Acela Replacement and Disposition Discussion

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Re: Acela Replacement and Disposition Discussion

Postby electricron » Fri Dec 15, 2017 2:36 am

Arlington wrote:For those other items, how expensive were the mods required to make them useful? It sounds like Canada's record is buying used-but-usable items, which is different from buying a used-but-unusable Acela. Rebuilding Acelas without precedent, plan, or experience is very different from re-badging other's surplus goods.

The Marine Atlantic ferries had a hull section cut out of the ship and three decks added aft of the pilot house. The replenishment ship for their Navy converted a container ship into a tanker ship, including adding a second hull. Neither conversion was cheap. The Renaissance coach cars on the corridor are such a bad fit VIA also wants to replace them as they replace the LRC cars.
But the recent history of the national government buying used cream puffs vs brand new equipment is very real.
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Re: Acela Replacement and Disposition Discussion

Postby jonnhrr » Fri Dec 15, 2017 10:38 am

mtuandrew wrote:The MBBs are even less likely to move north. Arlington and F-Line have argued convincingly that either VIA gets new cars, or they don’t buy cars at all. That probably means Siemens gets another big order soon.


That would be a black eye for Bombardier but understandable given BBD's recent woes.

mtuandrew wrote:Would be fun to see the AX in service (NYP-)PHL-HAR, but that is up to 60 Mass.


Not likely unless someone throws some money at high level platforms throughout. I think only Lancaster and the new Paoli station have them currently/projected.
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Re: Acela Replacement and Disposition Discussion

Postby mtuandrew » Fri Dec 15, 2017 1:32 pm

jonnhrr wrote:That would be a black eye for Bombardier but understandable given BBD's recent woes.

Yes on both counts. Were they in better shape, such a VIA contract would have been theirs to lose with an unpowered MR-90, Comet, or some sort of Talent knockoff (just as if the Acela Express hadn't had such teething troubles, their Zefiro would have been a very strong competitor for the Acela contract.)

jonnhrr wrote:Not likely unless someone throws some money at high level platforms throughout. I think only Lancaster and the new Paoli station have them currently/projected.

Low platforms at Cornwells Heights, highs at North Philadelphia, highs at PHL 30th, lows at Ardmore, planned highs at Paoli (eventually), mini-highs at Exton, lows at Downington, lows at Coatesville, lows at Parkesburg, highs at Lancaster, planned highs at Mount Joy (by 2019), highs at Elizabethtown, planned highs at Middletown (2018-19), and highs at Harrisburg. Out of 14 stations in Pennsylvania, that's eight without high platforms, and five continuing without them for the foreseeable future. I'll give you that one, Amtrak would have to skip a lot of stops or install a lot of mini-highs to operate the Acela on the Keystone Corridor.

Oh well, back to the drawing board. (Maybe we could make drawing boards out of the Acela shells :P )
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Re: Acela Replacement and Disposition Discussion

Postby east point » Fri Dec 15, 2017 1:39 pm

jonnhrr wrote:[

Not likely unless someone throws some money at high level platforms throughout. I think only Lancaster and the new Paoli station have them currently/projected.


+ high level platforms would have tracks needing bypass or gauntlet tracks .
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Re: Acela Replacement and Disposition Discussion

Postby Greg Moore » Fri Dec 15, 2017 2:12 pm

The latest on the possible rebuild of the Acelas

https://imgur.com/a/AcXzX


Gotta have a LITTLE levity.
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Re: Acela Replacement and Disposition Discussion

Postby Jeff Smith » Fri Dec 15, 2017 2:13 pm

You win the internets today!
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Re: Acela Replacement and Disposition Discussion

Postby mtuandrew » Fri Dec 15, 2017 3:58 pm

east point wrote:+ high level platforms would have tracks needing bypass or gauntlet tracks .

Why? The NS high/wide route is via Reading, not via Lancaster, and Amtrak wouldn’t be blasting through the station at 150 anyway. They may want a third or fourth track, but that’s not essential for highs.

...and nicely done, Greg :-D
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Re: Acela Replacement and Disposition Discussion

Postby silverliner266 » Fri Dec 15, 2017 5:01 pm

jonnhrr wrote:
mtuandrew wrote:Would be fun to see the AX in service (NYP-)PHL-HAR, but that is up to 60 Mass.


Not likely unless someone throws some money at high level platforms throughout. I think only Lancaster and the new Paoli station have them currently/projected.


Currently Ardmore is set to start getting HLPs next year, Exton is getting them right now, Paoli is getting them right now, Penn Dot is funding a rebuild at Coatesville that will include HLPs. The only stations left by 2020 will be Downingtown and Parkesburg.
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Re: Acela Replacement and Disposition Discussion

Postby Arlington » Sat Dec 16, 2017 9:44 am

^ Thats cool.I'd love to talk more about this in the Keystone thread.

The question for PennDOT would be what can a unicorn fleet of Acelas do that Amfleet and Avelia (follow on order) cannot? What sweet spot would we posit between the two that justifies aquiring Acelas?

Where would PennDOT service them? Would they sit I stroage for a couple of years while those last two stations get their platforms? If they have the budget and will, what makes Acela the right choice as opposed to grade separation or additional Amfleet frequency?
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Re: Acela Replacement and Disposition Discussion

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Sat Dec 16, 2017 10:08 am

PennDOT is not going to have any interest in these because by the time they can cue up the last stops the Acelas will have already been sent to storage for a few years and the new PRIAA order will have run to completion equipping them flush with Amfleet-replacement Keystone coaches running at precisely the same 125 MPH. The unfunded/unplanned low-platform stops are on SEPTA, which means that any PennDOT funding aiding in renovations still has to run through molasses-slow SEPTA running point on project mgt. That's a very real-world jurisdictional problem, because SEPTA is utterly hapless at keeping their station renos on-schedule even when they manage to keep them on-budget. And no, PennDOT doesn't have anywhere to service a unicorn fleet...nowhere at all. So even if the Acelas were free-as-in-beer for them to acquire the moneybomb required to get them a maintenance base or a Bombardier support/service agreement to maintain them elsewhere is going to blow out all rational sense in attempting the acquisition.

If PennDOT wants to rig up a premium-class livery for their own purposes, the PRIAA order gives them exactly that livery flexibility at a far lower price point and faster service start. They won't have to play hurry-up on any lagging low platforms to use them, and the maintenance is fully covered at same AMTK mothership maint bases that maintain all current Keystone-assigned rolling stock. They have lots of service options they can explore, and lots of ordering scale. Acela retreads would honestly be self-limiting for their needs...a total "because reasons..." acquisition that has no discernible advantages benchmarked against the PRIAA order if they were to explore the outer limits of what they could tap for premium-service livery.
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Re: Acela Replacement and Disposition Discussion

Postby east point » Sat Dec 16, 2017 11:37 am

Some made the point that Penn DOT has enough time to make all preferred stops high level. It will be 2023 or 2024 until enough AC-1s are displaced from NEC revenue service. We can expect Amtrak to not even consider retiring any AC-1s until 8 - 10 AC-2s have proven themselves. That is so Amtrak can start the final AC - 28 train schedule as soon as possible.
AC-1 service to Harrisburg by that time could begin 125 MPH service if the plans to upgrade Harrisburg to 125 is completed by then. "IF" so then AC-1 service HAR <> PHL <> NYPS could be feasible. As well those thru trains could make the planned 150 speeds Trenton - Newark keeping the corridor more fluid .
Likely ? Probably not but if traffic increases more than predicted that would give Amtrak an additional two - four 6 car train sets to be used elsewhere. Maybe a 20 - 30 minute schedule decrease.
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Re: Acela Replacement and Disposition Discussion

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Sat Dec 16, 2017 12:03 pm

No, it's not likely that all stops will be ready at that point. No funding's been provided, no prelim plans discussed, no designs kicked off for the last ones. And SEPTA, which is responsible for administering the upgrades to the ones in its territory, is chronically unable to complete station accessibility projects on-time. PennDOT funding isn't going to speed up a plodding administrative body. So it is improbable that all stops will be ready by the time it's fish-or-cut-bait on the vehicles.

But ultimately that's beside the point. PennDOT can get all of the premium-tier service cars it wants cheaper than the Acelas by ordering custom livery in the PRIAA order. Those cars can be equipped just like the Acela carriages, run 125 MPH on the Keystone, have door traps so the last malingering low platforms don't delay service starts, and not require PennDOT to find a maint base for their state-owned coaches because they'll be maintained the same places the Keystone-assigned Amfleets always were. And make no mistake, finding the maint base for Acelas is the cost blowout item to end all blowout items even if the trainsets themselves are cheap to acquire.


There is nothing service-wise here that they can't have by exploring the bounds of the PRIAA order's customizations, designed for this very purpose of offering states the ability to cater to different service tiers. And there is everything VASTLY MORE costly about the Acelas offering zero real-world advantage over what they'll have available in custom-livery options in the PRIAA order. Quite literally, there is no reason for them to consider this because they already have the wholly-orthodox ordering option. Ask yourself what motivation PennDOT has to spend more, take on extremely thornier logistics, take on more pricey moving parts (fast-tracking station renos on a tight schedule with SEPTA + blowout expense of finding a maint base or third-party S&S contracts) to make the timeline work...and end up with exactly the same thing?

No reason in the real world why they'd give 2 seconds in thought to that.


And as far as premium-tier Keystone service...let's first prove that PennDOT even WANTS that and is willing to pull out the stops to introduce first-class Keystones before we start rooting for laundry on everyone's favorite rolling stock. There's no evidence they even have an interest in straying from the defaults in the PRIAA order to make first-class service livery in the first place, and there are no formal studies on exactly how many butts will fill first-class seats on the Keystone informing anything about schedules or fleet requirements. Intent, then data, are BOTH prerequisites to this scheme. Cite some evidence of their willingness to actually pursue that service angle and do full due diligence studying it before framing stuff that's harder to deploy than custom-ordered first-class PRIAA coach interiors as some sort of manifest-destiny thing for the Keystone.
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Re: Acela Replacement and Disposition Discussion

Postby Tadman » Sat Dec 16, 2017 1:58 pm

F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:
How many times can their own management shout it from the mountaintops? They want their HEP2 + LRC replacement procurement for the Corridor done clean and spec-controlled with new stock. A thousand times over their CEO has been saying that's the business terms-of-engagement for having a Corridor at all. Another "yeah, but..." on this thread about retread Acelas or retread something-else doesn't magically hit the reset button on what they've been saying ad nauseam about what they will and WILL NOT do. They've already stated the alternative in a cash crunch: "We retire our old crap anyway whether the new replacement is full-funded or not because we can't go on like this anymore...so let's get this procurement funded." If we're going to keep dragging this canard out with yet more retread schemes it's got to be substantiated with some actual more recent evidence that VIA management is leaning in another direction...or else it's just idle fantasy.


I'm under no illusions that Via should have used Acelas or used-anything for their Corridor, but this line of logic doesn't exactly hunt. David Gunn and Alex Kummant took similar stands, and found themselves in the unemployment line. A federal passenger carrier is not owned by stockholders, it's owned by politicans and voters. Neither proves rational-minded.
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Re: Acela Replacement and Disposition Discussion

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Sun Dec 17, 2017 6:53 am

This is a simple question: what evidence are you going to side with to evaluate the feasibility of them adopting something off-script?

A) Company management's own reaffirmed public statements about their business plans...such that you start by evaluating feasibility from scoring the re-use proposal against their business criteria?

B) The fervent personal belief that everything they're saying is wrong or suspect...such that anything goes, burden of proof is limited only by technical feasibility and the bounds of one's imagination, and business scruples are irrelevant and up to the "doubters" to prove.


"B" is not a rational starting point. The only official criteria we have to evaluate VIA on are what they say they're going to evaluate their purchase on. So you start from that criteria and do the feasibility scoring for the re-use proposal. Then after you've done all the scoring, you look back and ask "Now what's the wiggle room on these scores if something changes with the criteria? Am I in the ballpark?" And now factor which changing criteria move the needle on a feasibility score. Of course there is the possibility of change in any of their business criteria. There is not, however, EQUAL probability of change across each and every of their stated criteria. So to dismiss what they say as unknowable speculation is to dismiss probabilities.

Nobody in the real world makes a purchase decision by dismissing probabilities. So you most definitely can't start off the whole thinking exercise by tossing all officially-provided business evaluation criteria from the equation as voodoo. For one, it's not a very efficient expense of mental energy...because if the Acela scores a million miles off the mark on all of VIA's stated business criteria then changes to some or even most of those criteria aren't going to make up nearly enough ground to yank the Acela back into the realm of feasibility. At least if you're keeping score you'll know when you see it's off by enough magnitudes that it'll be a waste of time to keep force-fitting and know that it's time to move on to other rolling stock possibilities. Dismissing all that's known as equally unknowable simply becomes a crutch for keeping the dream alive no matter what.
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Re: Acela Replacement and Disposition Discussion

Postby electricron » Sun Dec 17, 2017 9:41 am

F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:Nobody in the real world makes a purchase decision by dismissing probabilities. So you most definitely can't start off the whole thinking exercise by tossing all officially-provided business evaluation criteria from the equation as voodoo. For one, it's not a very efficient expense of mental energy...because if the Acela scores a million miles off the mark on all of VIA's stated business criteria then changes to some or even most of those criteria aren't going to make up nearly enough ground to yank the Acela back into the realm of feasibility. At least if you're keeping score you'll know when you see it's off by enough magnitudes that it'll be a waste of time to keep force-fitting and know that it's time to move on to other rolling stock possibilities. Dismissing all that's known as equally unknowable simply becomes a crutch for keeping the dream alive no matter what.

But Canada's latest Prime Minister does make purchasing decisions by dismissing possibilities over political reasons. He campaign stating he'll never buy F-35 fighters because they can't fly, yet just about all his trading and defense partners are buying it. Even the previous government and the Candaian defense forces wanted to buy them. He proposed buying brand new F-18 EF versions instead because they should be cheaper. But Boeing won a trade disagreement against a Canadian company and now he doesn't want to buy from them either. So instead he is going to buy 18 more used F-18 CD versions from Australia just to kick buying new replacement jets down the road another 5 years or so. The reason why Australia will have used F-18 CD versions available is because those jets that can't fly will be flying to Australia. During this entire process, the price tag for 18 jets have fallen from $2-3 Billion down to $500 million.
So please don't suggest governments don't make political purchasing decisions. Please don't suggest close term prices aren't important. What VIA wants they may not get, the Canadian Air Force didn't get what they wanted. Who knows what logic the present Prime Minister will use when VIA approaches him for money to buy new trains?

Dismissing used Acela sets before discovering what Amtrak will sell them for is dismissing them too early.
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