Heritage Baggage Cars - Will Any Remain December 31, 2015?

Discussion in 'Amtrak Rail Discussion' started by Notelvis, Dec 31, 2014.

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  1. Dec 31, 2014 #1

    Notelvis

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    As the end seems near for the Heritage Fleet Baggage Cars, I grabbed a picture of one this morning on the southbound 'Silver Star' moving at track speed as it approached the Debary, FL SunRail station.

    [​IMG]
     
  2. Dec 31, 2014 #2

    Bob Dylan

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    Any word when the new bag cars will start being put into service and the heritage ones will start being pulled off?

    Seems like the Silver Trains will be the first to run with them in the consists!
     
  3. Dec 31, 2014 #3

    jis

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    I have heard from a usually reliable source that about a dozen handpicked Heritage Cars will be retained in the ready fleet
     
  4. Dec 31, 2014 #4

    Anderson

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    That sounds reasonable...either as peak-season extras or as protect cars. Likewise I suspect we'll have a few Heritage diners floating as spares for 3-5 years (to make sure that we don't end up with some latent bug popping up shortly and Amtrak not being able to easily pull the cars from service).
     
  5. Jan 2, 2015 #5

    railiner

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    With just a modicum of maintenance, those Budd Heritage baggage cars could probably last a century.....
     
  6. Jan 2, 2015 #6

    Paulus

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    But would it be cost-effective maintenance?
     
  7. Jan 2, 2015 #7

    neroden

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    It's been 60 years for nearly all of them already, longer for some; I think the newest is from 1957.

    The coach-converted-to-baggage cars are reportedly in really bad shape; the undercarriage and frame weren't designed to handle the weight of lots of baggage and apparently they've suffered badly. They would never have lasted 100 years under any circumstances (well, unless they had been kept as coaches), and I would expect every last one to be retired ASAP.

    The ones which were actually built as baggage cars are holding up better, but according to On Track On Line, there's only 27 of them. If Amtrak is keeping ~12 of them as a reserve fleet for excess baggage, that's actually quite a large percentage.

    There's a 1957 lot built for ATSF, a 1953 lot built for ATSF, and some oddballs built for other railways. I've also read that *individual baggage cars* have separate speed limits, so I imagine Amtrak will get rid of the oddballs and try to have a consistent reserve fleet.

    And of course parts are not manufactured any more. I would expect many of the remaining ~15 to be scrapped for parts to keep that reserve fleet running.

    So when you look at it, the only cost-effective way to keep these running is

    (1) scrap the coach-converted-to-baggage cars

    (2) scrap the oddball baggage cars built for anyone other than ATSF

    (3) break up half of the ATSF cars for parts to supply the other half

    Which is pretty much what Amtrak is doing, but it only gets them a dozen cars.
     
  8. Jan 2, 2015 #8

    Anderson

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    It might be worth mentioning that keeping a batch of those cars in reserve arguably serves a certain political goal as well: Setting aside the Great Dome (which is an excursion car in many respects) and the PPCs, those dozen-or-so baggage cars provide a small regular-use fleet that can be used to wave around "We're still regularly using equipment from the 1950s!" when funding matters come up without breaking the bank to do so, with the hope of inducing another round of Viewliner II purchases (or something similar).
     
  9. Jan 2, 2015 #9

    StriderGDM

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    Another use for a small set of limited baggage cars is if a state said, "hey, we want a baggage care, got any you can provide for us?"

    Something like the Ethan Allen could go back to having a dedicated baggage car, with a dedicated paint scheme like it had oh so many years ago.
     
  10. Jan 2, 2015 #10

    afigg

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    The Five Year Financial Plan for FY12-16 showed the then plan for rolling stock counts through FY16 which had 25 Heritage baggage car staying in the fleet in FY15 and FY16 (down from 73). The FY14 budget and five year plan document does not show rolling stock counts projected out 5 years, but it does have projected capital expenditures through FY18 and the overhaul budget for the heritage equipment is zeroed out after FY14.

    Makes sense to keep a cherry picked Heritage set around for reserve spares and non-revenue miscellaneous service use. Such as the exhibit train. But with a total of 80 new baggage cars (full bags plus bag-dorms), expanding the current baggage fleet size, no need to keep any around for regular revenue service.
     
  11. Jan 2, 2015 #11

    afigg

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    Having old rolling stock has not exactly helped to get funding from Congress for equipment acquisition in the last few years. ;) Besides, by the end of 2015, Amtrak will be able to point to 40 year old Amfleet Is for examples of old equipment with a lot of miles on them. And the Superliner Is will start hitting 40 years old before the end of the decade.
     
  12. Jan 2, 2015 #12

    OlympianHiawatha

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    If you had a way to get one of these from the rail to your property, those Heritage Bags would make excellent storage buildings. Of course being twice as long as the typical Box Car the getting it to your property part is going to be the challenge.
     
  13. Jan 2, 2015 #13

    jis

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    Then again it might be a somewhat leaky storage building, having seen the state of some of those cars!
     
  14. Jan 2, 2015 #14

    Devil's Advocate

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    Even if every baggage car was permanently retired Amtrak could still say that their newest long distance passenger cars are based on designs from the 1980's. Considering that we're currently just a few years away from 2020 I'm fairly certain these too will be forty or fifty years old before anyone considers replacing them.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 4, 2015
  15. Jan 3, 2015 #15
    Instead of dumping the remaining Heritage equipment, Amtrak should do one of two options:

    Option 1 (Shift surplus Viewliner I and Heritage equipment onto at least two of the following routes)

    • Reinstate the Three Rivers route (Viewliner I & Heritage)
    • Make the Cardinal daily (Viewliner I)
    • Put sleepers back on #66 & #67 (Viewliner I)
    • Extend the Palmetto to Tampa via the S-Line (Viewliner I & Heritage)
    • Reinstate the Montrealer (Viewliner I & leftover equipment other states may be giving up once they get new cars; e.g., Horizon Cars)
    Option 2 (Send all remaining Heritage equipment to North Carolina)

    How do you think Piedmont service is so successful down here? If Amtrak doesn't want decades-old equipment, NCDOT knows how to make such equipment look and feel brand new.
     
  16. Jan 3, 2015 #16

    MikefromCrete

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    You want entire trains of baggage cars and diners? The Heritage equipment is old and has served well. Let them go. The Viewliner I sleepers aren't going away, they'll be refurbished and put back into regular service.
     
  17. Jan 3, 2015 #17

    jis

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    I don't have any idea where people get this idea that Viewliner I Sleepers are going away. Don't worry. They are staying put. At present there isn't even any money to retrofit them with the new layout. They will soldier on as is until such money is found. At that point they will cycled through rebuilding a few at a time and put back in service with new layout, new paint (Phase III) and new names. They will all be named after Eastern rivers, as will the new Viewliner II Sleepers. They will be named in the same sequence as reported in PTJ 4:2014.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 3, 2015
  18. Jan 4, 2015 #18

    neroden

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    It shouldn't be very expensive to retrofit the Viewliner Is... they're all modular, right?...

    (a) buy new bathroom modules (we worked out these are probably pretty cheap actually)

    (b) pull out the roomette modules

    (c ) throw out the worst-condition 1/12 of them

    (d) seal the toilets and remove the toilet plumbing from the remainder

    (e) replace the electronics and replace lights with LED (needed to be done anyway)

    (f) retrim them if it is thought necessary (optional)

    (g) put 'em back in

    The upfront cost is 50 extra bathroom modules, and Amtrak should be able to find the budget for that. The rest of it is less work than Amtrak does in a typical Level 2 overhaul, even if it technically qualifies as "level 3 overhaul" work; it can simply be worked into the regular schedule at Beech Grove.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 4, 2015
  19. Jan 4, 2015 #19

    jis

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    Yup,. All that I said is that it is not currently budgeted, the last I heard. That's all.
     
  20. Jan 4, 2015 #20

    neroden

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    Well, since the Viewliner II sleepers won't be arriving until the end of FY 2015, I wouldn't expect a budget line for refurbishing the Viewliner Is until FY 2016.
     
  21. Jan 4, 2015 #21

    StriderGDM

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    And honestly, I'd rather see a budget line for the additional 70 Viewliners first.
     
  22. Jan 4, 2015 #22

    afigg

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    With the Viewliner Is now approaching 20 years in service, the cars are likely due for a major mid-life overhaul anyway. Why do a half-assed upgrade, instead of a full upgrade with new roomette and bedroom modules to have the Viewliner Is match the internal configuration of the new Viewliner IIs? Simplifies maintenance and spare parts inventory to have identical Viewliner modules across the fleet for one thing.

    The cost of a standard overhaul for the Viewliner Is works out to around $500K to $600K each. I get that number from the FY2014 budget for the Viewliner overhauls which was $7.5 million for 12 cars scheduled to be overhauled that year on a ~4 year overhaul cycle. So if a major mid-life overhaul with new modules runs $1 million or so, that would not be a huge increase. Relatively cheap compared to the Acela overhauls which cost about $10 million a trainset. The FY14 five year plan projected capital expenditure shows Acela overhauls continuing through FY2016 (with $62.9M in FY14 to $46.8M in FY16) and then zeroed out after that. Depending on Amtrak's capital funding situation in FY2017, they could take circa $50 million that was being spent each FY on the Acela overhauls and apply some of it to upgrading the Viewliner Is over a 2 or 4 year period.
     
  23. Jan 4, 2015 #23

    Devil's Advocate

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    What about the Superliners that still haven't been rebuilt to flush correctly? Are today's Viewliners starting to suffer from putrid air flow and raw sewage on the floor? If not why should they be prioritized before cars with serious problems?
     
  24. Jan 4, 2015 #24

    neroden

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    It seems like a waste to toss modules which are in perfectly good condition mechanically.
    The parts which have to be replaced frequently should all be replaced during an overhaul (including electrics, lighting, etc.) But mechanics which move the beds up and down, the sinks, and so forth -- why replace it if it isn't broken? These don't require significant maintainance. Furthermore, the Viewliner maintenance procedure for serious defects is to replace the entire module. Is there even a problem with having two slightly different types of roomette module in the same car, as long as they're practically identical? I don't think so.

    Yeah, sometimes. The enormous number of toilets... there's a lot of places stuff can go wrong...
    Worse is the freeze-up problem, which requires substantial work under the floor to add the "shrouds". Now that I think about it, this (not the interiors) is probably the *expensive* part of retrofitting the Viewliner Is.

    (a) Because Superliners were designed to be extremely difficult to renovate, as far as I can tell, while Viewliners were designed to be easy to renovate. ("Non-modular" vs. "Modular"). So far more should get done for the same amount of money.(b) Because of the different internal configuration between Viewliner Is and Viewliner IIs, they can't be used interchangeably in the reservations system unless renovated, and if Is are subbed for IIs, it gives customers a "don't know what to expect" situation. Admittedly there's some of this with the Superliner Is and IIs, but at least they have the same number of rooms.
     
  25. Jan 12, 2015 #25

    Agent

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    Is this the thread to put this? Someone filmed AMTK 1750 on Amtrak #5(11) tonight, which just might be the last heritage baggage car ever on the California Zephyr. I though I should share it here.

     

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