• Amtrak News Release: Article: Introducing a New Era of Rail in America

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

Moderators: GirlOnTheTrain, mtuandrew, Tadman

  by Jeff Smith
https://media.amtrak.com/2023/05/articl ... n-america/
In the past, when people heard “Amtrak,” they often associated us with words like “old” and “antiquated.” Today, we’re changing that narrative as we deliver a new era of passenger rail in America.

In the coming years, Amtrak will invest over $50 billion into modern trains, enhanced stations and facilities, new tunnels and bridges, and other critical infrastructure upgrades.

These generational investments mean we’re no longer only a passenger rail operator. Today, Amtrak is also a major construction company executing one of the largest capital programs in the history of the United States.

But we can’t do this alone. We’re working alongside state and local governments, rail partners and others to implement these projects effectively. This requires close collaboration and planning not only for projects Amtrak is leading, but also those led by our partners.

With so many projects in the pipeline, it can be challenging for those outside the company to keep track. I’d like to reintroduce Amtrak’s infrastructure investment plans now that these transformative projects are becoming reality.

Building on Bipartisan Support

Let’s begin with the critical role that strong support from the U.S. Congress and President Joe Biden has played in making Amtrak’s historic investments possible. In November 2021, President Biden signed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) – also known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL).

This historic bill provides an important commitment and down payment towards reversing decades of underinvestment in American passenger rail. With $66 billion total earmarked for intercity passenger and freight rail over five years, Amtrak and our partners’ portion of IIJA funding will enable us to address our state-of-good-repair backlog, upgrade infrastructure and expand capacity.

Creating a Capital Delivery Team

Here at Amtrak – we’re ready to deliver. We hit the ground running and created a new Capital Delivery department in early 2022. This new group is responsible for delivering Amtrak’s critical infrastructure projects. That covers early planning and design stages all the way through construction and on to operations.

In just one year, the Capital Delivery team has grown over 50%, with 630 current employees and counting. In addition to new management staff, we’re also hiring hundreds of additional union employees in the electric, signal, and track fields who will focus on both IIJA-funded and other capital projects. Combine our hiring efforts with organizational change management actions, and we’re taking the necessary steps to help deliver these quality assets.

Upgrading Critical Infrastructure

The Northeast Corridor (NEC) is one of the busiest, most complex and economically vital transportation systems in the world, serving more than 260 million passenger trips each year before the pandemic. The main portion is 457 miles long, connecting major cities like Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York and Boston.

As the majority owner of the NEC, Amtrak is responsible for moving intercity travelers and providing access or operational support to eight commuter lines and six freight operators. These partners rely on our tunnels, bridges and tracks, many of which are over 100 years old. While safe to travel on, they require upgrades or replacement to provide more reliable high-speed travel.

Bolstered by IIJA funding, we’re advancing plans for new tunnels and bridges that will improve reliability, expand capacity and increase train speeds along the NEC, as well as other upgrades for the National Network. These include but are not limited to:

Gateway Program
The most urgent infrastructure program in America is a series of projects that will improve the most congested 10-mile section of the NEC, between Newark, New Jersey and New York City. Led by the Gateway Development Commission in partnership with Amtrak and others, these projects will add needed resiliency and create the capacity for doubling passenger trains into Moynihan Train Hall at New York Penn Station (NYP) – America’s busiest train station. Work includes building a new Hudson River Tunnel, rehabbing the existing century-old tunnel, introducing new tracks and platforms at NYP, building two brand new bridges (Portal North and Portal South) over the Hackensack River in New Jersey, constructing loop tracks in Bergen County, replacing the Sawtooth Bridges and more.

B&P Tunnel Replacement Program
We’ve kicked off enabling work for a major program that will modernize and transform a four-mile section of the NEC. This will address the biggest rail bottleneck between Washington, D.C. and New Jersey. A new tunnel named after American abolitionist Frederick Douglass is the centerpiece of this program, featuring two high-capacity tubes. Additional work includes new roadway and railroad bridges, new rail systems and track and a new accessible MARC commuter rail station.

Susquehanna River Bridge Replacement
The longest moveable bridge on the NEC is approaching 120 years since opening and showing its age. We will replace the existing two-track bridge with four new tracks over two new bridges. Additional infrastructure upgrades like redesigned interlockings, new tracks and modernized signals will support higher-speed travel.

Above: The existing two-track Susquehanna River Bridge will be replaced with four new tracks over two new bridges.

Chicago Hub Improvement Program (CHIP)

Chicago is the hub of Amtrak’s National Network. Every day, dozens of Long Distance and State Supported trains start or end their routes at Chicago Union Station. CHIP will advance and accelerate Chicago-area infrastructure projects that increase capacity and reliability, reduce trip times, facilitate future service expansions and improve safety.

Introducing a Modern Fleet

We’re also modernizing a large portion of our fleet. Today, we have several projects in various stages that will introduce state-of-the-art passenger trains and locomotives across the United States, as well as upgrade rail yards to support these new trains:

New Acela Trains
The new high-speed Acela fleet will replace the original trainsets introduced at the start of the century. These new trains are made in America by Alstom and will further solidify the NEC as a high-speed rail corridor, achieving speeds up to 160 mph. With nearly 25% more seats than existing Acela trains, each new train will enhance comfort, technology, innovation and safety on our most sustainable fleet to date. A total of 28 new trains will be phased in over the coming years.

New Amtrak Airo Trains
Customer experience enhancements are coming to several routes around the country with new trains that will start debuting in 2026. Our new Amtrak Airo trains will elevate the customer journey with a focus on comfort and efficiency. These new trains will be built in America by Siemens and provide even more advantages to traveling by rail, including a modern, spacious interior, a greener impact and faster travel times. A total of 73 trains have been ordered, with contract options for additional trains.

New Long Distance Trains
We’ve kicked off initial work to purchase new long-distance trains that will upgrade and modernize vital services on 14 overnight routes from coast-to-coast. The existing overnight train fleet has been placed into service over past 40 years. These new trains will reiterate Amtrak’s commitment to delivering travelers from city centers to small towns and everywhere in between.

New Locomotives
Cleaner, faster, and more efficient locomotives are now entering service on Amtrak’s National Network, primarily for Long Distance trains. Made in America by Siemens, the new Charger Locomotives (also known as ALC-42s) are considerably more environmentally friendly than their 1990s predecessors, consume less fuel and can reach a greater top speed of 125 mph.

Enhancing Stations Across the Country

It’s not enough to simply add new trains. We must also modernize our stations, where Amtrak customers begin and end their journey with us. A few years ago, Amtrak opened its new home at Moynihan Train Hall in New York City. This new state-of-the-art facility serves as a model for our major stations, many of which were built over a century ago.

We’re proud of this new world-class station and the modern customer experience it provides. Building on this momentum, we’re advancing several other station upgrades, including but not limited to:

NEC Station Upgrades and Expansions
Work has begun to redevelop and revitalize Baltimore Penn Station and the surrounding area. We also have major renovation projects planned for Philadelphia’s Gray 30th Street Station and Washington Union Station. These major upgrades will expand station capacity, improve passenger flow, add new customer amenities, introduce retail opportunities and benefit surrounding communities. Additionally, the Gateway Program includes major reconstruction and expansion plans for NYP.

Chicago Union Station

Amtrak’s busiest station outside the NEC hosts over 3.3 million customers and nearly 20,000 intercity and commuter trains each year. As part of the CHIP Program, Chicago Union Station will undergo significant customer safety and experience improvements, including capacity and customer flow improvements thanks to platform expansions and new stairs/elevators, architectural renovations and more.

ADA Stations Program
Making our stations accessible to all customers is a major priority. We’re performing station construction, renovation, repair and upgrade projects across the National Network. Upgrades include brand new boarding platforms, fully accessible restrooms and waiting rooms and more.

Our Next Stop

We’ve boarded a new era of passenger rail here at Amtrak and are prepared to transform American rail travel with these massive investments, alongside our government and industry partners. Get ready to experience a whole new Amtrak!
  by Railjunkie
"The Glide Path to Self Sufficiency" "Right and Ready" "Be our Guest"

This time it is different we promise.

Same circus different clowns...
  by Gilbert B Norman
......oh, and let us not forget the topper: "Network Growth Strategy".

Anyone still waiting for the NY-LA train that was not going to make a station stop in Chicago?

Guess the Minister of Propaganda has to justify his existence.
  by scratchyX1
Railjunkie wrote: Fri May 26, 2023 8:17 am "The Glide Path to Self Sufficiency" "Right and Ready" "Be our Guest"

This time it is different we promise.

Same circus different clowns...
  by electricron
More political hub dub over nothing.
The best Amtrak has been able to do over freight owned tracks is 110 mph.
With 110 mph max speeds, the average train speeds will be around 80 mph.
Brightlne West, building a new rail corridor within the I-15 right of way, 85% within the median, and completely grade separated from all other traffic, achieving max speeds of 180 mph (~300 kph), will only average around 120 mph.
Amtrak's Acela and Brightline Florida on existing tracks along a freight corridor using fairly fast trains only average around 80 mph.
City Nerd uses an average HSR train speed of 180 mph as his default train speed ranking city pairs with his basic gravity formula. At around 100 miles distance, the automobile is very competitive. His 180 average train speeds is very competitive with airlines flights between 2 to 3 hours, and competitive somewhat up to 5 to 6 hours. But that is at an average train speed of 180 mph.
Drop that average speed by a third to an average of 120 mph, the train competitiveness also drops by a third, from 5 to 6 hours to 3 to 4 hours.
Drop that average train speed by a half, to 90 mph, the train competitiveness also drops by a half, from 5 to 6 hours to 2 to 3 hours.
And the sweet spot of 2.5 hours also drops by a third or by a half - depending upon the average train speed no longer 180 mph.

City Nerd is advocating building state of the art high speed trains with 200+ mph max speeds capabpe of averaging 180 mph. Amtrak is advocating building higher speed trains with max speeds at best of 110 mph averaging around 80 mph. There is an 100 mph average speed difference between the two generic proposals.
Do not use data points for 180 mph average speed trains with 80 mph average speed trains. They are not the same.
  by STrRedWolf
I would advocate for more data, TBH. Cars may be topping at 65 mph but various bits of congestion and whatnot may really be pulling them down to 45 mph on average. Even having trains averaging 85 mph will be an advantage in 45 mph average drives between city pairs.
  by RandallW
This PR announcement is kind of Amtrak's announcement that it is entering the annual appropriations fight. From this morning's news, discretionary funding is capped at current levels for two years (unless it's for "defense"), but assuming any budget sticks to that, merely means that funding Amtrak at current levels is going to compete for funding pretty much everything else in a capped budget.
  by John_Perkowski
The best things Amtrak could do:
- Do what the Class 1s are doing, HEP generator cars, so any locomotive can haul the train.
- Pay the Class 1s the real cost of time on the line. If the train loses time, the host RR forfeits for each minute off the advertised.
  by STrRedWolf
John_Perkowski wrote: Mon May 29, 2023 6:10 pm The best things Amtrak could do:
- Do what the Class 1s are doing, HEP generator cars, so any locomotive can haul the train.
- Pay the Class 1s the real cost of time on the line. If the train loses time, the host RR forfeits for each minute off the advertised.
On the first part, there's an argument to be made on multiple fronts:
  • The optics man! It's bad marketing if we're having to cut out an engine and have the host railroad haul us instead!
  • Good for a rescue, but then you have extra equipment to maintain and Amtrak doesn't want the added expense.
  • Will it work everywhere? Will it get into NYP and BOS?
The second part there reminds me of the calls I've been making:
  • What are the costs for the Class 1? What are they charging? (last time I checked, only NS had them publicly listed).
  • What are the costs that Amtrak is paying?
I still have yet to get an answer on all of the above. Until we have concrete cost charts like NS had for all the Class 1's, and Amtrak provide theirs, can we say "Yes, Amtrak needs to pay more."

The flip side is "We need to get more of that airplane money into trains."
  by RandallW
The Class Is didn't buy generator cars for their officer trains until they got out of the general passenger train business and either sold their generator equipped locomotives or removed the generators from them. So *by not* using separate HEP generator cars, Amtrak is doing what the Class Is did when they ran passenger trains.
  by Gilbert B Norman
Uh, Volks, from one who has "been there done that" on enough occasions. these are not your friends;

http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/rsPict ... ?id=658857

They were a "fact of life" when Amtrak wanted to get the "on time on budget" A-1's into revenue service, but only had GG-1's on hand.

Suffice to say "in the Amtrak tradition, not exactly reliable". It was real sport to ride along the Corridor in brand new equipment that was without light, heat, or air. Maybe there was an Electrician at 30th St who could get it running again...maybe not. There was no access to the car when under way.

Need I say more?
  by rohr turbo
STrRedWolf wrote: Tue May 30, 2023 9:32 am
The second part there reminds me of the calls I've been making:
  • What are the costs for the Class 1? What are they charging? (last time I checked, only NS had them publicly listed).
  • What are the costs that Amtrak is paying?
I still have yet to get an answer on all of the above. Until we have concrete cost charts like NS had for all the Class 1's, and Amtrak provide theirs, can we say "Yes, Amtrak needs to pay more."
I'm not sure that NS has posted their trackage rates that are applicable to Amtrak movements. Please post a link if one exists.

The only solid evidence from someone in the know came from the late Mr. Resor ("NellieBly") who was in STB and DOT, as I recall. In this post post503000.html#p503000 he estimated Amtrak was paying $1 to $3 per train-mile in 2008, which he said was pretty much the going rate between Class 1s.

In his post on another forum in 2006, he said Amtrak was paying $1 per train-mile.
  by ExCon90
For many years the Class Is had a "General Managers' Agreement"providing for charges, mutually agreed upon, for services required in emergency or unforeseen circumstances when there would be no time to negotiate what the charge should be. Did Amtrak participate in those agreements? While those charges were clearly stated in the agreements, I don't think they were public information.
  by Gilbert B Norman
Mr. ExCon. at least back in my day, Amtrak definitely adhered to GMA rates for services such as crews, detours, emergency equipment, et al.

The "day to day" rates Amtrak pays railroads for trackage, supervision (Amtrak crews are under jurisdiction of both their own and the host roads supervision. Either could be "laying in the weeds" ready to throw an "efficiency test") is a bilateral agreement and not open to public inspection under FOIA or anything else outside the Judiciary.