Amtrak DMUs

Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.

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Re: Amtrak DMUs

Postby dowlingm » Sun Oct 07, 2018 12:33 pm

John_Perkowski wrote:Just a friendly reminder...

Work rules are negotiated between unions and railroads (including Amtrak). A classic teaching point of “Management of Labor 501” (MBA/MPA grad school stuff) is:

IF YOU WANT A CHANGE FROM THE UNION ON ISSUE X, YOU WILL HAVE TO GIVE TO THEM A CHANGE THEY WANT ON ISSUE Y.

One question the folks at Amtrak will consider, heavily, is “Will procuring and deploying MU car sets require a change in the work rules, and what will the unions want as quid pro quo?”
In another industry, a Southwest, a Megabus or similar upstart would be operating DMUs over thin Amtrak routes without penalty and with equal rights (and responsibilities) of access - but not on U.S. railroads. That is a bug, not a feature.
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Re: Amtrak DMUs

Postby mtuandrew » Sun Oct 07, 2018 1:39 pm

As long as it meets all FRA standards and is shown to shunt all host railroad signals, there’s no problem operating a DMU anywhere in America or Canada. Unless a host railroad raised a serious safety objection, tomorrow Amtrak could replace any train it wanted with a set of heritage Budd RDCs, Nippon Sharyo DMUs, or the Tier I alternate compliant Stadler DMUs.

Amtrak just hasn’t done so. Part of that is that they consistently can get good load factors on eight-car Northeast Regionals, and those are more efficient with a P42 or ACS-64 on point. Anything less than four cars (appx 260 people max), they have to compete with buses - three buses, each capable of holding over 100, have the same crew requirements as a similar Amtrak train, at a lower pay rate.
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Re: Amtrak DMUs

Postby DutchRailnut » Sun Oct 07, 2018 3:35 pm

despite all goofy idea's and presumed knowledge let it be known that a RFI (request for information) is like a person asking for a brochure at a car dealership.
it means nothing, it sets no policy, it sets no preference, it does not even say that Amtrak is really interested.
If Conductors are in charge, why are they promoted to be Engineer???

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Re: Amtrak DMUs

Postby frequentflyer » Mon Oct 08, 2018 11:42 am

DutchRailnut wrote:despite all goofy idea's and presumed knowledge let it be known that a RFI (request for information) is like a person asking for a brochure at a car dealership.
it means nothing, it sets no policy, it sets no preference, it does not even say that Amtrak is really interested.


True, other than the fact CEO of Amtrak has publicly talked about DMUs and have spoken at length to Stadler. It was on the video when the CEO went to the meeting in California this spring. Everyone is up in arms because on that video Anderson didn't speak glowingly of LD trains. But if you watch the whole video there was much more info than just the about LD trains.

Mr. Anderson has the brochure, spoken to the salesman and probably talked to Finance too. Now, whether he signs the contract or lease, we will know soon.
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Re: Amtrak DMUs

Postby DutchRailnut » Mon Oct 08, 2018 12:03 pm

The CEO of Amtrak has no purchasing power or policy making unless trough the Amtrak board of directors.
He has no power to sign anything .
If Conductors are in charge, why are they promoted to be Engineer???

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Re: Amtrak DMUs

Postby John_Perkowski » Tue Oct 09, 2018 11:15 pm

dowlingm wrote:In another industry, a Southwest, a Megabus or similar upstart would be operating DMUs over thin Amtrak routes without penalty and with equal rights (and responsibilities) of access - but not on U.S. railroads. That is a bug, not a feature.


Megabus is not unionized. That means “work rules, what work rules? We don’t need no stinking work rules!” Megabus is a brand name of Coach USA, the US operating unit of Stagecoach Group PLC, listed on the London Stock Exchange.

Southwest doesn’t fly a route if they can’t make money off it. Amtrak’s vitamin plan (One A Day) is not designed to make money.
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Re: Amtrak DMUs

Postby Greg Moore » Wed Oct 10, 2018 6:50 am

John_Perkowski wrote:
dowlingm wrote:In another industry, a Southwest, a Megabus or similar upstart would be operating DMUs over thin Amtrak routes without penalty and with equal rights (and responsibilities) of access - but not on U.S. railroads. That is a bug, not a feature.


Megabus is not unionized. That means “work rules, what work rules? We don’t need no stinking work rules!” Megabus is a brand name of Coach USA, the US operating unit of Stagecoach Group PLC, listed on the London Stock Exchange.

Southwest doesn’t fly a route if they can’t make money off it. Amtrak’s vitamin plan (One A Day) is not designed to make money.

I'll add too that SWA only flies one class of planes 737. Yes, they are flying a range of them, but they don't, as some other airlines, fly say an Embrear, which would be the DMU equivalent.
And quite frankly, Amtrak IS trying to move towards the SWA model, which is basically having as few types of equipment as possible and maximizing commonality of parts, etc.
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Re: Amtrak DMUs

Postby mtuandrew » Wed Oct 10, 2018 11:01 am

Greg Moore wrote:And quite frankly, Amtrak IS trying to move towards the SWA model, which is basically having as few types of equipment as possible and maximizing commonality of parts, etc.

Do I smell western single-level LDs? (File that in the penny-wise, pound-foolish folder.)

Anderson would have never accepted CAF’s bid for the V-IIs. Either he would have awarded the V-IIs to a big bidder like Alstom that could build them in volume, he would have pushed Amtrak to move to a new all-in-one platform, or he would have canceled them altogether and sourced bags & sleepers elsewhere as the diner fleet slowly disintegrated.
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Re: Amtrak DMUs

Postby DutchRailnut » Wed Oct 10, 2018 11:10 am

again that would not be Anderson decision but Amtrak board of directors in wich Anderson has one vote.
If Conductors are in charge, why are they promoted to be Engineer???

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Re: Amtrak DMUs

Postby mtuandrew » Wed Oct 10, 2018 11:41 am

DutchRailnut wrote:again that would not be Anderson decision but Amtrak board of directors in wich Anderson has one vote.

One vote, but all the detailed procurement information. The board can always go request their own info, but otherwise they’re voting yea or nay only on what Anderson presents.
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Re: Amtrak DMUs

Postby DutchRailnut » Wed Oct 10, 2018 11:43 am

Then still by law they have to go by lowest qualified bidder , no matter who that is.
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Re: Amtrak DMUs

Postby mdvle » Wed Oct 10, 2018 11:55 am

Greg Moore wrote:I'll add too that SWA only flies one class of planes 737. Yes, they are flying a range of them, but they don't, as some other airlines, fly say an Embrear, which would be the DMU equivalent.
And quite frankly, Amtrak IS trying to move towards the SWA model, which is basically having as few types of equipment as possible and maximizing commonality of parts, etc.


But the otherside of the Southwest model is that they only fly routes that are suitable for their limited fleet of aircraft, a luxury that Amtrak doesn't have.

So while Amtrak will certainly attempt to standardize their fleet there will alway be a necessary variety.

Also, the general move to not just buying equipment but to a buy & maintain for x years agreement can take car of the long term maintenance headaches (on the assumption the supplier stays in business long enough to honor the contract).
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Re: Amtrak DMUs

Postby John_Perkowski » Wed Oct 10, 2018 12:15 pm

Greg Moore wrote:I'll add too that SWA only flies one class of planes 737. Yes, they are flying a range of them, but they don't, as some other airlines, fly say an Embrear, ...


Southwest currently has two variants of the 737. They DO own 717s from the AirTran merger, but those are on lease to Delta. I suspect the 737-8 Super Max will replace the 737-700s over time.

The critical matter here is Southwest, unlike Amtrak, is investing in its equipment. The oldest plane in the fleet is 21. Amtrak has 50 year old equipment in service.
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Re: Amtrak DMUs

Postby Tadman » Wed Oct 10, 2018 2:44 pm

DutchRailnut wrote:Then still by law they have to go by lowest qualified bidder , no matter who that is.


For a guy who gets indignant when non-railroaders tell railroaders how things work, it's interesting to see you consider yourself a legal expert now. Perhaps you've taken up law school at Fordham in retirement?
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Re: Amtrak DMUs

Postby eolesen » Wed Oct 10, 2018 3:18 pm

DutchRailnut wrote:Then still by law they have to go by lowest qualified bidder , no matter who that is.


Yeah, not so sure that's true. They have to follow their procurement process, e.g. using a weighted evaluation model would allow a higher bid to be selected as long as the criteria were clearly spelled out at the beginning of the RFP process, but it's not spelled out in law that they have to go with the lowest bidder.

They also have MSA's in place for certain sourcing which allow them to bypass the bid process entirely, but that's usually for staffing and commodities like fuel or cafe consumables.
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