New Midwest/California Bi-Level Discussion

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Re: New Midwest/California Bi-Level Discussion

Postby electricron » Mon Sep 25, 2017 6:48 pm

Baloney. Obviously Kawasaki and CAF had acceptable BiLevel designs ready. It’s just a matter of negotiating with another vendor, which is exactly what will happen with a Siemens single level rail car. Which by the way hasn’t undergone thorough FRA testing in Colorado either. All the Siemens railcars to date have gone immediately to Florida and not to Colorado, if that matters much at all.
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Re: New Midwest/California Bi-Level Discussion

Postby bdawe » Mon Sep 25, 2017 7:15 pm

Kawasaki and CAF have acceptable bilevel designs?
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Re: New Midwest/California Bi-Level Discussion

Postby Backshophoss » Mon Sep 25, 2017 7:56 pm

Kawasaki has done the MBTA "K" bi-level cars/cab and the LIRR C-3's bi-levels,but you don't have the height restrictions to deal with.
While the "K" cars can operate to NHV in a pinch,not sure if the C-3's can operate in the North(Hudson)tubes on the NEC.
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Re: New Midwest/California Bi-Level Discussion

Postby electricron » Mon Sep 25, 2017 8:16 pm

bdawe wrote:Kawasaki and CAF have acceptable bilevel designs?

I don’t know personally, but they were not eliminated from the RFP by Amtrak, California, or Illinois. So whatever design proposal they had entered could have been acceptable. As it is, Sumitomo design came up a bust, maybe CAF and Kinkisharyo designs would have to? Then again, maybe not! There’s only one way to find out, reopen the RFP......
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Re: New Midwest/California Bi-Level Discussion

Postby BandA » Mon Sep 25, 2017 9:51 pm

Should they negotiate directly with Siemens instead of dealing through Sumitomo? How much penalty is Sumitomo expecting to avoid?

Has the crash standards changed since the Kawasaki cars were built? Also, I am confused, why would Midwst/Cal cars need to fit in Penn Station?

Presumably Kawasaki could take the MBTA design, change the seat pitch and add a center entrance for low boarding, and certify them for Amtrak speeds.

Or they could buy Hyundai-Rotem...
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Re: New Midwest/California Bi-Level Discussion

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Mon Sep 25, 2017 10:24 pm

The K-car is 8 inches shorter than a Superliner, and 5 inches shorter than a Bombardier BLV. So if Kawasaki adapted that design they'd most likely go taller to make moving the doors from vestibules to lower-level + quarter-point a little easier. Then associated revamps to the vestibule stairs for foot-traffic that now weights to/from the lower level instead of up/down from the mid-level, and bathroom compartments on the lower level instead of vestibule level. The end result would probably superficially resemble a Bombardier BLV, just retaining more of a K-car shape instead of that distinctively symmetrical Bombardier 'octogon'.

Downside: no pass-thru compatibility with the Cali Cars, Surfliners, or non- transition-end Superliners which have no tapered ends or residual mid-level vestibules and can only pass-thru on the upper level. That starts becoming a much more significant design departure for the K-cars or BLV's to attempt that, so it's still something less than a full "to RFP spec" swaperoo to bring those designs in. Though at least it would meet the full accessibility regs for 8-inch territory, which keeps the biggest single threat to the revised order at bay.
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Re: New Midwest/California Bi-Level Discussion

Postby jamesinclair » Tue Sep 26, 2017 3:23 pm

bdawe wrote:Should a mixed-floor fleet be something Amtrak California is dealing with for the foreseeable future, would there be enough flats with a Siemens delivery to segregate the existing bilevels to the longer trains of Southern California, while moving the Northern fleet to single-levels (an area where high platform plans have been proliferating)?


This is what Im thinking. Because of HSR, high platforms are sprouting up in north and central California. High level cars would allow the San Joaquin to operate on new HSR tracks and then peel off to serve Sacramento, for example.

And the San Joaquin already operates a high level "Comet" train.

What complicates this is plans to integrate ACE service with Capital Corridor and San Joauin

Operating high level cars in low level territory is poor form. It doubles waiting time at stations, as people struggle to bring luggage, bicycles, and the elderly on board.

This debacle is already affected operations. Amtrak planned on adding an 8th daily train to the San Joaquin in 2018. But without enough rolling stock, that isnt happening
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Re: New Midwest/California Bi-Level Discussion

Postby mtuandrew » Tue Oct 17, 2017 7:28 pm

Somewhat related to bilevels:

In the V-II delivery thread, F-Line suggested that Amtrak ought to consider extra Viewliners to tide them over until new Superliners and Midwest/California Regional Cars arrive. If that were to happen and Amtrak ordered even more V-II baggage cars, could existing Coach-Baggage Superliners be converted into all-coach cars to fill in a few seats? How simple or involved would that conversion be?
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Re: New Midwest/California Bi-Level Discussion

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Tue Oct 17, 2017 8:13 pm

The answer to that lies in:

"How much pain do we absorb on Sumitromo's behalf to get this thing right?"


If ADA considerations re: 8-inch boarding end up KO'ing the switcheroo to flats and they're forced to get it right on a proper PRIAA-compliant bi-level design no matter how long it takes, then they have to consider all their options for spanning the extra years of delay...including how many years it pushes back that important 250+ car Superliner III order whose design was supposed to be templated on this one. Costs for an interior retrofit wouldn't be a whole lot different from refitting the Amfleet I livery, and the Supers are probably on their own livery update cycle anyway so interior refresh may end up being in the cards as they calculate how many extra years the S1's are going to have to be pushed. Chances are if there's a need to ration some Supers, Caltrans would be where they go since they're trainline-compatible with the Surfliners and Cali Cars just like the corridor-seating Superliner wreck rebuilds were. I don't know if any of the wreck rebuilds were former coach-bag cars or just plain coaches.


The V2 options are obviously very limited in what they can provide for cushion because you're applying LD apples to Corridor oranges and that doesn't put many cars in-play to move across the chessboard for covering the shortages. But because they have a solid year-plus to ponder those options at a fixed price, can drain them only a few at a time, and can assign them to any of the V2 configurations in the order...they really do have the ability to plot their moves car-by-car if that's literally all it takes to nudge a few pieces of equipment across that chessboard to make things a little less painful. The smallness of the decision is what makes it attractive. You'll probably never see them order all 70 extras...but do 12 extra bags eke out just enough more fluidity to cobble together an extra Caltrans trainset? Or 10 extra sleepers + 10 extra bags + 4 extra bag-dorms? You can go all day staring at a roster snapshot and number-crunching quantities & ratios to pad, displace, nudge by region, etc.

Because they're in a position where EVERY alternative has to be thrown on the table to help mitigate this debacle, there are bean-counters at AMTK literally splitting hairs down to this level seeing what they can leverage with resources in-hand to make the fix--and the wait for the fix--+1 cars less painful. So while it's too early to be assigning any probabilities to V2 options being picked up before expiration, any fortuitously-slotted Superliner livery updates putting a few LD coaches in-play, or any car assignment tweaks two-degrees-removed somehow affecting these calculations...they are gaming out 199 different scenarios in their heads. A few of those 199 scenarios surely involve increments of V2 pickups because of their contractually fixed unit price and far-out deadline on final decision. It has to; they're in a tight enough bind with Sumitromo that drilling down to that micro a level is non-optional.
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Re: New Midwest/California Bi-Level Discussion

Postby electricron » Tue Oct 17, 2017 9:58 pm

The Sumitromo BiLevel order is being purchased by California with funding mostly by ARRA federal program grants to a few other States. All the Viewliner 2s are being purchased by Amtrak with finding mostly by ARRA federal program grants. While the funds ultimately came from the same source, those actually buying the rail cars are different organizations.

If Sumitromo can’t meet its obligations of winning the original RFP by California, California should start negotiations with the manufacturer who came in second. If the second place vendor can’t agree to a contract and meet its obligations, California should start negotiations with the manufacturer who came in third, etc, until they run out of acceptable vendors of the first RFP. At which point California should issue a new RFP and restart the process over again.

It is important that the purchasing process be clear of any signs of corruption. The longer this process stretches out, the likelyhood of real, or imaginary, corruption rises. Too many States had planned on purchasing BiLevel cars, it will be a shame if single level cars are bought instead messing up all the previous plans.

There is a manufacturer building FRA compliant BiLevel trains today that should be given a chance to fulfill a new RFP. They have an acceptable design and have the capability to meet “Built in America” requirements now that they didn’t have before. Stadler is leasing space in Salt Lake City today, and have recently announced plans to build a brand new facility there. Maybe we should give them a chance to bid on an entirely new RFP?
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Re: New Midwest/California Bi-Level Discussion

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Tue Oct 17, 2017 11:27 pm

All true. But the impact on the V2's isn't directly from the statie Bi's order itself. LD vs. Corridor are not just different car configs with limited crossover, but also entirely different business structure inclusive of the new PRIAA division of ownership. Rather, the Superliner III's design dependency on the statie Bi's (or at least the ones we thought we were getting) ends up where the LD fleet gets crushed by having to move out the Superliner I replacements by up to a half-decade. And that is where the triaging to limit the spread of the damage to the Fleet Plan involves crunching some V2 option scenarios. Amtrak is the one juggling all these shortages as operator of the whole system, regardless of whether the title deed on the equipment run from one route to the next is an address in Sacramento or One Union Station, D.C. So it will, for however many years it takes to flush out these procurement delays, chew up a not-insignificant sum of the mothership's internal resources to: shuffle equipment, rush-order repair jobs, and generally pull out all stops to try to keep the system in balance throughout these cascading shortages. That includes working with the states to ID and acquire below-market value loaners appropriate for AMTK service while waiting out the statie delay...and on the return favor probably paying the states to borrow a little of their fully-delivered statie fleet padding to help plug oversold holiday/seasonal LD's as-needed when it's the Supers' turn to face the full brunt of the shortages.


So, yes, they can/should/will/are going to examine every micro-scenario that helps limit the number of pressure points exposed by these cascading shortages, because it does save them actual money they would otherwise chew up running-in-place just triaging these shortages. Even if there is zero crossover options between LD and Corridor fleets for helping each other out, by simulating a range of delay scenarios they can plot what the pressure points those simulations turn up and how much it'll cost them in unnecessary labor chasing their tails. So all they have to answer is: "Does tapping this number of V2 options in X or Y/Z configurations at a known fixed price in the next 18 months cancel out the par-or-worse costs chewed/revenue lost when it's 2025 and we're still desperately scrambling in wait for the S3's?" If yes, then that particular model graduates to the suggestions pile and they hold it while they wait for news on who/what/when there'll be resolution on the Corridor salvage job...which in turn resets the calendar for what year it'll be first possible to even draft a crayon-sketch set of prelim specs for the S3's.

It's not hard to picture a few of those scenarios netting plausible pickups. Say, the states eventually get their cars, which will include fleet padding relief. That crisis draws to a close just as the LD shortage is hitting maximum pain. The states will certainly lend some of their padding to patch oversold LD's from 2023-25 until the S3 order can finally catch up...for a price. Does the price of having to beg/borrow statie reserves for a couple years in the mid-2020's end up being more or less the same as buying a few more V-bags or V-dorms in 2018, then timing the next programmed livery update in the Supers to vulture a few S1 bag-coaches for lower-level seating installs? Does the certainty of juggling fewer equipment shortages across the route map at any one time make preemptive action at a fixed price a better value than unbounded uncertainty? Again, we're not talking decisions on all 70 V2 units...just the first increments of 5, 10, 15 cars and a decade's worth of fleet shortages that have to flush themselves completely out of the system for amortizing the cost of those options via closed-up pressure point(s). Can you ID a 5-car availability swing anywhere in that which will help patch up an exposed pressure point when the LD fleet is being crushed hardest by the S3 procurement delay that had its origins in this Nippon-Sharyo debacle? Probably. Maybe not a whole wide and varied slew of scenarios, but enough for the business managers to thank their lucky stars these options still exist as some sort of tangible coping strategy for the salvage team.
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Re: New Midwest/California Bi-Level Discussion

Postby gokeefe » Tue Oct 17, 2017 11:56 pm

This is one of the more interesting ideas I've seen yet on how to deal with the production failure at Nippon-Sharyo. I agree with F-Line's analysis, the situation is bad enough that Amtrak has probably considered this option.

Also worth noting that Amtrak appears to have a relatively plentiful supply of Superliner cars on hand lately as well as a fair number of wreck rebuild candidates.
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Re: New Midwest/California Bi-Level Discussion

Postby eolesen » Wed Oct 18, 2017 8:49 am

Can California and Illinois even afford their share of the deal if deliveries start happening?..

Maybe that's why they're not pushing as hard on a solution.
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Re: New Midwest/California Bi-Level Discussion

Postby electricron » Wed Oct 18, 2017 9:24 am

Affordability shouldn't be a problem with ARRA grants paying for it all.
Whether a timeline to spend the ARRA funds will be enforced is subject to debate. Some will suggest that time has already passed, yet these States are still holding onto the money and haven't returned one penny back to the Feds. The ARRA funds still being held by the Feds are still allocated for these rail cars. Trump is proposing a new infrastructure bill, which is rumbling along within Congress, so the possibilities that a continuing allocation of these funds is likely.
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Re: New Midwest/California Bi-Level Discussion

Postby eolesen » Wed Oct 18, 2017 11:20 am

Are the ARRA grants paying for the entire order, or is there also a component the states are on the hook for?
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