Amtrak HHP-8 Locomotives

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Re: Amtrak HHP-8 Locomotives

Postby STrRedWolf » Sat Sep 23, 2017 7:17 am

CHTT1 wrote:I'm also confused. How come Bombardier is suddenly working to make the HHP-8s operable? Amtrak has given up on them and has more than enough Sprinters for current operations. MARC has given up on electric operations. And Bombardier doesn't seem to have paid any attention to all the previous problems with the Hippos. So why put any effort into them now? There's not many options for locomotive hauled passenger trains in North America. This seems like a lot of effort for not much reward.


Well, MARC hasn't fully given up electrical service -- it's on probation. It's just that BBD's operating the MARC trains in CSX territory, and is providing maintenance on the cars and engines. So why not take the opportunity, especially when you're already being paid to fix them?
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Re: Amtrak HHP-8 Locomotives

Postby east point » Sat Sep 23, 2017 11:06 am

CalTrain's biggest problem is how they run their schedule. At last check all trains run from San Francisco to San Jose with 5 continuing to Gilroy. If a section of electrification is complete the trains would still need the diesel power to go all the way to San Jose. That is unless a way to MU a diesel and motor such as Amtrak does. to operate electric on completed sections. It could also be the EMU delivers will be over a 1 - 3 year period. So if Hippos or some other electric motor is obtained on a short term basis the benefits of electrification can be begun sooner ?

Wonder what will happen to the surplus loco hauled coaches. Some of course will remain at CalTrain for Gilroy and future further south service.

EDIT: Remember the problems Amtrak had with the electrification New Haven <> BOS. Some one who knows actual figures can elaborate but believe it was more than a year before service to BOS could start even though most was almost complete for at least one track. Believe that it was over 2 years until the last one track section was activated ?
Last edited by east point on Sat Sep 23, 2017 11:30 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Amtrak HHP-8 Locomotives

Postby gokeefe » Sat Sep 23, 2017 11:06 am

If BBD's "fix" turns out as well as Alstom's conversion on the AEM-7ACs we could be seeing these engines on the NEC for decades more to come.

I am both surprised but also pleased at the attempts being made to recover value out of these assets. It bodes well for Amtrak if it all works out.

I think they are going to need the power in the future if the NEC continues to expand service.
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Re: Amtrak HHP-8 Locomotives

Postby 8th Notch » Sat Sep 23, 2017 11:27 am

gokeefe wrote:If BBD's "fix" turns out as well as Alstom's conversion on the AEM-7ACs we could be seeing these engines on the NEC for decades more to come.

I am both surprised but also pleased at the attempts being made to recover value out of these assets. It bodes well for Amtrak if it all works out.

I think they are going to need the power in the future if the NEC continues to expand service.


I highly doubt we will see the HHP8's in Amtrak service again....
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Re: Amtrak HHP-8 Locomotives

Postby Tadman » Sat Sep 23, 2017 12:14 pm

east point wrote:CalTrain's biggest problem is how they run their schedule. At last check all trains run from San Francisco to San Jose with 5 continuing to Gilroy. If a section of electrification is complete the trains would still need the diesel power to go all the way to San Jose. That is unless a way to MU a diesel and motor such as Amtrak does. to operate electric on completed sections. It could also be the EMU delivers will be over a 1 - 3 year period. So if Hippos or some other electric motor is obtained on a short term basis the benefits of electrification can be begun sooner ?

Wonder what will happen to the surplus loco hauled coaches. Some of course will remain at CalTrain for Gilroy and future further south service.

EDIT: Remember the problems Amtrak had with the electrification New Haven <> BOS. Some one who knows actual figures can elaborate but believe it was more than a year before service to BOS could start even though most was almost complete for at least one track. Believe that it was over 2 years until the last one track section was activated ?


Brings up an interesting point, and maybe one that we should move it the Cali forum: motors/coaches are good for trains that don't stop as much. EMU's are good for locals required lots of accel/decel. Caltrains has 134 bilevels from N-S and BBD. Either someone like Metra will get a bargain on some gently used commuter cars (compared to Metra, NJT, MN, LIRR) or perhaps it would make sense for Caltrain to run the outer zone trains with some secondhand motors. At least at one time, Caltrain ran a "zone" system like Metra electric where certain trains skip all but outer stops.
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Re: Amtrak HHP-8 Locomotives

Postby Nasadowsk » Sat Sep 23, 2017 12:38 pm

Caltrain evaluated the HHP-8 when it was _new_, along with the E60, AEM-7 rebuilds, ALP-46.

They've settled on EMUs with alternate compliance.

I suspect someone will get a good deal on lightly used equipment.

These days, MUs are a lot more reliable because AC inverters have few contactors and other wearing parts. And the KISS is a motor-trailer, I think. Having a single fleet of EMUs gets economy of scale, guaranteed performance, and the ability to put any train into any schedule.

It'll be interesting to see how the KISS works out over there, and how it fares vs the SBB version. I wouldn't be at all surprised if it actually edges the SBB ones out, simply because of the weight advantages due to 25kv 60hz power.

Closer to the corridor, if NJT ever pulls its head out of you-know-where, they'd pay attention too - it might be a better way forward than any other ideas kicking around, to get the performance that's so badly lacking in the system...

Wasn't Amtrak at one time looking to buy more Metroliners, but Budd didn't want anything to do with that idea?
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Re: Amtrak HHP-8 Locomotives

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Sat Sep 23, 2017 2:07 pm

8th Notch wrote:
gokeefe wrote:If BBD's "fix" turns out as well as Alstom's conversion on the AEM-7ACs we could be seeing these engines on the NEC for decades more to come.

I am both surprised but also pleased at the attempts being made to recover value out of these assets. It bodes well for Amtrak if it all works out.

I think they are going to need the power in the future if the NEC continues to expand service.


I highly doubt we will see the HHP8's in Amtrak service again....


Right. It would be better cost control over life-over-procurement for AMTK to do a small supplemental order of Sprinters than try to maintain that few units of unlike power. For a 10-year life extension you'd have to scrap probably 2 Hippos just to keep the other 13 fed with parts over the duration of their extended lifespan, since nothing like them is in-production anywhere else. So right from the get-go the already limited scale of the Hippos is badly compromised by projecting parts requirements and sacrifices therein.


MARC's electric fleet was only 4 Toasters and 6 Hippos. If BBD is willing to parlay its operating contract with MARC into long-term service/support for those motors, then the only things they'd need (if all else checks out with the arrangement) to make a Hippo revival work for them are:

-- Overhaul of the 6 MARC Hippos.
-- Import of 4 AMTK Hippos off-lease to overhaul to match the updated MARC spec, replacing the retired AEM-7DC's.
-- 1-2 MARC options for import + overhaul of additional AMTK Hippos for general fleet padding (likely exercised out of common sense).
-- Cannibalization of 2-3 off-lease AMTK Hippo units for flushing out parts supply chain through duration of S&S contract w/MARC.
-- 3-4 additional MARC options for feeding the fleet requirements of a TBD Perryville-Wilmington extension.


Add the sensible padding for current ops and that's probably a 12-unit fleet (similar to what SEPTA's ordering on its Sprinter base contract), their existing 6 units + 6 of AMTK's 15 units. Add the expansion-minded padding and it's their 6 + 8-10 AMTK units. You're going to scrap at least a couple of the remainders for feeding the supply chain for duration of Bombardier's S&S contract...so that only leaves 3-5 left. Too few to use for anything else, but if you're Bombardier you just managed to salvage a decade-plus of new use for three-quarters of that troubled fleet, so they've already recouped their investment handsomely in spite of a having a couple remainders with no place to go.
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Re: Amtrak HHP-8 Locomotives

Postby east point » Sat Sep 23, 2017 2:52 pm

We should all be looking into our crystal balls with the thought that we cannot see thru them. MARC and Amtrak now carry more on the PRR Penn line than in WW-2. Marc is now often posting that such and such trains are overcrowded. MARC needs more equipment and longer trains but longer trains need more loco power. A single Charger will not be able to meet Amtrak's acceleration metrics. So MARC needs both more power and more cars. Is MARC's growth on the Penn line going to continue ? my crystal ball is opaque. How much population growth ? Who knows ?

"IF" Amtrak could get the car capacity for the NEC it might mean more locos needed ? Look how quickly the ARRA rebuilds were absorbed into the fleet's capacity. When the 39 trains a day restriction New haven - BOS is lifted there is a possibility for more demand there. Will Acela-2s decrease regional demand , keep it level, or increase it ? Who knows ?
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Re: Amtrak HHP-8 Locomotives

Postby electricron » Sat Sep 23, 2017 3:54 pm

In just about all aspects, it is far easier for Bombardier to fix, upgrade, or replace all the components on a HHP8 locomotive than it is for an end user, just because they were the original manufacturer. They don’t have to jump through hoops reverse engineering the parts, because they own the designs or license of the parts. They just engineer it all over again, using whatever is still in production or using all new components. They have the engineering expertise in house, it is just a matter of management deciding to commit to do it.

Whether they will do so or not, whether it will be wise to do so or not, is beyond me. I just wanted to point out that it would be easier for them to do so than just about anyone else.
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Re: Amtrak HHP-8 Locomotives

Postby STrRedWolf » Sat Sep 23, 2017 7:32 pm

east point wrote:We should all be looking into our crystal balls with the thought that we cannot see thru them. MARC and Amtrak now carry more on the PRR Penn line than in WW-2. Marc is now often posting that such and such trains are overcrowded. MARC needs more equipment and longer trains but longer trains need more loco power. A single Charger will not be able to meet Amtrak's acceleration metrics. So MARC needs both more power and more cars. Is MARC's growth on the Penn line going to continue ? my crystal ball is opaque. How much population growth ? Who knows ?

"IF" Amtrak could get the car capacity for the NEC it might mean more locos needed ? Look how quickly the ARRA rebuilds were absorbed into the fleet's capacity. When the 39 trains a day restriction New haven - BOS is lifted there is a possibility for more demand there. Will Acela-2s decrease regional demand , keep it level, or increase it ? Who knows ?


Well, let's not look exclusively in the crystal ball, because there's other items at play. You have:
  • the big-ass choke point called the 2-track B&P tunnels being replaced with the four-track Circle Tunnel.
  • another track being laid down GROVE to WINANS, allowing for dedicated express/local tracks.
  • BWI station rebuild to serve those express tracks, instead of having to move every train to the outer tracks.
  • ...and don't forget the long-term plans to four track WAS-BOS with various other projects

So capacity is coming, and MARC will need more cars and more engines... which is more money needed. If the HHP-8 experiment works, that means not as much money is needed, because you're saving it on engines. You replace 4 toasters with 8 diesels, and you keep 6 now reliable hippos. This means you got a surplus to run the MARC IIA and IIB cars with, until you get a surplus on the MARC IV's.

Oh, BTW, don't forget, there's a 8-car limit on all MARC engines!
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Re: Amtrak HHP-8 Locomotives

Postby mtuandrew » Sat Sep 23, 2017 7:48 pm

We're pretty far off the AMTK topic, but as long as we're here...

a) are there MARC IIAs left to run?
b) why 8 cars - platform length, HEP, or another reason?

I don't get to Union Station much, but I'm looking forward to seeing these vaunted SuperHippos.
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Re: Amtrak HHP-8 Locomotives

Postby STrRedWolf » Sat Sep 23, 2017 10:37 pm

mtuandrew wrote:We're pretty far off the AMTK topic, but as long as we're here...

a) are there MARC IIAs left to run?
b) why 8 cars - platform length, HEP, or another reason?

I don't get to Union Station much, but I'm looking forward to seeing these vaunted SuperHippos.


On B: The 2010 New Carrollton breakdown in high heat and heavy passenger load. The solution became more trains with less cars. Amtrak, FRA, NTSB, and MARC agreed to limit all MARC engines to push/pull/HEP no more than 8 MARC III’s (ie don’t overload the engine).
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Re: Amtrak HHP-8 Locomotives

Postby gokeefe » Sat Sep 23, 2017 10:48 pm

STrRedWolf wrote:So capacity is coming, and MARC will need more cars and more engines... which is more money needed. If the HHP-8 experiment works, that means not as much money is needed, because you're saving it on engines. You replace 4 toasters with 8 diesels, and you keep 6 now reliable hippos. This means you got a surplus to run the MARC IIA and IIB cars with, until you get a surplus on the MARC IV's.


Not to mention the possibility that MARC would acquire some of Amtrak's surplus HHP-8s for their own use on the Penn Line. I agree with F-line that there are problems associated with this fleet but if its all run by a single operator and BBD can tear out and replace obsolete components with brand new systems this might all work out.

If MARC really wanted to get aggressive they could run 2 HHP-8s in tandem and lengthen some of their Penn Line trains to the maximum length at major stations. The cost savings might very well pay for the change.
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Re: Amtrak HHP-8 Locomotives

Postby east point » Sun Sep 24, 2017 10:42 pm

Don't know but due to previous problems with the CAT WASH - Perryville it may be that there is still a capacity problem for available trains using electric motors ?
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