Horizon Coach Refurbishment

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Re: Horizon Coach Refurbishment

Postby gokeefe » Sun Nov 12, 2017 9:16 pm

F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:The Horizons will be permanently retired no later than the initial wave of Northeast Regional new coaches starts bumping the first Am1's.


I'm on the fence in regards to this question. Here's an example ... (hypothetical) four years from now Amtrak is in a position to replace the Missouri River Runner with Amfleets. Ridership hasn't grown too much and the train still has a lot of low level boarding requiring personnel to be present at all entry points. The Horizon fleet has been consistently circulated through Level 2 and Level 1 overhauls and is in good operating condition. The cars are somewhat less maintenance intensive than the Amfleets precisely because the doors are not automated and the exterior body is also a little easier to maintain.

What is a fleet manager to do?

I think the obvious answer is that you keep the Horizon cars and use the Amfleets elsewhere. I could see the Hiawatha's Horizon cars being displaced long before most others as the ridership on this service is so much heavier.

There's another issue to consider as well ... there is going to be a temptation for Amtrak to hold on to as much of their older coach fleet as they possibly can while the new cars come into service. They will have a generous reserve fleet along with the middle aged Horizon cars to use on lower density routes. For the first time ever in its history Amtrak is going to be flush with equipment capacity that is all standardized to their mechanical specifications.

It will be a once in a generation opportunity for them to expand service and grab market share almost wholesale. They are gearing up to do something very similar with the Acelas and that is an expansion of service not just 1:1 replacement. The possibilities in North Carolina, Virginia, Arkansas, Missouri, Indiana, Pennsylvania and New York are intriguing to say the least.

Other possibilities include states that might reconsider state supported service: Nebraska, Iowa, Ohio, Tennessee, Kentucky, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Mississippi, Florida and New Hampshire.
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Re: Horizon Coach Refurbishment

Postby mtuandrew » Sun Nov 12, 2017 11:17 pm

F-line and Mr. O’Keefe: they are a non-standard fleet, and yet a generation younger than the A-Is now getting a comprehensive interior replacement. I have no particular love lost for the Horizons or their Comet cousins, but judging from fleet plans they are not only feasibly but economically fit to be moderately refurbished for another 10 years’ service.
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Re: Horizon Coach Refurbishment

Postby gokeefe » Sun Nov 12, 2017 11:31 pm

I completely agree. Amtrak is keeping them in service for the long haul. The "mid-life" overhaul we often speak of is referred to by Amtrak as a "Level 3" Overhaul. No such plans seem to exist at the moment for the Horizon cars. I think there actually may be some question as to whether or not Amtrak even believes these cars need a "mid-life" overhaul anytime within the next 10 years.

It really does beg the greater question(s) ... "Where will they be used?" and "Will there be expansion of individual trains or entire routes?"
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Re: Horizon Coach Refurbishment

Postby Backshophoss » Sun Nov 12, 2017 11:46 pm

The Horizon share most of their interior parts with Amfleet,the trucks are used on Viewliner I and II,along with the Superliner II's,they were
based on the basic Comet II bodyshell design.
They may a bit "oddball"but share parts with a good chunk of the entire passenger car fleet Amtrak owns.
The only "Drawback" was the were built on the "cheap" at that time, that fleet has held up well considering that "drawback" and
the glitches that popped up when new.
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Re: Horizon Coach Refurbishment

Postby R36 Combine Coach » Mon Nov 13, 2017 12:17 am

electricron wrote:Those old Commarriws will also be retired/repositioned when the new Siemens cars enter service. The Comarrows will probably be highly sought after by heritage rail museums and would look great great and provide a great ride behind E-8 and E-9 streamlined diesel locomotives.

Just like the LIRR MP72/MP75s converted to diesel trailer coaches. I see URHS and Whippany grabbing them, and possibly VIA grabbing them as a "stop-gap", as they are younger, fully refurbished and better shape than their Budds.

David Benton wrote:The Horizons must be Amtrak's "best value" car. I don't think many would have expected to be having this discussion now, 10 -15 years ago .

Same with the Amfleets, dating to the disco era (1975-76) and expected to last well into the 2020s.
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Re: Horizon Coach Refurbishment

Postby mtuandrew » Mon Nov 13, 2017 1:12 am

My predictions are that:
-the A-I fleet will hold down NEC service until outright replacement, but in the meantime some will find work on extended Regional service like the Palmetto and Pennsylvanian.
-the A-II fleet will be supplemented by the Horizons until both are put into ready reserve with an LDSL order. Hopefully this will happen within 10 years, but I wouldn’t be surprised by 15.
-Amtrak will toy with installing trainline doors but ultimately not convert the Horizon fleet.
-by the early 2020s, some LD trains will regularly operate mixed trainsets of Horizon, Viewliner, and Amfleet equipment, and conductors will hate it. :P
-until there is a National Corridor and/or LDSL coach order, I’ll still be talking up converting Comets into Horizon IIs, and others will still be telling me it’s a dumb idea :-D
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Re: Horizon Coach Refurbishment

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Mon Nov 13, 2017 7:30 am

mtuandrew wrote:F-line and Mr. O’Keefe: they are a non-standard fleet, and yet a generation younger than the A-Is now getting a comprehensive interior replacement. I have no particular love lost for the Horizons or their Comet cousins, but judging from fleet plans they are not only feasibly but economically fit to be moderately refurbished for another 10 years’ service.


Interior update ≠ midlife overhaul. The scope of the required work is not remotely the same. It's costing Amtrak only $16M for livery updates on 454 Am1's: a mere $35K per car. You could do the same exact program on the 92-car Horizon fleet to match liveries if they can rustle up only $3.2M extra in spare change. The Am1 livery program finishes in 9 months, so if it manages to stay within budget customer service considerations could indeed expedite that same refresh for the Horizons as early as Fall 2018. And make it worth Amtrak's while even if the fleet is still slated for retirement in 5 years, because $3.2M isn't hard to justify with revenue in that short span when it comes to improved presentation on those cars' much unloved interiors.

But it's not in any way a life extension. To last 10 or more years of service they need a full-on midlife overhaul with major systems replacements and corrosion abatement work on the aluminum frames. If you even consider replacing the door assemblies so the H's can be used in other regions, you're going to have to consider everything else that goes into a typical midlife overhaul because Amtrak is not going to pay for all-new door assemblies designed to last 20+ years when everything else with the cars is going to be in rapid decline after another 5-7 years of daily use. That's where basic procurement economics overrule the compulsion to save everything that isn't a rolling pile of rust. The last Comet II-lineage fleet to get an overhaul was the MNRR Shoreliner I/II (75 cars) + Comet II (29 cars) fleets in 2008-09. Those were intended 15-year life extensions, with MNRR scheduled to replace its complete Hudson/Harlem Line push-pull fleets with MultiLevels by 2022 for capacity reasons and CDOT either tagging along with the MLV order or ownership-swapping its old I/II's for the MTA's newer Shoreliner III/IV's should it opt to keep running flats for intrastate service. Prior to that NJT rebuilt its 160-car NJT Comet IIM fleet in '03, and they will last 20 years (with some already-declining reliability) because they've been very late cueing up the next batch of replacement MLV's. Those are the two overhaul programs you would have to benchmark Horizon costs against, plus inflation.

The odds that cost is going to come out favorable for a fleet that size aren't great. And has to be weighed against likelihood of the leading edge of a displaced Amfleet glut hitting in 5-7 years now with Siemens grabbing the Midwest/Cali contract after long being the odds-on favorite for the upcoming East contract. Chances are that 600-car East procurement is not going to be significantly delayed after this week's big news.


gokeefe wrote:I'm on the fence in regards to this question. Here's an example ... (hypothetical) four years from now Amtrak is in a position to replace the Missouri River Runner with Amfleets. Ridership hasn't grown too much and the train still has a lot of low level boarding requiring personnel to be present at all entry points. The Horizon fleet has been consistently circulated through Level 2 and Level 1 overhauls and is in good operating condition. The cars are somewhat less maintenance intensive than the Amfleets precisely because the doors are not automated and the exterior body is also a little easier to maintain.

What is a fleet manager to do?


Stop right here. The H's doors are not LESS maint-intensive because they're manual...they're MORE maint-intensive because they get stuck in cold weather. This is the long-established knock against those cars from staff, and there's nothing hypothetical about that. You yourself have stated many times before that this is a big strike against them for using them as a source of fleet expansion for your own Downeaster service.

And how does the aluminum carbody make for a less maint-intensive car? They're midlife-overhaul age, and cheap aluminum corrodes more quickly where stainless steel does not. If you want them to last another decade, they have to budget for overhaul that resurfaces the whole carbody in and out with major abatement work or else it's going to start blooming rust spots all over. That's simply the metallurgy choice you make by buying aluminum: cheaper up-front, but the 25-year overhauls require more intensive carbody abatement work than 25-year overhauls of stainless steel bodies.

I think the obvious answer is that you keep the Horizon cars and use the Amfleets elsewhere. I could see the Hiawatha's Horizon cars being displaced long before most others as the ridership on this service is so much heavier.

There's another issue to consider as well ... there is going to be a temptation for Amtrak to hold on to as much of their older coach fleet as they possibly can while the new cars come into service. They will have a generous reserve fleet along with the middle aged Horizon cars to use on lower density routes. For the first time ever in its history Amtrak is going to be flush with equipment capacity that is all standardized to their mechanical specifications.


No. This is railfan temptation, not procurement manager temptation. Hoarding for future use isn't a zero-cost proposition when future use requires paying the going rate for a midlife overhaul. Now, if you're talking holding onto the H's in revenue service for 5 years until the new Midwest/Cali cars have passed all warranty milestones...there's nothing to consider there because that is already Amtrak S.O.P. They still have 6 Heritage bags on active reserve maintained ready-to-run which won't be retired until at least 2018 when the V-bags have hit 2 years in daily service. Caltrans and WSDOT still have to pay AMTK maint fees for the 21 nationally-owned F59PHI locos being displaced by new state-owned Chargers until at least FY2019 when the Chargers hit their warranty milestones. So of course the Horizons are still going to be around in 2021 while the back end of deliveries from Siemens are still getting revenue shakedown. That's how it's always been done.

After that...you're not going to be able to hoard without running headlong into the MTBF issues of running these cars so far past 25-year overhaul age. So either this speculative service expansion that's fueling the railfan temptation to hoard the fleet gets real-world funded for service expansion SOON (like, next 2 fiscal years soon) so the procurement managers can make a proper amortization decision on rebuild costs using real cost recovery projections...or it's not going to happen for this fleet.

It will be a once in a generation opportunity for them to expand service and grab market share almost wholesale. They are gearing up to do something very similar with the Acelas and that is an expansion of service not just 1:1 replacement. The possibilities in North Carolina, Virginia, Arkansas, Missouri, Indiana, Pennsylvania and New York are intriguing to say the least.

Other possibilities include states that might reconsider state supported service: Nebraska, Iowa, Ohio, Tennessee, Kentucky, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Mississippi, Florida and New Hampshire.


No, it won't be. Because with Siemens locking up this Midwest/Cali new order there won't be any delay in them locking up the 600-car East Coast order. 5-8 years and the system begins to be flooded with 450 displaced Amfleet I's, at least 3 times as many as there are halfway-realistic service starts to plug them all. "Twice in a decade" is quite a bit more than "once in a generation". With stainless steel frames and a bunch of ARRA component rebuilds floating around they can milk 10 years of a pluggable reserve fleet larger than the H's simply playing scrap-n'-match with parts instead of funding any further rebuild programs. So why would they feel the slightest inkling to also hoard a bunch of aluminum cars that have non-optional decision on major overhaul?

All this supposed scarcity you are citing here doesn't exist in the real world, will not exist in the form of plausibly real service expansion that has a chance of being funded in the next decade, and definitely won't exist before fleet management decisions have to be made on several hundred more old cars clogging the dead lines of every major yard east of the Mississippi. If you think the railfan pearl-clutching about chucking 92 worn-but-operable Horizons is palpable now, just wait until the scrappings begin of the first 350 out of 500 stainless steel Am1's, Am2's, and Metroliners that have absolutely nowhere plausible to go even in a beyond-hypothetical fantasyland of exponential expansion...even if you could somehow find >10-year homes for the other 100-150 in a slightly sub-fantasy hypothetical world. I can't wait until those hysterical threads start in-earnest; they'll make the freak-outs over hoarding the H's and Acela carriages seem positively quaint by comparison.
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Re: Horizon Coach Refurbishment

Postby east point » Mon Nov 13, 2017 2:48 pm

Let us see about spare Horizons in the future. After 188 and the Vermonter wrecks there was an immediate shortage of AM-1 coaches . God forbid there are incident(s) that disables 16 or so cars. Then the Horizons will be needed immediately as the out of service cars go to Bear or Beech for repairs. As it is some present trains could use a few extra cars now. May be have 2 AM-1s bracket a horizon so the worry of the HZ doors will not be a factor ?

Then we have the unlikely possibility that NOL - Florida service is instituted. 2 or 3 train sets could need 12- 18 cars + spares depending on schedule that would need to be available.

Cannot think of any other service extensions in the works except Virginia that will require more coaches ? Long term the Siemens coaches will slowly enter service but the published 2022 last delivery will keep hold of Horizons. Of course it is possible that California planned expansions will keep the leased SLLD and Superliners on California property ?
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Re: Horizon Coach Refurbishment

Postby ApproachMedium » Tue Nov 14, 2017 2:17 am

Matt Johnson wrote:
hs3730 wrote:Might the Horizons (or the Comarrows for that matter) go to the Adirondack? The 'dak has in the past had unique equipment compared to the other Northeast trains. The manual door issue isn't that big a deal, since the only stops where the doors open without a conductor present are the terminals and Albany, all of which deal with manually operated doors on other trains on a daily basis.


The Adirondack calls for a coach with large windows for viewing scenery, not Amfleet/Horizon slits. (Photo provided for historical context only. :) ) The last time Amtrak had a dedicated Adirondack fleet, it utilized some of the last remaining Heritage coaches. Given that Amtrak seems to be all about standardization (except when states are willing to have greater involvement - see Pacific Northwest, California, North Carolina), I think Amfleet IIs and the fall foliage dome car on certain runs are all that train can hope for unless Albany suddenly takes more interest.



^^^^^^^^^This

The Horizon cars would best be stuck on the Crescent, Palmetto or silver service trains in place of the Amfleet 2 cars currently in use. The Horizons have horrible lighting and small windows. They would be perfect for all of that hot southern weather and that not worth looking at southern trailer park along the entire right of way. I know when I take the auto train theres damn near nothing worth looking at out of those windows the whole way down and back. The larger window AMII cars belong on the northern trains where scenery is a must, the cardinal is also a very scenic route (it really needs a regular dome lounge).


Also I will add my daily two cents here about the door freeze up issues. The amfleet power doors AND manual doors on AMIIs will become not operational from Newark Penn to Newark airport. Most of the time when the train arrives in Metropark only one door works in a snow storm. I do not want to hear about door problems. The Horizons originally had manual pocket doors that were basically the Comet car doors without the door mechs attached. Because they never sealed shut right, they had issues freezing up. The NJT comet cars, do not have this problem because the power mech keeps the door pretty tightly shut, and its also a long door which means the door leaf covers the steps in the door trap as well as the upper door part itself. This keeps the doors from freezing up at all and works very well. The Horizon cars could very easily undergo an overhaul to add this feature in as a power option. Currently they have been retrofitted with swing in dutch doors a-la the old Budds and Pullmans of yesteryear that worked.

So from somebody who is a mechanical head, and actually worked on both types of cars (horizons DID comes to SSYD, and i previously worked for NJ Transit) my best advice to amtrak is to rebuild Horizons with long doors, which would allow them to open the traps from the inside and do trainline power doors at high and low level stops, and use the horizons on any part of the railroad or dedicate them to maybe NY state services. If not, they might as well just shove them all off to the florida and new orleans trains as they would be pretty useless anywhere else otherwise.

If you would like to see references on my rebuild ideas just google Comet IIM and look at the differences between that body and the Horizon body. The horizon car could undergo the same physical change while having an interior rebuild to match that of the Cali Commaros.
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Re: Horizon Coach Refurbishment

Postby Tadman » Tue Nov 14, 2017 9:12 am

Hey F-line, why don't they make you President of Amtrak? You sure seem to have this all figured out.
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Re: Horizon Coach Refurbishment

Postby electricron » Tue Nov 14, 2017 9:36 am

Tadman wrote:Hey F-line, why don't they make you President of Amtrak? You sure seem to have this all figured out.

He's got it all figured out except where Amtrak is going to find the cash to buy new single level Siemens coaches for the NEC? It's an entirely different profit margin between Acela HSR and NEC Regionals, therefore banks and investing firms aren't as likely to offer as sweet a deal on any financing.
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Re: Horizon Coach Refurbishment

Postby gokeefe » Tue Nov 14, 2017 11:29 am

electricron wrote:It's an entirely different profit margin between Acela HSR and NEC Regionals, therefore banks and investing firms aren't as likely to offer as sweet a deal on any financing.


Almost ... Acela is being financed using a federal loan not private capital. The question is not whether or not they could finance privately its whether or not they could finance through USDOT. The answer to that question appears to be "yes" in part because the Northeast Regionals cover their operating costs and the state supported services now have allocated capital charges as well. From a government standpoint there's probably more than enough revenue on the table, along with cost savings from maintenance, to meet the loan program parameters without additional funding from Congress.
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Re: Horizon Coach Refurbishment

Postby gokeefe » Tue Nov 14, 2017 11:49 am

F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:The odds that cost is going to come out favorable for a fleet that size aren't great. And has to be weighed against likelihood of the leading edge of a displaced Amfleet glut hitting in 5-7 years now with Siemens grabbing the Midwest/Cali contract after long being the odds-on favorite for the upcoming East contract. Chances are that 600-car East procurement is not going to be significantly delayed after this week's big news.


I think you're right about this. Also worth remembering and considering that a 600 car order implies replacement of both Amfleet I and Amfleet II. If there are options for Amtrak to exercise then they might be able to drop the Horizon cars as well and completely consolidate their single level fleet. Worth noting that the following car types (all with major mechanical or body differences) would be affected: Amfleet I, Amfleet II, Metroliner Cab Cars, Horizon, F40 NPCU. Three of the four car categories also have corresponding sub-categories of foodservice cars with varying configurations. The Horizon cars might make a very attractive option for use in commuter service, especially if they are rebuilt with train-line doors and receive a mid-life overhaul. This would be especially true for a system that is looking to expand service.

F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:
gokeefe wrote:I'm on the fence in regards to this question. Here's an example ... (hypothetical) four years from now Amtrak is in a position to replace the Missouri River Runner with Amfleets. Ridership hasn't grown too much and the train still has a lot of low level boarding requiring personnel to be present at all entry points. The Horizon fleet has been consistently circulated through Level 2 and Level 1 overhauls and is in good operating condition. The cars are somewhat less maintenance intensive than the Amfleets precisely because the doors are not automated and the exterior body is also a little easier to maintain.

What is a fleet manager to do?


Stop right here. The H's doors are not LESS maint-intensive because they're manual...they're MORE maint-intensive because they get stuck in cold weather. This is the long-established knock against those cars from staff, and there's nothing hypothetical about that. You yourself have stated many times before that this is a big strike against them for using them as a source of fleet expansion for your own Downeaster service.


I have indeed. In terms of understanding these cars better I've been wondering a lot lately why we don't hear more about problems with them on the Hiawatha. The freezing is definitely a problem (assuming it still is). The bigger problem that I've really only become more familiar with since coming "on-board" at TrainRiders Northeast has been the discovery that train line doors are most definitely not optional for the Downeaster.

F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:And how does the aluminum carbody make for a less maint-intensive car? They're midlife-overhaul age, and cheap aluminum corrodes more quickly where stainless steel does not. If you want them to last another decade, they have to budget for overhaul that resurfaces the whole carbody in and out with major abatement work or else it's going to start blooming rust spots all over. That's simply the metallurgy choice you make by buying aluminum: cheaper up-front, but the 25-year overhauls require more intensive carbody abatement work than 25-year overhauls of stainless steel bodies.


I was under the impression that Amtrak had addressed this issue by painting the cars "Platinum Mist". Again ... same issue with the freezing concerns ... it appears that Amtrak has dealt with the problem.

F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:After that...you're not going to be able to hoard without running headlong into the MTBF issues of running these cars so far past 25-year overhaul age. So either this speculative service expansion that's fueling the railfan temptation to hoard the fleet gets real-world funded for service expansion SOON (like, next 2 fiscal years soon) so the procurement managers can make a proper amortization decision on rebuild costs using real cost recovery projections...or it's not going to happen for this fleet.


I'm looking and thinking about service expansions that appear likely for North Carolina, Virginia and potentially Pennsylvania. Based on budget documents posted elsewhere it looks to me as if Amtrak is going to be running more Northeast Regional trainsets. Some of the new fleet demand can be covered by Amfleets coming back from the Midwest and California. However, it doesn't appear to me that this will be enough.

I guess the real question we are discussing is whether or not its cheaper to run the Horizons or the displaced Amfleets (5 or 10 year timeframe). The Horizon cars are so much younger that it seems likely that they would be cheaper but the lack of trainline doors and other complications really muddy the picture.

F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:I can't wait until those hysterical threads start in-earnest; they'll make the freak-outs over hoarding the H's and Acela carriages seem positively quaint by comparison.


If Amtrak is scrapping coach cars because they have received new ones it will be a great day.
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Re: Horizon Coach Refurbishment

Postby Tadman » Tue Nov 14, 2017 12:31 pm

The Horizon cars run daily on the Detroit trains through the winter. You get some nasty cold temps and snow on that run. Although the doors were once a problem, having firsthand witnessed a conductor wrestle with said doors, changes have been made. Where once doors slid into pockets, filled with ice, the doors now swing open and latch with big chunky dogs like on a superliner. I ride to Detroit for work 5+ times per year including winter, and haven't seen a problem with doors for years.

And if aluminum corrosion were really such a big deal, you think we'd hear about it by now? There are comets from the late 60's and I've never heard a thing about aluminum corrosion.

Mr. F-Line seems to posit quite a lot of opinion as fact, and quite forcefully. I don't disagree with some of his positions.

Most importantly, it is not feasible to keep every last car around. They do that in third world countries and it discourages accountability which affects long-term reliability. I work with the Argentine railways a bit, and you would be shocked how the "keep it around" mentality affects things. But the cost-benefit should be examined with more than anecdotal evidence of someone who may or may not work in the industry.
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Re: Horizon Coach Refurbishment

Postby ApproachMedium » Tue Nov 14, 2017 2:19 pm

Tadman wrote:The Horizon cars run daily on the Detroit trains through the winter. You get some nasty cold temps and snow on that run. Although the doors were once a problem, having firsthand witnessed a conductor wrestle with said doors, changes have been made. Where once doors slid into pockets, filled with ice, the doors now swing open and latch with big chunky dogs like on a superliner. I ride to Detroit for work 5+ times per year including winter, and haven't seen a problem with doors for years.

And if aluminum corrosion were really such a big deal, you think we'd hear about it by now? There are comets from the late 60's and I've never heard a thing about aluminum corrosion.

Mr. F-Line seems to posit quite a lot of opinion as fact, and quite forcefully. I don't disagree with some of his positions.

Most importantly, it is not feasible to keep every last car around. They do that in third world countries and it discourages accountability which affects long-term reliability. I work with the Argentine railways a bit, and you would be shocked how the "keep it around" mentality affects things. But the cost-benefit should be examined with more than anecdotal evidence of someone who may or may not work in the industry.


I second on the "corrosion" issue. Alumnium cars do not rust at all. If you see anything NJT has running around including the Comet 1s that have long since been retired, the body shells fair well they just oxidize very easily. If you clean the cars with the right chemicals on the daily they stay clean and "white" looking. The Amtrak and Metro North cars have been since painted over. MNCR used a clear coat to protect their cars while Amtrak just did platinum mist.
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