TriMet buys two RDCs to backup WES trains

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TriMet buys two RDCs to backup WES trains

Postby electricron » Wed Nov 18, 2009 1:44 pm

Here's a link to photos of these RDCs in Wilsonville, OR
http://www.flickr.com/photos/darkstarpdx/sets/72157622817397520/

Here's the news story link
http://www.portlandtribune.com/news/story.php?story_id=125678766638415300
Briefly, TriMet has purchased two rail diesel cars from the Alaska Railroad that will be in service by summer 2010 on the westside commuter line as replacement cars when something goes wrong with the new Colorado Railcar trains.
TriMet spent $150,000 for the two cars that were built in 1953 by the Budd Co. of Troy, Mich. The RDC vehicles delivered to Wilsonville were Alaska RR numbers 702 and 711.
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Re: TriMet buys two RDCs to backup WES trains

Postby wigwagfan » Thu Nov 26, 2009 11:32 pm

Why TriMet didn't just buy the RDCs in the first place baffles me to this day. When TriMet was in the market for DMUs there were no fewer than SEVEN RDCs in northwestern Oregon - three of which were definitely for sale, and the other four could have been had likely for the asking and for a decent price. Of those, three were formerly used on the Lewis & Clark Excursion Train and were operable but needed refurbishing; two were owned by the Port of Tillamook Bay RR and only one of those were operable; and two were RDC-9s owned by the Pacific Northwest Chapter NRHS, and the engine on them was only used for power, not for propulsion. All of these could have easily been sent to Industrial Rail for rebuilding far cheaper than a new DMU (and certainly far, far, FAR cheaper than what TriMet ended up paying for their four cars).

Had TriMet simply purchased all seven of those units, it could have had three married sets with two cars each (assuming the RDC-9s were rebuilt and added a cab) along with a single car as a spare.

Today, we now have NINE RDCs in Oregon, which is ironically nine more than historically operated (no RDCs were ever used in revenue use pre-Amtrak). The first RDC used was on the Oregon, Pacific & Eastern Railroad out of Cottage Grove and used the former SP #10 that's now rusting away in Galveston, Texas (and presumably for sale, but suffers from flood damage). The two PNWC units are still sitting in a hidden spur in a business park in Tigard not too far from the WES route. The two POTB units are now used in dinner train service by the Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad on an infrequent basis. And the three BC Rail/ODOT units are now in excursion train service in northeastern Oregon.

Today, a quick search at the railroad equipment sites www.ozarkmountainrailcar.com and www.trains-trams-trolleys.com show two ex-NYS&W RDCs for sale for $27,800 a pop, and a former RDC-1 turned coach (with the radiator removed) in good condition for $50,000.
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Re: TriMet buys two RDCs to backup WES trains

Postby electricron » Fri Nov 27, 2009 3:51 pm

TRE commuter rail between Dallas and Fort Worth still owns 13 RDC-1s. They still use them in non-peak hours when they are large enough for the passenger loads. Of course, there were no other FRA compliant DMU choices available during the mid 1990s when the TRE started.

From http://www.sonomamarintrain.org/userfiles/file/Vehicle%20Budd%20car%20report_final.pdf dated June 18, 2009;
The Budd Company RDCs were manufactured between 1949 and 1962. Of the 398 RDCs originally manufactured, 120 of them are known to still exist in one form or another. A list of 99 of these cars, and their present owners, is listed below. Some of these cars are functional, and some are used strictly for their spare parts. Others, such as those owned by Industrial Rail Services, are candidates for rehabilitation and could be purchased by SMART. The balance of the 120 cars belong to various owners in small lots.

Industrial Rail Services Moncton, NB 26
Trinity Rail Express Irving, TX 13
Cape May Seashore Cape May, NJ 10
VIA Rail British Columbia, ON 6
Farmrail (affiliated with Industrial Rail Services) Oklahoma or Moncton, NB 6
Train du Haut-Saint-Francois East Angus, QC 6
Danbury Rail Museum Danbury, CT 6
Alaska Railroad Anchorage, AK (2 sold to TriMet) 5
Wallowa Union RR (ex BC RDCs) Wallowa, OR 3
Southeastern Kansas RR Pittsburg, KS 3
Susquehanna (NYSW) Syracuse, NY 3
West Coast Railway Association (Canada) (ex BC RDCs) Vancouver, BC 3
Tennessee Valley Railway Museum Chattanooga, TN 3
Seminole Gulf Railroad Fort Meyers, FL 3
Winnipesaukee Scenic RR Meredith, NJ 3

I completely agree with you, TriMet shouldn't had dismissed the RDCs as quick as they did. But it is very difficult to turn down Federal funds to buy new DMUs. I'm not so sure the Feds would have help financed refurbishing the RDCs. Never-the-less, TriMet probably would have spent less of their own money buying and refurbishing the RDCs than paying their share for the Colorado Railcar DMUs.
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Re: TriMet buys two RDCs to backup WES trains

Postby wigwagfan » Fri Nov 27, 2009 4:21 pm

electricron wrote:But it is very difficult to turn down Federal funds to buy new DMUs. I'm not so sure the Feds would have help financed refurbishing the RDCs. Never-the-less, TriMet probably would have spent less of their own money buying and refurbishing the RDCs than paying their share for the Colorado Railcar DMUs.


Early on I asked a TriMet project manager about the RDCs and the question of using the DMUs vs. the RDCs had nothing to do with eligibility for federal funding.

TriMet originally wanted five DMUs (three powered, two trailers) but had to cut one of the trailer cars early on as they knew they were running over budget. What was supposed to be $3.5M a pop turned out to be over $15M a pop after the costs of TriMet having to bail out Colorado Railcar and micromanage the company until the cars were completed and the company was allowed to fail under its own weight.

Had TriMet purchased the RDCs it could have purchased, and rebuilt from the frame up, each car for $2M (Canadian; which at the time the U.S. dollar had a more favorable exchange rate with the looney), using a vendor with a proven track record with VIA Rail and Trinity Rail Express among other clients.
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Re: TriMet buys two RDCs to backup WES trains

Postby electricron » Fri Nov 27, 2009 9:42 pm

wigwagfan wrote:
electricron wrote:Had TriMet purchased the RDCs it could have purchased, and rebuilt from the frame up, each car for $2M (Canadian; which at the time the U.S. dollar had a more favorable exchange rate with the looney), using a vendor with a proven track record with VIA Rail and Trinity Rail Express among other clients.


At $2 Million each fully refurbished or rebuilt, 5 or 6 vehicles would have cost TriMet $10 to $12 Million. I believe $2 Million apiece is price closely to what it is today, because TRE spent only $1.8 Million each in the mid 1990s.
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Re: TriMet buys two RDCs to backup WES trains

Postby electricron » Thu Mar 23, 2017 12:40 pm

TriMet is buying another 2 RDCs for WES service from AllEarth Rail LLC, which had just recently bought 12 of 13 RDCs from TRE (Dart).
The exTRE RDCs are -1 versions (all coach with ~96 seats. The exARR RDCs already in WES are -2 and -3 versions. Would it be better to pair them in two consists with a -1 and either a -2 or -3, or better in two consists with the -1 together, and the existing -2 and -3 together? I would think the earlier would be better than the latter because one car in each consist maximizes seats while the other car maximizes bike capacity on each consist.

And by the way, TriMet will be paying around $1.5 million in total for both the exTRE RDCs. That's a much better deal than spending $4 million for both. Is that a great deal or not?
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