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

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The news is out this morning that Nippon-Sharyo in partnership with Sumitomo Corporation has been selected to build the 130 corridor bi-level cars at their new plant in Rochelle, IL. The bid was only $352 million, well below the amount allocated by the FRA grants, although I'm sure there are overhead, training, and spare parts costs built into the HSIPR and CA allocated amounts. 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.

 

Chicago Tribune AP article on the breaking news.

 

Excerpt:

 

CHICAGO — The company that makes cars for Japan's bullet train has been picked to build a fleet of next generation passenger cars for rail corridors in the Midwest and California.

 

Illinois, Michigan, Missouri and California teamed up to buy the 130 bi-level cars at a lower cost.

 

The cars will be made at a new plant opened up by Nippon-Sharyo's U.S. subsidiary in Rochelle, Ill. It submitted a bid of $352 million with partner Sumitomo Corporation of America.

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It's been reported on several other sites that a contract for 130 bi-level cars to be used in Illinois, Michigan, Missouri and California has been awarded to a joint bid from Nippon-Sharyo and Sumitoma Corporation of America. The cars will be built at Nippon-Sharyo's new plant in Rochelle, IL. That plant is currently building bi-level gallery EMU's for use on Metra's Electric Division. Cost for the will be $352 million with delivery to start in 2015. There's talk that California might add another 20-30 cars to the contract at a latter date.

Nippon-Shayro has built single-level EMUs for the South Shore, bi-level EMUs for South Shore and Metra, unpowered bi-level galleries for Metra and VRE.

So that's good news, Amtrak will be getting new equipment and Illinois will benefit from having the cars assembled in-state.

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That is great news. These Bi-Levels will have a build similar to the California cars correct? I saw the plans for the Bi-Level cars on here a while back, and I was impressed.

 

Im happy to see that they have been green lighted. Maybe this will take some of the strain off of the current fleet once they are released for service.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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This sounds great! The company has a solid history of building bi-level commuter cars for railroads in this country, and I haven't heard of any big problems with the cars.

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I, for one, really look forward to climbing aboard one of these new cars in a few years time. I vaguely remember when the first-generation California Cars were first introduced and the hype surrounding them; they (rightfully) made the Horizon fleet then in daily use on the Capitol Corridor look downright embarrassing. It's the Midwest's turn to have the same shock value.

 

As for the company making them, I completely agree with MattW. Nippon-Sharyo makes a solid product, has a very strong reputation, and obviously made their bid as competitive as they possibly could in order to land this project. Their plant is established, their workers already experienced in making double-level passenger equipment, and minor to moderate retooling is really all that needs to be done; something that companies like CAF could not match.

 

Good news!

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Guest peremichel

This sounds great! The company has a solid history of building bi-level commuter cars for railroads in this country, and I haven't heard of any big problems with the cars.

 

Agreed. They make good solid cars and they make sure that they run properly. Not a particularly flashy company but exceedingly competent. I am pleased.

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Am I correct in my understanding that these cars are not like the Superliners and are more like commuter cars? I'm not familiar with The California cars.

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Am I correct in my understanding that these cars are not like the Superliners and are more like commuter cars? I'm not familiar with The California cars.

 

California cars have the same basic outside size / shape of a superliner, but have two doors. There is a larger stairway (ramp?) between levels. Lower level is more open, bathroom on bottom level is single stall but larger and handicap accessible. Can be used interchangeably with superliner cars, no issues. I rode them a few years ago, and thought they were pretty comfortable on San Diegan service; the only issue was they were crowded and it was hard to find seats at first.

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No, there is no ramp in them. On a whim, I once calculated what it would take to produce an ada-compliant ramp for a bi-level railcar, and it would have taken up most of one side of the car meaning loss of seating. Probably the best analogy is the California cars and upcoming bi-levels are like Amfleet-Is, while the Superliner coaches are more like Amfleet-IIs. It's not a direct comparison with stuff like window size of course, but similar idea.

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Nippon-Sharyo is responsible for the majority market share of the Shinkansen rolling stock, delivering over 3000 cars in the last 40 years. They have built the original 0 series, the 200, 100, 300, 500, 700, N700 and E2 trainsets.

 

I approve. :D

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That is great news. These Bi-Levels will have a build similar to the California cars correct? I saw the plans for the Bi-Level cars on here a while back, and I was impressed.

 

Im happy to see that they have been green lighted. Maybe this will take some of the strain off of the current fleet once they are released for service.

The new bi-levels should free up the Amfleet Is and Superliner coach cars used in California and the Superliners that get used in winter in the Chicago corridors. I think Caltrans would be inclined to order as many as they need to have an entirely bi-level corridor car fleet of Surfliners, California cars, and the new bi-levels. Keep in mind if delivery starts in 2015, the initial units have to go through extensive testing, and only so many units will be delivered per month or quarter. So it probably will be 2016 or 2017 before enough bi-levels are delivered to free up the various Amfleets or Superliners to be used elsewhere. What happens to the Horizons is not known, but that is another topic.

 

That the bi-levels will be built in Illinois and that the CAF plant making the Viewliner IIs (or whatever they will officially be called) is in Elmira New York, states with strong support of passenger rail service, helps the politics of Amtrak placing follow-on orders with the 2 companies if Amtrak is satisfied with what they deliver. Easy to get the Senators and the Congressional delegation on board in support of funding for equipment orders if they realize that the cars will almost certainly be built in their state.

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CHICAGO — The company that makes cars for Japan's bullet train has been picked to build a fleet of next generation passenger cars for rail corridors in the Midwest and California.

 

Illinois, Michigan, Missouri and California teamed up to buy the 130 bi-level cars at a lower cost.

 

And Iowa contributed nothing, so it will get nothing. :(

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And Iowa contributed nothing, so it will get nothing. :(

Illinois is buying the rolling stock for the Chicago-Quad Cities service. IL got $177.3 million of the FY2010 $230 million Chicago-Iowa City corridor grant parceled off to proceed with its portion of the corridor track upgrades and buy the equipment. If Iowa decides to proceed with the extension to Iowa City and put up the 20% state matching funds, the remaining $52.7 million for Iowa is still available. By 2015 or 2016, the corridor bi-levels and new locomotives will be in service on the IL portion of the corridor. Then if Iowa takes the federal money and upgrades the tracks to Iowa City with new stations, voilà, the trains can continue onward to Iowa City. Makes for a very low hanging fruit at that point for extending Amtrak service to a new city.

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CHICAGO — The company that makes cars for Japan's bullet train has been picked to build a fleet of next generation passenger cars for rail corridors in the Midwest and California.

 

Illinois, Michigan, Missouri and California teamed up to buy the 130 bi-level cars at a lower cost.

 

And Iowa contributed nothing, so it will get nothing. :(

 

True, but IA's train plans are (rather annoyingly) stalled out. To be fair, they could probably buy off some options at a later date.

 

Remind me...was the original allocation $500 million? If so, that's enough "spare space" to throw another 20-30 cars into the fleet without too much trouble. At $2.7 million/car, this is actually on par with the projected single-level car purchases ($2.5 million) and miles below the projected $4million per bilevel number.

 

Also, does anyone know how many options there are in the contract?

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Remind me...was the original allocation $500 million? If so, that's enough "spare space" to throw another 20-30 cars into the fleet without too much trouble. At $2.7 million/car, this is actually on par with the projected single-level car purchases ($2.5 million) and miles below the projected $4million per bilevel number.

 

Also, does anyone know how many options there are in the contract?

Yes, the total funding for the bi-level corridor cars worked out to right around $4 or $4.5 million per car times 130 as I recall. We have not seen the details of the award, so there may be additional costs for spare parts, training from Nippon-Sharyo and there should be overhead costs covered with the HSIPR & state funds. Still, the bid price per unit is way lower than the "loaded" placeholder amount of $4.5 million listed in the Amtrak Fleet Strategy Plan. Same goes for the single level cars being build by CAF at ~ $2.3 million each compared to the $3.5 million in the plan.

 

Besides allowing the states to exercise options to buy more cars from the remaining unspent funds, the lower actual bid prices means that the price of ordering 700 single level cars to replace the Amfleets I & IIs and, say, up to 300 bi-levels configured as sleepers, diners, lounge cars, LD coach cars to replace the Superliner Is is perhaps a billion dollars less than what Amtrak projects in their Fleet strategy plans.

 

According to the Illinois bi-level RFP document from April, the total options is for 200 cars. Amazing what can turn up with a Google search. :cool:

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200 options? *whistles* That could make a very real mark in the impending car shortage. At the very least, it should clear single-level cars (other than the Talgos) out of everywhere outside the NEC. Assuming that the plans play out in the timeframe in question, that could easily cover most of the plausible service expansions in the Midwest and West over the next decade. Heck, there are various "other" projects (most notably FEC's service) that could also "fit in" with the options available.

 

To be fair, unless there are service expansions and/or train lengthening plans in the Midwest that I'm not aware of (and of course, extending trains by a car or two wouldn't be an unrealistic ambition), I can only think of three plausible projects in the medium-range timeframe (Quad Cities-Omaha, CHI-MSP, and MSP-Duluth), though if Kaisch gets the boot in '14 it is at least possible that 3Cs might get restarted (and ditto the Madison project if Walker gets thrown out).

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To be fair, unless there are service expansions and/or train lengthening plans in the Midwest that I'm not aware of (and of course, extending trains by a car or two wouldn't be an unrealistic ambition), I can only think of three plausible projects in the medium-range timeframe (Quad Cities-Omaha, CHI-MSP, and MSP-Duluth),

 

Keep in mind that going from single level to bi-level cars is already going to increase capacity of the existing trains, assuming that they use the same number of cars.

 

though if Kaisch gets the boot in '14 it is at least possible that 3Cs might get restarted (and ditto the Madison project if Walker gets thrown out).

 

Won't help there, as IIRC Ohio's plan was for DMU's.

 

I suppose that they could change their minds, if they were to decide to go ahead.

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Guest Nathanael

The news is out this morning that Nippon-Sharyo in partnership with Sumitomo Corporation has been selected to build the 130 corridor bi-level cars at their new plant in Rochelle, IL. The bid was only $352 million, well below the amount allocated by the FRA grants, although I'm sure there are overhead, training, and spare parts costs built into the HSIPR and CA allocated amounts. 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 now wondering how much "leftover" there is in the FRA grants for this. There will probably be a rush to spend the leftover. CA will probably simply buy extra cars with it; IL might too, given its penchant for expanding services. MI and MO, I'm not so sure.

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Guest Nathanael

The new bi-levels should free up the Amfleet Is and Superliner coach cars used in California and the Superliners that get used in winter in the Chicago corridors.

And I think it should free up the Horizons and Amfleet Is used in the Chicago corridors too! Well, eventually.

 

I haven't actually figured out what the state-for-state split is (they've been awfully vague about that). Thanks to the person who tracked down the RFP: It's 42 to Caltrans and 88 to "the Midwest Coalition" (no MI/MO/IL breakdown).

 

There are 96 Horizons, so the midwest order is not quite enough to replace the Horizon fleet. However, a whole bunch of those are used for the Hiawatha, and a couple for the soon-to-end Hoosier State. So I assume it's intended to replace everything except those. It still seems a bit tight, so I would expect them to take up some options just to have spares and room for expansion. Perhaps if they take the option, they'll get enough to use them for the Hiawathas too; Illinois does pay *part* of the cost of the Hiawathas. That would eliminate single-level cars from Amtrak in the Midwest (except for the long-distance trains heading east, obviously).

 

I assume California plans to keep the California Cars / Surfliners, replace the Amfleet set on the Surfliner and the ones on the San Joaquins, replace the 7 California-repaired Superliners, and replace the Comets they just bought. With an order of 42 this means they are already ordering enough for spares and more expansion.

 

(Reviews topic....)

Whoa. $551 (allocated) - $352 (bid) = 199 million. That is enough to get quite a lot of extra cars. Enough that some of the money might even be redirected to something else.

 

...

The freed-up Amfleets, Horizons, and Superliners will provide only a little relief; 7 coaches doesn't help the Superliner shortage much, and the acute single-level shortage is Amfleet IIs. (I wonder if Amtrak will convert some Amfleet Is to long-distance seating to alleviate the mid-term Amfleet II shortage.) That said, the Horizons are almost certainly going to end up on the NEC.

 

Here's hoping for a Viewliner Coach order in the new year, followed by a Superliner III order...

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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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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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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.

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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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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.

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