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Equipment Order in the works this year (2018)?

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Excerpting from a report on a recent Amtrak Employee Town Hall Meeting hosted by Anderson:

Replacing Amfleets and P42s:

“These are two big programs for us. We want to get an RFP completed and contracts awarded this year. There is no reason why we can’t. In large measure, our Amfleets and P42s can be replaced by more modern, lightweight, environmentally sensitive, ADA-compliant equipment that will give us a completely different product. DMU trainsets in Fort Worth, Texas, and Santa Rosa, California, are the modern way of train travel. If we want to appeal to a millennial generation in high-density urban markets, we need the same kind of modern, unit trains we see operating in Europe and Asia. Making these investments now will benefit
the next generation of Amtrak.”


Other parts of the report has him talking about Amtrak being effectively debt free this year, thus allowing it to take on financing for new equipment. He stated that all capital investment will be consistent with meeting Amtrak's statutory requirements. I read that to mean that LD service is here to stay.

A fleet replacement order for Amfleet Is and P42s would indeed be welcome news.

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From what I can see, Amtrak's only statutory obligation is:

 

"Amtrak shall operate a national rail passenger transportation system which ties together existing and emergent regional rail passenger service and other intermodal passenger service."
That's the result of changes made in 1997 to the original 1970 law, which was (a little) more prescriptive.
As I read the plain text, the "national rail passenger transportation system" Amtrak is obligated to run is one that "ties together existing and emergent regional rail passenger service". That isn't the same thing as a system of long distance trains that lets you take a two-seat ride from Boston to Los Angeles.
There's no obligation regarding frequency of service, duration of travel or number of connections. It can even be read as excluding any obligation to run a long distance (i.e. national passenger transportation) service between points that are served by corridor trains. For example, running weekly trains between San Luis Obispo and San Jose and Sacramento and Eugene would meet any statutory obligation Amtrak has to provide service along the West Coast.
That report also had Anderson praising SMART in Sonoma and Marin counties in California as a model -- at least in terms of equipment -- for Amtrak's future. He equated those to the kinds of trains that provide intercity service in Europe, which he seems to favor. Those are very nice trains, but they're not the classic nineteenth century configuration -- coach, sleeper, diner, lounge, baggage cars -- that are the basis for long distance service as we know it.

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I don't agree about Anderson. The CEO's I know and others I have worked with, all have an ego that drives them to be successful. If Amtrak fails it is a major negative on his record that I don't think his ego can tolerate. It would be better to show that he made the company successful despite how he feels about it. CEOs are a group of competive major egos.

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That’s impossible, Anderson is an airplane guy that hates Amtrak and wants to see it fail.

 

I find it hard to believe that he wants to see it fail. Far more likely he just doesn't know what he's doing. Kinda like Thomas Downs.

 

Regards,

Fred M. Cain

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Almost every president (of both the US and Amtrak) has wanted to see Amtrak fail too. So how would that be any different?:huh:

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I don't agree about Anderson. The CEO's I know and others I have worked with, all have an ego that drives them to be successful. If Amtrak fails it is a major negative on his record that I don't think his ego can tolerate. It would be better to show that he made the company successful despite how he feels about it. CEOs are a group of competive major egos.

I don’t agree either. The sarcasm must have sailed over your head.

 

At the end of the day, the important part is what metric that you use to describe “successful”. The metric he has been given isn’t necessarily aligned with the “run charters and land cruises” that the foamerdom seems to think that it should be.

Edited by Ryan

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I'm definitely curious to see what they have in mind regarding DMU trainsets. A lot of the shorter (consist-wise) corridor trains would probably run quite a bit more efficiently if they didn't have a huge locomotive pulling 3 or 4 passenger cars.

 

That said...where would such equipment operate? I can only think of the Springfield shuttles that really fall into the category of short consists, Amfleet replacement and P42 replacement. Maybe a dual-mode (3rd rail/diesel) DEMU for the Albany corridor?

 

Almost everything else already has other equipment either already in service or on order (Siemens Chargers and coaches).

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That’s impossible, Anderson is an airplane guy that hates Amtrak and wants to see it fail.

 

I find it hard to believe that he wants to see it fail. Far more likely he just doesn't know what he's doing. Kinda like Thomas Downs.

 

Regards,

Fred M. Cain

 

Actually I think it about as likely that the Railfans who are railing don't know how to run a railroad or any other company for that matter either. They just know what their pet hobby horse of the day is. Anderson has actually run a large corporation or two successfully. Not something we can say about most of the armchair executives ranting on and on around here. :P

 

 

I was wondering when this would make it here. I'm surprised no one's mentioned the DMUs yet...

DMUs make sense for certain short to medium corridor service, e.g. the Heartland Flyer comes to mind. There are others too.

 

On the NEC for a service like the Keystone, probably EMUs make a lot of sense.

 

Incidentally in many places elsewhere in the world, and NEC Regional kind of service would be operated using EMU and perhaps DEMUs for those that go outside the electrified region. Could potentially be a a lot more efficient operation than what we have today. Similarly with the Empire Corridor. Not that I am saying anything that makes so much sense would ever happen here. :P

 

My guess is that given the equipment that is already in place, we will get a large order for Brightline like cars for the Amfleet I replacement. There may be some experimentation with the use of DMUs in a few places, but that would be about it as far as DMUs go.

 

What to me is more itneresting is that it sounds like we are talking about P42 replacements, rather than a mid-to-late-life major rebuild.

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I don't agree about Anderson. The CEO's I know and others I have worked with, all have an ego that drives them to be successful. If Amtrak fails it is a major negative on his record that I don't think his ego can tolerate. It would be better to show that he made the company successful despite how he feels about it. CEOs are a group of competive major egos.

 

How CEO's judge success is rarely inline with how average customers or rank and file employees would judge success.

 

Almost every president (of both the US and Amtrak) has wanted to see Amtrak fail too. So how would that be any different?

 

I didn't seen any evidence of Clinton or Obama hoping/trying to kill off Amtrak. Bush (43) and Trump did publish budget proposals that would have left much of Amtrak essentially bankrupt/liquidated if not for Congress largely ignoring them. Did Reagan or the elder Bush (41) also try to get rid of Amtrak?

Edited by Devil's Advocate

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Maybe Clinton did not try to kill all of Amtrak, but I can think of 2 examples from 1997. They are the Pioneer and the Desert Wind.

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Almost every president (of both the US and Amtrak) has wanted to see Amtrak fail too. So how would that be any different?

I didn't seen any evidence of Clinton or Obama hoping/trying to kill off Amtrak. Bush (43) and Trump did publish budget proposals that would have left much of Amtrak essentially bankrupt/liquidated if not for Congress largely ignoring them. Did Reagan or the elder Bush (41) also try to get rid of Amtrak?

 

Reagan certainly did in his first term in a big way. Remember the famous Stockman budgets?

Maybe Clinton did not try to kill all of Amtrak, but I can think of 2 examples from 1997. They are the Pioneer and the Desert Wind.

Amtrak deciding to handle its equipment shortage in a particular way does not necessarily have much to do with a President of the US wanting to kill Amtrak.

 

this would be akin to giving credit to Trump for Amtrak getting a huge funding this year in spite of Trump's best effort to see it not happen, and even threats to veto the budget over such matters.

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Based on the Viewliner 2 and Sumitomo/Siemens order Amtrak may get these cars by 2030 if they issue the RFP this year.

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Based on the Viewliner 2 and Sumitomo/Siemens order Amtrak may get these cars by 2030 if they issue the RFP this year.

If they place the order with some outfit like Alstom or Siemens or some other outfit, who have established facilities in the US with a good track record for delivering US manufactured cars, an order placed this year would like be delivered within 3-5 years - by 2023 or so on the outside. The earlier dates would be likely if minimal modification of a standard platform is required. OTOH, if there is insistence on the cars being Viewliners, then all bets on both delivery timelines and costs are off.

Edited by jis

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You also note that I did not say every president, I said ALMOST every president! That means that there are some exceptions.

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You also note that I did not say every president, I said ALMOST every president! That means that there are some exceptions.

Could we please get over this silly diversion and focus on the possibilities that arise out of an equipment order? Please? Pretty please?

 

If it is to replace the entire Amfleet I fleet then it would be an order of the order of 450 - 500 cars or so cars I would imagine. Originally 492 Amfleet I were purchased.

 

I wonder if all would be trailers or a small set, say 30 or 40 or so would be ordered in the form of DME/EMU or even DEMU.

 

Of the locomotives, if it is a total fleet replacement that would be something like 320 units counting P40s and 42s. I wonder, given how much through traffic to non--electrified territory exists now, whether there would be a small subset say 20 or so dual modes thrown in.

Edited by jis

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The quote would imply mostly off the shelf technology that other railroads use around the world. Maybe Amtrak has learned from the VL2 order. Their most recent orders all seem to be off the shelf products with minor modifications to work here; Acela replacement, Chargers, Siemens replacement for Bi-levels.

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I think the first clue to Anderson's capital spending plan will come if/when we see the route changes that are apparently in process for this summer. If he moves toward breaking up the one/two seat long distance rides into (theoretically contiguous) city pair segments, that'll be an indication that he's leaning toward a mix with more powered cars (of whatever kind).

 

SMART-type trainsets with two powered cars could be used to provide more frequent service between heavily trafficked pairs, and less frequently otherwise, with the segments designed as day trips, i.e. no sleeper service.

 

I don't think he's going to get rid of sleeper service, but I do think he's going to deploy it strategically – offer overnight rides as a specific service where there's demand for it (DC-Chicago?) and not as a way of stitching segments together, as it is now.

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I'm curious what will happen to the Amfleet Is. Hopefully they will retain at least a subset of the fleet, either to supplement the Amfleet IIs or to give them a pool of equipment to offer to states to increase corridor service.

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That’s impossible, Anderson is an airplane guy that hates Amtrak and wants to see it fail.

 

You must be spending to much time elsewhere on the internet, as you managed to sum up just about every post on a certain other message board. :P

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From what I can see, Amtrak's only statutory obligation is:

 

"Amtrak shall operate a national rail passenger transportation system which ties together existing and emergent regional rail passenger service and other intermodal passenger service."
That's the result of changes made in 1997 to the original 1970 law, which was (a little) more prescriptive.
As I read the plain text, the "national rail passenger transportation system" Amtrak is obligated to run is one that "ties together existing and emergent regional rail passenger service". That isn't the same thing as a system of long distance trains that lets you take a two-seat ride from Boston to Los Angeles.

 

Actually, it is the same thing.

 

Have you thought about this? Existing regional rail service is present in:

-- Boston

-- New York

-- Philadelphia

-- Baltimore

-- Washington DC (hmm, the NEC seems mandated)

-- Miami (oh, so Amtrak has to connect Miami to DC)

-- Orlando (see Miami)

-- Chicago (oh, so Amtrak has to connect Chicago to the east coast)

-- Minneapolis (oh, so Amtrak has to connect that to Chicago)

-- Seattle & Portland (oh, so Amtrak has to connect those to Chicago)

-- Denver (oh, so Amtrak has to connect that to Chicago)

-- Salt Lake (oh, so Amtrak has to connect that to Denver)

-- the Bay Area (oh, so Amtrak has to connect that to Seattle, Portland, Salt Lake, Denver, Chicago, etc.)

-- Los Angeles (oh, so Amtrak has to connect that to the Bay Area, etc. etc. etc.)

-- Dallas/Fort Worth (oh, so Amtrak has to connect that to Chicago)

-- Albuquerque (oh, so Amtrak has to connect that to something, let's say LA)

-- Nashville (darn it, I think Amtrak is obligated to expand to Nashville!)

 

If you look at this list of cities with existing regional rail service, you find that the only "nonessential" Amtrak long-distance routes -- by this Congressionally-mandated criterion -- are the three which go to New Orleans.

 

If you assume "other intermodal passenger service" means local rail, of course, it also makes sense to go to:

New Orleans, Kansas City, Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, San Diego, Tacoma, Tucson, Newark, Sacramento, Trenton, Norfolk, Tampa, and Memphis.

 

Also Houston, Austin, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Phoenix, Cincinnati, and Charlotte, but only if the Amtrak station is moved or the local rail is extended. Also Cleveland but only if Amtrak arrives while the light rail is running to its station.

 

What's interesting about this list? Except for Nashville, all of these places actually have Amtrak service, although that final list needs some very major improvements to connectivity.

Edited by neroden

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For various reasons, I have grave doubts that all this talk about the breaking up of the LD intercity network will come to pass. Mr. Anderson will be very hard pressed to explain to his 500+ proxy owners that such a move is consistent with Amtrak's mission, and I suspect he is unlikely to throw a hissy fit over such a matter, even assuming that he believes that a trunk system is undesireable.

 

For those that like to hark back to his Delta and Northwest days trying to decipher him, he never harmed Delta's or Northwest's trunk network. Indeed he strengthened them.

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From what I can see, Amtrak's only statutory obligation is:

 

"Amtrak shall operate a national rail passenger transportation system which ties together existing and emergent regional rail passenger service and other intermodal passenger service."

 

That's the result of changes made in 1997 to the original 1970 law, which was (a little) more prescriptive.

 

As I read the plain text, the "national rail passenger transportation system" Amtrak is obligated to run is one that "ties together existing and emergent regional rail passenger service". That isn't the same thing as a system of long distance trains that lets you take a two-seat ride from Boston to Los Angeles.

Actually, it is the same thing.

 

Have you thought about this? Existing regional rail service is present in:

-- Boston

-- New York

-- Philadelphia

-- Baltimore

-- Washington DC (hmm, the NEC seems mandated)

-- Miami (oh, so Amtrak has to connect Miami to DC)

-- Orlando (see Miami)

-- Chicago (oh, so Amtrak has to connect Chicago to the east coast)

-- Minneapolis (oh, so Amtrak has to connect that to Chicago)

-- Seattle & Portland (oh, so Amtrak has to connect those to Chicago)

-- Denver (oh, so Amtrak has to connect that to Chicago)

-- Salt Lake (oh, so Amtrak has to connect that to Denver)

-- the Bay Area (oh, so Amtrak has to connect that to Seattle, Portland, Salt Lake, Denver, Chicago, etc.)

-- Los Angeles (oh, so Amtrak has to connect that to the Bay Area, etc. etc. etc.)

-- Dallas/Fort Worth (oh, so Amtrak has to connect that to Chicago)

-- Albuquerque (oh, so Amtrak has to connect that to something, let's say LA)

-- Nashville (darn it, I think Amtrak is obligated to expand to Nashville!)

 

If you look at this list of cities with existing regional rail service, you find that the only "nonessential" Amtrak long-distance routes -- by this Congressionally-mandated criterion -- are the three which go to New Orleans.

If you include rapid transit then the Crescent would be required as well because of Atlanta, while Tucson and Houston's light rail could be interpreted to require the Sunset Limited. However, if connecting urban and commuter rail systems was the intention of that requirement, then it is being very poorly enforced (as you mentioned, Nashville, as well as the new SMART train and the Light Rail system in Phoenix).

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