Acela Replacement and Disposition Discussion

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M&Eman
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Re: Bloomberg: Amtrak to Buy 20 New Acela Trainsets

Post by M&Eman » Sat Dec 15, 2012 12:06 pm

F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:
The EGE wrote:
electricron wrote: How many stations between Boston and D.C. have low platforms?
Currently, I believe it's down to Mystic, Westerly, and maybe one of the Delaware stations. Mystic and Westerly are due to be raised.
East of NYP it's New London (mostly), Mystic, Westerly, South Attleboro, Attleboro, Mansfield, Sharon, Canton Jct., Readville, and Hyde Park. Kingston is under construction. Westerly is widely expected to be next. Mystic's a simple one, albeit not high priority because of its limited schedule. Sharon is in final design for highs + a center passing track because it's the last non-ADA Providence Line stop, and the Amtrak NEC Infrastructure plan puts every MBTA platform on-notice for raisings. South Attleboro and Mansfield would also get modified for passing tracks, and Hyde Park would get reconfigured when the 4th iron gets installed from Forest Hills to Readville to traffic-separate slow Franklin Line trains.

Of course none of those are regular Acela or Regional stops, so the only consideration is emergency stops in the event of a service disruption. The T, if it can get out of its acute short-term funding crisis, is amply motivated to get all the Providence Line up to full highs so it can use its automatic door coach fleet on its busiest line. The stations getting mods for passing tracks would get ample amounts of fed funding because Amtrak is in control of all track work in MA and it's their cap improvements plan calling for this. I would not be surprised if there's a steady stream of stimulus starting as early as next year to chip away at the backlog.

New London is the only desirable station to add to some of the schedule, and that of course is a tough, tough, and expensive one to modify. And modifications will be needed if Shore Line East intends on running a full schedule there on highs-only M8's. But every other station is a pretty simple proposition. Maybe save South Attleboro for last because the passing tracks and generally poor structural condition of the walkways necessitate a fairly substantial rebuild (but probably not overly expensive because it was a real quick-and-dirty job when it opened in 1988, hence its decrepit condition after only 25 years).

It's an achievable goal if funding for even small stuff isn't totally gridlocked to get all of east-of-NHV at level boarding by 2020 with possible exception of expensive New London. Again, not that it matters much for the Acela schedule, but there are definitely additional schedule slots to be had if the commuter rail dwell times drop en route and those passing tracks around the MBTA stations get built.
The non-Amtrak stations don't even matter. There won't be an Amtrak train stopping at Sharon, MA...ever. West of NYP there are numerous low platforms in SEPTAland and a few in MARCland but we aren't even bothering with those.
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afiggatt
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Re: Bloomberg: Amtrak to Buy 20 New Acela Trainsets

Post by afiggatt » Sat Dec 15, 2012 12:10 pm

realtype wrote:I don't understand why Amtrak doesn't do more than simply replace the trainsets. There's clearly strong demand for the Acela service and it would be nice if they ran more AE trains. or even market it to to masses (i.e. non-business travelers). The order should be for at least 25 sets. Nearly every transit provider I know of replaces old fleets (locomotives or railcars) with larger ones (creating a net gain).
The title of this thread is misleading. Amtrak does intend to do more than just replace the 20 Acela trainsets. Quoting the Amtrak press release: "In early 2013, Amtrak will issue a Request for Information (RFI) to formally start the process that will replace the existing 20 Acela Express train sets and add additional train sets to expand seating capacity and provide for more frequent high-speed service on the NEC."

How many trainsets Amtrak ultimately orders will likely be determined by market and revenue analysis, capacity projections for the NEC at the time of issuing the RFP, what the bids come in at per trainset, the amount of funding available, and interest rates. What I think we can be sure of is that the new trainsets will have greater seating capacity, 450 or so at a minimum.

On the subject of NEC stations with low level platforms, Kingston RI still has low level platforms. But it is funded to build a 3rd track and high level platforms. Newark DE as mentioned has a TIGER grant which is being matched with state funds to build a new station with high level platforms. The projected completion date for the new Newark DE station is early 2016, IIRC. With the US DOT regulation requiring level boarding capability, there may be a push to install high level platforms at all the remaining Amtrak NEC low level platform stops or at least mini-highs in the nearer term rather than let the upgrade process drag out for more decades.

F-line to Dudley via Park
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Re: Bloomberg: Amtrak to Buy 20 New Acela Trainsets

Post by F-line to Dudley via Park » Sat Dec 15, 2012 12:10 pm

M&Eman wrote:
F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:
The EGE wrote:
electricron wrote: How many stations between Boston and D.C. have low platforms?
Currently, I believe it's down to Mystic, Westerly, and maybe one of the Delaware stations. Mystic and Westerly are due to be raised.
East of NYP it's New London (mostly), Mystic, Westerly, South Attleboro, Attleboro, Mansfield, Sharon, Canton Jct., Readville, and Hyde Park. Kingston is under construction. Westerly is widely expected to be next. Mystic's a simple one, albeit not high priority because of its limited schedule. Sharon is in final design for highs + a center passing track because it's the last non-ADA Providence Line stop, and the Amtrak NEC Infrastructure plan puts every MBTA platform on-notice for raisings. South Attleboro and Mansfield would also get modified for passing tracks, and Hyde Park would get reconfigured when the 4th iron gets installed from Forest Hills to Readville to traffic-separate slow Franklin Line trains.

Of course none of those are regular Acela or Regional stops, so the only consideration is emergency stops in the event of a service disruption. The T, if it can get out of its acute short-term funding crisis, is amply motivated to get all the Providence Line up to full highs so it can use its automatic door coach fleet on its busiest line. The stations getting mods for passing tracks would get ample amounts of fed funding because Amtrak is in control of all track work in MA and it's their cap improvements plan calling for this. I would not be surprised if there's a steady stream of stimulus starting as early as next year to chip away at the backlog.

New London is the only desirable station to add to some of the schedule, and that of course is a tough, tough, and expensive one to modify. And modifications will be needed if Shore Line East intends on running a full schedule there on highs-only M8's. But every other station is a pretty simple proposition. Maybe save South Attleboro for last because the passing tracks and generally poor structural condition of the walkways necessitate a fairly substantial rebuild (but probably not overly expensive because it was a real quick-and-dirty job when it opened in 1988, hence its decrepit condition after only 25 years).

It's an achievable goal if funding for even small stuff isn't totally gridlocked to get all of east-of-NHV at level boarding by 2020 with possible exception of expensive New London. Again, not that it matters much for the Acela schedule, but there are definitely additional schedule slots to be had if the commuter rail dwell times drop en route and those passing tracks around the MBTA stations get built.
The non-Amtrak stations don't even matter. There won't be an Amtrak train stopping at Sharon, MA...ever. West of NYP there are numerous low platforms in SEPTAland and a few in MARCland but we aren't even bothering with those.
Please read that last sentence. It matters in the sense that the passing tracks and MBTA congestion mitigation open up schedule slots. Indirect effects of the package of work tied to the platform raising projects. I specifically said the platforms themselves don't matter for the Acela, but the station work involves more than platforms.

25Hz
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Re: Bloomberg: Amtrak to Buy 20 New Acela Trainsets

Post by 25Hz » Sat Dec 15, 2012 1:18 pm

Passing tracks are important, but what will happen to the existing sets?
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realtype
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Re: Bloomberg: Amtrak to Buy 20 New Acela Trainsets

Post by realtype » Sat Dec 15, 2012 2:26 pm

afiggatt wrote:
realtype wrote:I don't understand why Amtrak doesn't do more than simply replace the trainsets. There's clearly strong demand for the Acela service and it would be nice if they ran more AE trains. or even market it to to masses (i.e. non-business travelers). The order should be for at least 25 sets. Nearly every transit provider I know of replaces old fleets (locomotives or railcars) with larger ones (creating a net gain).
The title of this thread is misleading. Amtrak does intend to do more than just replace the 20 Acela trainsets. Quoting the Amtrak press release: "In early 2013, Amtrak will issue a Request for Information (RFI) to formally start the process that will replace the existing 20 Acela Express train sets and add additional train sets to expand seating capacity and provide for more frequent high-speed service on the NEC."

How many trainsets Amtrak ultimately orders will likely be determined by market and revenue analysis, capacity projections for the NEC at the time of issuing the RFP, what the bids come in at per trainset, the amount of funding available, and interest rates. What I think we can be sure of is that the new trainsets will have greater seating capacity, 450 or so at a minimum.

On the subject of NEC stations with low level platforms, Kingston RI still has low level platforms. But it is funded to build a 3rd track and high level platforms. Newark DE as mentioned has a TIGER grant which is being matched with state funds to build a new station with high level platforms. The projected completion date for the new Newark DE station is early 2016, IIRC. With the US DOT regulation requiring level boarding capability, there may be a push to install high level platforms at all the remaining Amtrak NEC low level platform stops or at least mini-highs in the nearer term rather than let the upgrade process drag out for more decades.
Okay thanks for clearing that up.

I'm glad they're upgrading Newark, but I'm not sure if Aberdeen, MD will see high platforms anytime soon. The MTA (MARC) just rebuilt the nearby Edgewood station, but didn't include high platforms. I believe the reason for this is NEC usage by NS freights creating clearance issues with high platform. The MTA also rebuilt Halethorpe (near BWI) at the same time but with high platforms. All of the stations between WAS and BAL (except W. Baltimore) have highs, while none of the stations north of Baltimore do.

The EGE
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Re: Bloomberg: Amtrak to Buy 20 New Acela Trainsets

Post by The EGE » Sat Dec 15, 2012 4:21 pm

F-line, I don't think the commuter stations matter too much as long as they have mini-highs, which by next November 1st every one east of NHV except Mystic and Westerly will. (Westbrook's are under construction, and Sharon has to get them by next fall or the station gets closed).

As an aside, South Attleboro was 1990, as a belated Pawtucket replacement after Providence service resumed in 1988.

Kingston currently has mini-highs. I seem to recall an emergency Acela stop a few years back. High-levels are coming soon but I don't know if the funding is obligated yet.

New London does board Acelas already, and Regionals board mostly from the current highs. There's plenty of room south of the station to install 450ft high levels if they move the NECR junction to north of the station. NECR plays nice with Amtrak and has no problem operating past the highs already, so I see no reason that couldn't work.

Suburban Station
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Re: Bloomberg: Amtrak to Replace all 20 Acela Trainsets

Post by Suburban Station » Sat Dec 15, 2012 4:38 pm

amtrakowitz wrote:There are too many low platforms on the Keystone corridor to allow the Acela Express trainsets to follow the Budd Metroliners into becoming the new "Capitoliners".

As for "off-the-shelf", there are no Japanese designs from any Shinkansen service that can be used; the trainsets are too wide at 11' 1" (Acelas are 10' 4"), and like the Acela Express, have no low-platform entry-exit capability.

The X2000 and ICE 1 of course have operated on the Northeast Corridor, but the ICE 1 was not a tilt train and the X2000 would need to operate with two power cars instead of in the push-pull configuration it ran on the NEC with.
coatesville, middletown, have been funded, mt joy is under construction. that leaves downingtown, exton, and paoli..downingtown is in design stages but not funded (AFAIK). Paoli is the most important missing piece, if parking can be provided at paoli, exton might be less necessary. of course, unless the sets are free, maybe Penndot might be better off with new sets as a tack on order depending on who amtrak selects

goodnightjohnwayne
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Re: Bloomberg: Amtrak to Buy 20 New Acela Trainsets

Post by goodnightjohnwayne » Sat Dec 15, 2012 5:08 pm

Greg Moore wrote:Another Bloomberg article.

An interesting tidbit:

“Only Amtrak insists on retiring cars prematurely, and has gone through 1,000 or 2,000 fine cars, simply scrapping them and never maintaining them,” Weinman said. “This should be considered fiscal imprudence, as they are the stewards of the taxpayer largess which was used to pay for these vehicles.”

What 1,000-2,000 cares is he talking about? I can only think of the heritage fleet and at this point, good riddance. (should note the article identifies Weinman as "an operating officer" of Amtrak in the 1970s.)
Looking back at the 1970s, Amtrak actually refurbished a lot of oddball equipment that didn't see much service before disposal. The "Heritage" stuff that survived after the Amfleet and Superliner orders certainly didn't represent "1,000 or 2,000" fine cars. I can still remember when Amtrak's single level Sleeper fleet consisted solely of former UP 10-6 sleepers - not more than 80 or 90 in total. Sure, they disposed of other Budd 10-6 sleepers, such as the ex-NYC cars inherited from the PC, but I always had the impression that the UP cars represented the biggest, best maintained fleet, all with the same floor plan. So Amtrak kept the ex-UP sleepers and disposed of the rest. Big deal. The same goes for the 14 or 15 former Santa Fe baggage cars that still represent the bulk of the baggage car fleet. There weren't many Budd baggage cars ever built, and I'd guess these were the newest and best maintained.

Some of Amtrak's equipment did get worn and scruffy on the inside during the lean years of the 2000s, and not just the oldest cars, but some from the 1990s orders, but that was a funding issue. When Amtrak's funding increased and the car shops got busy with rebuilds, the aesthetic and comfort issues were addressed relatively quickly.

Still, I don't know about those "1,000 or 2,000 fine cars?" Maybe he's referring to all of the inherited equipment? Amtrak did inherit some weird cars and Amtrak did spend way too much money on refurbishing odd-ball cars that only saw a couple years of service before the switch to HEP.

csor2010
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Re: Bloomberg: Amtrak to Buy 20 New Acela Trainsets

Post by csor2010 » Sat Dec 15, 2012 5:44 pm

To those worried about the existing trains being retired prematurely (quote is from the WSJ blog):
Those new trains will run side-by side with the existing ones up until around 2025, when the old ones are phased out and the next-generation of trains capable of speeds of up to 220 miles per hour start to be introduced, alongside the next wave of network upgrades.
By 2025 the current trainsets will be pushing 25 years of age, at which point they will be due for major remanufacturing or retirement. Keep in mind that the F40s were only about 25 years old when they were retired, and that even the re-manned toasters are pushing 30. By the sound of it they are planning on running the new and old cars in parallel before phasing out the old cars to bring in 220+ equipment. Given that the 220mph implementation will probably be pushed back, we could very likely see the original Acelas sticking around for some time.

Greg Moore
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Re: Bloomberg: Amtrak to Buy 20 New Acela Trainsets

Post by Greg Moore » Sat Dec 15, 2012 7:09 pm

goodnightjohnwayne wrote:
Greg Moore wrote:Another Bloomberg article.

An interesting tidbit:

“Only Amtrak insists on retiring cars prematurely, and has gone through 1,000 or 2,000 fine cars, simply scrapping them and never maintaining them,” Weinman said. “This should be considered fiscal imprudence, as they are the stewards of the taxpayer largess which was used to pay for these vehicles.”

What 1,000-2,000 cares is he talking about? I can only think of the heritage fleet and at this point, good riddance. (should note the article identifies Weinman as "an operating officer" of Amtrak in the 1970s.)
Looking back at the 1970s, Amtrak actually refurbished a lot of oddball equipment that didn't see much service before disposal. The "Heritage" stuff that survived after the Amfleet and Superliner orders certainly didn't represent "1,000 or 2,000" fine cars. I can still remember when Amtrak's single level Sleeper fleet consisted solely of former UP 10-6 sleepers - not more than 80 or 90 in total. Sure, they disposed of other Budd 10-6 sleepers, such as the ex-NYC cars inherited from the PC, but I always had the impression that the UP cars represented the biggest, best maintained fleet, all with the same floor plan. So Amtrak kept the ex-UP sleepers and disposed of the rest. Big deal. The same goes for the 14 or 15 former Santa Fe baggage cars that still represent the bulk of the baggage car fleet. There weren't many Budd baggage cars ever built, and I'd guess these were the newest and best maintained.

Some of Amtrak's equipment did get worn and scruffy on the inside during the lean years of the 2000s, and not just the oldest cars, but some from the 1990s orders, but that was a funding issue. When Amtrak's funding increased and the car shops got busy with rebuilds, the aesthetic and comfort issues were addressed relatively quickly.

Still, I don't know about those "1,000 or 2,000 fine cars?" Maybe he's referring to all of the inherited equipment? Amtrak did inherit some weird cars and Amtrak did spend way too much money on refurbishing odd-ball cars that only saw a couple years of service before the switch to HEP.
Yeah, no idea where he's getting 1000 or 2000 cars and most were pretty much at the end of their useful life as it was. Most of the equipment they've bought then I'd say they've gotten their life out of. (namely the Amfleets!)
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jstolberg
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Re: Bloomberg: Amtrak to Buy 20 New Acela Trainsets

Post by jstolberg » Sat Dec 15, 2012 7:39 pm

One way to think about this is that Amtrak is proposing to purchase at least 160 single-level corridor cars, but instead of buying bottom-end cars capable of up to 125 mph, they are seeking to buy cars at the top end capable of 160+ mph. This will expand their premium level service by at least 40% and allow the Acela cars to run in place of some of the older Amfleet cars which are increasingly in demand beyond the limits of the Bos-Wash corridor.

The higher margins on the premium service make the investment easier to justify.

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Re: Bloomberg: Amtrak to Buy 20 New Acela Trainsets

Post by DutchRailnut » Sat Dec 15, 2012 7:50 pm

single level cars for 160 mph, what you smoking boy???
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Fan Railer
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Re: Bloomberg: Amtrak to Buy 20 New Acela Trainsets

Post by Fan Railer » Sat Dec 15, 2012 8:15 pm

realtype wrote:I don't understand why Amtrak doesn't do more than simply replace the trainsets. There's clearly strong demand for the Acela service and it would be nice if they ran more AE trains. or even market it to to masses (i.e. non-business travelers). The order should be for at least 25 sets. Nearly every transit provider I know of replaces old fleets (locomotives or railcars) with larger ones (creating a net gain).

That said I think the best candidates for winning the new order will be (in order):
1. Alstom
2. Kawasaki
3. Siemens
4. Bombardier
5. Hitachi
Alstom and Kawasaki ahead of Siemens and Bombardier? Logic there please? Alstom doesn't currently have a high level HSR set that it markets, and Kawasaki isn't even actively marketing an HSR set to begin with. On the other hand, both Siemens and Bombardier market proven designs that would easily meet FRA requirements, and in addition, they are both proven deliverers who are generally more on time with equipment deliveries than the other two companies. In terms of bidding, of the top four you've listed, I could see Kawasaki, Siemens, and Bombardier both outbidding Alstom. And seeing as Siemens is already manufacturing those 70 locomotives for the NEC, they may be able to outbid the remaining two companies with a higher technical rating.

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Re: Bloomberg: Amtrak to Buy 20 New Acela Trainsets

Post by morris&essex4ever » Sat Dec 15, 2012 9:00 pm

Aren't Bombardier and Amtrak not the best of friends after the Acela "fiasco?"
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jstolberg
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Re: Bloomberg: Amtrak to Buy 20 New Acela Trainsets

Post by jstolberg » Sat Dec 15, 2012 9:23 pm

DutchRailnut wrote:single level cars for 160 mph, what you smoking boy???
If you replace the 20 current 6-car Acela sets with new 8-car sets rated at 160 mph, then you can take the current 121 Acela cars and make up 15 "Next-generation Northeast Regionals" with 8 cars each. Those 15 sets should be able to cover the current Northeast Regional schedule except for those trains that continue into Virginia.

Then you take some of the Amfleet 1s to replace the Metroliner cabs on the Keystones and tack a cabbage conversion on the end. Other Amfleet 1s can have the seat pitch increased and used on growing long-distance lines or added to other state-sponsored corridor trains as needed.

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