Acela Speeds

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

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hsr_fan

Post by hsr_fan » Mon Nov 28, 2005 10:57 pm

They converted to 25 kV within the last couple of years. That's why you will no longer see Arrow III's on the Coast Line.

travelrobb
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Post by travelrobb » Fri Mar 10, 2006 6:52 pm

According to an Amtrak strategic plan from 2003 that outlined capital spending for 2004-2008, the railroad planned to spend $266 million to fix electric traction. According to the report, the money would go to:

•"refurbishing" 200 miles of catenary
•"upgrading" 24 miles of contact wire
•replacing 45 transformers, 80 circuit breakers, and 50 air switches
•adding two new substations
•replacing 2 rotary frequency converters
•replacing deteriorated catenary pulls.

I don't know if "refurbishing" and "upgrading" means switching to constant tension. But the strategic plan shows that in 2003, virtually all of the catenary south of New Rochelle (except for stretches mostly in Maryland) and attendant substations were "not in a state of good repair." The forecast for after FY 2008--assuming spending stays on target--shows most of the track (except for three 10-15 mile sections, one in Delaware and two in NJ) and about two-thirds of the substations in a "state of good repair." Will that raise the MAS to 150 mph? Anybody?

jp1822
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Catenary

Post by jp1822 » Fri Mar 10, 2006 9:16 pm

I think the 2003 Stategic Plans is out the window. As a commuter to NYC and Amtrak rider on the NEC, only work I've seen is trackwork and bridge work - but this was more at the command of David Gunn's "state of good repair" plan. As for the catenary, the band-aid approach seems to apply to "refurbishing the catenary." That is, it is pieced back together when ripped down by a train's pantograph, tree or other item.

Only way I see that Amtrak is going to get higher speeds on the NEC south of New York (or New Haven for that matter) is replacing the existing catenary with constant tension catenary. Probably need some additional track work as well. But there will still be areas on the NEC where train speeds will drop very low due to interlockings and curves (i.e. Zoo Interlocking in PA, around Baltimore Station, Hell's gate connection between NYP and New Rochelle etc.). Metro North is working on rehabbing the line from New Rochelle to New Haven, but not sure if this includes constant tension catenary. Most of the speeds between New Rochelle and New Haven maxes out at 110 mph I believe. Amtrak loses a lot of time on its trains in this section - as a result of commuter train congestion, track/catenary work etc. Amtrak runs a late train in this section and it often misses its slot and then gets stuck behind a Metro North train.

The two track bottleneck between Newark and New York City also doesn't help. Ever since Secaucus Transfer went online (in between these two cities on the two track main) I've noticed every train slowing up - regardless if they stop at Secaucus or not. This section of track between Newark and NYC needs to be four tracks, including another tube with two tracks under the Hudson River, to increase capacity due to NJT commuter traffic and Amtrak trains. That's another plan that's been on the drawing boards way to long - "Access to the Region's Core." It's now dubbed THE Tunnel - Trans-Hudson Express Tunnel - by NJT. They seem to be taking the lead on the project now. But still moving at snail's pace.

BlockLine_4111
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Post by BlockLine_4111 » Tue Mar 21, 2006 12:14 am

It would be IMO beneficial to have some Amtrak trains stop at Secaucus and skip Newark Penn Station & airport by taking the P&H (near Swift) and flying down to Lane and back onto the NEC.

Any thoughts?

Kearny Connection part II perhaps?

Jishnu
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Re: Catenary

Post by Jishnu » Tue Mar 21, 2006 8:41 am

jp1822 wrote:Only way I see that Amtrak is going to get higher speeds on the NEC south of New York (or New Haven for that matter) is replacing the existing catenary with constant tension catenary. Probably need some additional track work as well. But there will still be areas on the NEC where train speeds will drop very low due to interlockings and curves (i.e. Zoo Interlocking in PA, around Baltimore Station, Hell's gate connection between NYP and New Rochelle etc.). Metro North is working on rehabbing the line from New Rochelle to New Haven, but not sure if this includes constant tension catenary. Most of the speeds between New Rochelle and New Haven maxes out at 110 mph I believe. Amtrak loses a lot of time on its trains in this section - as a result of commuter train congestion, track/catenary work etc. Amtrak runs a late train in this section and it often misses its slot and then gets stuck behind a Metro North train.

The catenary upgrade that MNRR is doing between New Rochelle and New Haven is indeed all to constant tension catenary. But this will not increase the speed of anything, since MNRR has no incentive to maintain their tracks at any higher speed capability, given all the curves all over the place. The highest speed on that section maxes out at 90mph and all of that is in NY state. Ironically, the max speed on certain short sections of the New Rochelle - Harold Hell Gate Line is 100mph, which is higher than anything on the New Haven - New Rochelle section.
The two track bottleneck between Newark and New York City also doesn't help. Ever since Secaucus Transfer went online (in between these two cities on the two track main) I've noticed every train slowing up - regardless if they stop at Secaucus or not. This section of track between Newark and NYC needs to be four tracks, including another tube with two tracks under the Hudson River, to increase capacity due to NJT commuter traffic and Amtrak trains. That's another plan that's been on the drawing boards way to long - "Access to the Region's Core." It's now dubbed THE Tunnel - Trans-Hudson Express Tunnel - by NJT. They seem to be taking the lead on the project now. But still moving at snail's pace.

That will not increase the speed of anything between Newark and New York. NJT is the lead agency on the ARC tunnel project, which incidentally does not include qudruple tracking from Portal to Dock. That is a separate project which is running at even slower pace than the ARC tunnel project. The last time I looked at it the latter project includes an additional 2 track Portal bridge adjacent to the existing one, then two additional tracks to Swift, and then on additional track from Swift to Hudson. In general, the emphasis is on increasing capacity rather than speed and the optimum speed for best capacity is apparenbtly 60mph on this section according to the results of simulation studies.

Irish Chieftain

Post by Irish Chieftain » Tue Mar 21, 2006 1:37 pm

BlockLine_4111 wrote:It would be IMO beneficial to have some Amtrak trains stop at Secaucus and skip Newark Penn Station & airport by taking the P&H (near Swift) and flying down to Lane and back onto the NEC?
No wires on the P&H anymore. Too much freight traffic. Non-starter.
Jishnu wrote:The catenary upgrade that MNRR is doing between New Rochelle and New Haven is indeed all to constant tension catenary. But this will not increase the speed of anything, since MNRR has no incentive to maintain their tracks at any higher speed capability, given all the curves all over the place. The highest speed on that section maxes out at 90mph and all of that is in NY state. Ironically, the max speed on certain short sections of the New Rochelle - Harold Hell Gate Line is 100mph, which is higher than anything on the New Haven - New Rochelle section
Metro-North also has no money nor incentive to install ACSES on its tracks or on its trains; plus widening the ROW to make the track centers wide enough to permit the AE to use its active-tilt systems is outside the capital budgets of either CDOT, MTA or Amtrak.

Nyterider

Post by Nyterider » Tue Mar 21, 2006 6:32 pm

The only section of the NEC south of NYC that will ever see 150 mph is the racetrack that runs roughly from New Brunswick to Trenton. And even about halfway along this segment the train will have to slow briefly to 130 for a few curves. If constant tension catenary is needed anywhere south of New York, it's here on tracks 2 and 3.

Even when the New Haven line catenary is replaced in Connecticut, Amtrak will still be limited to 75 mph on Metro-North because of the signal system layout. I'm surprised they didn't have the foresight to revise ALL the signals on the New Haven line for 90 mph when Metro-North rebuilt them. They certainly knew Amtrak would like to go faster someday and there are some places where the track alignment can accommodate 90.

And finally, I'm surprised NJT went ahead and changed the electrification to commercial current on the North Coast Line. It must have cost them a lot to do that, not to mention losing the ability to run Arrow IIIs to Long Branch. :(

Irish Chieftain

Post by Irish Chieftain » Tue Mar 21, 2006 6:38 pm

Changing voltage/frequency to 25kV 60Hz allows for fewer substations and less frequent phase gaps. And if they ever rebuild the Arrow IIIs with automatic variable-tap transformers like they were supposed to, that would not be a problem. (Also, Amtrak was supposed to upgrade all of their NEC-owned tracks to "commercial" frequency and higher voltage, about twenty years ago.)
The only section of the NEC south of NYC that will ever see 150 mph is the racetrack that runs roughly from New Brunswick to Trenton.
There are "racetracks" elsewhere on the NEC, including ELMORA to UNION in NJ and a long stretch in MD. If speeds can reach 140 mph and above for approximately 100 miles, that would be a worthy achievement.

Nyterider

Post by Nyterider » Tue Mar 21, 2006 7:09 pm

Irish Chieftain wrote:There are "racetracks" elsewhere on the NEC, including ELMORA to UNION in NJ and a long stretch in MD. If speeds can reach 140 mph and above for approximately 100 miles, that would be a worthy achievement.


I'll have to look at the line profile again. They look like situations where a train could accelerate briefly. But as soon as they reach MAS they'd have to apply the brakes. What I don't understand is the requirement that the track must be a perfect tangent to run faster than 130 mph. The usual gain over conventional train speed limits is 15 mph for AE. So, if a conventional train is permitted 125 mph on a wide curve, why can't AE do 140 on it??

Nasadowsk
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Post by Nasadowsk » Tue Mar 21, 2006 7:39 pm

The change on the Coast is below where the 11kv 25hz can run to without another sub. The system was ALWAYS designed for 25kv, it was origionally 12.5kv to allow Arrows, etc to go there. It was a simple change, just flip the taps and reset a few things. The transformers at Red Bank have 12.5kv and 25kv taps, always did.

hsr_fan

Post by hsr_fan » Tue Mar 21, 2006 7:42 pm

Nyterider wrote:I'll have to look at the line profile again. They look like situations where a train could accelerate briefly.


New Brunswick - Trenton is definitely the longest 135 mph stretch on the former PRR, with a 130 mph curve near Monmouth Junction and another just north of Hamilton.

What I don't understand is the requirement that the track must be a perfect tangent to run faster than 130 mph. The usual gain over conventional train speed limits is 15 mph for AE. So, if a conventional train is permitted 125 mph on a wide curve, why can't AE do 140 on it??


The 130 mph curve restriction is due to some sort of lateral instability that was observed in the coaches during test runs. At higher speeds, I guess they'd get some undesirable oscillation on curves. But it was reported to occur only on certain curves, strangely enough. Nonetheless, I wouldn't hold my breath for that restriction to be lifted. I think that's a design flaw that Amtrak is just going to live with.

twropr
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160 MPH Trenton-New Brunswick

Post by twropr » Sun Jun 17, 2012 7:14 pm

Has anyone seen any evidence of preliminary construction? I had heard that there might be a few new substations and new lighting for the interlockings?

Andy
Jacksonville, FL

R36 Combine Coach
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Re: 160 MPH Trenton-New Brunswick

Post by R36 Combine Coach » Sun Jun 17, 2012 7:26 pm

The Metroliners DID hit 160 on this stretch back in 1968-69 in testing.
Since my friend continues to chain smoke nonstop, she is probably an Alco.

hi55us
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Re: 160 MPH Trenton-New Brunswick

Post by hi55us » Sun Jun 17, 2012 8:39 pm

R36 Combine Coach wrote:The Metroliners DID hit 160 on this stretch back in 1968-69 in testing.
Just for the record, the ARRA (I believe) funded a project to increase running speeds in NJ to 160, that's what the OP is referring to.

Matt Johnson
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Re: 160 MPH Trenton-New Brunswick

Post by Matt Johnson » Sun Jun 17, 2012 8:47 pm

Not only did the original Metroliners exceed 160 on this stretch, but more recently the German ICE and Swedish X-2000. (Well, as I recall, it was 162 mph officially on a non-revenue demonstration run for the ICE and 156 mph for the X2000.)

Even more recently, I believe the Acela Expresses were tested at 160+ on this stretch. But the record holder is still the UA Turbo Train, which set its official record of 171.8 mph somewhere around Princeton Junction.

I look forward to seeing the Acelas race through central New Jersey at 160 mph in revenue service, finally achieving the goal of the the Budd Metroliner all these years later! Thanks Florida for the redirected high speed rail funds! ;)

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