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Without additional funding, how can Amtrak improve the LD trains?

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jis

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Now, if they were "commercially successful", less costly to operate (50% seems like a nice savings) and could save time on end turns - can you substantiate a "good" reason the design was abandoned for use
The same article in Wikipedia suggests that it was obsolescence, unavailability of new units as Budd stopped manufacturing them. The followup that Budd came up with the SPVs were beset with issues from which they never recovered, and the technical expertise for manufacturing DMUs moved almost irrevocably to Europe.

As for Amtrak, demonstrably Amtrak would have been stuck with a small and progressively more expensive to operate, fleet which were more suitable for routes that Amtrak was not picking up and in the process, drained scarce resources away from fleet modernization for both LD service and corridors with more dense traffic.

In the matter of current fleet modernization, I am sure Amtrak is looking closely at modern DEMUs.
 

jis

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Do you have a source for this or is this just what you think?

Mentioned in this article, specifically:
— Replacement of Amfleet I cars, either with railcars, self-propelled multiple-unit equipment, or other trainsets. These could be diesel, electric or dual-mode.
 

Siegmund

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I have wondered why Amtrak seemed to be so anti-RDC. Seems some conscious decision was made back at startup time to use them only New Haven-Springfield and to get rid of those as soon as circumstances permitted. If Amtrak had wanted them it could have bought more than 100 but chose to buy only 24.

Eventually they would have worn out and needed replaced, yes. But they did get used all over Canada for several more decades. VIA discarded them as they discontinued routes but many of the ex-VIA units ran elsewhere at least into the 90s. Alaska owned 4, and in 2000-08 timeframe cannibalized parts from the others to keep one or two of them running on the Hurricane Turn.

The failure of the SPV-2000 certainly made everybody gunshy of buying more in the 70s, and Im not sure there were new models to choose from for a while after that.

The Colorado Railcar DMUs looked like they had real potential, then went belly up before any made it into service. I thought that it made a lot of sense to be able to run Pere Marquette-type trains with DMUs, rather than running a 100-ton 4000HP locomotive back and forth with two cars.
 

jis

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I have wondered why Amtrak seemed to be so anti-RDC. Seems some conscious decision was made back at startup time to use them only New Haven-Springfield and to get rid of those as soon as circumstances permitted. If Amtrak had wanted them it could have bought more than 100 but chose to buy only 24.
My speculation is that the reduction in emphasis for things like RDCs at Amtrak had more to do with a couple general factors:

1. Desire to standardize equipment to as few types as possible.

On the single level side they basically settled for Amfleet, F40PH, P30s AEM-7, and lived with that for a time while progressively getting rid of the inherited fleet, before embarking on the Viewliner and Acela adventures. They did add Horizons a little later, but that was really the standard stuff available off the shelf from the NJT Comet program. On the Western side they settled for Superliners and F40s. When F40s aged they standardized on P40/42s with a few stopgap units from GE while P40/42s were developed.

2. Allegedly reducing maintenance costs, since for RDCs and similarly EMUs, each motorized unit would be considered to be a locomotive as far as FRA was concerned and would have to go through the locomotive maintenance schedule rather than simple passenger car schedule.

NJT explicitly stated this to be the reason they went with push-pulls rather than EMUs (even though they more than Amtrak really needed EMUs), and as we know there has been a bit of a revolving door going between NJT and Amtrak at executive levels in the early days and even a decade back. We from NJ-ARP fought it tooth and nail with NJT and lost. Now NJT, after eating some delicious Crow, is converting their MLV trailers to MLV EMUs by acquiring MLV power cars. While of course Amtrak is considering the possibility of getting distributed power train sets.
 

Dakota 400

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>>Why do you believe Bedroom D is the best bedroom? <<

B,C,D,E are the same size. It depends on which end is facing forward, but more often than not, D has the bench seating facing the same way the train is going, which matters to some. E is nice, too, but it's closest to the upstairs bathroom that all the roomettes are using and occasionally you can hear/smell the proximity. B is typically closest to dining room and facing same as D. However, A is about 1/3 smaller and difficult for two people to comfortably be in so B gets to hear their dissatisfaction. D is closer than B to the service attendant in Room 1. YMMV, just my opinion.
Thanks for answering my question. Your reasons make sense. I have been in A and B with 2 people; maybe one of the other 3, not certain. A is "tight", particularly in the space between the window and the rear of the bathroom. A has the disadvantage, in my opinion, of having the bathroom door opening facing the corridor. But, if the sleeper is the last car on the train and the Bedrooms are at the end of that car, A is closest to the railfan window!
 

Qapla

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@jis Thanks for the link - I guess I missed that link before

What you say makes sense - there doesn't seem to be any one solution to any of Amtrak's woes

A concerted effort needs to be made by the Gov't and those running Amtrak to make things better even if it takes additional funding instead of making the bottom line so all important
 
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Siegmund

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The desire-to-standardize argument isn't quite ringing true for me in 1971. They could have (for instance) bought more coaches and not had RDCs at all. (It's certainly true in the mid-late 70s, when Amfleet was bought.)

The engine maintenance regime may well be part of the reason for avoiding them - though I can't help thinking that same argument would have applied as well in 1969 as it did later.

And a look at the early Amtrak route map suggests they didn't expect to be in the short-haul business at all. Aside from New Haven-Springfield there is pretty much only Seattle-Portland and possibly Chicago-Milwaukee in a duration and demand regime where RDCs are appealing (am assuming LA-San Diego and NYC-Albany required more capacity) Probably that is where the 'conscious decision' was made - to cut all the low volume trains rather than operate them as cheaply as possible.

Within a few years' time that seems to have turned around, with lots of short-distance lightly-patronized trains added, often with state support (Ann Arbor-Detroit, Altoona-Pittsburgh, and some longer distance lines like Chigago to Peoria and Dubuque). At that time it would have been very handy to have a new low-cost low-capacity RDC equivalent.
 

jis

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There was a program called 403b in the original Amtrak enabling legislation (Railpax Bill), that allowed Amtrak to contract with states to run services for them. This is what brought in quite a bit of the short distance service.

NY State though managed to get its intra-state service grandfathered in as part of the national system. But the Adirondack was always a 403b train. And surprisingly, the Lake Shore Limited when it was introduced was a 403b train and it later got incorporated into the national system On A Day there was no through train from New York to Chicago on the NYC route. The New York - Chicago trains was the ex PRR Broadway Limited.

The SPVs that Amtrak bought were partly funded by ConnDOT. The other big SPV customer was NYSDOT and they were operated by Metro North on the sections beyond electrification. They were to be found a lot on runs on the Upper Hudson Line between Croton Harmon and Poughkeepsie,

The problem with 403b was the same as the problem with PRIIA 209. States can be fickle, and one never knows when they will pull funding. So I suspect Amtrak was loath to acquire specialized equipment for state service unless the States put some skin in the game.

Again, mostly speculation on my part based on observing things as they unfolded.
 
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