Acela Speeds

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Re: Acela Speeds

Postby AC4619 » Wed Oct 04, 2017 11:08 pm

Couple quick thoughts. First, it's not surprising, but nevertheless a bit disheartening, that a project that was once supposed to bring CT cat to the entire speedway, is now a mix of upgraded VT and CT. It's 2017 (albeit, the year is a terrible argument to make for almost anything)....amtrak should not be installing NEW VT cat. In the current administration it's presumed that they're not going to get additional funding for overruns, but, it's frustrating that they've overrun in the first place. This isn't exactly cheap by international standards per mile, and we aren't even going to get a full stretch of 1990s-modernism to show for it.

Second, recently took the Acela. On a weekday. During rush hour. On a non-holiday. It was EMPTY. I mean, there were 10 people in the entire car I was in. Even at the prices they're charging, not sure how their overall ridership is right now, they couldn't have been making a profit on the train I was on. Not that surprising--on some stretches, the Acela takes LONGER than the REGIONAL, at a similar time. Which is ostenisbly insane. In particular, until the most recent timetable, Acela 2100 was slower PHL-NYP, than Regional 180/comporable. It's still similar now: 727-844 (Regional) vs 736-852 (Acela). So, you save...one minute, on the Acela, for the low low price of...3x a regional saver fare. Sorted by duration, several other Acela's are comporable to, or slower than, regionals and keystones. Obviously, this includes schedule padding, but it's unacceptable for a premium "high speed" product, to be slower, than your non-high speed product. Granted, WAS-NYP, the Acela saves you time, 30 minutes worth (and to that end, interestingly enough, 2100 happens to be amongst the fastest runs), but I'm wondering if companies are trending more towards the notion that it isn't worth the price differential (excepting executives).

Third, some of the saver-Acela fares that once existed for the evening NYC and WAS departures have now disappeared. It's interesting because it indicates either these runs are performing well enough that no incentives need to be offered to adequately fill the train to profitability, or, a change in direction and style due to new CEO Richard Anderson. For those who follow aviation, Anderson was famous for working to make delta into a bit of a "premium product for a premium price" model. E.g., He took the position and led the company towards a model in which service quality--timeliness, aircraft, crew professionalism etc, commanded a bit of a premium over the competition. Similarly, he worked to devalue a bit the FF program, and reduced discounts for premium cabins and products. And, given Delta's success, the strategy was effective. I'm curious to see if the slow disappearance of saver fares on the Acela lately is reflecting that.

On a related note, Amtrak's marketing hasn't kept pace with these changes--their website still advertises saver acela fares on late night and Saturday trains. However, a recent search through many different route pairings and dates, turned up almost no saver acela fares (there were a few, but not many). Similarly, I got an email yesterday advertising "20% off NE regional tickets with saver fares"--the current saver rates are 25% off. A check of fares last night still had a 25% discount, so I'm musing over whether the reverse occurred (marketing ahead of actual fare changes). Given that Amtrak on the whole though is considered a premium travel product in the NE, it'll be interesting to see how all of these factors (fares, ridership, speeds/schedule times), change, under anderson.

I do also find it interesting that Amtrak hasn't increased speeds to 160 mph on the sections of track in RI/MA, that can support it. At the very least, marketing opportunity & good test bed. As far as acceleration goes, Acela is very overpowered, purposefully, because of all the curves and speed changes. While it may not be able to HOLD 160 for a long time, one presumed it could be reached in existing 150 mph sections.
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Re: Acela Speeds

Postby bdawe » Thu Oct 05, 2017 9:28 am

I was under the impression that 160 mph speeds were waiting on the FRA to permit them, as Class 8 Track permits 160, but for some reason Acela's HSR tier only permits 150
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Re: Acela Speeds

Postby ApproachMedium » Thu Oct 05, 2017 10:34 am

bdawe wrote:I was under the impression that 160 mph speeds were waiting on the FRA to permit them, as Class 8 Track permits 160, but for some reason Acela's HSR tier only permits 150


That is because they are working on Tier 3 train speeds etc. The Tier 2 trains were 125-150. Tier 1 high speed is anything under 125. These arent just made up tiers there are track safety, equipment maintenance and other requirements that must be followed to meet these tier specs and be able to operate in such a way.

As far as the acela times go the trains used to have a slight advantage before the 188 wreck and the cab drops were added for civil speed enforcement on curves without ACSES. They are slowly trying to work to bring those speeds up from 45mph to whatever is okay for the curve. Some have been removed all together in areas where ACSES is in full force and no non ACSES trains travel thru that poriton of railroad. But for example, the acela going thru Metuchen can only go 45mph around a curve it can normally do 95 and 110. The Acelas have extremely good brakes, so when they get the cab drop and have to suppress the trains drop right to that speed and have to travel it for a longer distance. The regional sets have ways of being "pushed" thru these sections at higher rates of speed and coming out the other side where it goes back up to normal at speeds better than the 45mph the acela has to do the whole way, and thats why a regionals time and acela are on the same spot. The acela and the new ACS accelerate at almost the same rate of speed, ACS64s are very powerful in boost mode. Hopefully with new trainsets they will be even more powerful and not as heavy.

The metuchen curves were just upgraded to a Cab 80 aspect that allows them to do 80mph thru, the one curve for regionals and NJT is 80mph as the lowest speed thru the area so they settled on that. Its not the 95 that the Acela can do, but its something.
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Re: Acela Speeds

Postby Matt Johnson » Fri Oct 06, 2017 12:03 pm

Here's a shot of an Acela under constant tension catenary on track 4, and another of installation work on track 3 from last month:

https://www.instagram.com/p/BYhtZDnFOtd

https://www.instagram.com/p/BYgidUhlZWJ
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Re: Acela Speeds

Postby OportRailfan » Wed Oct 18, 2017 10:02 am

ApproachMedium wrote:
bdawe wrote:I was under the impression that 160 mph speeds were waiting on the FRA to permit them, as Class 8 Track permits 160, but for some reason Acela's HSR tier only permits 150


That is because they are working on Tier 3 train speeds etc. The Tier 2 trains were 125-150. Tier 1 high speed is anything under 125. These arent just made up tiers there are track safety, equipment maintenance and other requirements that must be followed to meet these tier specs and be able to operate in such a way.

As far as the acela times go the trains used to have a slight advantage before the 188 wreck and the cab drops were added for civil speed enforcement on curves without ACSES. They are slowly trying to work to bring those speeds up from 45mph to whatever is okay for the curve. Some have been removed all together in areas where ACSES is in full force and no non ACSES trains travel thru that poriton of railroad. But for example, the acela going thru Metuchen can only go 45mph around a curve it can normally do 95 and 110. The Acelas have extremely good brakes, so when they get the cab drop and have to suppress the trains drop right to that speed and have to travel it for a longer distance. The regional sets have ways of being "pushed" thru these sections at higher rates of speed and coming out the other side where it goes back up to normal at speeds better than the 45mph the acela has to do the whole way, and thats why a regionals time and acela are on the same spot. The acela and the new ACS accelerate at almost the same rate of speed, ACS64s are very powerful in boost mode. Hopefully with new trainsets they will be even more powerful and not as heavy.

The metuchen curves were just upgraded to a Cab 80 aspect that allows them to do 80mph thru, the one curve for regionals and NJT is 80mph as the lowest speed thru the area so they settled on that. Its not the 95 that the Acela can do, but its something.


Well said.
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Re: Acela Speeds

Postby Matt Johnson » Wed Oct 18, 2017 10:07 am

Well, even if the constant tension stretch was scaled back, there's definitely less catenary movement with the upgraded variable tension hangars.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xavCP4rCN3A
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Re: Acela Speeds

Postby ApproachMedium » Thu Oct 19, 2017 12:36 am

Matt Johnson wrote:Well, even if the constant tension stretch was scaled back, there's definitely less catenary movement with the upgraded variable tension hangars.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xavCP4rCN3A


it does still move with those hangers, the spot you are in there they are hanging from a solid beam. The ones that still use wire for the cross sections do still move a bit, but one track does not affect the others as much. The biggest issue is that a train moving quickly on one track can actually make the wire on the track next to it bounce even worse than the track the high speed train went down. The new hangers cut that down quite a bit. I have studied it while working out at Adams yard. I am hoping with the new hangers they can at least get to 140 maybe 150 without the CT for now. They still need to do new high speed testing again with the high speed test cars and cameras to see how the wire reacts.
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Re: Acela Speeds

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Thu Oct 19, 2017 6:52 am

Facetious on my part, but how much constant tension catenary does the Indian Railways have?
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Re: Acela Speeds

Postby bostontrainguy » Thu Oct 19, 2017 8:45 am

Always wondered why they didn't go to a center pole setup when they electrified the New Haven to Boston section of the NEC. One of the most controversial aspects of the project was the aesthetics of the poles and overhead wires. Going to a center pole would have eliminated half of the poles.

Wouldn't construction of half of the poles greatly reduce construction time and expense? Also, wouldn't this setup eliminate any problems of high-speed trains on one track effecting the overhead wires on adjacent tracks? Wouldn't this set up create better separation of track centers benefiting high-speed rail in general?

Just thinking out loud here, but this is from the California High-Speed Rail study:

Poles have many advantages:

Poles and brackets are easier to maintain without affecting multiple tracks

Poles and brackets are mechanically robust to pantograph failures containing damage to the affected track

Poles are much lower than headspans (32 ft above rail versus 43 ft, according to Caltrain engineering drawings) and therefore less visually obtrusive

Poles keep high voltage away from the edges of the right of way, where they might interfere with surrounding objects and vegetation. The 50kV feeders are now hung above the tracks . . . a 4-foot voltage keep-out zone is smaller and concentrated over the tracks unlike headspans.

For either poles or headspans, the four-track electrified right of way running at ground level can fit within 70 feet. (NOTE: this would be a four track ROW with single poles between the outer and inner tracks)
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Re: Acela Speeds

Postby bdawe » Thu Oct 19, 2017 9:48 am

Does it have something to do with snow that California's catenary poles will more-or-less never be burdened with outside of maybe a the occasional dusting up Tehachapi or through the High Desert?
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Re: Acela Speeds

Postby CentralValleyRail » Thu Oct 19, 2017 10:03 am

A report I read indicates that service wont start under the new speeds until 2019 at the earliest with 2020 looking more like it... 3 years behind schedule !
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Re: Acela Speeds

Postby Matt Johnson » Thu Oct 19, 2017 10:47 am

CentralValleyRail wrote:A report I read indicates that service wont start under the new speeds until 2019 at the earliest with 2020 looking more like it... 3 years behind schedule !


Not totally surprised, though you'd think once the constant tension wires are in place (looks like they're done with tracks 3&4 and are currently working on track 2 through Princeton Junction) it'd be a trivial matter to bump the Acela from 135 up to 150, even if 160 mph will have to wait for the Avelia trainsets.
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Re: Acela Speeds

Postby east point » Thu Oct 19, 2017 1:51 pm

bdawe wrote:Does it have something to do with snow that California's catenary poles will more-or-less never be burdened with outside of maybe a the occasional dusting up Tehachapi or through the High Desert?


Probably not but remember the Santa Anna and Chinook winds.
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Re: Acela Speeds

Postby prr60 » Thu Oct 19, 2017 2:06 pm

bostontrainguy wrote:Always wondered why they didn't go to a center pole setup when they electrified the New Haven to Boston section of the NEC. One of the most controversial aspects of the project was the aesthetics of the poles and overhead wires. Going to a center pole would have eliminated half of the poles.
...

Two reasons: First - The New Haven - Boston electrification was retrofitted onto an existing, active passenger railroad. Constructing a system with only a single support located between the tracks would have required both tracks to be taken out of service for foundation installation - about 40 or more a mile. That would have severely limited the track time availability for construction and would have extended construction time. With supports on both sides, only a single track needs to be taken out of service at any given time.

Second, the existing track centers would not have have provided modern code clearance to the support columns. A system built from scratch can set tracks far enough apart to allow support columns between the tracks within current code, but with an existing railroad the geometry is what it is, and in this case, it was not enough.
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Re: Acela Speeds

Postby electricron » Thu Oct 19, 2017 3:07 pm

prr60 wrote:Two reasons: First - The New Haven - Boston electrification was retrofitted onto an existing, active passenger railroad. Constructing a system with only a single support located between the tracks would have required both tracks to be taken out of service for foundation installation - about 40 or more a mile. That would have severely limited the track time availability for construction and would have extended construction time. With supports on both sides, only a single track needs to be taken out of service at any given time.

Second, the existing track centers would not have have provided modern code clearance to the support columns. A system built from scratch can set tracks far enough apart to allow support columns between the tracks within current code, but with an existing railroad the geometry is what it is, and in this case, it was not enough.

Your first two answers were very good, but you missed maybe a third more important reason, it was cheaper.
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