Genesis to get "life extension" program in 2018

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Re: Genesis to get "life extension" program in 2018

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Wed Dec 13, 2017 7:56 am

east point wrote: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.



1. No idea, but you're dumping 63 new Chargers on right now and subtracting only the F59's and (already mostly work-assigned) Dash 8's so the protect units are already piling up. The P40's already look like a protect fleet-in-wait with how those new numbers balance out. And the Charger options aren't limited to just the 150 national units with the larger fuel tank. There are still 36 un-exercised statie options in the hands of Caltrans and IDOT (WSDOT has exhausted all theirs) that aren't time-limited yet. Those can either be drained by the states holding the shares as extras or laundered out to other agencies like IDOT already did with 8 option units transferred to MARC commuter rail. Not sure when the final drop-dead date is for the statie options, but it's synced up at least a couple fiscal years out to Siemens factory allowances for the nat'l options and also SEPTA's extended deadline on tabbing-or-laundering the extra options on its 13-base/5-option Sprinter order. At least FY2019 before they have to put up or shut up on extras.

Conceivably New York could gobble up those for the engine-swap half of its self-ownership needs if there's enough leftover Caltrans/IDOT units left...but Caltrans has already signaled it's likely to dip into a few more because that'll ensure enough padding to completely get rid of its protect fleet of self-owned F59's. IDOT's not in mood to spend, but they'll take offers for laundering if anybody else (couple more WSDOT padding, more commuter units?) is interested in draining their share.



2. Like most GE and EMD locos dating back to the 1970's classics (EMD "Dash 2" GP40-2's/SD40-2's/F40PH's, GE Dash 7's, etc.) the control electronics for the whole shebang are organized into electrical cabinets with modular plug-in boards. Makes for easy upgrading and maintenance because you can just swap or add boards to upgrade/downgrade the performance features. Until the 1990's those controls were simple analog circuits. Mid-90's you start seeing some 1st-gen microprocessor-controlled locos coming onto the market. They're built the same way, with modular circuit boards plugged into a cabinet...but instead of simple IC's you can get at Radio Shack now you've got actual custom hard-wired computer chips with proprietary schematics on the boards doing more sophisticated things. The Gennies, being a pretty big technological leap for the time, were one of the first mass-produced microprocessor control locos...but you also had retrofits of older power for processor control showing up like the AEM-7AC remans (and some outright lemons like the ALP-44M production run and GP40MC remans).

In the 2000's the 2nd-generation microprocessor brains transitioned off custom hardware onto off-shelf flash memory. Basically porting a lot of that stuff in the electrical cabinet that used to be analog IC's...then custom computer chips...to software. And that's why makes like the Sprinters had such a long debugging period; the controls were more software than hardware, but the software could be upgraded at any time by flashing the memory to fix issues. The software is complicated as hell, but the hardware that hosts it is now just generic flash ROM. You can load the software on pretty much anything, or even virtualize the software within other software.

That's going to be great for the longevity of the newer-gen power that can adapt to change by having its software flashed at-will. And you're even seeing old analog stuff like F40PH-3 rebuilds now going the microprocessor route (with much simpler flash software) to fine-tune improve their emissions controls for Tier 0+. But it leaves the hardware-fabricated 1st-gen computer stuff from the 90's in an awkward place. Those custom chips aren't produced anymore, because there's no need to produce them. And because they were hard-wired you don't have the fluid upgrade path of changing a few lines of code to upgrade the software. So those Genesis boards end up a constriction. You can reproduce them verbatim (at GE price!) by porting what once was a bunch of chip schematics into microcode and re-hosting it on flash memory. That's not hard, just pricey because of the proprietary GE IP. But actually upgrading it from there to do new things is damn difficult because the hardware you're porting was never designed to be reprogrammed...only replaced/augmented with different boards of different GE custom chips (which weren't ever produced). That means doing a reverse-engineer to extend the functionality is a royal pain.

For the Gennies, it means if they're being rebuilt to factory P42 spec (like the CDOT P40 rebuilds) they're either not going to touch the boards at all while refreshing other stuff or just do a verbatim port with identical functionality. Which is why if Amtrak needs less than 190+ units going forward it's more likely to just scavenge a couple dozen boards from surplus beaters it doesn't need to rebuild rather than try to save every single P42/P40 in existence. So, if 150 national units + 1-2 dozen slack units overhauled for >decade more service is the most they would ever need for a national fleet after the statie Chargers + un-tapped statie Charger options...then they've got their warehouse restocked with boards by scrapping the P40's and a handful of worst-off P42's. It's only if you need to save every...single...unit that it becomes cost-prudent to jump through the hoops of repdroducing the boards. And there really isn't a scenario where they're going to need every...single...unit on the road.

If they opt to rebuild all/most of the fleet to enhanced functionality--Tier 4 emissions, AC traction, GEVO prime movers, other 21st century doohickeys--then they're going to be building new software from scratch matched to the new parts mix and not porting anything legacy in the GE chips. Simply because at that scope of upgrade these things aren't really going to be a factory-spec "Genesis" anymore...they'll be something new and different (like a better-executed HSP-46 in monocoque clothing or something like that). But obviously costs for that kind of program are going to much more resemble paying for another all-new design/build than simply doing a straight-up midlife overhaul at current specs.



3/4. The employees who run them would know best, but given that the Gennies have had 20 years of pretty bulletproof rep in service and haven't experienced long dead lines awaiting replacement part backorders this doesn't appear to be an issue. Nor has that risk scared away Class I's from ordering microprocessor freight power in bulk, given the GE Evolution series' market dominance. Those electrical cabinets that have been around since the 70's Dash 2 classics are built rugged right into the frame with shielding around them that can be ultra-heavy overkill in a way aviation electronic bungalows sure can't. Obviously at >20 years attrition is going to slowly start taking a toll on supplies of any custom part that needs special ordering, but there's been nothing to suggest the control hardware isn't plenty long-lasting and ruggedly-built.
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Re: Genesis to get "life extension" program in 2018

Postby gokeefe » Wed Dec 13, 2017 11:31 am

This sounds to me like a basic survival tactic until Amtrak has a good idea of the reliability of the Chargers.

Think about it this way ... They have a once in a generation opportunity to reduce their diesel power fleet from four types (P40, P42, P32, F59) to one common platform. Obviously the P40, P42 and P32 have a common platform but as noted in this discussion even between the P40s and P42s there are some pretty significant differences.

As usual the savings are simply to large to ignore. I suspect we will see Amtrak contract with Siemens for new power in about four years if not sooner. I would expect the remaining power to be sold off as surplus, some might go to commuter operators but a lot probably won't.

It's also worth remembering that a significant portion of what Amtrak purchases won't just be for long distance service. Many state supported services use power from Amtrak's own pools. The Downeaster is one example, along with the Missouri River Runner, Heartland Flyer, Pennsylvanian, Ethan Allen Express, Adirondack (north of ALB), Maple Leaf (west of ALB), Vermonter (north of NHV), Hoosier State, and the Virginia Northeast Regionals.

The one (and only) example of continued reuse anywhere on Amtrak of any of the above types is probably the F59s on the Piedmont by NCDOT. Even that option would still mean that Amtrak would be transferring ownership and (I think) would no longer be responsible for provision of mechanical support.
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Re: Genesis to get "life extension" program in 2018

Postby mtuandrew » Wed Dec 13, 2017 1:18 pm

I didn’t think Amtrak owner the NCDOT F59PH/I fleet anyway. Do they maintain it?

No chance the Genesis sees GEVO powerplants, not with reasonable Tier 0+ rebuild options as well as new passenger power in production at EMD and Siemens (and MPI if you really want to be difficult.) Glad Amtrak has a moderate refresh programmed for them, but after that...
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Re: Genesis to get "life extension" program in 2018

Postby deestrains » Wed Dec 13, 2017 2:01 pm

NCDOT owns the 6 F59PH and 2 F59PHI units in active service for the Piedmont.

Rail Plan International maintains the fleet thru a contract with NCDOT. There is an RFP every few years for this contract.
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Re: Genesis to get "life extension" program in 2018

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Wed Dec 13, 2017 5:11 pm

The NCDOT F59's are out in bizzarro world with state ownership and state-contracted maintenance (along with their unicorn coach fleet). Beech Grove never touches them. The only thing Amtrak cares about in terms of standardization for operating the Piedmont is crew training. They'd probably give NCDOT a good tongue-lashing if they bought some completely off-the-wall power with an unorthodox control stand, but something as vanilla as an F59 or the GP40's the Piedmont used to run doesn't faze them.


The West Coast F59 pool is 21 national-owned units in Cascades and Surfliner paint, and 15 Caltrans units in Amtrak California/Cap Corridor paint. All of them are Beech Grove-maintained despite the ownership splits. The AMTK ones were delivered in 1998, the Caltrans ones in a batch of 9 in 1994 (the first of the updated PHI's produced) and 6 in 2001 (the last F59's of any kind produced). The Cascades-paint ones were in particularly wretched condition and are effectively finished; they'll all be be returned to Beech Grove after the Chargers pass warranty milestones. WSDOT has already drained 100% of its Charger options and has all the fleet cushion it needs for the Talgos.

Caltrans has drained enough Charger options to safely expunge its national F59's, but actual retirement sequence of nat'l vs. self-owned units may vary since the oldest batch from '94 (self-owned) is the most urgent retirement priority, the '01 batch (self-owned) least-urgent retirement priority, and the '98 batch Surf-paint nat'l units somewhere in the middle. Some of the Surf-paint ones may stick around just for protects through the Charger warranty milestones, but are otherwise going back to Beech Grove to scrape those costs off the budget. They aren't needed for supplemental service, because Cali won't have the new coaches to do any supplemental service for a couple more years. The 6 self-owned units from the 2001 batch are probably sticking around in the interim because they still have unexercized options on the Charger order to tap before they're completely set for all current + planned service. But Caltrans is probably only looking for an extra fiscal year or two to digest the base order, since final deadline for draining the options is still a couple years away. They've still indicated they aim to dip in for more. They've also got 2 self-owned Dash 8's getting punted into strictly work/protect duty just like the national Dash 8's, so L.A. doesn't have any reason to keep a couple F59's on-roster and try to make ham-fisted work trains out of them.


As for where the F59 dispersals go? Well, no other equipment region is qualified on them so the mothership certainly isn't plugging them elsewhere...not when Gennies are also getting liberally reassigned because of the Charger influx. So once the nat'l 21 hit the Beech Grove dead line that's last stop, and the warehouse clears out its EMD parts cache. That roster will go through the standard couple of years of storage before being offered for resale, and probably live a second life with the rent-a-wreck brokers just like the ex- GO Transit F59PH's. The Caltrans units could cycle intrastate as commuter rail leasers since both Metrolink and Coaster use F59's; funding relationships between Caltrans and the CR agencies make that transactionally attractive. But if somebody rebuilds them, it'll be on a CR agency's dime because the "best of the rest" '01 Caltrans roster is just too small to bother attempting anything in-house.
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Re: Genesis to get "life extension" program in 2018

Postby electricron » Wed Dec 13, 2017 5:39 pm

Those retiring F59s will look good to the commuter rail operators still operating some form of F40PHs and GP-40s - potentially MBTA out of Boston and Merta out of Chicago might find them useful for the near future. Both have really old and unrealiable locomotives running daily they would like to retire.
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Re: Genesis to get "life extension" program in 2018

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Wed Dec 13, 2017 6:42 pm

*Maybe*. The F59's are EMD 710 prime movers, while the F40's and Geeps are EMD 645's. Similar, but not quite the same. And so far they have never been deployed in cab signal territory before so the East Coasters (excluding MBTA northside) and Metra BNSF + Rock Island districts would need to spend for some signal units in order to equip any leasers for immediate use.

If they clear the low wire in Hoboken at all (caveat: not at all sure they do, because they're slightly taller than an F40PH) they'd actually be decent supplementals for NJ Transit because their PL42AC's are also EMD 710-based. PL42's use the Tier 1-compliant update of the 16-cylinder 710 w/electronic fuel injection while F59PHI's are non- EPA tiered 12-cylinder 710's w/EFI (earlier F59PH's identical to the PHI's but without the EFI). It's still not clear exactly how NJT plans to purge the roster of all of their remaining Geeps with only 17 more ALP-45DP's in this new order. Doesn't seem like nearly enough to square their numbers completely. F59PHI's given a Tier 1 update and maybe a small boost from 3200 HP to 34... or 36... making them good enough for 5- or 6-car MLV sets wouldn't be a bad choice at all for plugging the numbers gap on the roster IF the Hoboken clearances are kosher. However, not sure NJT riders would exactly fall in love with the sight on them hauling their train since F59's have a bit of a bad rep for riding rough when they start to get worn; Jersey commuters already hate the PL42's craptacular ride quality with a passion.
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Re: Genesis to get "life extension" program in 2018

Postby Backshophoss » Wed Dec 13, 2017 7:58 pm

Believe 1"deadline"P-40 was pulled out of Bear or Beech Grove for a possible GEVO repower using the GE GEVO "kit".
Any progress on that "front"??
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Re: Genesis to get "life extension" program in 2018

Postby east point » Wed Dec 13, 2017 9:21 pm

Still believe that the longer Amtrak can evaluate the SC-44s before having to order them for LD the better. Has anyone heard of Brightline's result s so far. Granted Brightline has not started revenue service yet and they have plenty of spare locos.
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Re: Genesis to get "life extension" program in 2018

Postby Tadman » Thu Dec 14, 2017 10:58 am

F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:The NCDOT F59's are out in bizzarro world with state ownership and state-contracted maintenance (along with their unicorn coach fleet). Beech Grove never touches them.
.


That's not correct, a few months back I was on my way downtown on the Wolverine and saw the Capital with an NCDOT unit trailing. It was a ferry move for work at Beech. They may not visit Beech Grove often, but they have.
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Re: Genesis to get "life extension" program in 2018

Postby deestrains » Thu Dec 14, 2017 1:56 pm

This was a non-revenue move of an F59PH to California for work to be done by RPS for a future Tier IV retrofit.
http://railpropulsion.com/products/blended-aftertreatment-systems/
http://www.progressiverailroading.com/mechanical/news/NCDOT-obtains-grant-to-reduce-locomotive-emissions--51314

The only time Amtrak uses NCDOT F59's is when the P42 assigned to 79 or 80 fails within travel distance of RGH (twice this fall).
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Re: Genesis to get "life extension" program in 2018

Postby Jeff Smith » Thu Dec 14, 2017 2:13 pm

F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:Anything beyond that range is A Really Big Procurement™ ...


I like the Trademark LOL.
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Re: Genesis to get "life extension" program in 2018

Postby jonnhrr » Thu Dec 14, 2017 5:11 pm

F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:*Maybe*. The F59's are EMD 710 prime movers, while the F40's and Geeps are EMD 645's. Similar, but not quite the same. And so far they have never been deployed in cab signal territory before so the East Coasters (excluding MBTA northside) and Metra BNSF + Rock Island districts would need to spend for some signal units in order to equip any leasers for immediate use.

If they clear the low wire in Hoboken at all (caveat: not at all sure they do, because they're slightly taller than an F40PH) they'd actually be decent supplementals for NJ Transit because their PL42AC's are also EMD 710-based. PL42's use the Tier 1-compliant update of the 16-cylinder 710 w/electronic fuel injection while F59PHI's are non- EPA tiered 12-cylinder 710's w/EFI (earlier F59PH's identical to the PHI's but without the EFI). It's still not clear exactly how NJT plans to purge the roster of all of their remaining Geeps with only 17 more ALP-45DP's in this new order. Doesn't seem like nearly enough to square their numbers completely. F59PHI's given a Tier 1 update and maybe a small boost from 3200 HP to 34... or 36... making them good enough for 5- or 6-car MLV sets wouldn't be a bad choice at all for plugging the numbers gap on the roster IF the Hoboken clearances are kosher. However, not sure NJT riders would exactly fall in love with the sight on them hauling their train since F59's have a bit of a bad rep for riding rough when they start to get worn; Jersey commuters already hate the PL42's craptacular ride quality with a passion.


Maybe NJT could use the 59's for the Atlantic City service since it would be a waste to use dual modes there given the short run under wire from 20th St. to Frankford Jct. and the fact that there is no place to stop and change modes at FJ as it is currently configured.
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Re: Genesis to get "life extension" program in 2018

Postby Tadman » Fri Dec 15, 2017 6:31 pm

Whatever they do with the 59's, it is going to require a hefty overhaul. They are used hard.
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