Genesis to get "life extension" program in 2018

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Genesis to get "life extension" program in 2018

Postby frequentflyer » Mon Dec 11, 2017 9:47 am

On another board someone stated in Amtrak's 5 year plan the Genesis are to go through a life extension program in 2018. What does that include? Will the Gennies be like brand new? How many more years of service?
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Re: Genesis to get "life extension" program in 2018

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Mon Dec 11, 2017 12:06 pm

They aren't budgeted for anything resembling a full-on midlife rebuild for 10-15 (or 15-20) years of additional service like CDOT's P40's are. That's a megabucks 9-figure expense when projected over a 190+ unit fleet and would take >3 years to cycle through at that scope. It would've been much bigger news much further in advance if full midlife overhaul were the goal because of the time, money, and quantities involved.

Most likely it's some cycled component replacement (e.g. preemptive programmed replacement of certain heavily-worn parts instead of fixing when broken) and maybe a top-deck replacement on certain units in need of that. The budgeted money would tell the story on that. There are some hard-to-produce parts with the mid-90's circuit boards that are running scarce and would take a moderate sum to get new stock produced...so that could also be a reason for throwing a wad at some cycled component replacement, as they'd need a big-enough excuse to justify restocking the warehouse with those board reproductions.

Nothing about this necessarily reflects a change in attitudes on the national Charger options. They already did some component overhauls (likewise sub-"rebuild" in scope) on the Dash 8's, and those are already effectively displaced from revenue duty by the statie Chargers and slated for strictly work + protect duty after the last of the new units are accepted. A residual "best of the rest" P42 fleet is highly likely to linger on any which way for several additional years as supplementals and for bridging the time to the New York dual-mode procurement with extra ALB swap engines, so refreshes and/or a top-deck program for reliability's sake are prudent moves regardless of replacement status.
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Re: Genesis to get "life extension" program in 2018

Postby AMTK822401 » Mon Dec 11, 2017 2:35 pm

I read the report and it doesn't say much to be honest. It does, however, mention that the life extension is for units in the LD pool. What this implies IMO, is that new procurements (I.E. Chargers) will be used on Corridor services while the P42s will continue as the workhorse of the LD fleet for an as of yet undetermined amount of time.
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Re: Genesis to get "life extension" program in 2018

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Mon Dec 11, 2017 6:00 pm

LD pool would entail units probably more in need of some types of targeted component replacement than the corridor pool, especially if the entire 190+ P42 fleet hasn't been cycled evenly through long-haul and short-haul assignments over the years. Some units may be showing more wear from extended LD-related running than others, prompting a reliability refresh program strictly for near-term fleet management needs. It's a way of making sure the full 190+ P42 fleet's condition can be pegged at more or less the same MTBF over the next X years instead of having to contend with divergent "aging" rates based on the punishment doled out by long-haul vs. short-haul assignments. That kind of diverging skew with LD's having some components more worn than the corridor engines (which may show wear in entirely different set of components than the long-haul pool) makes systemwide equipment fluidity more brittle, which is a year-to-year fleet management issue that--if it projects to mushroom in coming years--would prompt immediate action regardless of whether some/all of the Gennies are slated for replacement. I don't know exactly what components wear faster in an extended stay in LD duty vs. an extended stay in corridor duty...but digging out that budget figure would provide key clues. Top-deck overhauls are generally pricier with more time-consuming shop rotations than other stuff, so if it's small money and short-duration (e.g. self-contained to one fiscal year) you're probably talking refreshes to other parts and/or something much more minor in scope than top-deck.


Again...caution on reading too much between the lines on what this means for the 150 un-exercized national options on the Charger contract. Any true "rebuild"-caliber midlife overhaul program for 10+ more years of the Gennies as if they're sticking with the as-is fleet for the long term is a megabucks budgeting expense that will stretch for a few fiscal years because of the downtime it'll take to cycle through each unit put in an overhaul program. Take the CDOT P40 rebuild RFP as a baseline and feed through the number of units AMTK is considering here and you'll end up with a program way too big to slip under the radar. Many many $10's-of-M programmed over several fiscal years types of stuff just doesn't pass quietly into the night off one blurb, so that's clearly not what they're after here. And if that's not what they're after here, then they haven't made their long-term procurement decision yet...because achieving a 10-, 15-, 20-year solution for the diesel fleet still requires a large expenditure of some 0-to-100% ratio of ordered nat'l-owned Chargers vs. full-on rebuild of the Gennies vs. [something else entirely] to achieve that goal. Including satisfying corridor needs in the Eastern states, since all state-sponsored routes that live off the NEC (or, like the Downeaster, chain parasitically off an NEC equipment base) by their very nature are already sharing the nat'l Sprinter pool and nat'l engine-change points that preclude any practical self-ownership like the IDOT/WSDOT/Caltrans-branded Chargers or the NY-branded dual-modes. Small-money or one-year refreshes don't even scratch that.

So I'd be much more inclined to believe that this is about immediate needs to square up MTBF between engines run heavy in LD service vs. engines run heavy in short-haul service than it is about future-leaning needs. Even if those future-leaning needs DO involve some permutation of rebuilt Gennies, because that would still entail a second much larger act for funding and scheduling than we're seeing here. If anything, if 2-3 dozen LD engines getting outfitted with fresher parts makes for easy picks of which units stay on in that "best-of-the-rest" residual fleet that they hold onto as lighter-duty extras in a full-displacement scenario where all other Gennies get replaced. So this move isn't incompatible at all with proceeding full speed ahead on perma-fixes like draining the nat'l Charger options or pursuing "like-new" rebuilt alternatives therein.
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Re: Genesis to get "life extension" program in 2018

Postby mtuandrew » Mon Dec 11, 2017 8:06 pm

Are there any more inactive P40s out there to which this program might apply?

I think Chargers are probably the way to go - maybe F125s if Progress works out the bugs and offers great financing - but Beech Grove certainly has the capability to rehab the entire Genesis fleet. Altoona and Fort Worth are paving the way for freight Dash 8s and Dash 9s.
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Re: Genesis to get "life extension" program in 2018

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Mon Dec 11, 2017 8:55 pm

There's 13 stored P40's that weren't rebuilt with ARRA funds. But that whole circuit board availability thing puts a damper on their chances of a return-to-service without a sizeable budget commitment larger than what this footnote of a line item appears to be. The active P40 ranks have dipped from 15 to 12 due to parts scarcity, so they've got work to do just to get the 3 OOS rebuilt units back out of storage and on the active roster. I'm sure by this point the stored non-rebuilds...which originally were stored fully operable...have been thoroughly scavenged by the active Gennie fleet for those hard-to-reproduce circuit boards in the years since the ARRA program ended in 2011.

There's now enough decent-condition Dash 8's freed up from daily service, additional fluidity of Charger-displaced P42's as acceptances ramp up, and 21 AMTK-owned F59 junkers coming offline that can be beaten into the ground guilt-free that they aren't staring at an absolute diesel shortage. Once they come out of the temporary dip in fleet availability from the ongoing PTC install program in a couple months they're swimming in a slight diesel surplus for the first time in decades, one that should hold stable for 3-5 years even if the AMTK-owned F59's are an ASAP priority retirement. That would preclude the need to spend the bucks it would take to put the stored P40's through a return-to-service program. Actually, since the P42 assignments are going to substantially shift between different equipment pools because of those 63 incoming Chargers a minor reliability enhancement program to square the mean wear between the LD-vs.-corridor pools seems like it would be especially prudent. You're going to have substantially redrawn P42 assignments of LD vs. East Coast-statie vs. reserve Midwest/West-statie pools with all the mixing of wear profiles that entails, so it becomes an immediate year-to-year fleet management need to level some of those differences with selected component replacement on certain units that've been run especially hard in one role.


Anything beyond that range is A Really Big Procurement™ decision way beyond this little line item regardless of whether it's Chargers or rebuilds, and whether Beech Grove is doing it or not. Extra decimal places spread over extra fiscal years. We can safely conclude right now that whatever this refresh thingy is...it is NOT related to the Really Big Procurement™ because the budgeting decision & fiscal year spread of that decision are way too small by orders of magnitude to jibe with a multi-decade fleet management fix.
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Re: Genesis to get "life extension" program in 2018

Postby BM6569 » Tue Dec 12, 2017 10:12 am

I wasn't aware the P40's had a circuit board problem
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Re: Genesis to get "life extension" program in 2018

Postby Alex M » Tue Dec 12, 2017 10:43 am

Should Amtrak acquire new power from Siemens, maybe some of the units could be set up to use LNG fuel rather than diesel. For a fuel tender one could use a sidelined P40 that would be stripped down and refitted for that purpose. With SC 44 on each end, an ABA configuration, if you would, it could be tested on Auto Train first. If successful, it could be used system wide on all LD routes.
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Re: Genesis to get "life extension" program in 2018

Postby mtuandrew » Tue Dec 12, 2017 11:10 am

I like the idea, but I suspect the 7FDL has been more thoroughly tested on LNG than the QSK95 has. Maybe biodiesel would be a good test option too?

This is also WAY beyond any fleet renovation plans proposed here.
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Re: Genesis to get "life extension" program in 2018

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Tue Dec 12, 2017 12:34 pm

BM6569 wrote:I wasn't aware the P40's had a circuit board problem


A scarcity problem, not a problem-problem. Where today's locos are heavily firmware-based and old stuff is analog and/or very simplistic in the electrical cabinets all Gennies have mid-90's microprocessor circuits that aren't produced anymore and are hard to re-create today. Generic pitfall of them being first-gen computer brains. Simple attrition over 20 years has dwindled the parts supply, so the warehouse doesn't have much to work with. Affects both P40's and P42's (with P32's having their own custom boards).

Coming up with reproductions is considerable expense. They can do it, but only if they need a large enough quantity of new board stock for returning mothballed locos to service or restocking the warehouse for a really long duration. Since there isn't a diesel shortage forcing them to rationalize the stored P40's...just a need to keep the active roster stable on MTBF...they aren't staring at an outright deficit of spare boards needing spending action right this second. And won't unless the Really Big Procurement™ puts all 190+ active Gennies through a full-on 20-year overhaul. Because even if some quantity less than 190 Gennies ends up sticking around for awhile, if there's going to be some excess surplus not needed they'll have some unneeded black-sheep reserve units to raid for extra boards. Trigger for factory reproductions (and $$$ therein) ends up being all-or-nothing; those parts only really need to be budgeted if full-on Gennie rebuild IS the Really Big Procurement™. Not for anything less (inclusive of this limited-scope refresh).
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Re: Genesis to get "life extension" program in 2018

Postby mtuandrew » Tue Dec 12, 2017 1:35 pm

BM6569 and F-Line: looks like Amtrak needs to do some catalog searching. New boards are probably expensive (if they can’t get a reasonable open-source alternative) but should be relatively easy to produce domestically in small batches if they have schematics.
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Re: Genesis to get "life extension" program in 2018

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Tue Dec 12, 2017 6:03 pm

It's still all proprietary GE circuitry, so the IP costs for the reverse-engineer are what jacks up the price...not the actual fabrication. One of the things that's always been true about buying GE from the debut of the postwar U-boats all the way to today's Tier 4 GEVO's is that they police their supply chain much more tightly than EMD et al. ever did. Which makes them a generally better buy for getting extended service/support decades deep into a unit's lifespan because they'll still support their old stuff long after EMD has told you to go fend for yourself on the aftermarket...but it comes with the downside of having to pay for the name-brand parts. It's why they have such a dominant hand with Class I's (which Gennie users Amtrak and VIA technically are) and Class II's where long-term S&S contracts are a good buy, but Class III's and shortlines who need the lower overhead and rely more on DIY maintenance still remain an EMD stronghold.

So it's not hard to get if they truly need it...but the batch size is make-or-break for the purchase decision because it's going to cost a lot to get access to the GE schematics before porting them into microcode. Something they'd easily reach for if there were compelling reason to bring back the stored P40's to increase the Gennie fleet size in addition to restocking the warehouse for the active units. But not something they'd do if the fleet size projected stable or surplus after the 63 Chargers are accepted, the handful of remaining revenue-assigned Dash 8's slide off into the work/protect pool, the F59's (at least the 21 AMTK-owned ones) came offline, and the active P40/P42 assignments shape-shift from areas of plenty to areas of want. It's hard to picture where a 5-dozen unit dump of new engines leaves them with any national diesel shortages, especially with Caltrans being able to chart its own draw-down schedule on what it does with its glut of 15 self-owned F59's. That's why the national Charger options are only 150, and not 200+; the national pool is physically smaller now that PRIAA's scraped Chicago hub, Caltrans, and WSDOT onto state self-ownership. It'll get smaller still when NYSDOT gets scraped off with its dual-mode order and New England + PA + VA + Heartland Flyer members become the last remaining pay-in states to the nat'l power pool (because of NEC attachment and/or absence of statie-serving regional equipment bases). NY's borrowing privileges from the nat'l pool for ALB engine swaps end with that dual-mode order; they will either have to buy enough duals to run all state-sponsored (i.e. excluding Lake Shore Ltd.) trains end-to-end on the same loco, or go leaner on the dual units but bring all their swap needs in-house by buying up a straight-diesel (old beater or otherwise) roster for the ALB handoffs.

Right now the only thing that's causing a pinch in fleet availability are shop rotations for those PTC installs...but that's one-and-done in a couple months. They will have some bona fide extra Gennies with nowhere to go after that 5-dozen-plus dump of Chargers finish acceptances in Spring, the Dash 8's and F59's mostly exit the revenue scene, and P42's rotate around to plug gaps. Worn units will have the luxury of much more downtime at Beech Grove to get tended to without need to get rushed back into service, so they can immediately commit to a longer dead line and more plodding shop pace for returning units to service. And then knows how many more extra they'll have after NYSDOT places its order, since I would think buying enough duals padding to run end-of-end is going to be less costly than bringing both halves of the engine swap in-house. If 150 units is the strictly-national fleet requirement going forward and an extra 3-dozen "found-money" units are all the extras you could ever lather on as supplementals...well, you've still got like 2-3 dozen more P42/P40's sitting around with absolutely nowhere to go. Which probably means all the active P40's get yanked into operable reserve to simplify things. At that point who cares if there's 2 or 3 units sitting dead at any given moment because some unit coming out of the shop needed to bum a circuit board. They'll just keep hot-plugging boards as they churn leisurely through the dead line without ever actually seeing a shortage come close to manifesting itself.


Restocking that part doesn't project as a priority unless the Really Big Procurement™ sets its sights on total fleet overhaul of all 192 P42's +/- some sum of 12-28 P40's. And it's hard to fathom how they could ever need a fleet size that big when the post-PRIAA national diesel pool is that much smaller and there are only so many found extras you can shiv into new/protect revenue service before they just start clogging the yards on-idle. If after all that you're still looking at another 2-3 dozen MORE units on the outside looking in that have absolutely nowhere to go except sale/lease to commuter rail operators...strip a few circuit boards from those dispersals to plug the warehouse before putting the rest out to pasture as commuter rent-a-wrecks.
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Re: Genesis to get "life extension" program in 2018

Postby dumpster.penguin » Tue Dec 12, 2017 7:53 pm

F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:NY's borrowing privileges from the nat'l pool for ALB engine swaps end with that dual-mode order


Why is that?

F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:And then knows how many more extra they'll have after NYSDOT places its order, since I would think buying enough duals padding to run end-of-end is going to be less costly than bringing both halves of the engine swap in-house.


That would be nice! They could shave 30 minutes off the schedule for each engine change they eliminate. Perhaps that would confer momentum to the "high speed rail" project that they keep studying.
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Re: Genesis to get "life extension" program in 2018

Postby east point » Tue Dec 12, 2017 9:31 pm

Questions
1. How many spare P-42s might be needed to increase the number of locos on vulnerable trains. Thinking of EB and LSL going into a large snow storm as one example.
2. Circuit boards. Oh what a bucket of worms. What exactly do these boards do and are there more than one type or more than one location / function the boards do.
3. Experience in the aviation business. We had an aircraft that had hundreds of boards with about 5 separate part numbers. The boards were very prone to vibration damage. Often would replace 2 or 3 boards after every day.
4. Could the P-42s board be subject to vibration problems ? Over time many of the new parts were beefed up but still had problems.
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Re: Genesis to get "life extension" program in 2018

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Wed Dec 13, 2017 6:25 am

dumpster.penguin wrote:
F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:NY's borrowing privileges from the nat'l pool for ALB engine swaps end with that dual-mode order


Why is that?


All because of the new PRIAA law about state self-ownership of equipment for state-sponsored routes to square things with Amtrak's recent corporate reorganization (i.e. separate divisions for LD's, NEC, and statie routes) transferring more administrative responsibility for the statie routes away from the mothership. These new procurements are the transition points where the states have to stop borrowing from the national pool with pay-in fees and start owning their equipment up to the fleet requirements of their funded (and planned-funded) service levels. The Midwest, California, and Pacific Northwest just had their transition point with the coach and statie-Charger base orders. New York will have its transition points with the dual-mode order and the East Coast Amfleet-replacement coach order.

For power only, the only states that don't have to self-own are the ones that by necessity have to share equipment bases with the NEC and LD's from lack of other practical options. That means VA and PA because they're shackled to the national Sprinter fleet for NEC thru-running and have their diesel changes tethered to NEC LD equipment bases, MA/CT because their diesels are tethered to NE Regional equipment bases, NNEPRA because the Downeaster diesels are tethered Albany-Boston via the LD Lake Shore Ltd., and TX/OK for the Heartland Flyer because that route is nowhere near any statie equipment bases. Those states out of sheer administrative necessity will keep cutting checks to borrow from the national diesel pool same as before instead of self-owning like WSDOT, Caltrans, Chicago hub, and NYSDOT.



For New York (+ itty-bitty share of VTrans cash for running the EAE) with the power order, that means they also have to transition Albany away from borrowing from the national straight-diesel pool at the engine swaps. That does NOT mean that the practice of engine-swapping non-LSL Empire trains has to end or in any way change...but it does mean that once they buy the P32-replacement duals they're on-the-clock for transitioning off the national fleet for any straight-diesels they use on those routes. Which leaves 2 options:

#1. Buy enough additional slack quantities of new dual-modes to reliably run all schedules end-to-end on one engine and protecting their fleet margins so they aren't forced back into bumming engine swaps with a few more years' growth.

...or...

#2. Buy strictly replacement-level new duals (w/ padding for funded growth), but also buy up enough straight-diesels to cover all in-house needs on the engine-swap side. They'll be buying new "Charge-Sprint" or whatever duals any which way because the P32's are shot and there's too few of them to begin with to meet PRIAA requirements for funded service. But the straight-diesel swap fleet could conceivably be a bunch of retreads or even NYSDOT cutting a check to Amtrak to transact the share of P42's they already use to in-house ownership.


#2 is a fallback option if they're really hard-up for cash and have to go minimal with the duals quantities. But that order is supposed to be a triple-agency procurement divvied up between Empire (P32 replacement), Metro North (P32 replacement), and LIRR (DM30AC replacement) so it's going to be a huge/75+ base quantity that nets an attractive-enough price point on the options to go for it on #1. On total cost of ownership they'd end up paying a lot less running only one fleet rather than having to own/maintain 2 locos at Albany for most trips, and expand ALB shops to handle unit growth on both sides of the engine swap. Plus if they transact some surplus P42's in-house from the nat'l pool...they're now the ones on-the-hook paying for a pricey full life extension rebuild, and that big job can only be deferred for so many extra years before the bill comes due.
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