Why doesn't Amtrak use tilting equipment for more trains?

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Why doesn't Amtrak use tilting equipment for more trains?

Postby SouthernRailway » Sat Feb 03, 2018 3:06 pm

The March Trains magazine has numerous articles about increasing train speeds, and an article about tilting trains. Only the Acela and the Cascades use tilting equipment, and the Cascades at least seem to save significant time due to tilting equipment: 25 minutes on an 100-and-something-mile route, I think.

Why doesn't Amtrak use more tilting equipment? Is the issue that tilting equipment only comes in fixed consists, like the Acela and Talgos, and Amtrak doesn't like fixed consists? Or is the issue that since Amtrak has so much non-tilting equipment, the non-tilting equipment couldn't be used in a faster tilting train and so it's not worth the bother? Or something else?

Thanks.
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Re: Why doesn't Amtrak use tilting equipment for more trains

Postby Matt Johnson » Sat Feb 03, 2018 3:43 pm

For tilt trains to make a difference, you need to first get to a point where you have reliable enough service that the small incremental improvement is worth it. That alone limits the places on the Amtrak system where it makes sense!
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Re: Why doesn't Amtrak use tilting equipment for more trains

Postby hi55us » Sat Feb 03, 2018 8:20 pm

It's kind of like saying why don't you upgrade your car from a 4 cylinder engine to a 6 in order to get to work faster. Until you rid of traffic and increase speed limits, the more powerful engine won't make a difference...
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Re: Why doesn't Amtrak use tilting equipment for more trains

Postby bratkinson » Sat Feb 03, 2018 9:26 pm

Except in the NEC, train speed in curves is not a limiting factor. Outside of the NEC, most of the curves are taken at slower speeds due to various grades, even mountains. In other words, tilting is of no use crossing the Rocky Mountains. Nor is it of any value out on the prairies where curves are quite gentle and are frequently taken at authorized track speed. First, the road beds have to be upgraded to support operation faster than 79 mph. Oh yea...almost forgot...the host railroad would have to pick up the tab for the upgrades, or the US Government. Neither seems to be flush with cash' to make upgrades with very little, if any, return on investment. Of course, you'd have to convince the host railroads that running passenger trains faster than 79 won't cause further dispatching nightmares to 'mix in' with slower freight trains.

And other than that...tilting cannot simply 'be added' to existing cars and locomotives, even on the NEC. It has to be designed in when the equipment is built. How much NEW equipment has been put into service on the NEC since the last Acela in 2001?

The NEC, particularly between NYP and WAS, would have to go through yet another round of improvement to support speeds faster than current practices. Riding in Amfleet at 125mph south of Philly can be a rather rough ride depending on which track you're on. I presume the Acela rides better over rough track, and have minimally confirmed that riding NHV-BOS a couple of times using AGR points.

Put another way, the cash outlay for new equipment, trackage, and signaling to get higher speeds in the NEC will likely be a long time coming and will have to wait as repairs and/or replacements of major bridges and tunnels MUST take precedence for major capital expenditures.
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Re: Why doesn't Amtrak use tilting equipment for more trains

Postby bretton88 » Sat Feb 03, 2018 10:00 pm

While you don't have to upgrade the railroad past 79mph (the Cascades max out at that), the hard part is convincing the host railroads to allow higher speed limits in the curves. UP doesn't allow the Talgos to go any faster in Oregon, for example (and wasn't going to allow increased limits for the proposed SLO talgo trains). So you need a curved alignment where the expensive technology can help and a cooperative host, which most corridors don't have.
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Re: Why doesn't Amtrak use tilting equipment for more trains

Postby Mackensen » Sun Feb 04, 2018 1:51 pm

bratkinson wrote:And other than that...tilting cannot simply 'be added' to existing cars and locomotives, even on the NEC. It has to be designed in when the equipment is built. How much NEW equipment has been put into service on the NEC since the last Acela in 2001?


No new passenger stock; the only change of consequence is the ACS-64 displacing the AEM-7 and HHP-8. The only real change since the last Amfleet I was delivered in 1977 (besides the Acelas) is the gradual removal of Heritage Fleet cars.

bratkinson wrote:The NEC, particularly between NYP and WAS, would have to go through yet another round of improvement to support speeds faster than current practices. Riding in Amfleet at 125mph south of Philly can be a rather rough ride depending on which track you're on. I presume the Acela rides better over rough track, and have minimally confirmed that riding NHV-BOS a couple of times using AGR points.


I think it's better, but it's still not great. Anecdotally, my wife is one of those unlucky few who gets motion sick on tilting equipment.
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