MBTA Chargers

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Re: MBTA Chargers

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Fri Sep 29, 2017 8:03 pm

RenegadeMonster wrote:So, are the Franken-Geeps unique to the MBTA, or do more exist out there?


Yes, they are unique because they were rebuilt with all-custom microprocessor controls. That's where the "MC" designation comes from. Nobody else attempted that with passenger or freight Geeps. Microprocessor controls are common in locos today; even the ongoing F40PH-3/3C rebuilds now sport them. But they were newish technology in the mid-90's done with circuit boards and not the reprogrammable firmware you have today...and were totally unproven at the time in retrofits of old power. The GP40MC's controllers were a botched application that never worked correctly, and are a pain-in-the-butt to this day for their perpetually quirky behavior. Replacing a failed implementation in another rebuild is going to be hard (on top of the unfavorable rebuild costs from the component ages on everything '73-vintage), and because they had a failed implementation never tried elsewhere the process of "un-MC'ing" then correctly re-implementing new controls ends up a fruitless waste of resources. The MC's weren't the only such failure. NJ Transit's third and final order of ALP-44 electrics in '96 (12 units of ALP-44M's) also swung and missed on the newfangled microprocessor control implementation and ended up being hated shop queens while the earlier non-digital ALP's in the fleet were ho-hum reliable. So the MC's were both a product of the inherent risks of the technology of that era...and a stupid overreach by the T and AMF to go even further out on a limb trying it on very old instead of new power, and eschewing rebuild best-practices to do it on power that never needed high-tech mods for any reason other than self-justifying "because reasons".


There aren't many GP40's left in passenger service, period, but none of them are anything like the 20 in-service/5 stored GP40MC's. NJT has 27 GP40PH-2's/2A's/2B's left off what was once a roster more than twice as large, MNRR (West-of-Hudson) has 7 GP40FH-2M's and GP40PH-2M's, MARC has 6 GP39H-2's (downrated GP40's) and 1 remaining GP40WH-2 of the same kind the T leased several years ago, and CDOT has 6 GP40-2H's for Shore Line East/Hartford Line. All of them are as analog and vanilla as can be. CDOT's relatively light-mileage 6 units are out for rebuild right now (to same vanilla spec with no upgrades), MNRR's were rebuilt in '07 and won't hit end-of-rated-life on this rebuild cycle for another 8-10 years...but all others are wheezing towards retirement years past their last rebuild's expiration date with no further overhauls planned. NJT has slashed its roster way, way down to the barest minimum "best of the rest" it can get by with and limits further wear-and-tear on them by banning them from pulling bi-level coaches. So unlike the F40PH-2's which are still the #1 North American passenger make in-service and still being rebuilt en masse such that they'll remain a Top 3 make into the 2030's...the sun is setting quickly on passenger Geeps. 5 or 6 years from now it may well just be those 6 CDOT and 7 MNRR units of fresher vintage still hauling commuter trains because everything else is end-of-life and too thoroughly worn out to have another encore left in them.
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Re: MBTA Chargers

Postby Backshophoss » Fri Sep 29, 2017 8:58 pm

The HSP-46's were bought with fed money involved,so how is this HSP-46 to SC-44 Charger trade supposed to work out?
Unless the intention is repower the HSP-46's with Charger based internal systems?
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Re: MBTA Chargers

Postby 8th Notch » Sat Sep 30, 2017 5:49 pm

I’ll believe it when I see it!
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Re: MBTA Chargers

Postby BandA » Sun Oct 01, 2017 11:17 am

The HSP-46's are too new to scrap.
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Re: MBTA Chargers

Postby BostonUrbEx » Tue Oct 03, 2017 3:58 pm

New-ness/cost aside, the HSP-46's have the best Mean-Distance Between Failures of any locomotives in the MBTA fleet. Anyone who thinks they're being scrapped is out of their tree.
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Re: MBTA Chargers

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Tue Oct 03, 2017 4:53 pm

Absolutely. They may never be rebuilt because there were no other orders of that make and likely never will be, but the HSP's are definitely doing the full 20+ -and-out on their initial rated lifespan. It's what to do with the rest of the fleet where the numbers just don't square for sustainability beyond the next 5 years that's going to end up forcing a new procurement. Whether or not the funding is available to do a rebuild job worth a damn on all the -2C's, the FrankenGeeps are done in any scenario. That's a 25-unit procurement of something--doesn't matter if it's older/rebuilt or new--that'll have to be programmed into the next CIP. And they will much sooner than that have to do their internal evaluations for what engine platforms are most maintainable now that the dream of uniting BET around the GEVO-12 and supplemental HSP-46 orders is dead and they're forced to juggle the GEVO's, the EMD 645's in the F40 fleet, and very likely some third make of prime mover (QSK95 in a Charger, 7FDL in a rebuilt Genesis, EMD 710 in a rebuilt F59PH/PHI) replacing the 645-bearing Geeps. MPI doesn't have enough accumulated Geep carbodies on-hand to produce an order of 2 dozen MP32PH-Q "hermit crabs"...the only street-legal thing you can order new right now with a 645-variant engine under today's emissions regs. And there simply aren't enough fungible-condition F40PH-2's available today to pick up and rebuild off the secondhand market to replace the Geeps with 645's that do have an extra lifespan to squeeze. Caltrain's 23 F40PH-2/etc. units and VIA Rail's 53 F40PH-2 units will eventually have wholesale replacements bumping those locos onto the aftermarket, but their dispersals don't come available until a good 3-5 years too late for the T because the Geeps simply won't hold out long enough on duct tape and bandages to wait out first availability of that glut of extra F40's coming in 2022. Timing isn't their friend right now.
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Re: MBTA Chargers

Postby BandA » Wed Oct 04, 2017 4:37 pm

Does the T have room to house an expanded fleet of locomotives (and their associated trainsets). I would bet that the T holds on to the HSP-46s and doesn't trade them in.
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Re: MBTA Chargers

Postby Mbtagp40mc » Fri Dec 15, 2017 9:07 am

Good news from NETransit:

MBTA is negotiating with Siemens to lease a small number of new locomotives which would be maintained by Siemens. Presentation to MBTA FMCB on 12/11/2017 suggests that the 2 MBTA MP36s may be traded in as part of a final deal, however negotiations are still ongoing.
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Re: MBTA Chargers

Postby BandA » Sat Dec 16, 2017 1:11 am

Why lease, not buy? And why only two units? Perhaps a try-out for a purchase later. Is there a link?
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Re: MBTA Chargers

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Sat Dec 16, 2017 7:10 am

It would be more than 2 Siemens units, though the NETransit blurb doesn't say specifically if these are Chargers (though I can't imagine it would be anything else because Siemens hasn't done any trade-in brokering yet). The T would just be trading out its 2 fleet-outlier MP36's in the deal, which makes sense. I didn't see this covered in the Dec. 11 FCMB meeting slides, but it could've been an oral discussion buried somewhere in the hour-plus video of the meeting.


Lease vs. buy probably has a lot to do with budgeting and scheduling gymnastics. Purchase $$$ isn't on the 4-year CIP, and purchase units would have to be laundered out of the 36 un-exercised state Charger options from Caltrans or IDOT (most likely IDOT) still remaining like MARC did with its 8 units exercised from prior IDOT options. That paperwork takes a little bit of time, so greasing the skids with a lease-to-own or stuffing the lease-to-own on a Keolis budget before sticking final purchase on an agency budget may get it done faster. The 63 Caltrans/IDOT/WSDOT units are all on final deadline for factory delivery Jan. 31 and pretty much done now (though acceptances into service will drag through the spring), so cueing it up quickly may allow Siemens to slot these engines with the 8 MARC units that are scheduled next for assembly.
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Re: MBTA Chargers

Postby nomis » Sat Dec 16, 2017 11:28 am

10 Chargers for the disappearance of 2 MP36's and some $$$, yes please.
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Re: MBTA Chargers

Postby CNJGeep » Sun Dec 17, 2017 9:43 am

F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:8 MARC units that are scheduled next for assembly.

3 have already been delivered
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Re: MBTA Chargers

Postby BandA » Sun Dec 17, 2017 8:38 pm

If they buy them, they have to go through a whole bid-solicitation process which is how they ended up with the HSP-46s. Seems like they are trying to cut through the bureaucracy to get them on the property sooner. And since they are lease units owned by by Siemens they aren't technically "cutting in line" ahead of the other purchase units?
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Re: MBTA Chargers

Postby diburning » Sun Dec 17, 2017 9:23 pm

Is a RFP/bid procurement process mandatory? I remember when the MBTA had (and have since passed up on) add-on options on the SMART order for Nippon Sharyo diesel-hydraulic DMUs. Or was that only possible because no one else in the US was making DMUs at the time?
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Re: MBTA Chargers

Postby BandA » Sun Dec 17, 2017 10:12 pm

I'm thinking they could have gone in on that because they could point at SMART's bidding process. But those DMU's are so overpriced they'd be better off using repurposed switchers & refurbished MBB's. Or buy some of the RDC's in VT. They were wise not to buy the DMUs.
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