Horizon Coach Refurbishment

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

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Postby ryanov » Sun Jan 02, 2005 6:40 pm

Jtgshu wrote:The best version of those types of flourcesent lights is found on NJT's comet 3's and 4's (the same type of cars as the Horizon fleet)

The solid rows of flouresent lights shut off and the "emergency lighting" comes on when the train either looses HEP (go thorugh a phase gap for example) or when the main passenger lighting circuit breaker is shut off.

The emergency lights are incandencent like lights, althought I don't think they are incandecent bulbs though, and are spaced roughtly every 4 or 5 "tubes" apart on opposite sides, going down the length of the car. Teh lighting is quite nice, and Amtrak could put in a "dark" mode for the lights where there are these lights spaced say every other flouresent tube and when the main lights get shut off, these turn on.


Are there rules against operating with this lighting? I was in an Arrow car late at night that was really appropriate for the time of day, yet clearly the lighting is always kept on the bright level.

Even more important on Amtrak.... people are in those cars for far more than 30 mins...

Personally I prefer the Comet II style emergency lights, which just lights about half of the flourescents. I was in one of these cars during the great NEC foulup in July '03 and it was reasonable lighting for night time.
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Postby RMadisonWI » Sun Jan 02, 2005 6:42 pm

I know one Hiawatha conductor who turns off the overhead lighting in the Horizon cars for the night runs (such as 341). Minimal lighting remains on, most likely for safety reasons.
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Postby AmtrakFan » Thu May 26, 2005 7:31 pm

Folks your Horizon update Beech Grove is doing a Pathetic Job on the paint. One Cafe 58007 on side still has it's repainting tape and on car 58000 they forgot to remove the old logo! Opps.
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Postby bmichel5581 » Sun Oct 21, 2007 11:58 am

Sorry to dig up such an old topic...


But it appears that there wasn't ever a "master blue print" for the club-dinette rebuilds.

58100 has nice leather seats in Biz class, but absolutely NO overhead luggage rack...

58103 has blue cloth seats in Biz and still no overhead luggage rack.


One nice thing you gotta admit about the Horizon club-dinette cars have over the Amfleet club dinettes, is that the Horizon biz class passengers have their own bathroom, whereas with the Amfleet you have to walk back through to the lounge part of the car (and thats if it isn't broke/full and locked up)


I'm thinking about starting a project about tracking the Horizon Food service cars....where they are, which have been converted to club-dinettes, and what form of interior they have etc...

So, if any of you left coasters could PM me what club-dinettes (#'s) are being used on the Surfliner stand-in equipment set.....i'd appreciate it
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Re: Horizon Coach Refurbishment

Postby gokeefe » Wed Dec 28, 2011 8:28 pm

Discussion in the various rolling stock related threads continues to return to the idea that the Horizon cars appear to be very likely candidates for major rebuilds in order to repurpose them once new equipment comes online in the Midwest.

The consensus appears to be that the equipment would likely be used in corridor service (meaning the continuation of a high density seating configuration).

Adding an automatic door capability also comes up frequently.

The fact that the cars are "mid-life" also seems to be on the of the strong points supporting the idea that these cars will be rebuilt in order to extend their service lives.

Although it doesn't appear likely at this time, have there been any indications that Amtrak is preparing to refurbish the Horizon cars?

I understand this line of thinking and discussion is very early given that the contracts for the new Midwest bi-levels haven't even been awarded yet.
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Re: Horizon Coach Refurbishment

Postby gokeefe » Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:12 pm

If Amtrak were to refurbish the Horizon cars to a "low density" configuration for use on the Long Distance trains would this in effect help meet most of the demand on the eastern long distance services (assuming the Amfleet II's remain in service for the foreseeable future)?

This would also assume that the refurbishment would also solve the numerous known operational issues of the Horizon cars.
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Re: Horizon Coach Refurbishment

Postby SouthernRailway » Mon Jan 02, 2012 5:50 pm

Ugh, I wouldn't want to take Horizons on a long-distance trip, solely because the windows are so tiny- they are just slits in the side of the car.

Why would anyone have designed intercity passenger equipment with such tiny windows? Same for Amfleet Is.

I understand that there were concerns about vandalism along the Northeast Corridor when the Metroliner was first designed, but the Acela, Viewliners and other equipment with larger windows haven't had problems with that, as far as I know.
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Re: Horizon Coach Refurbishment

Postby gokeefe » Mon Jan 02, 2012 6:49 pm

SouthernRailway wrote:Ugh, I wouldn't want to take Horizons on a long-distance trip, solely because the windows are so tiny- they are just slits in the side of the car.


I agree that the windows in the cars aren't as big as the "heritage" era long distance coaches. On the other hand does it really bother the majority of the traveling public enough to matter? There are Amfleet I based trains all over the system right now that can't keep up with demand.

I mention this possibility because refurbishing the Horizon fleet appears to offer the only possibility for additional low density configured rolling stock in the near term.
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Re: Horizon Coach Refurbishment

Postby SouthernRailway » Mon Jan 02, 2012 7:19 pm

gokeefe wrote:
SouthernRailway wrote:Ugh, I wouldn't want to take Horizons on a long-distance trip, solely because the windows are so tiny- they are just slits in the side of the car.


I agree that the windows in the cars aren't as big as the "heritage" era long distance coaches. On the other hand does it really bother the majority of the traveling public enough to matter? There are Amfleet I based trains all over the system right now that can't keep up with demand.

I mention this possibility because refurbishing the Horizon fleet appears to offer the only possibility for additional low density configured rolling stock in the near term.


Look at the difference in fares that Amtrak can get for the Acela vs. Northeast Regional-the Acela doesn't save THAT much time vs. the fastest NE Regional, but the Acela equipment is so much nicer, in part because the windows are so much bigger. True, slit windows probably don't discourage ridership, but more appealing equipment means higher ticket revenues for Amtrak.
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Re: Horizon Coach Refurbishment

Postby gokeefe » Mon Jan 02, 2012 9:16 pm

SouthernRailway wrote:True, slit windows probably don't discourage ridership, but more appealing equipment means higher ticket revenues for Amtrak.


I completely agree which is why I'm asking if refurbished Horizon equipment might be part of the answer. Is this the right shape puzzle piece for the right shape puzzle hole?

If the entire (or most) of the Horizon fleet were refurbished, to include elimination of operational deficits, including cold weather issues (if that's even possible), it seems to me that Amtrak could deploy this equipment as a wholesale replacement on trainsets for entire routes, e.g. pulling all of the Amfleets off the Cardinal.

Is it mechanically possible to eliminate the Horizon equipment's cold weather issues?

Is it economically reasonable to do so?

If the answer to these questions is yes then I think Amtrak has some coaches that are serious candidates for use in low-density service. Why not high-density?

Although this is possible on certain isolated routes, it seems far more efficient to me to keep them out of corridor service in order to lower maintenance costs. Limiting deployment to the long-distance routes would keep these cars based in areas where there would easily be a sufficient maintenance base at route terminals to operate them.

Route terminals for many of the corridor state supported trains either have limited mechanical departments or none at all. This often means that Amfleets are a better answer due to their ubiquity and ease of replacement.

"Spare" Horizon low density cars would only need to be stationed at a very limited number of locations based on which LD routes they ran on.
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Re: Horizon Coach Refurbishment

Postby SouthernRailway » Mon Jan 02, 2012 10:01 pm

You make good points.

Out of curiosity--since aren't Horizon cars just modified versions of some of the NJ Transit and Metro-North ones, why do they have cold weather issues?

If the windows could just be expanded, I'd be fine riding long distances in Horizons. I rode in one on the Hiawatha and it was fine- seemed like Amfleet (for better or for worse).

Anything other than the Metro-North or LIRR M-7s or M-8s, with the squeaky trucks.
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Re: Horizon Coach Refurbishment

Postby gokeefe » Mon Jan 02, 2012 11:22 pm

SouthernRailway wrote:I rode in one on the Hiawatha and it was fine- seemed like Amfleet (for better or for worse).


That was my experience on the Hiawatha as well. Given some kind of major overhaul (that was actually able to address mechanical issues) I have trouble seeing why this wouldn't work.

Obviously if the mechanical issues can't be addressed economically then its a moot point. I'm optimistic that Amtrak given the high quality of the current in-house engineering expertise and car rebuild experience would be able to come up with a solution.

Assuming its true I think you make a very good point regarding the use of similar cars in cold climates on NJT and Metro-North.

[EDIT:clarity]
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Re: Horizon Coach Refurbishment

Postby gokeefe » Mon Jan 02, 2012 11:49 pm

An additional thought:

Incremental refurbishment of Horizon coaches into low-density configurations without mass retirement of Amfleet II coaches (low density) would imply a very substantial addition to current capacity on eastern long distance trains currently using the Amfleet II based train sets. This would be the case regardless of whether or not there is whole sale reassignment of rolling stock (routes using only Horizon cars etc.).

In short the "infusion" of Horizon coaches onto the single level LD routes would be very noticeable, very focused and very concentrated.

Even if we assume that the shift occurred on an incremental basis, i.e. as IL bilevels are delivered Horizon cars are moved to the shop for a rebuild and then reemerge piecemeal, the mere presence of extra capacity on routes that are such consistent sellouts in so many places would mean very significant increases in ridership.
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Re: Horizon Coach Refurbishment

Postby ApproachMedium » Tue Jan 03, 2012 5:02 pm

The Horizon cars were meant to be a "quick fix" when they had originally purchased them. They are beginning to live beyond the period of time that Amtrak expected to use them. The soul purpose of this car design was never intended for intercity service. Just look at how poor the lighting is with the luggage racks. They were never intended to be set up this way.

The cold weather issues are probably related to the fact that since these cars are basically a bare bones version of the NJT Comet cars and MNCRR Shoreliners. They lack electric doors, which have electric heaters in them. I am not sure what other cold weather problems they do have, since we dont use them here in the east. But from what I have seen when the occasional one shows up they do not have any of the modern features that the NJT and Metro North models do have. The NJT cars also have a feature on their electric doors that is called a Long Door. This covers the stairs and only opens when the traps are raised internally. With the trap raised, when the operator keys the Open Low buttons for the doors any doors with traps open will operate along with their lower long doors. The long door keeps the stairs free of snow and ice, which is why there are no major issues during cold weather and snow with the comet cars. Metro north simply does not use the low level boarding stairs except at yards and a few stations on the branches in CT.

I know recently all of the cars have actually been painted the platinum mist silver color that the P42/P40s get during refurb. This helps them keep the cars cleaner looking longer since the paint with a heavy application of clear coat is easier to clean than brushed aluminum. The only problem with this can be vandalism. If the cars get graffiti painted on them its harder to remove. The solution I would propose for the Horizons would be to convert them to modern features and long distance amenities, and remove them from the midwest services. It seems like the Amfleet II cars do good in cold weather service, why not use them instead and then put the horizons on the trains from NY to florida? I dont know what the displacement is of AMII equiptment to horizon cars, but I know there are not very many AMII cars on the roster. There are only 25 or so Cafe cars and maybe 125 coaches?
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Re: Horizon Coach Refurbishment

Postby EricL » Tue Jan 03, 2012 8:46 pm

I'm just speculating here, but I think it has something to do with:

a) the mech. depts out east not generally stocking Horizon parts, since they don't have to; and
b) everyone - even the folks who don't regularly work with them - pretty much knows that these cars are junk, and they don't want them. The Central Division is the black sheep of the system, and is usually stuck with the short straw.

Addressing a prior post - there WERE a handful of low-density Horizons originally. But (nearly?) all been converted to high-density seating within the last few years. Financially, it would be a pretty hard sell to convert them back again after they had just been reconfigured not long ago. Not saying it would be hard to do - just saying that there would be a lot of inertia against the idea from the very get-go.

It's always been said that the fluorescent lighting in these cars is too harsh and not well-suited to long distance travel. This is absolutely true. But each car has four light switches in the breaker panel, each of which shut off 1/4 of the lights. Switching off two or three of them at night makes for a much more pleasant atmosphere. Of course, someone at some point fell down or tripped over their bag or something, because it was "too dark" in there, and so the decree went down that the lights were not to be dimmed. I'm don't remember whether this anti-dimming policy exists in the national Service Standards guide - it might have just been something invented by the local management...
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