• More power problems inconvience MARC patrons

  • Discussion related to DC area passenger rail services from Northern Virginia to Baltimore, MD. Includes Light Rail and Baltimore Subway.
Discussion related to DC area passenger rail services from Northern Virginia to Baltimore, MD. Includes Light Rail and Baltimore Subway.

Moderators: mtuandrew, therock, Robert Paniagua

  by HokieNav
 
A few weeks ago I complained in the "New Diesels for MARC" thread that the MTA was canceling trains due to a lack of engines available.

This week, it's shortened trains because of a lack of appropriate power:
Attention Penn Line Passengers--

Due to a continued shortage of equipment, the following trains will once again be operating with one less car than normal:

This afternoon (Sept. 2)--Train 436, the 5:34pm departure from Union Station

Tomorrow morning (Sept. 3)--Train 513, the 6:30am departure from Perryville / 7:15am departure from Baltimore Penn.

We realize that this is the third straight day of this service disruption and that it causes inconvenience for our passengers. We are working with Amtrak to get more of our electric locomotives back into service which will allow us to return the seventh car to this consist.

We appreciate your understanding and patronage.

September 2, 2009 3:03 PM
Meanwhile, 2 AEM-7's have been parked in the Ivy City yards in what's becoming a years-overdue rehab process. The other two AEM-7's are completely MIA (as far as I know they're still in Delaware). An entire fleet of MP-36's sits idle because MARC is either unable to plan or execute a test plan that gets these locomotives in service in anything approaching a reasonable time frame.

MARC does a lot of things right, doing the best they can with many difficult constraints. But eventually appreciation of my understanding and patronage is going to run out of understanding (and perhaps patronage, but things would have to get a lot worse before I went back to driving to work).
  by realtype
 
HokieNav wrote:A few weeks ago I complained in the "New Diesels for MARC" thread that the MTA was canceling trains due to a lack of engines available.

This week, it's shortened trains because of a lack of appropriate power:

Meanwhile, 2 AEM-7's have been parked in the Ivy City yards in what's becoming a years-overdue rehab process. The other two AEM-7's are completely MIA (as far as I know they're still in Delaware). An entire fleet of MP-36's sits idle because MARC is either unable to plan or execute a test plan that gets these locomotives in service in anything approaching a reasonable time frame.

MARC does a lot of things right, doing the best they can with many difficult constraints. But eventually appreciation of my understanding and patronage is going to run out of understanding (and perhaps patronage, but things would have to get a lot worse before I went back to driving to work).
Wouldn't you know it, I sent MARC an email just today asking why there is a shortage of cars, after getting this email and another one saying that a Brunswick line train will be short. To tell the truth for the past month it seems like every other day I would be getting an email saying that a train on one of the three lines will be short. The thing is I don't think it's just a power problem, it must be something else as well since Brunswick and Camden trains are being shortened as well.

I didn't see those AEM-7's at Ivy City, although I did see a MARC HHP-8. Train 534 almost always departs from track 14 because my train (893) sometimes boards at the "Far North End" in front of it and is almost always 7 Kawasakis with a HHP-8. I was really surprised yesterday to see a 6 Kawasaki GP40 set there instead. MARC is screwed up now, but it's been worse in the past, at least their improving the system (albeit dragging their feet while doing so). I don't know if I should blame them for the MP36 delay, since it seems MPI is involved, and a lot of times Amtrak is the source of these problems but we don't know it.
  by HokieNav
 
Interesting that there are car shortages on the other lines - there certainly seems to be a large number of cars laying around the yards, wonder what the deal with them is.

I think that the problems with the K-cars, a lot of the Penn line sets have single levels subbed in for at least one of the K-cars in the consist.

To see the AEM-7's, sit on the left hand side of the train as you're leaving - look as far away from the main tracks as you can, and as far north as you can. They're sitting behind an HHP-8 (looks like an Amtrak, but I'm not sure) and you really only get a glimpse of them. The P40s blocked the view of them, so I don't know how long they've been sitting there.

Where did you hear that MPI was involved with the 36's? Last I heard, the word I got was that it was more of an admin thing inside the MTA bureaucracy that was holding things up. I'm less inclined to believe that we're still in the routine testing phase, since nobody has seen these things anywhere since they were "unveiled" in May.
  by realtype
 
HokieNav wrote:Interesting that there are car shortages on the other lines - there certainly seems to be a large number of cars laying around the yards, wonder what the deal with them is.

I think that the problems with the K-cars, a lot of the Penn line sets have single levels subbed in for at least one of the K-cars in the consist.

To see the AEM-7's, sit on the left hand side of the train as you're leaving - look as far away from the main tracks as you can, and as far north as you can. They're sitting behind an HHP-8 (looks like an Amtrak, but I'm not sure) and you really only get a glimpse of them. The P40s blocked the view of them, so I don't know how long they've been sitting there.

Where did you hear that MPI was involved with the 36's? Last I heard, the word I got was that it was more of an admin thing inside the MTA bureaucracy that was holding things up. I'm less inclined to believe that we're still in the routine testing phase, since nobody has seen these things anywhere since they were "unveiled" in May.
I tried but still couldn't see the AEM-7's (saw the Amtk HHP again though). You must have really good eyes to see them as you whiz by on the Penn Line :-) . I ride the Camden Line which is closer and somewhat slower and still have trouble.

Didn't that Balt. Sun article posted here say it had something to do with a dispute between MPI and the MTA over testing? Anyway, did anybody really expect MARC get them in service on time? Look at the Kawasakis, the rehabbed AEM-7's etc. They (or Bombardier) have done a good job with the rehabbed MARC IIB cars. I realized that all 3 single levels coaches on that train I rode (as I did again this morning as 892) were the rehabs. The covers for the fluorecent lights inside are switched out, and the vestibules have cool white LED lighting. They ride very well as well.

Oh yeah, I emailed the MTA about the car shortage and some other misc. things 2 days ago and here's the response:
We had two of the VRE cars on the Brunswick line in service for some
time now and recently have added additional VRE cars to that line. At
this time, we are waiting for some paperwork to come back from the FRA
so that we can add some of the VRE cars to the Penn side. Unfortunately,
the VRE cars are restricted to operate at 90 mph. The majority of the
VRE cars will end up on the Brunswick and Camden lines which should free
up some other cars that can be used on the Penn Line.
MARC received some stimulus money to install a brand new PA and LED
system to all three of the MARC train lines. We are hopeful that
installation will begin within the next couple of months; starting with
the Brunswick line first. In addition to the new equipment at all of our
stations, the trains will all be tied into the system and will have the
capability to announce the various stops. At this time MARC depends upon
the train conductors to make announcements, including announcing stops.
MARC/DJW

-----Original Message-----
To: MTA MARC Train
Subject: Question regarding MARC Train

Category: Question
Mode of Service: MARC Train

Nature of Question: Other,

Comments: I've noticed recently that I've been getting alerts about car
shortages and trains operating short a car. Why is MARC having car
shortages when it just purchased 13 bilevels from VRE? Also how come
MARC no longer uses the automated station announcements in the bilevels?
This is really good news about the automated station and train announements. Hopefully, they do it right this time (3rd time's the charm right? :wink: ). I've noticed that they've changed out the electronic displays in Union Station. They just turned on that big, nice looking one at Gate A announcing that there is no service on Labor Day. Yesterday it was back to cave man days, since none of the boards were working (except the Amtrak ones, which have also been modified) so they had to use a White Board, and this morning they were boarding all outbound trains at Gate B...then the boards in there got messed up and showed jumbled random characters.
  by the-rail-life
 
As a bit of a sideline, how do the automated station announcements normally work on MARC? On VRE, there's a computer/mechanical component that counts the wheel revolutions and/or distance traveled and the announcements are consistently broadcast through the cars that way. There's also a separate manual control in the vestibules that the conductors can control. If the count mechanism messes up, there's either no announcement, or you can hear announcements for station stops that are about 20 miles further down the line. :P

Just curious about how MARC's system works.
  by dt_rt40
 
I thought someone would mention train 534 on Friday. (2009-09-04) About 5 minutes before departure the lights were flicking and they announced the engine was having problems. They said they were trying to fix it with an technician from Amtrak. Immediately about 25% of the train bailed, these were the Balto. bound commuters who decided to get a seat on the 436 ASAP, which leaves at 5:34PM. Those were the smart ones, because about 5 minutes later the conductors moved through the cars telling everyone the train was out of service.

I walked forward to confirm that the troublemaker was an HHP-8. My morning train had seemed to have a lower # of passangers. The cynic in me wondered if they were just doing an ad hoc cancellation due to holiday-related staff shortages, although I was surprised that the 534 was almost as packed as usual. The way the lights flickered struck me as somewhat suspicious, but of course I have no idea how the HHP-8 switches or tranforms the HEP. It just seemed like someone flipping a switch on and off semi-randomly. Do they have a problem with HEP?

The 6:05 was loaded at a low platform near the center of the station. I observed a private varnish car being moved into the end of the adjacent track (near the bank of electrical switchgear equipment - what does that control?) but didn't catch the name of it.

I know this has come up before, but, why, again, are the VRE Kawasakis not rated to go NEC speeds? Did VRE order paired down versions, or, ummmm, sell the dual-brake systems at the Prince William County Fair? I thought the whole delay was getting them ready to go NEC speeds.
  by realtype
 
dt_rt40 wrote:I thought someone would mention train 534 on Friday. (2009-09-04) About 5 minutes before departure the lights were flicking and they announced the engine was having problems. They said they were trying to fix it with an technician from Amtrak. Immediately about 25% of the train bailed, these were the Balto. bound commuters who decided to get a seat on the 436 ASAP, which leaves at 5:34PM. Those were the smart ones, because about 5 minutes later the conductors moved through the cars telling everyone the train was out of service.

I know this has come up before, but, why, again, are the VRE Kawasakis not rated to go NEC speeds? Did VRE order paired down versions, or, ummmm, sell the dual-brake systems at the Prince William County Fair? I thought the whole delay was getting them ready to go NEC speeds.
436 was the train that was using a shorter consist (6 bilevels vs 7 bilevels) all week because there was a shortage of electrics and the GP40's can only handle 6 cars max. Maybe same HHP-8 they put on 534 on Friday was the one in the shops, and it still looks like it needs to go back...

The VRE Kawasakis aren't rated at NEC speeds because they were probably never tested at those speeds. They have the same exact trucks as MARC's Kawasakis (a reason why they sold them to MARC is because the trucks were really expensive to maintain). Or maybe they did just sell them at the PWC fair... :-D
  by dt_rt40
 
Thanks.
I found this from g40marc69 in the other thread:
I did talk to one of the MARC managers a couple weeks ago regarding the Kawasakis and he told me that they were undergoing high speed testing on the NEC since they've been mostly on CSX and NS track which limits up to 70. I thought the trucks on both MARCs and VREs Kawasakis were the same and they were both in the same specifications albeit some minor differences and would have been both rated for 125mph service.

So, by not going over 70 mph, the wheels have somehow lost the ability roll faster? Thank goodness for our ultra-cautious FRA. (sarcasm)
Hopefully the "testing" will be completed shortly.

They have the same exact trucks as MARC's Kawasakis (a reason why they sold them to MARC is because the trucks were really expensive to maintain).

Well, at least for such an expense they give a really nice ride. On some stretches of the NEC I think they are as smooth feeling as the Acelas, especially riding on the lower level.
  by realtype
 
the-rail-life wrote:As a bit of a sideline, how do the automated station announcements normally work on MARC? On VRE, there's a computer/mechanical component that counts the wheel revolutions and/or distance traveled and the announcements are consistently broadcast through the cars that way. There's also a separate manual control in the vestibules that the conductors can control. If the count mechanism messes up, there's either no announcement, or you can hear announcements for station stops that are about 20 miles further down the line. :P

Just curious about how MARC's system works.
I've wondered this same thing a countless number of times (while the systems were still working anyways). At first I thought they counted the wheel revolutions, as well but I wondered how it could be so precise (within a few feet). Then I thought it was GPS. I also thought the cab car was where it was set up. I honestly don't know though. It probably uses the same system as VRE, since I didn't know how that one worked either. The one time I took VRE it's system worked very well. The one on the LIRR M7's is excellent as well. I guess it doesn't really matter anyways as the automated announcements don't work anymore (or simply aren't turned on) and the extreior displays are either blank or say "Unit OK: [id number]." I think one of the cab car's scrollinig interior displays still says "Please do not place feet on seats."
  by realtype
 
dt_rt40 wrote:Thanks.
I found this from g40marc69 in the other thread:
I did talk to one of the MARC managers a couple weeks ago regarding the Kawasakis and he told me that they were undergoing high speed testing on the NEC since they've been mostly on CSX and NS track which limits up to 70. I thought the trucks on both MARCs and VREs Kawasakis were the same and they were both in the same specifications albeit some minor differences and would have been both rated for 125mph service.

So, by not going over 70 mph, the wheels have somehow lost the ability roll faster? Thank goodness for our ultra-cautious FRA. (sarcasm)
Hopefully the "testing" will be completed shortly.

They have the same exact trucks as MARC's Kawasakis (a reason why they sold them to MARC is because the trucks were really expensive to maintain).

Well, at least for such an expense they give a really nice ride. On some stretches of the NEC I think they are as smooth feeling as the Acelas, especially riding on the lower level.
Yuo said it, I've never ridden the Acela, but at the very least they're on par with the Amfleets (event though they sway a lot because they're so tall) and better than any other commuter equipment I've been in (NJT Comet 5s, MBTA Kawasakis, LIRR M7's, SEPTA etc.). After riding in the Kawasakis, MARC's gallery cars are almost painful to ride in--you feel every bump, and even the grinding of the wheels on the rails, and this is on the upper level.
  by the-rail-life
 
realtype wrote:
the-rail-life wrote:As a bit of a sideline, how do the automated station announcements normally work on MARC? On VRE, there's a computer/mechanical component that counts the wheel revolutions and/or distance traveled and the announcements are consistently broadcast through the cars that way. There's also a separate manual control in the vestibules that the conductors can control. If the count mechanism messes up, there's either no announcement, or you can hear announcements for station stops that are about 20 miles further down the line. :P

Just curious about how MARC's system works.
I've wondered this same thing a countless number of times (while the systems were still working anyways). At first I thought they counted the wheel revolutions, as well but I wondered how it could be so precise (within a few feet). Then I thought it was GPS. I also thought the cab car was where it was set up. I honestly don't know though. It probably uses the same system as VRE, since I didn't know how that one worked either. The one time I took VRE it's system worked very well. The one on the LIRR M7's is excellent as well. I guess it doesn't really matter anyways as the automated announcements don't work anymore (or simply aren't turned on) and the extreior displays are either blank or say "Unit OK: [id number]." I think one of the cab car's scrollinig interior displays still says "Please do not place feet on seats."
Haha! Thanks for the response. One morning our (VRE) system was going absolutely nuts. We were not even halfway down the line, but the system announced every stop to Union and then started over again. The conductors were trying to keep up and make announcements themselves, and finally one of them said "don't listen to the lady, she had a little too much to drink last night. Next stop is xxxx." :-D
  by realtype
 
Are those AEM-7's still at Ivy City? I still haven't managed to glimpse them; I'm always sitting on the wrong side of the train though. I did see a pair of MARC HHP-8's (ie. one third of the fleet) way back at the north end though.
  by realtype
 
Some bad news regarding the AEM-7's. I contacted the MTA through their website again, this time about the AEM-7's. Here's the response I received:
Marc units 4900 through 4903 (AEM 7) have been going through a partial
rebuild for over 3 years. The rebuild by Amtrak at Wilmington shops, has
not gone well and none of the units have been release for service, there
has been sporadic testing which has determined they are not fit for
service. We are awaiting further analysis to determine what needs to be
done next.

I hope this information is helpful to you
This is unbelievable. MARC's brand new diesels still aren't in service due to politics/bueaucracy, half the HHP-8 fleet is sidelined, and the geeps are unreliable and can only manage 6 car. Why werent they just converted to AC's in the first place? Amtrak seems to like shortchanging MARC. If the state had the money I would say that they should just scrap the AEM-7's or give them to Amtrak or SEPTA and option on the NJT/Amtrak order for ALP-46a's.
  by dt_rt40
 
realtype wrote:
This is unbelievable. MARC's brand new diesels still aren't in service due to politics/bueaucracy, half the HHP-8 fleet is sidelined, and the geeps are unreliable and can only manage 6 car. Why werent they just converted to AC's in the first place? Amtrak seems to like shortchanging MARC. If the state had the money I would say that they should just scrap the AEM-7's or give them to Amtrak or SEPTA and option on the NJT/Amtrak order for ALP-46a's.
I agree, that's a crying shame. Their website touts 125mph operation and at the rate they are going (no pun intended) they won't have any equipment capable of going that fast in a few months! (of course, readers of this board know that Amtrak de-rated the Kawasakis to only 110 mph - I don't see why - they ride more stably than Amfleet cars do at > 100 mph). Sounds like Amtrak is really screwing them on this one. How can there not be a ton of institutional knowledge about the care and maintenance of those AEM-7s? Maybe they should take them to court and get some "loaners" from Amtrak.
EDIT:
I just read through the whole thread about those 4 AEM-7s. Sad. I didn't know an attempt had already been made to put them back into service. So r40_slant (no relation!) was correct in predicting they would all be back to Wilmington for more "work". He calls them junk, but, really, if the HHP-8 can't manage to muster HEP before even pulling out of the station, what does Amtrak/MARC have that isn't junk? I thought the E60s were junk, the AEM-7s might just be getting old...
  by HokieNav
 
realtype wrote:Are those AEM-7's still at Ivy City? I still haven't managed to glimpse them; I'm always sitting on the wrong side of the train though. I did see a pair of MARC HHP-8's (ie. one third of the fleet) way back at the north end though.
Yeap - they're right behind the 2 HHP-8's. Must be the graveyard for broken locomotives.