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

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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.

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

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

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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.

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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)?

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.

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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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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.

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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 Torontos 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

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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.

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Guest Nathanael

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. :-)

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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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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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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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I think the Horizons would be best suited for the NEC. They would probably be too uncomfortable for long haul use.

 

problem with Horizons on NEC is they do not have elecric doors or door trainlines/door control stations.

Edited by Dutchrailnut

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I think the Horizons would be best suited for the NEC. They would probably be too uncomfortable for long haul use.

 

problem with Horizons on NEC is they do not have elecric doors or door trainlines/door control stations.

That is precisely why I think Horizons will go to LDs and Medium distance trains before they will go to NEC Regionals. OTOH, Amfleets will definitely go to the NEC Regionals.

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Thanks for the correction about the Horizon doors. Well, whatever Amtrak decides should be ok. It is fun to speculate though.

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

The coach cars could be adopted with LD seats and seat spacing. Which may be the plan, once Amtrak can line up the funding to begin replacement of the Superliner Is. The most serious shortage that Amtrak faces with the Superliners are sleeper cars. The new bi-level car design of course would have to be extensively reconfigured for use as sleeper cars, diner cars, sightseer lounge cars, and trans-dorms if Amtrak want to retain the trans-dorm configuration. All of which would have to be a new order and contract.

 

Amtrak states in the Fleet Strategy Plan that the plan is to base the Superliner replacements on the new bi-level design and car order. That would mean a bi-level/Superliner III fleet where the LD and corridor cars share the same frame, trucks, windows, many of the same parts which will keep maintenance and spare part inventory costs down.

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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.

Raleigh, Savannah, Jacksonville FL, and Tampa are all funded to build high level platforms to comply with the recent USDOT mandated level boarding requirement. Whether Jacksonville and Tampa could also retain low level platforms that could be used by Superliners or bi-levels, don't know. What happens to the platforms for the Sunrail commuter stations which will be shared with the Amtrak Silver trains in central Florida, don't know. The USDOT cutoff was February 1, 2012 where the new rule does not apply to construction contracts, including a commitment to a specific design, which were signed before then. The cutoff date probably means the Miami Central Station, which is to get thousand foot long platforms, will be low level, either 8" or 15" ATR.

 

The USDOT rule for level boarding platforms will have a complicated impact on where the bi-level and single level cars operate. if they have to build two mini-high platforms with ramps and bridgeplates, one for 48" ATR and one for 15" ATR, at each mixed use station, that could get a bit expensive. My guess is that for Amtrak, the east coast from Maine to the northern Florida border will be the domain of single level cars. Florida may see both, depending on what Sunrail and the FEC do.

 

As for NC, the HSIPR grants provide funding to refurbish additional equipment, enough for a 3rd daily Piedmont and maybe for 4 daily Piedmonts, but I have to check on whether the funding cover 4 daily Piedmonts. Bu the time NC would be looking to acquire additional equipment, a large combined order of new single level coach cars should be underway.

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My major concern is whether these will weigh the same as the bloated Superliners (why are they and their Hi-Level predecessors so heavy anyhow?) or whether they'll be in line with other bilevel cars and be about 15-20 tons less. It's not a trivial concern as the added weight impairs acceleration and fuel economy.

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My major concern is whether these will weigh the same as the bloated Superliners (why are they and their Hi-Level predecessors so heavy anyhow?) or whether they'll be in line with other bilevel cars and be about 15-20 tons less. It's not a trivial concern as the added weight impairs acceleration and fuel economy.

The specification says they must weigh less than 150,000lb (Coach) to 154,000lb (Coach-Baggage). The current Superliners weigh in at something like 148,000lb (Coach). The current California Cars are a little heavier. The California Cars are already capable of 125mph, though they have nowhere to run that fast.

 

The Go Transit style Bombardier (ex- Hawker-Siddeley) lozenges are about 110,000lb, but generally have less space capacity than Superliners and are also less robust in collisions.

 

If there was real interest in running an energy efficient operation at 125 mhp then the double decker cars would look and weigh more like the TGV Duplex or the Shinkansen Green Cars, and not the behemoths that the Superliners are. But that is clearly not where the focus is. These cars have to run in the wild west where truck drivers think it is their birth right to plow straight through a train at a grade crossing and such :)

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Follow the link to see what an Amtrak train looks like after being hit by a loaded semi truck yesterday. Not bad. Not one fatality, worst injury appears to be a broken leg that a passenger suffered when they fell. And, as the link suggests, the crossing gate was down. Given that the truck hit the car behind the engine, I would guess the truck lost its brakes. That is a driver that has a story to tell...

 

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2012/10/02/crossing-gate-down-in-california-train-crash-amtrak-official-says/

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Follow the link to see what an Amtrak train looks like after being hit by a loaded semi truck yesterday. Not bad. Not one fatality, worst injury appears to be a broken leg that a passenger suffered when they fell. And, as the link suggests, the crossing gate was down. Given that the truck hit the car behind the engine, I would guess the truck lost its brakes. That is a driver that has a story to tell...

 

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2012/10/02/crossing-gate-down-in-california-train-crash-amtrak-official-says/

The train was in push mode. The truck hit the car ahead of the engine, so three or four cars behind the lead cab car.

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