rode similar cars in Austria this summer. And ceiling panels were not falling on my head. To be fair, we were not riding on the CN route to Carbondale. Those tracks could cause a suitcase to fall on your head!
True, even if the suitcase was on the floor before it hit those tracks!
 

NSC1109

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Reminds me of TWA planes shortly after the AA takeover in 2002. They had an ample supply (of duct tape) on-hand.
can only imagine using WD-40 to get an aircraft cabin door open…

Does anyone out west know if there are still cars being shipped from Sacramento to Chicago?
 
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