If that is really what's going on, then Boardman is a complete idiot. Costs are not the problem for the eastern "long-distance" trains; revenues are. And revenues are suppressed partly due to capacity constraints. But I have two other hypotheses about this.If Amtrak wanted to get more baggage cars, they would go ahead and exercise some of the options, not change the current production run. I could be wrong, but I doubt that we will see any of the options exercised on the CAF contract. The LD division is being told to keep costs down, both operating and capital.
Second hypothesis: I think this is really a cash management & timing thing.
* There is an exceptional crunch on cash required for capital financing in FY2014, due to the Early Buyout Options and Lease Terminations on the P42s, Superliners, and Surfliners. It looks like Amtrak probably had to take out about $196.5 million in short-term commercial loans for this refinancing. Most of that is allocable to the long-distance business line. Amtrak's going to be doing its best to pay down as much as possible of that ASAP. (The refinancing needs drop significantly in subsequent years, and by 2017 it's all for NEC equipment Amtrak which is trying to get rid of.) There is a further cash crunch in 2014 & 2015 to meet the PTC requirements. Due to the exceptional cash crunch this year, it is advantageous to Amtrak (though not to CAF) to postpone expenditures into later fiscal years.
* This year and 2015 are also bad ones for the eastern LD trains due to poor host railroad performance and massive trackwork projects (including SunRail, Englewood, etc.). So the added revenue capacity from new sleepers isn't nearly as valuable *this* year with terrible OTP as it will be in 2016 after much of that stuff is hopefully resolved.
* The plans for new sleeper deployment have been associated with refurbishing the Viewliner Is, which is going to cost additional cash.
* The Heritage baggage cars are clearly falling apart. The last fleet plan proposed keeping some of them, which is unlikely to work; and several of the Eastern trains have baggage loads which are evidently too large for one bag-dorm anyway. So the new baggage cars are needed *ASAP*.
Some of the options need to be exercised for sleeper capacity expansion, period. 75 sleepers for the Eastern fleet is simply not enough to keep up with demand, particularly with the dining car and cafe car crews occupying roomettes. But the options can't possibly be exercised this year, given the cash situation; top priority for spare cash is almost certainly the lease refinancings. Amtrak probably doesn't have a chance of having the cash to exercise the options until FY 2016, due to the cleanup of the old leases. Right now, Amtrak is saying that it expects the 130 cars in the main order to be delivered by the "end of 2015" (presumably December), which would still give Amtrak a chance to go after the option in FY2016.
A third, perhaps even more likely, possibility:
It is, of course, also possible that Amtrak has decided that bag-dorms are a bad idea period (that they should strictly go with full baggage cars and full sleeping cars)... but that CAF has already built 10 bag-dorm shells. That would account for the slightly embarassed refusal by Amtrak to comment on the change in plan.
Note that 10 bag-dorms is certainly not enough to make a reasonable-sized fleet. For those speculating on the allocation of the 10 bag-dorms, remember that Amtrak will want a "protect car" at each terminal for a train which uses a bag-dorm. Amtrak will also want a 20% shop count. So really in order to avoid the overextension of the fleet, only 6 or 7 out of the 10 should be in service at a time, and that's if they're on routes which share the same terminals (i.e. Cardinal and LSL, or Star and Meteor). There are economies of scale in the allocation of "protect cars" if you have a larger fleet.
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