Siemens Single Level Cars for CA/IL/Midwest

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Re: Siemens Single Level Cars for CA/IL/Midwest

Postby Tadman » Tue Feb 12, 2019 4:08 pm

mtuandrew wrote:True enough, Tad. The Horizon fleet ought to be railworthy as long as Amtrak cares to keep it that way, assuming it can find body-specific parts or order a small run of one-off pieces.

The question becomes, when do you stop sinking money into your 1991 Dodge Ram 12-passenger van and upgrade to a 2019 Mercedes Sprinter coach?


I think we're on the same page here. In the last year or two here, the hottest topics on this forum have been what to do with redundant older fleets - Acela, Amfleet, Horizon, Genesis. Some guys don't want them around, others believe we can make them roll forever.

I don't think there's any question that they should be replaced, like the Sprinter argument above. We cannot rely on 40yo coaches to operate efficient service. The question then becomes "is there an economic benefit to keep the older cars around and are they safe?". If the Siemens order is roughly 1 for 1 to midwest coaches, it might make sense because the Horizon fleet is in reasonably good shape (believe they were gently overhauled about ten years ago), they are reasonably simple to maintain, and they're long paid for.

That last part is important. They're paid for. That means it costs far less to use them as a surge fleet than ordering additional Siemens cars. That also means they will run the least miles of anything in the fleet, lowering maintenance needs, and only roll when tickets are highest priced. Superbowls, Thanksgiving, inaugurations, etc... By keeping a reasonable surge fleet that we're assuming for the moment is actually profitable, that allows the railroad to pay down capital costs of new fleets like the Siemens cars in a faster manner.

So assuming a simple to maintain surge fleet can be kept profitably, it's a symbiotic relationship with the new cars. The new cars can be ordered in a slightly smaller fleet and be paid off faster. Given the need for simplicity and reliability, the Acela fleet is probably out, as is the Genesis fleet. They're used hard, complex, and not supported by a manufacturer.
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Re: Siemens Single Level Cars for CA/IL/Midwest

Postby Jeff Smith » Tue Feb 12, 2019 4:36 pm

This is why I think they’ll end up with another agency; Amtrak at most, but doubtful, might keep them as a surge fleet but otherwise won’t need them. Or they end up as a state owned fleet somewhere.
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Re: Siemens Single Level Cars for CA/IL/Midwest

Postby mtuandrew » Tue Feb 12, 2019 8:12 pm

This really ought to be in the Horizon thread, but I’ve suggested a Friends of Amtrak Equipment Trust in the past. Horizon coaches would be a good seedling fleet with ~80 coaches maintained through a nonprofit, leased out throughout the year with Amtrak having first dibs during peak travel times. (Cafes aren’t a good option for this kind of infrequent use, I think they’d be difficult to maintain for food safety standards. Not sure about sleepers.) It depends on Amtrak being both interested and willing to give up their Horizons (Amfleets, V-Is, whichever), but also on these cars being able to serve elsewhere during the year. A home like South Coast Rail or exclusive LIRR Cannonball service, for instance.
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Re: Siemens Single Level Cars for CA/IL/Midwest

Postby east point » Wed Feb 13, 2019 3:31 pm

Tadman wrote:[

That last part is important. They're paid for. That means it costs far less to use them as a surge fleet than ordering additional Siemens cars. That also means they will run the least miles of anything in the fleet, lowering maintenance needs, and only roll when tickets are highest priced. Superbowls, Thanksgiving, inaugurations, etc... By keeping a reasonable surge fleet that we're assuming for the moment is actually profitable, that allows the railroad to pay down capital costs of new fleets like the Siemens cars in a faster manner.

So assuming a simple to maintain surge fleet can be kept profitably, it's a symbiotic relationship with the new cars. The new cars can be ordered in a slightly smaller fleet and be paid off faster. Given the need for simplicity and reliability, the Acela fleet is probably out, as is the Genesis fleet. They're used hard, complex, and not supported by a manufacturer.



Surge fleet is needed right now! Now for Friday from WASH - For example Crescent southbound coach is sold out, and only 3 spaces in sleepers. Cardinal to CHI just a coach seats and 3 sleeper positions, Also Friday Palmetto only business class left, Star 2 coach seats no sleeper, Meteor sold out.

Here it is the middle of winter and more seats are desperately needed. It may be that only weekends extra cars needed but getting OBS persons should e no problem? This selling out now just reeks IMHO. Anderson not in the loop?
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Re: Siemens Single Level Cars for CA/IL/Midwest

Postby Arlington » Wed Feb 13, 2019 4:17 pm

Friday is selling out because it is the start of Washington's Birthday Weekend & Winter Vacation Week. Its going to be busy.
Two folksy expressions come to mind:
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Selling out is good. Keep raising prices until you have 1 seat empty. (which is probably what you're seeing)

The need to increase capacity really only comes when you have a competitor (bus, airline) who you don't want to steal market share, or is setting the price such that you unable to raise prices. In what markets is THAT happening?
Last edited by Arlington on Wed Feb 13, 2019 4:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Siemens Single Level Cars for CA/IL/Midwest

Postby Tadman » Wed Feb 13, 2019 4:22 pm

Normally I agree with your thoughts, but in true cases of peak operation, there is standing room only and absurd ticket prices. Amtrak was something like $300 one way NYP-PHL over thanksgiving. I'd like to see them make money if possible, but I'm not opposed to break even or minor subsidy if they're really pulling their weight like they do in the NEC.
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Re: Siemens Single Level Cars for CA/IL/Midwest

Postby Arlington » Wed Feb 13, 2019 4:24 pm

In answer to my question the "THAT" I asked about is happening in the NEC vs the airlines (adding capacity will actually serve to starve them of market share and cause them to shrink). And the added capacity is coming in the form of more and longer Acelas.

And where (incidentally) is there yard space to store this surge fleet where it can come in and out of service frictionlessly?
(The Thanksgiving answer is NEC Commuter (MARC/NJT) but I don't see Amtrak garaging equipment it mostly doesn't run)
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Re: Siemens Single Level Cars for CA/IL/Midwest

Postby David Benton » Thu Feb 14, 2019 7:11 pm

Times have changed. I think grandfathering will have time limits imposed in the future. I.e , you can use small window cars, but you got 10 years to phase them out. Its happening here with seatbelts(or lack of them ) in heavy vehicles, despite the lack of people dying in accidents without them. (there is no debate regarding seatbelts in cars, its a no brainer).
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Re: Siemens Single Level Cars for CA/IL/Midwest

Postby Tadman » Thu Feb 14, 2019 7:13 pm

mod note - small windows has a topic now, thanks!
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