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


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#21 johnny.menhennet

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Posted 28 September 2012 - 01:05 AM

I think it's pretty strange that Trains News Wire reported that Sumitomo Corp. was awarded the contract for the cars. I checked multiple websites to see if Sumitomo may have been some parent company, but I saw no mention of that. If they are not though, then that sure is a major blunder, but I would note that I would not be surprised - mistakes are many in those articles.

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#22 Anderson

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Posted 28 September 2012 - 01:46 AM

Just wondering, but would these cars (with a different seating layout) be acceptable for use as LD coaches (or for use as a shorter-haul coach on some of the LD trains)?

88 cars is probably enough for 12 sets of 6 plus 16 spares, or 14 sets of 5 plus 18 spares. Either figure is believable.

Running down the list in my head, the IL Zephyr/Carl Sandburg needs two sets (one for each). The Illini/Saluki needs two sets . That's four sets needed. I'm not totally sure about is how many sets the Lincoln Service/MoRR would need. I am thinking six sets (4 Lincoln and 2 MoRR) assuming they can all turn, but I'm not sure there. That would be 10 sets. The MI trains should need five sets (since I think all of those trains can turn at one end or the other), for 15 sets of equipment.

Going to the "coming soon" category, the Quad Cities train and the Blackhawk should take at least one set apiece. I don't know if IL plans to run a second daily train out to the Quad Cities a la the IL Zephyr/Carl Sandburg. Assuming so, that would bring us to a total of 20 sets to the Midwest to cover all services if you also throw in the Hiawathas (which seem to either need two sets...though some of those turns are just a bit tight for me to assume that two sets "cuts it").

20 sets at 4 cars apiece would use 80 cars from the start, which is too thin on the spares-and-maintenance front. Granted, all of the cars would ultimately operate out of CHI, but I can not see them making do with only a 10% allocation for spares and/or backups. So you'd still have either Superliners or something else doing backup duty in the Midwest at times (even if the out-of-service time would be minimal given where Beech Grove is compared to Chicago).

18 sets at 4 cars apiece would leave 16 spares. That's about the right number, but...well, it's probably just me, but four cars/train does seem short. That might just be the part of me that has almost always been on either single-level or LD bilevel trains speaking, though.

15 sets of 5 would cover everything in service now except the Hiawathas, and 13 spares (though a bit low) might just be enough. Still, you'd need a supplemental order if you also wanted to cover the "coming soon" trains.

And, naturally, it does seem possible that some trains could run with 4 cars and some with 5.
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#23 trainfan969

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Posted 28 September 2012 - 01:53 AM

I think it's pretty strange that Trains News Wire reported that Sumitomo Corp. was awarded the contract for the cars. I checked multiple websites to see if Sumitomo may have been some parent company, but I saw no mention of that. If they are not though, then that sure is a major blunder, but I would note that I would not be surprised - mistakes are many in those articles.


As usual the news parrots what they are told without too much checking. Looks like Nippon and the Sumitomo corp have partnered for many projects before.

#24 Anderson

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Posted 28 September 2012 - 02:20 AM

One other thought: I think Amtrak could easily justify an order of 15-20 (or thereabouts) high-density bilevels for the LD trains:
2 for the CHI-STL part of the Texas Eagle (X21/X22)
2 for the CHI-MSP part of the Builder (807/808)
2 for the LAX-EMY/SAC part of the Coast Starlight
4 for the "Sparks Cars" plan on the Zephyr
2/3 for a CHI-OMA/DEN cutoff coach (directed at CHI-OMA business but potentially run through to DEN)

That plus a couple of spares to contribute to the "spare pools" in the Midwest and in California would likely justify a piggyback option order. This seems doubly likely if the Amtrak FEC plan actually comes together and FL wants a second daily train to fill a different slot than the Star allows to be filled but FL would rather rent the cars than buy them. If they reconfigured the seating pattern in some to lower density levels, an order for another 30-50 wouldn't be out of place, either.
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#25 cirdan

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Posted 28 September 2012 - 02:30 AM

With the low price per unit, exercise of options to buy more cars if Nippon-Sharyo can deliver satisfactory cars on the initial order is likely.


I'm pretty confident they will deliver satisfactory cars. Nippon-Sharyo is a decent solid company that takes its work seriously.

#26 Steve4031

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Posted 28 September 2012 - 08:13 AM

Does Nippon-Sharyo have experiences building single level equipment in america?

#27 jis

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Posted 28 September 2012 - 08:26 AM

As usual the news parrots what they are told without too much checking. Looks like Nippon and the Sumitomo corp have partnered for many projects before.

Right. Apparently the outfit that is building those cars and has been building cars for Chicago area commuter services, is a jointly owned subsidiary of Nippon Sharyo and Sumitomo.

#28 jis

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Posted 28 September 2012 - 08:31 AM

Does Nippon-Sharyo have experiences building single level equipment in america?

Yes. Maryland MARC Train single-level push-pull coaches (jointly with Sumitomo Corporation).

#29 The Davy Crockett

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Posted 28 September 2012 - 08:53 AM

That said, the Horizons are almost certainly going to end up on the NEC.


Now that's something to look forward to. :lol:
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#30 jis

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Posted 28 September 2012 - 09:52 AM


That said, the Horizons are almost certainly going to end up on the NEC.


Now that's something to look forward to. :lol:

Well, either the Horizons or some Amfleet Is could be converted to LD coaches. There is nothing that says that only Amfleets can be converted. So it could very well be that Horizons go LD and Amfleets go to NEC. One can never tell based on info available at present. Or, of course, the entire lot could go to NEC and Eastern medium distance fleet, with nothing going to LD's, unfortunately the more likely scenario IMHO, since it is the least cost and most revenue alternative.

#31 afigg

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Posted 28 September 2012 - 10:11 AM

Just wondering, but would these cars (with a different seating layout) be acceptable for use as LD coaches (or for use as a shorter-haul coach on some of the LD trains)?

Amtrak states in the Fleet Strategy Plan that they intend to base the LD replacement cars on the new bi-level cars. With 2 doors on each side, that will have less space than the Superliner design, but Amtrak may just go ahead and stay with 2 doors for the LD coach cars while the other LD car types have only 1 door on each side with the second door deleted.

Going to the "coming soon" category, the Quad Cities train and the Blackhawk should take at least one set apiece. I don't know if IL plans to run a second daily train out to the Quad Cities a la the IL Zephyr/Carl Sandburg.

The application for the Chicago-Quad Cities/Iowa City service called for 2 trainsets with 2 daily round trips. The plans for the Chicago-St. Louis corridor are to expand to 8 daily trains, although IL will need several billion more to double track enough of the corridor and make other capacity upgrades to be able to run 8 daily round trip 110 mph trains.

We need to think about possible service frequency expansion to all of the corridors, not just in terms of the current limited level of service. Don't think in the next 3 year terms, but 5, 10, 15 years from now. I expect with the low bid price, IL, MI, MO will be adding at least a few cars to the order by exercising a small part of the option.

One thought occurs to me is whether the FRA can use the funds left over to re-allocate the distribution of the money for the bi-levels to other states, namely Minnesota for a Chicago-Twin Cities corridor train. Since MN submitted an application for a Chicago-Twin Cities H®SR corridor and got a planning grant, can the FRA say, ok, we are going to re-allocate a portion of the obligated multi-state grant and add a purchase of 12 cars for a Chicago-Twin Cities daily train? 5 cars for each consist plus 2 spares for the pool. I expect only an expert in the federal regulations and rules could answer that question.

#32 VentureForth

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Posted 01 October 2012 - 07:19 AM



That said, the Horizons are almost certainly going to end up on the NEC.


Now that's something to look forward to. :lol:

Well, either the Horizons or some Amfleet Is could be converted to LD coaches. There is nothing that says that only Amfleets can be converted. So it could very well be that Horizons go LD and Amfleets go to NEC. One can never tell based on info available at present. Or, of course, the entire lot could go to NEC and Eastern medium distance fleet, with nothing going to LD's, unfortunately the more likely scenario IMHO, since it is the least cost and most revenue alternative.

I was thinking one of the intents was to remove the Horizons from the roster completely.

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#33 jis

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Posted 01 October 2012 - 08:10 AM




That said, the Horizons are almost certainly going to end up on the NEC.


Now that's something to look forward to. :lol:

Well, either the Horizons or some Amfleet Is could be converted to LD coaches. There is nothing that says that only Amfleets can be converted. So it could very well be that Horizons go LD and Amfleets go to NEC. One can never tell based on info available at present. Or, of course, the entire lot could go to NEC and Eastern medium distance fleet, with nothing going to LD's, unfortunately the more likely scenario IMHO, since it is the least cost and most revenue alternative.

I was thinking one of the intents was to remove the Horizons from the roster completely.

I know of one person at NARP who thinks so, but none at Amtrak AFAICT. Would anyone in their right mind get rid of something completely when they are suffering from a serious shortage of the same thing? Not anyone that has to actually operate a railroad providing service would do that with perfectly serviceable equipment. Horizons will live on for quite a while yet.

#34 Trogdor

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Posted 01 October 2012 - 10:16 AM

Amtrak's fleet plan (at least the one from 2010) had the Horizons staying until at least 2030, IIRC.
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#35 VentureForth

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Posted 01 October 2012 - 11:34 AM


Does Nippon-Sharyo have experiences building single level equipment in america?

Yes. Maryland MARC Train single-level push-pull coaches (jointly with Sumitomo Corporation).

And DMU's that are being built for Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit Authority to work its commuter service between Cloverdale and Larkspur to the north of San Francisco as well as a new order for 12 two-car DMUs for Toronto’s future airport rail link to Pearson International Airport, in time for the Pan Am Games.

I don't think we'll see Rader's Colorado Rail Car resurrected.

Edited by VentureForth, 01 October 2012 - 11:36 AM.

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#36 jis

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Posted 01 October 2012 - 01:04 PM



Does Nippon-Sharyo have experiences building single level equipment in america?

Yes. Maryland MARC Train single-level push-pull coaches (jointly with Sumitomo Corporation).

And DMU's that are being built for Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit Authority to work its commuter service between Cloverdale and Larkspur to the north of San Francisco as well as a new order for 12 two-car DMUs for Toronto’s future airport rail link to Pearson International Airport, in time for the Pan Am Games.

I don't think we'll see Rader's Colorado Rail Car resurrected.

Those SMART DMUs are very nice indeed. Capable of 90mph but currently going to operate at 79mph.

#37 Guest_Nathanael_*

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Posted 01 October 2012 - 09:24 PM

I was thinking one of the intents was to remove the Horizons from the roster completely.


Amtrak has specifically said that since they're among the newer cars they intend to hang on to them for a while, even though they're not very popular with riders. What Amtrak has actually said is that they want to move them to warmer locations because they are unreliable in consistent cold weather.

Obviously California is going all-bilevel, so that's out. Further, I'd expect any other future new corridor services in the South or Southwest to use bilevel equipment: it makes for cheaper platforms (new construction has to have level-boarding platforms) and more capacity per car, and the clearances are always present. The only reason to go single-level is to connect through to the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, which already has high platforms and restricted clearances.

I suppose the Horizons could be converted to long-haul coaches for the southern LD trains. Or, in their current configuration, they could be used for the Virginia or North Carolina corridor trains. Running through to Boston is probably tolerable as long as they get thawed out every day by going south of DC. NC has its own odd equipment policy for the Piedmont. So I'm predicting that the Horizons will end up on the NEC, allocated to the south-of-DC trains.

Along similar lines (and drifting further off topic) I'm told that the Viewliner Is have freezing problems which the Viewliner IIs are supposed to address, which might indicate that the Viewliner II sleepers will initially be 'captive' to the more northerly trains, with the trains which go into North Carolina on a daily basis retaining the Viewliner Is. (The numbers work out just about right for that.) This would fit with the statement that the new Viewliners would go to the LSL first. There may be a Viewliner rebuild/retrofit program, of course.

Speculating about equipment cascading is far more entertaining than it should be. :-)

#38 Swadian Hardcore

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Posted 01 October 2012 - 10:59 PM

Now that the contract has been confirmed, I would love to see some renderings, specs, and maybe even what the interior might look like.

I also hope Amtrak will convert some Amfleet Is back to LD config, maybe even Sleeper config. Anyway, more cars, always better.

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#39 Amtrak Cajun

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Posted 02 October 2012 - 12:31 AM

I think the Horizons would be best suited for the NEC. They would probably be too uncomfortable for long haul use. I think the LD trains should be Viewliners, Amfleets and Superliners, and maybe the new bilevels in a pinch.

Could the new bilevels serve as LD units? Or would Superliner 3's be different enough to warrant seperate orders?
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#40 Anderson

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Posted 02 October 2012 - 01:57 AM

I think the Horizons would be best suited for the NEC. They would probably be too uncomfortable for long haul use. I think the LD trains should be Viewliners, Amfleets and Superliners, and maybe the new bilevels in a pinch.

Could the new bilevels serve as LD units? Or would Superliner 3's be different enough to warrant seperate orders?


I'm not sure how much layout tinkering would be needed to switch the cars to LD use. If it were just moving seats around, then there would be no issue, but naturally things are a bit more complicated than that. As I noted earlier, you could at least in theory tag these onto an LD train for shorter-haul seating as-is (i.e. Chicago-Omaha, Chicago-Minneapolis, and Chicago-St. Louis in the Midwest and a couple of segments elsewhere in the system on the West Coast), getting you an extra car's worth of seats and opening up slots for longer-distance travelers. Selling these seats at a discount or slightly bumping up the charge for the LD coaches while providing these seats might feasibly ensue as well (as I know I'd usually be willing to shell out an extra $10-20 for a better seat on the Zephyr, for example). However, to make them suitable for "real" LD service, you'd probably need to add luggage space and an extra "necessities", which would require a different model.

Corridor service in the South might or might not go bilevel. At the present time, the big hangup is that for anything running into VA and NC, there's a big desire to run trains up the NEC to at least NYP (as is the case with both the Carolinian and the VA Regionals), not to mention that you've got the Crescent and Silver Service running through the region regardless. I suspect this desire will at least limit the ability to run bilevels in the region, since your trains along these lines will have to be compatible with anything running north of DC and since a notable minority of new trains are quite possibly going to be running north of DC themselves. The big exception to this might be Florida: Though you've got the Silver Service running down there as well, it is quite possible that the solution might be to have the operations down there use bilevels for the corridor service(s) and just have a "fig leaf" high level platform for one or two cars.

I'll note that another thing Amtrak might be able to do with NC, should the latter desire to expand service at some point in the future, is to "sell" them the Horizons as Amtrak acquires new rolling stock. NC is a bit wacky in terms of their equipment, though, so there is no telling what they are going to want to do if they add any frequencies.
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