Viewliners and Superliners ... what would you change?

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fredmcain

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Is anyone aware as to whether or not Amtrak plans to buy new Superliner equipment? Do they even intend to do so? I have long felt that not only is this necessary to expand any new L.D. routes such as making trains 1 and 2 daily or a new long-distance train across Montana, which appears to be at least possible, but rather much of the older equipment is just plain wearing out.
 

Bob Dylan

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Most Railroad Buffs seem to feel that Amtrak should "Standarize" their Fleet as they order and receive New Equipment.

Going to all Single Level Equipment and Standarizing the Power equipment would be a good idea, since it would standardize parts, utilization of equipment and save money in the long run due to purchasing equipment,parts and tools in quality and standardize Training for the Employees.

Much as I love the Superliners, I agree!
 
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Replacement of the Superliner fleet is in Amtrak's PowerPoint presentations but the timing is, shall we say, uncertain. Amtrak has yet to even release an RFP (request for proposals) for bidders. Safe to say that replacements are a minimum of 5-6 years away from beginning to trickle into service. Some speculate that Amtrak is hoping that the LD trains will go away , eliminating the need to actually order replacement equipment. Whether it's intentional or benign incompetence, that is not an impossible outcome.

I'd like to see Amtrak immediately get to work on issuing an RFP for rebuilding the existing Superliner fleet and continue to plan to augment the Superliners with new equipment down the road.

The money is there for equipment refurbishment or replacement. The will is what seems to be what's missing.
 
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You can find some information on what's been addressed so far here in the most recent 5 year reports:


The reports indicate that the Superliner 1 and 2 fleet and Viewliner 1 fleet will be replaced by a new procurement - hinting at a standardized design. Though single vs. bilevel isn't directly mentioned one can see the writing on the wall that they'd likely want a streamlined fleet that will be compatible with the newer Viewliner 2 equipment (that will remain in service.) The Amfleet 2 equipment (eastern LD coaches and lounge cars) is also being considered to be part of this procurement - though there is alternatively an option within the Siemens ICT project that may also be used. As such a decision about how to deal with the Amfleet 2s - whether as part of the "LD Procrurement" or as an option for the Amfleet 1 replacement ICT order as of the writing of the report was not yet decided on. The Heartland Flyer may also be addressed as part of the LD order.
 

crescent-zephyr

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Most Railroad Buffs seem to feel that Amtrak should "Standarize" their Fleet as they order and receive New Equipment.

Going to all Single Level Equipment and Standarizing the Power equipment would be a good idea, since it would standardize parts, utilization of equipment and save money in the long run due to purchasing equipment,parts and tools in quality and standardize Training for the Employees.

Much as I love the Superliners, I agree!
It shouldn’t be an issue to have an east coast standard and a west coast standard.

I’m up here riding the Alaska Railroad and they have a large variety of equipment from different eras and they manage to keep them running and in great condition just fine. Perhaps Amtrak can take some lessons from them? ;)
 

MisterUptempo

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Bi-Level rolling stock is still something Amtrak is likely to look at and consider.

In the minutes of multiple NGEC meetings, the desire for the committee to put the push on updating specifications for bi-level cars has been expressed. Amtrak's desire to replace Superliners at some point in the future is given as a compelling reason to expedite the update. The fact several members of the committee are Amtrak employees might lend at least some credence to the idea that Amtrak hasn't ruled out bi-levels at this point.
 

Cal

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I don't understand. Superliners and Viewliners both load from ground level at most stations. At some of the smallest stops, Superliners load at grade crossings.
Yeah, but they'd still need to pay for ramps for all the stations without high level boarding.
 

MARC Rider

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I don't understand. Superliners and Viewliners both load from ground level at most stations. At some of the smallest stops, Superliners load at grade crossings.
Superliners cannot be used at stations with high-level platforms, which is most of the larger stations in the eastern United States.

I think that between that and ADA requirements, double decker long-distance trains are going to be a thing of the past. Enjoy them now while you can.
 
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Superliners cannot be used at stations with high-level platforms, which is most of the larger stations in the eastern United States.
OK, but the question was about replacing Superliners with single-level equipment. Since Superliners load only at ground level, there would be no need to change the platform for Viewliners or compatible cars.

Yeah, but they'd still need to pay for ramps for all the stations without high level boarding.
They use portable lifts. Ramps, like those used by LRT and some commuter lines, only provide access to one door on the train. The current single-level equipment needs access to all doors.

Of course, the Ventures can be ordered with built-in lifts, and they can have roll-through access between coaches. But providing roll-thru access to sleepers and food service cars would be difficult.
 

crescent-zephyr

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I believe that Superliners will eventually be phased out because no manufacturer has the capability to make them. I see an all Viewliner fleet in 10 years.
There’s no reason the existing cars can’t continue after major overhauls.

Hopefully a new manufacturer of passenger rail cars will emerge here in the USA. It’s a shame Colorado Railcar didn’t survive.
 
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The easy thing would be to assume single level but one area that makes me a bit conflicted is the Auto Train for which bilevels really are ideal and is the most successful long distance train as far as revenue…but I could almost see them go with a unique product for that service so we’ll see.
 

John819

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The real problem with bi-level cars is compliance with the ADA requirements. Specifically, there is a need under the law for wheelchair access to the dining area and to the SSL (if there is any), as these are common areas.

A "rational" plan would be to phase out the SLs first, then the VL Is, and last the Amfleets. Of course, this is Amtrak. "Don't try [to figure it out] Jake, it's Chinatown."
 

crescent-zephyr

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The real problem with bi-level cars is compliance with the ADA requirements. Specifically, there is a need under the law for wheelchair access to the dining area and to the SSL (if there is any), as these are common areas.

A "rational" plan would be to phase out the SLs first, then the VL Is, and last the Amfleets. Of course, this is Amtrak. "Don't try [to figure it out] Jake, it's Chinatown."
Again. This is not actually a problem. I’m up here riding the Alaska Railroad and their bi-levels are equipped with elevator style lifts for those with disabilities.
 

Caesar La Rock

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The European railroads are doing fine with bi-level equipment and they too have a restrictive loading gauge. I'm not sure how they handle passengers with disabilities and wheelchairs, but they seem to have that worked out. The numbers of new bi-level equipment being acquired over there has been increasing over the last decade, and not just for commuter or regionals services anymore either (yes there is a difference between commuter and regional). If the European railroads can use a bi-level design that has worked for them for many decades, Amtrak shouldn't have an issue finding one that fits their needs.

As for the issue of high level boarding and low level boarding at stations, the German railways in the early 90s introduced a new version of the Gorlitz double decker cars. This version had doors located above the axles. This allowed these cars to be used in stations where high level boarding is necessary. So yes, the issue of low level boarding and high level boarding at stations can be addressed with bi-levels quite easily. The real question, will Amtrak invest in a new bi-level order? That's the $66 billion question there and now to go rest my head lol.
 
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jis

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Aren’t the cars with two main levels but doors qat a third intermediate level like the NJT cars called multi-levels rather than bilevels? They are even harder to make ADA compliant except for pure commuter use with no common service cars because there is no through passage through the train at a single level
 

John819

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Aren’t the cars with two main levels but doors qat a third intermediate level like the NJT cars called multi-levels rather than bilevels? They are even harder to make ADA compliant except for pure commuter use with no common service cars because there is no through passage through the train at a single level
Exactly. The wheelchair passenger can easily board and has an area where he/she/they can sit. But movement beyond that area is not possible.

This is fully ADA compliant because there is no dining / sightseeing area they need access to.

And as to the elevators on the Alaska Railroad - does anyone believe that Amtrak mechanical would be up to maintaining them? Also, they take up considerable area, causing a loss of seating capacity in any car where they are located.
 

MARC Rider

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And as to the elevators on the Alaska Railroad - does anyone believe that Amtrak mechanical would be up to maintaining them? Also, they take up considerable area, causing a loss of seating capacity in any car where they are located.
They would also add considerably to the cost of the car. Thus, while a bi-level ADA-compliant car would be possible, I don't think it would be competitive in the procurement process. Add to that the ability to have equipment that could be used across all of the system would make me select single-level cars if I were in charge of the procurement. They can even build single level sightseer lounge cars, although I'd really like to see the return of the dome car, too. Plus, the use of the type of "panorama cars" seen on some of the Swiss railroads might be another nice touch for use on lines with significant scenic portions, including some corridor service, such as the Empire Service.
 

Cal

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They may be "currently" ADA compliant ... but those standards are subject to change and may require all areas to be accessible - not just those with "common service areas".
Well if that's the case, if Amtrak doesn't fight it, I'm sure the airlines will. I don't think airlines want to remove a seat so wheelchairs can get to the back of the aircraft.
 
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