Acela Replacement and Disposition Discussion

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Re: Acela Replacement and Disposition Discussion

Postby ExCon90 » Mon Mar 27, 2017 2:17 pm

But the Thruway buses mostly run where there is no rail alternative and function as feeders. In fact I think it's a requirement that all passengers on those buses must make part of the journey by Amtrak train, so the same type of passenger mix is present.
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Re: Acela Replacement and Disposition Discussion

Postby AC4619 » Mon Mar 27, 2017 2:53 pm

H Street Landlord wrote:Don't agree, AC. When's the last time you rode on one of those buses? Much smaller seats, no amenities, no ability to walk around like the train, worse ride quality, much likelier to get caught in horrific NYC traffic and be quite late etc etc And it is pretty rare to get a ticket for 1 to 5 dollars... often it is way more. Still cheaper than the train, but let's get realistic.

Also, the Acela experience is simply better than the Regional. The trains are much nicer, even though the time difference isn't that great feels much faster etc


deathtopumpkins wrote:AC, I think you're downplaying how much better of an experience the train actually is. A few years back I took Megabus down to DC (admittedly a much longer ride than your PHL-NYP example), enticed by the fact that my fare was only ~$15.

I came out of that experience saying "never again" - and sure enough, have never been on an intercity bus since. It was an absolutely miserable experience that completely ruined that entire trip for me. I barely fit in the seat (and I'm a fairly average sized guy), the wifi didn't work, the constant shuffling of people getting on and off and going to the bathroom meant you were constantly getting bumped into, and to top it all off the bus was very late.

I, for one, even for leisure travel, am happy to pay significantly more for the comfort of Amtrak over Megabus. It is absolutely worth it. However, I do agree with you on it costing too much. Back in my college days (when the Megabus 'adventure' took place), I didn't travel as much as I wanted to because Amtrak was simply unaffordable and I refused to take the bus. I'm happy to pay significantly more to take Amtrak instead, but when the bus is $15 and a Regional is $142 (the next-day price), that level of difference is not worth it.

So basically what I'm saying is that I agree that Amtrak's offerings are overpriced vs. what they should be, but I disagree about the train being comparable in quality.

This is all moot though, considering that enough Americans are apparently willing to pay Acela and Regional prices, given how full the trains are.


Let me clarify...I didn't mean to imply the train is "comparable" in quality to the bus. My point was the price vs quality. Especially compared to HSR in other countries--TGV, Eurostar, Shinkansen....etc. To be honest with you, as a recent college graduate, I regularly take bolt bus/megabus one way, and the train the other. I rarely have any problems with it--though about 20% of the time I've been reminded of what can go wrong on a bus. To be honest, the majority of the people on those buses are college students/recent grads/people on leisure trips, so I kind of "fit in" (greyhound gets much more of what I'd basically call the hobo demographic). The thing is...I'd love to just take the train all the time, but, I can't afford it, all the time. But I need to go places, a lot of the time. So, I adjust accordingly. That being said I book so far in advance that I almost always get the $1 or $5 fare. But all of that is really off-topic for this thread, and, to be clear, I'm not "pro bus", at all. The point I was really making is that, when I take the bus, I get off and go "yeah, that was probably worth about $5/10 bucks". I get off the train and, as a railfan, might say, "that was worth...$40/80 bucks", but, economically...it wasn't, from a purely *time-amenity* perspective. But, what makes it "worth it" is the atmosphere. I was never saying that the train is NOT worth it. More, the reason it IS worth it, is partly BECAUSE it's expensive, which is a psychological principle. The better seat alone, marginal time savings etc...that's worth something. But the improvement in the people you're with--the fact that you don't have those "horrible" experiences like you could on a bus (you're rolling the dice if you will), is worth it. And the Acela is the most poignant example. You pay double/triple the price of even the regional. How many 20 somethings/teens/people-in-general who don't know what an "inside voice" is, don't get the concept of hygiene, or other "basic" rules of being around other people...have the financial resources to afford the Acela? Not many. Partly because those same qualities make those people less likely to be employed by a high-paying company, which would pay for that sort of travel or allow them to afford it. Conversely, those with the social decorum that generally makes them affable towards others...increases their odds of working at a well-paying job. Note that this is a GENERAL principle, obviously not always the case and we all have examples attesting to such. Plus, the people for whom that time savings--regional or Acela, over driving/bus or even plane, matter most, tend to be business executives. But, anyways, this idea of paying to basically have peace and quiet (which is, necessarily, something that the people on the service--train or plane or bus--give you, not the company) is driven by price, and price value--and it's (an) explainer of the insane prices for US NEC rail travel compared to the cost of a similar service were it offered in Europe. Another factor is the level of subsidy Amtrak gets vs most european rail agencies (also funded by much higher taxes), but I digress.

If you're looking just at price, you're taking the bus. If you're looking at avoiding an annoying/infuriating ride, you're looking at a train. And in general, the other people on the train have a similar mindset and behave accordingly. In other countries, there is less differential on HSR (it's not like choosing an upscale option, it's more just...THE option). Hence why in the US, Acela is priced so high, vs, say, the TGV or Shinkansen for similar service/distance.

To apply this directly to the "acela replacement" topic....Amtrak has "recently" started offering saver fares on non-peak Acela trains. While it remains to be seen what gets charged for the new service...we DO know that trains will have more seats per train, and there will be more frequent trains. Both of which are desperately needed. But, I am curious as to whether they will (A) increase the discount level on non-peak, advance purchase fares, (B) How this will affect the regional market if at all. One would think that with more seats you'd need to set a lower starting price point to ensure that by the day of travel, all seats get filled. But, as I basically explained in the last couple of posts, that could inherently reduce the value of traveling on the upscale service.
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Re: Acela Replacement and Disposition Discussion

Postby jamesinclair » Mon Mar 27, 2017 4:28 pm

east point wrote:The public buses are definitely substandard. However read that the San Joaquin report for FY2016 over half the riders on the trains used thruway buses either one or both ends onto Thruways for part of the passenger's journey. The CA thruways buses of course are much nicer. Could not find link but if come across it will post.


They're still standard buses, but they have a wee bit more legroom than a Greyhound. I believe a row is removed.

ExCon90 wrote:But the Thruway buses mostly run where there is no rail alternative and function as feeders. In fact I think it's a requirement that all passengers on those buses must make part of the journey by Amtrak train, so the same type of passenger mix is present.


Yes, I believe Greyhound lobbied to require the train purchase. That being said, local Amtrak fares add something like $5, so you can add a train station you have no intention of going to.
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Re: Acela Replacement and Disposition Discussion

Postby bostontrainguy » Mon Mar 27, 2017 4:36 pm

H Street Landlord wrote:Don't agree, AC. When's the last time you rode on one of those buses? Much smaller seats, no amenities, no ability to walk around like the train, worse ride quality, much likelier to get caught in horrific NYC traffic and be quite late etc etc And it is pretty rare to get a ticket for 1 to 5 dollars... often it is way more. Still cheaper than the train, but let's get realistic.

Also, the Acela experience is simply better than the Regional. The trains are much nicer, even though the time difference isn't that great feels much faster etc


I confess to taking one of "those buses". My wife and I were going on a cruise out of New York. We had all day to get there so we watched for the Megabus reservation to open up and grabbed two $1 tickets! Yes that's all it costs if you plan ahead. The ride was 5 hours long, but we sat in the first row on the second level of a rather nice double-decker and had a view through New York that can't be duplicated by Amtrak. The Hell Gate approach is spectacular in a very different way of course.

I love trains and prefer them but we both got to New York for less than one MBTA subway fare! More money for the bar tab :)

As far as the Acela fares go, I have taken it but for most of my travel, the premium isn't worth the difference over regular Amfleet. I know I am not alone in that opinion and it is shared by friends who would consider themselves railfans.

And since I have also flown to New York, I do strongly feel that a less than three hour schedule would make most people totally avoid that option. Flying in many ways is worse than "those buses". A less than three hour Acela product would all but shut down the wasteful airline shuttles between Boston and New York. That is the lucrative market that Acela needs to convert.
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Re: Acela Replacement and Disposition Discussion

Postby mtuandrew » Mon Mar 27, 2017 4:54 pm

Money talks - when I don't drive, I take the bus because Amtrak is just too expensive.

I keep advocating for Amtrak to drastically increase its fleet size because passenger trains should be able to leverage their massive fixed infrastructure and effectively compete against private auto traffic, even more than buses.
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Re: Acela Replacement and Disposition Discussion

Postby Arlington » Mon Jul 03, 2017 9:33 am

So, during this "low-PR" period, what is actually happening? Are they tooling up at Alstom or already building the prototype shell(s) in Europe?
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Re: Acela Replacement and Disposition Discussion

Postby east point » Mon Jul 03, 2017 5:36 pm

The May MPR has Amtrak postponing one of the Acela train set work ( type unknown ) so repairs can be made to the derailed set at NYP.
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Re: Acela Replacement and Disposition Discussion

Postby Matt Johnson » Mon Jul 10, 2017 11:41 am

One thing I noticed in the Avelia promo video is that it shows the train operating with the pantograph up only on the lead power car. I wonder if that's artistic license, or if it will in fact operate in TGV fashion with the pan lowered on the opposite end of the train. That might help to mitigate some of the catenary movement issues under the old variable tension wires.
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Re: Acela Replacement and Disposition Discussion

Postby bostontrainguy » Mon Jul 10, 2017 11:56 am

Isn't that how the Acela runs?
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Re: Acela Replacement and Disposition Discussion

Postby Matt Johnson » Mon Jul 10, 2017 12:24 pm

Nope, pans up on both power cars. The TGV apparently can feed power from one power car to the opposite one via high voltage cable.
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Re: Acela Replacement and Disposition Discussion

Postby RRspatch » Mon Jul 10, 2017 12:30 pm

That would require roof mounted high voltage buss cables to feed power to the other power unit. I believe the FRA has said NO to that. After all, what worked on the Metroliner EMU's in the 60's and everywhere in Europe today simply will NOT work in this country ... or so the FRA says.
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Postby JimBoylan » Mon Jul 10, 2017 4:34 pm

Wow, that could mean no more married pair Electric Multiple Unit cars, or High Speed Trains with powered coaches.
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Re: Acela Replacement and Disposition Discussion

Postby mtuandrew » Mon Jul 10, 2017 5:00 pm

I'd have to look it up, but I was under the impression that this only applies to cars that are conventionally coupled together with conventional draft gear. If they are permanently coupled, I think power bus cables are permissible at least to an adjoining power car/locomotive. (This would explain how railroads can use slug/mother sets.)

I do not know if this covers bussing power through an entire trainset from one power car to the other end.
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Re: Acela Replacement and Disposition Discussion

Postby east point » Mon Jul 10, 2017 6:37 pm

AFAIK all married pair EMUs on the NEC have a bus cable to the non pan car ? Also Denver RTA ? Do not recall for METRA and South Shore ? Anyone know what CalTrain has specified ?
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Re: Acela Replacement and Disposition Discussion

Postby electricron » Mon Jul 10, 2017 7:07 pm

CalTrain orders Stadler Rail KISS sets. The powered boogies (wheels/trucks) are under the first and last cars of the train set, the cars with cabs. A typical KISS (6 car) train....
https://wwwstadlerrailcom-live-01e96f7. ... z0908e.pdf
The power poles are located on the same end cars, it appears after watching a few YouTube videos only one arm needs to be up to run the train at speed.
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