Acela Replacement and Disposition Discussion

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Re: Acela Replacement and Disposition Discussion

Postby mtuandrew » Mon Dec 18, 2017 8:34 pm

gokeefe wrote:Bombardier employees in Quebec.

Wouldn’t they rather build new cars? If not, wouldn’t they be ok with remanufacturing BBD Comets or Shoreliners?
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Re: Acela Replacement and Disposition Discussion

Postby gokeefe » Mon Dec 18, 2017 9:52 pm

Of course ... But the question remains Acela disposition. As of right now no one is challenging my estimate that an operator would have to sink $495M into the rolling stock alone with guarantee of any reasonable return on investment.

I'm sure Canada would love to do this if they could but I do not think that this equipment meets their needs on any level. They have to buy new or if used it has to have traps.

Even then they still would have to conduct a major track program, which would probably be another billion "or so" to electrify something useful.
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Re: Acela Replacement and Disposition Discussion

Postby electricron » Mon Dec 18, 2017 11:54 pm

But they don't have to install traps, if they built high platforms on every corridor station. How much will it cost them to build one high platform at every station? First, let's determine how many stations......
Per Via's timetables between Quebec City and Windsor, here's a list:
(1) Quebec City (6 trains per day)
(2) Sainte-Foy
(3) Chamy
(4) Drummondville
(5) St. Hyacinthe
(6) St. Lambert
(7) Montreal (10 trains per day to Coteau)
(8) Dorval
(9) Coteau (5 trains per day to Toronto and to Ottawa)
(10) Cornwall
(11) Brockville
(12) Ganonoque
(13) Kingston
(14) Napanee
(15) Belleville
(16) Trenton Junction
(17) Coburg
(18) Port Hope
(19) Oshawa
(20) Guildwood
(21) Toronto (4 trains per day to Aldershot)
(22) Oakville
(23) Aldershot (3 trains per day to Windsor)
(24) Brantford
(25) Woodstock
(26) Ingersoll
(27) London
(28) Glencoe
(29) Chatham
(30) Windsor
From Aldershot heading east (1 train per day)
(31) Grimsby
(32) St. Catharines
(33) Niagara Falls
From Toronto heading west (1 train per day)
(34) Brampton
(35) Georgetown
(36) Guelph
(37) Kitchener
(38) Stratford
(39) St. Marys
(40) Strathroy
(41) Wyoming
(42) Sarnia
From Croteau to the west (5 trains per day)
(43) Alexander
(44) Casselman
(45) Ottawa
From Brockville to the north (5 trains per day)
(46) Smith Falls
(47) Fallowfield

The newly built station for Amtrak at Roanoke, VA had a cost of $9.9 million for a brand new 800 feet of high platform with a 600 feet canopy and $5.2 million for a maintenance center to service a train. Let's be generous and suggest VIA could raise one existing platform for the same price on all 47 corridor stations, the total cost would be $470 million. I really believe they could do it for less, I doubt all these stations will need to have a 600 feet long canopy. Since an Acela train set is only 665 feet in length, they also wouldn't need a 800 feet long platform.
Level boarding concerns would be completely eliminated for all future train acquisitions. How much they would have to spend will probably be difficult to determine short of a professional completed study looking at every station and platform specifically. I'll admit it will not be cheap. But it could be done - and the lack of traps on future trains including the Acela trains wouldn't be a problem....
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Re: Acela Replacement and Disposition Discussion

Postby gokeefe » Tue Dec 19, 2017 12:05 am

Sure so now the pricetag is $1.02B not including trackwork. And after all of this spending you are still getting used trainsets.
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Re: Acela Replacement and Disposition Discussion

Postby mtuandrew » Tue Dec 19, 2017 1:15 am

Remind me again, what would be the result of applying $200m to the 40 power cars? Seems you could remove that line item.
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Re: Acela Replacement and Disposition Discussion

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Tue Dec 19, 2017 8:27 am

Replacement power. You have some math to do first on that sum.

-- First,have to determine if a 6-car Acela set can even run with one conventional leading loco or if the power cars share enough in the crash energy management to require double-draft running at all times. VIA will need to order a large expansion fleet of locos if it's the latter. This is a big one. The weird Alco locos that used to be part of the original LRC sets were intended to always be double-draft for a top-speed configuration, but could run solo pull-only (and in later years mostly did) for conventional speeds. The Acela is not likely to follow exactly in the same footsteps as the LRC's because allowances for stepping down to conventional-speed running were never part of the vehicles' design plan. The permanent power car sandwich configuration was the leeway Bombardier could use to push the carriages to higher speeds without unduly compromising weight, so they may have evolved significantly away from the LRC's in carriage front/rear-impact crashworthiness. Don't forget, the abandoned supplemental order of Acela carriages required double-drafts of converted HHP-8's to create more trainsets. They never once considered any alternatives that tried to make more trainsets by increasing the carriage fleet with supplementals but swapping out the power cars for extra-brawny single engines to try to run more sets at lower operating cost. The BBD design doesn't appear to be conducive to that.

-- What mods have to be made to refit to conventional locos. Obviously the carriages will never have the tilt switch enabled again if the locos don't also tilt. What maintenance going forward is required to mothball the tilt hardware still in the cars to sit forever in the fixed position without breaking or infringing on reliability of other systems? Less expensive to leave it (but no door traps!) rather than pull another LRC fiasco and try to rip it all out and deal with the unintended consequences, but a nonzero sum to maintain the heavily-worn equipment disabled going forward. Not a massive expense, but one that will increase with time as overall wear puts faults in increasing dependency on the disabled hardware that's an integral part of the car design.

-- What else has to be done to couplers and HEP hookups? The LRC's were able to trainline with P42's at bare-minimal modification for 6 years between retirement of the LRC unicorn locos and the big midlife overhaul of the carriages, but the Acelas were built from Day 1 as 150 MPH integrated trainsets so it's probably not as plug-and-play with a conventional loco as the LRC's were. Minor expense...nonzero but trivial.


VIA does plan to replace all of its Corridor locos with Tier 4 higher-horsepower new stock as part-and-parcel with their big procurement (pretty much tailor made for a me-too Charger order at the statie fuel tank size). However, their P42's are 4 years younger than AMTK's and a little less heavily worn while their F40PH-2's were given full-on midlife overhaul in 2012 and are in excellent condition. So if anything has to get deferred to save money in that big procurement, it's the power order that'll get tabled before the new coaches. Keep that in mind as well before assuming that they're a cinch to abandon their plans; they can punt >5 years on the power purchase to shave costs and survive just fine whereas they can't budge on the HEP2+LRC retirement dates at all.

However, they're less likely to pussy-foot around with making sure the Acelas work with a stock P42 and backup F40 fleet than proceeding with their new power purchase and narrowing their compatibility target around just the Charger, etc. make. So the already-planned purchase kind of needs to go along with this re-use scenario's costs as a practicality. Carry over any already-planned new-unit purchase quantities as a prerequisite, and outright double those costs if the carriages have to run in a double-draft configuration for crashworthiness.


That's less than $200M...but not trivially less, especially if the loco fleet needs an increase. It makes the Acela re-use perform more poorly in a head-to-head with price of buying new because with new coaches the power order CAN be deferred by at least a half-decade to defray up-front costs without them losing any service. They can't at all...and must have quantities increased...if the Acelas require double-drafts. And it would practically be unwise to predicate the re-use on compatibility with old power instead of fresh matings, so the chances of scraping the power cost entirely off in an Acela re-use are fairly poor given all the other high-risk variables in those vehicles. You'll have to factor some very significant power cost into the re-use scenario.

Compare that the only potential downside to a new coach order in striking the locos entirely from the procurement is that VIA will have to tee up a less-advantageously timed 'tweener procurement between the '20 Corridor coach replacement and the '30 LD/remainder coach replacement to match up with when its existing loco fleet needs fish-or-cut-bait decisions on midlife overhauls. They were hoping for the administrative cleanliness of bundling the Corridor power + coaches and LD power + coaches together at opposite ends of the decade...but they don't actually lose anything on the service side if budgets don't work out that way. P42's (and even F40's in a protect role) can haul a stock Brightline set A-OK as long as you can come up with a reliability-extension maint strategy in time for the Gennies nearing the 25-year mark on original life and the F40's near the 15-year mark on extended life.
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Re: Acela Replacement and Disposition Discussion

Postby gokeefe » Wed Dec 20, 2017 1:04 am

mtuandrew wrote:Remind me again, what would be the result of applying $200m to the 40 power cars? Seems you could remove that line item.


As F-line said ... It would be rebuilding the power plants in the engines. Major component replacement and refurbishment along with an onboard electronics upgrade. The current systems run on a pre-millenium operating system.
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Re: Acela Replacement and Disposition Discussion

Postby mtuandrew » Wed Dec 20, 2017 2:05 am

gokeefe wrote:
mtuandrew wrote:Remind me again, what would be the result of applying $200m to the 40 power cars? Seems you could remove that line item.


As F-line said ... It would be rebuilding the power plants in the engines. Major component replacement and refurbishment along with an onboard electronics upgrade. The current systems run on a pre-millenium operating system.

The engines? Are you considering converting the existing power cars from AC overhead to some sort of diesel-powered locomotive, or are you buying 40 new locomotives?
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Re: Acela Replacement and Disposition Discussion

Postby electricron » Wed Dec 20, 2017 2:34 am

mtuandrew wrote:The engines? Are you considering converting the existing power cars from AC overhead to some sort of diesel-powered locomotive, or are you buying 40 new locomotives?

I was considering storing the 40 Acela power units and using VIA's existing P42DC locomotives to pull these trains. VIA presently doesn't need to use cab cars, so the ability to turn these trains already exists on their main corridor. If the LRC cars are retired, they're going to have to find other trains to use them on - and the Acela trains fill that bill. They certainly will not need the HP of two diesel locomotives to achieve 90 mph maximum speeds. I'm pretty sure a sole P42DC locomotive can pull 6 rail cars at 90 mph. So there really wouldn't be a need to purchase new locomotives, except to meet a need for having some spares around. VIA has 21 P42DC and 53 F40PH-2 locomotives in their roster.
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Re: Acela Replacement and Disposition Discussion

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Wed Dec 20, 2017 6:17 am

mtuandrew wrote:
gokeefe wrote:
mtuandrew wrote:Remind me again, what would be the result of applying $200m to the 40 power cars? Seems you could remove that line item.


As F-line said ... It would be rebuilding the power plants in the engines. Major component replacement and refurbishment along with an onboard electronics upgrade. The current systems run on a pre-millenium operating system.

The engines? Are you considering converting the existing power cars from AC overhead to some sort of diesel-powered locomotive, or are you buying 40 new locomotives?


I'm pretty sure the power cars can't be converted to diesel; they're junk for anyone who doesn't have catenary. If you wanted full-tilt capability you'd be going back to the JetTrain design template and dieselizing that BBD demonstrator's jet turbine engine for a full production run of them with conventional diesel prime mover. But that's a megabucks purchase for retaining >125 MPH capability, which is obviously not possible on current Canadian rails. So let's assume conventional loco-hauled at sacrifice of no tilt capability, meaning that if the tilt hardware remains in the carriages instead of removed for door traps that it'll be permanently turned off and effectively entombed.

Now...how many locos?

-- If the Acela carriages must be run in a double-draft configuration for front/rear-end crashworthiness and trainlining/HEP balance, VIA doesn't have anywhere close to enough power on-hand and you must proceed full-speed ahead with their planned Corridor loco purchase...and double the quantities. So you will end up spending DOUBLE on their originally planned power purchase than they had planned to spend running all-new conventional coaches pull-only. This level of expense probably ends any dalliance with the Acelas right then and there.


-- If the Acela carriages don't need trainlining/HEP balance with a double-draft but DO need a rear counterweight for crashworthiness, then you need the same thing as the Cascades Talgos with either a cabbage or counterweight on the back. VIA doesn't have any spare locos to make into cabbages, so you'll be scouring the aftermarket for sets of exactly-alike power dispersals to convert. Good luck finding a uniform fleet large enough to scour for >dozen exactly-alike dispersal units with the slim pickings that are on the rent-a-wreck market. Maybe a job for the retiring AMTK-owned F59PHI fleet, but VIA would have to outbid any third parties who want them whole/operable.


-- In any scenario where the P42's are retained (incl. the cabbage scenario), you must put them through substantial component refresh and/or outright midlife overhaul so they are in fresh condition for hauling the carriage fleet. Must do this even if you get lucky, don't need double-drafts or Talgo-like paperweights on the back, and can shave those costs. This is a change from VIA's current plan.

Right now VIA's purchase plan is for all-new Corridor locos (*cough* Chargers), reassigning the P42's to their other routes, and replacing them in 2030 coinciding with the LD coach replacements. It ends up deferring any needed action on Gennie rebuilds-or-replacement before the 30-year mark because: (1) most of their other routes run so infrequently the power gets spared heavy wear from extra downtime between runs; (2) their rebuilt F40PH-2's all got separate HEP generator installations during rebuild as nod to the climate extremes of VIA's LD HEP loads, meaning that brawnier Gennies paired as propulsion leaders with HEP-providing F40's on the Canadian et al. substantially reduces wear and extends life on both fleets. As per my last post, under VIA's business plan the Corridor power and Corridor coach fleets were to be simultaneous procurements...BUT, if finances hit the fan they can punt the power order out to mid-decade--at the midpoint between the Corridor coach and later LD coach/power procurements--to try again with fresh budgeting and lose nothing on the Corridor. The HEP2 + LRC coach fleets are the only ones sitting at no tomorrow for that purchase; the 2002-built P42's don't have any ASAP fish-or-cut-bait decision on 25-year rebuilds/replacement if they're going to continue pulling orthodox Corridor coaches. It just means they have to try again in 5-7 years with the locos instead of 10-12.

HOWEVER, pair the Gennies' wear profiles with heavily-worn Acela carriages of temperamental design and you are forced to make "a" locomotive procurement today in the form of either an expedited full midlife overhaul for >20 years of continued like-new service, or a substantial component refresh program for approx. 10 years of good state-of-repair service until the next purchase. MTBF won't be acceptable running the Gennies down to spit on their last 5 years of full service with a high-maintenance unorthodox carriage fleet at full Corridor schedules instead of a leisurely VIA LD slate. So for budgeting you are making a large, non-optional investment into the power pool any which way. Whereas in a budget-constrained environment you could purchase conventional coaches and spend $0 on the power pool by punting that off to mid-decade.


Non-optional nature of the loco costs--either new purchase or major reinvestment--means budget for Acela re-use has lots less flexibility than budget for conventional coaches where the power costs can be 100% deferred. Substantial $$$ vs. all/nothing. Even if all else in GK's bucket list of fleet support costs could be rationalized down, power considerations for the Acelas punish the margins compared to buying something/anything wholly conventional for the coaches.
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Re: Acela Replacement and Disposition Discussion

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Wed Dec 20, 2017 7:30 am

electricron wrote:(1) Quebec City (6 trains per day)
(2) Sainte-Foy
(3) Chamy
(4) Drummondville
(5) St. Hyacinthe
(6) St. Lambert
(7) Montreal (10 trains per day to Coteau)
(8) Dorval
(9) Coteau (5 trains per day to Toronto and to Ottawa)
(10) Cornwall
(11) Brockville
(12) Ganonoque
(13) Kingston
(14) Napanee
(15) Belleville
(16) Trenton Junction
(17) Coburg
(18) Port Hope
*(19) Oshawa
*(20) Guildwood
**(21) Toronto
*(22) Oakville
*(23) Aldershot

(24) Brantford
(25) Woodstock
(26) Ingersoll
(27) London
(28) Glencoe
(29) Chatham
(30) Windsor
From Aldershot heading east (1 train per day)
(31) Grimsby
(32) St. Catharines
(33) Niagara Falls

From Toronto heading west (1 train per day)
*(34) Brampton
*(35) Georgetown
*(36) Guelph
*(37) Kitchener

(38) Stratford
(39) St. Marys
(40) Strathroy
(41) Wyoming
(42) Sarnia
From Croteau to the west (5 trains per day)
(43) Alexander
(44) Casselman
(45) Ottawa
From Brockville to the north (5 trains per day)
(46) Smith Falls
(47) Fallowfield


11 out of 47 stops (>20%) are served by 8-inch boarding -only GO Transit, and *9 out of 47 are owned either in-total or on platform level by Metrolinx, not VIA. Of these, only **Toronto has room for constructing full-highs separate from the GO commuter platforms, and with GO rush hour sets frequently running 6 or more cars it is not feasible to do half-and-half platforms at these stops without preventing GO's longest sets from platforming all cars (and being delayed by the ensuing excess dwell times).

Are you going to buy GO an entirely new 48-inch boarding fleet to run on the Kitchener, Lakeshore West, and Lakeshore East lines...compensate them for fleet fragmentation...and compensate them for the loss of full-system accessibility on a switch to 48-inch doors by giving them money to rebuild every single non-VIA intermediate stop on those lines as full-high? Keep in mind that their own ratified system electrification plans don't involve any change in boarding height or station mods; they will either buy electric locos to haul the current BLV fleet or buy BLV-dimension bi-level EMU's. 48-inch level boarding was never ever a part of that plan.


Go ahead and chuck another $1B (CDN) on that sum for acquiring the Acelas strictly for all the commuter rail offsets. One VIA fleet for the price of two, and another two-dozen plus stops to modify that'll never see a boarding VIA train. Might want to make sure you're padding RTM's coffers with a couple dozen more MultiLevels while you're at it so they can retire the BLV fleet on the Vaudreuil–Hudson Line before allowing mods to Dorval station. And be prepared for very pissy, time-consuming, and expensive negotiations with Metrolinx over the commuter rail -owned/operated because VIA wields a weak hand there from the GO system pre-dating them and having less money period to spend on station upkeep (the inverse of most AMTK-commuter rail station-sharing relationships).


Converting Canada to level boarding, while also being completely outside the jurisdictional purview of VIA's procurement arm responsible for making this vehicle purchase, is the cost blowout to end all cost blowouts. You're not escaping radical surgery on the Acela carriages to remove the tilt hardware and cut door traps. No way. Not with GO territory being a hard blocker on platform mods carrying such a crushing cost burden of taking on their fleet and station accessibility needs/costs in the process. The Corridor is flat-out not compatible with uniform 48-inch only boarding. Reality can't be suspended to make it so.
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Re: Acela Replacement and Disposition Discussion

Postby gokeefe » Wed Dec 20, 2017 3:05 pm

I agree that "incompatible" is probably the single best way to describe the relationship between the Acela sets and VIA's facilities.

Here is an example of a scenario that I can imagine that might result in the Acela sets being reused. A small Central Asian Republic with a lot of oil wealth wants to rebuild the cars and run them on their own rail lines. They don't care about safety rules and are willing to cut the collision posts on the Acelas. They like the cachet of running trains that once ran between Washington and New York but they think buying new is too "expensive". They really just want the publicity and perhaps to curry favor with Canada for some reason.

In these scenarios rational decision making and sound financial analysis are replaced by political motive. Whether or not it works is beyond the scope of this post, but point being that is the kind of scenario that I can imagine could actually occur. Also worth noting that since the hypothetical country isn't worried about running high frequency service they may be able to get away with combining some of the sets into longer trains and perhaps reducing the number of engine cars that get rebuilt.
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Re: Acela Replacement and Disposition Discussion

Postby mdvle » Mon Jan 01, 2018 3:49 pm

The platform height issue is complicated.

First, there are only 44 stations to be concerned about - Montreal and Quebec City are already high level, and Ottawa is being upgraded to high level currently.

We now have more clarity regarding stations west of Toronto, basically VIA can ignore them because VIA has no long term future west of Toronto for corridor services.

The Government of Ontario is currently working towards high speed rail between Toronto and London (phase 1) followed by London-Windsor (phase 2) which will eliminate VIA. The election in several months should have no impact on this as the Progressive Conservative party has committed to continuing this project.

Similarly, Metrolinx / GO are implementing GO Train service to Niagara Falls over the next 5 years which means there likely already are agreements regarding platforms at Niagara Falls and St. Catherines. While there certainly would be space for dual platforms, the question would also be just how many tickets VIA will sell once the GO Train arrives at those stations.

My personal feeling is that VIA will be out of Toronto Union at some point in the next 20 years as Metrolinx needs the capacity / space, and VIA will have a smaller dedicated station somewhere where they can have whatever platform height they want.

Which leaves VIA with 22 stations.

Unless VIA can pull off their plan for a dedicated passenger line most are on CN, and I don't see CN allowing high level platforms on their freight tracks.
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Re: Acela Replacement and Disposition Discussion

Postby SouthernRailway » Mon Jan 01, 2018 7:52 pm

Quick sidetrack:

(1) Is the upgraded Northeast Corridor portion between Princeton Junction and Trenton (where Acelas will be able to run at 160 mph) already set to let the Avelia Liberty trains run at 186 mph?

(2) How fast do we think NY-Boston trip times will be with the new Avelia Liberty trains? I see that the Acelas average only 63 mph between the two cities, which is ridiculous.

Thanks.
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Re: Acela Replacement and Disposition Discussion

Postby east point » Mon Jan 01, 2018 11:10 pm

High level platforms would require either station tracks ( preferred ) or at least Gauntlet tracks for all CN and CP freight trains. A CP at each end costs over $1.0m ( US ) plus another cost for the trackwork as well. Then the maintenance costs as well. Would CN & CP go for that ? ?
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