VIA's CEO says 2025 is the absolute red line in the sand for the Corridor HEP2's and LRC's, and made apocalyptic warnings when he took the job that they'd have to be retired by that date whether replacements were ready or not. So there's already been about two years' worth of political whipping behind the scenes to get this show on the road. This announcement would be the prelude conference call to the hiring of an engineering firm to produce their final specs booklet, then the RFP. As with Brightline, VIA's just going to shadow the published Amtrak single-level specs with as little deviation as possible to play off the market scale that's being driven by competition for the AMTK orders. So the technical memorandum portion of the process isn't going to need the years and years that PRIAA took to publish their specs booklet; the firm VIA hires is basically just cross-referencing that with VIA's system and livery preferences to make any necessary addendums. That would suggest formal RFP going out by FY2017, contracts inked in FY2018-19, and then the usual 5-year gestation and debugging period for the fleet to go in-service. Depending on makeup of the next Congress and USDOT head, VIA's timetable might end up hitting pretty close to Amtrak's. No doubt that isn't a coincidence.
The only thing unusual here is the request that the locomotive and the coach manufacturers team up for a single-source agreement. That's downright weird since there's so little industry overlap in manufacturers of FRA-compliant power vs. manufacturers of FRA-compliant coaches. Siemens and Bombardier are pretty much it, and while Bombardier can certainly whip up a purely diesel product for the ALP4x lineup so far it hasn't done so and so far it hasn't tried to stretch its domestic locomotives beyond their commuter rail configuration into intercity. That clause is going to eliminate a lot of lower bidders who could potentially offer better bargains on just the railcars or just the locos. Siemens might be good, but it's not good business to thin the herd so much that Siemens is the only game in town and can name its price.
I suspect this is a politically-motivated trial balloon that may get dropped or amended if the potential bidders at the conference find that or the 30-year contract entanglement a deal-breaker. In fact, I would bet on this being the obligatory "Bombardier clause" somebody buried in the fine print for one of Canada's most heavily gov't subsidized corporations. BBD's Transpo division is one hot mess right now because of their Aerospace stumbles; because of their struggles they're no longer a mortal lock to win every single Canadian rolling stock purchase by default. So if the hometown bidder can't t or doesn't come out on top for either the loco or the coach order they'd be a logical choice for the 30-year service/support contract and the systems integration part of managing the coaches and locos from different suppliers. They do have a lot of ops and management contracts in North America, so that's one way to keep the gov't gravy train pouring into their coffers even if they aren't in particularly advantageous position on the rolling stock itself (due in no small part to them being non-favored for the Amtrak order).
Only other curiosity are sizes of the base order: 40 locos and 160 cars. They have 53 F40PH-2's and 21 P42DC's on the roster. Partial replacement only? Gennies + a third of the older/less emissions-efficient EMD's only? Unless that's going to be back-ended with a +40 option order, the base order size doesn't make a lot of sense.
On the coach side the HEP2's and LRC's being retired total only 130 units. The much better condition long-distance HEP1's are--per the CEO's emphatic statements--not being considered for retirement at all, and their numbers don't match up with that 30-car discrepancy. Quite possible they've made the internal decision to purge the Renaissance fleet, since they'll be hitting the 20-year service mark in 2022 and will be facing an up/down decision on midlife overhauls coinciding with the in-service deployment of these new Corridor cars. The number of regular-configuration coaches in the R fleet: 33, almost a match for this base order discrepancy. VIA's already scrapped the dozen-plus extra sleeper shells, canceling any plans to mint more in-service cars to pad the fleet. Half the completed sleepers are in-storage. The accessibility problems that could only be mostly...not totally...addressed due to their over-small loading gauge soured VIA on further long-term investments in them. Despite their relative youth compared to VIA's other rolling ruins it doesn't appear that they're being treated as if midlife overhaul will be money well-spent. Especially when VIA seems to be mirroring Amtrak's philosophy of standardization + scale! scale! scale! as the be-all/end-all for long-term fleet management going forward.
So it's possible they'll be taking the 160-car base order to give themselves an firm exit on using any Renaissance sets on the Corridor. And then we'll have to wait and see what the option orders on the final contract suggest for the rest. It won't be known how many extra cars above-and-beyond the 160 base they'll be ordering, as that number usually doesn't get ballparked until the RFP or finalized until the money round of contract bids. The options will tell us if the Renaissances simply get booted from the Corridor and have their service hours drawn down to secondary routes like the Maritimes trains and a protect fleet for the LD's, or if the options get stuffed with cars that can outright replace the lounge, diner, sleeper configurations. Suppose that depends on whether the bids for the base order are for all-modular livery designs in the Viewliner tradition...and how faithfully they choose to shadow the Amtrak/PRIAA specs.
BTW...that "dual mode" sentence is pretty misleading. All trailers are agnostic to where their HEP power comes from, exactly like an Amfleet never cared if all-electric Sprinters/Toasters/Hippos/E60's were pulling it, all-diesel Gennies/F40PH/Dash 8/F59PHI/GP38H-3/F69PHAC/Pooches/SDP40F's were pulling it, or dual-mode P32AC-DM/FL9's were pulling it so long as the HEP voltage was the same. All that mention means is that VIA wants the HEP feed and batteries to be able to handle on-fly power switches without the lights blinking (pretty much standard-issue for anything recently manufactured).
"Push-pull" caught my eye too. VIA doesn't currently roster any cab cars whatsoever, as they don't have any route configurations that demands it. Are they thinking of introducing some short-turn or spur routes that might need cabs? Changing ops practices on some routes? Replacing the remaining RDC's? Or just making sure they have a supply of cabs for a rainy day? Something's got to be driving the decision to lump that car type in there.