Acela Replacement and Disposition Discussion

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Re: Acela Replacement and Disposition Discussion

Postby Arlington » Sun Aug 12, 2018 8:19 pm

The airlines always made the shuttles a little better, but recall that the Trump Shuttle failed in its attempt to be more luxe vs Delta's just delivering on the nuts and bolts of shuttling. (That's how I remember it)

The appeal of a private jet may be around luxury, but the business justification is around schedule control (on demand departure), reliability (nonstop vs connection), and geographic access (as at HPN or TTB).

A train every :30, between prime, connected NEC stations basically has all the private jet attributes, and better if you give it all-weather punctuality.
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Re: Acela Replacement and Disposition Discussion

Postby gokeefe » Sun Aug 12, 2018 8:23 pm

Arlington wrote:A train every :30, between prime, connected NEC stations basically has all the private jet attributes, and better if you give it all-weather punctuality.


Exactly ... so during the work week set aside a couple of the prime departures for your ultra high end line. 9:00am 11:00am and maybe 5:00pm in each direction.
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Re: Acela Replacement and Disposition Discussion

Postby gokeefe » Sun Aug 12, 2018 11:06 pm

This headline snuck by in February:

The motivation behind the surge in hiring is to further make space for the Amtrak high-speed train contract that will be in full swing this spring.

“It’s a space issue. They’re physically located in the manufacturing areas designed for Amtrak, so if they were to be there for the start of Amtrak in April, we would have to move and further disrupt those projects, and that helps nobody,” Macdonald explained.

A train set consists of seven cars and two power cars, with a length of 720 feet, making space a valuable commodity.
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Re: Acela Replacement and Disposition Discussion

Postby Rockingham Racer » Mon Aug 13, 2018 7:55 am

bostontrainguy wrote:
Rockingham Racer wrote:Have to disagree, at least to the terminology. Glance at any Amtrak long distance timetable, and you won't find nary a reference to "first class", including the Auto Train.


Not exactly:
Auto Train First Class Dining Car Menu.pdf


Wow. Thanks for that. It points out what lots of people have been saying: the only consistent thing about service on Amtrak is its inconsistency. I will point out, though, that I said "timetable", and you posted a menu from onboard.
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Re: Acela Replacement and Disposition Discussion

Postby ryanov » Tue Aug 14, 2018 10:20 am

I'm not sure that I agree with Mr. O'Keefe that a lot has changed in 10 years, or since whenever the nearly-no-stops-not-even-NWK Acela ran. I've been taking services on the NEC irregularly for the entire period, likely traveling the length of the corridor every year (frequent trips are from NWK to BOS/BBY, PHL, WAS, WIL, and BAL). I've taken Acela and Regional, and I've travelled at all times of year. I've taken long distance trains that travelled from NWK through WAS several times. Beyond Amtrak, I take commuter services periodically anywhere between PHL and STM, though my multiple times per month trip is NWK-NBK. What I can say is I see more maintenance. Hamilton and Princeton Jct. have been under repair for probably a year now in some form. It's the rare weekend when there isn't single tracking through the North River tunnels. NJT's equipment has gotten significantly less reliable (second only to their ability to schedule crews to run the trains). All of the maintenance has resulted in the retraction of services, some of them that don't return after the maintenance period. The actual Amtrak equipment has gotten shabbier, and nicer, and shabbier, and nicer -- possibly more than once in that period when you take into account individual cars. When I was riding trains pulled by AEM-7s or E60s, they weren't breaking down on me either (though the same NJT ALP-44 got me twice in the same week). Crews, on the whole, seems sadder to me -- not like "this is a sad excuse for breakfast," but legitimately the emotion sad -- particularly those that work directly in proximity to food.

The things I can't particularly remember or don't have a way to estimate are ridership, but those numbers exist outside of my personal experience. So it's true that those patterns have may changed, but to my mind, the experience of riding Amtrak hasn't, apart from the "red-seat" coaches disappearing entirely.
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Re: Acela Replacement and Disposition Discussion

Postby gokeefe » Tue Aug 14, 2018 3:09 pm

I can see how from the "at seat" perspective there seems to have been little change other than observing wear cycles on equipment.

Ridership and revenues are exactly where this somewhat invisible change has happened. Those on the ground who would likely notice it the most aside from conductors are probably the redcaps in WAS, PHL, NYP, and BOS.

First and foremost the service not only covers its costs but also makes a significant contribution to the rest of Amtrak. Second ridership is indeed very heavy with near guaranteed sellouts on many trains, especially those running during the week.

This does not appear to have been the case the last time non-stop or very limited stop service was attempted. Other context includes the very heavy passenger loads on the airlines which due to capacity reductions now are constantly cramped and far more uncomfortable than they once were.

Amtrak hasn't taken even so much as 1/4th of an inch of legroom away since Acela began running. The airlines at the same time have gone through at least two if not three cycles of legroom shrinkage with fares inching slightly higher.

The result has been record profits for the airlines but also record high customer dissatisfaction. Amtrak is in the enviable position of selling a high demand product that the public sincerely appreciates for the value it delivers.

Consequently I think Amtrak should think very carefully about disposing of the Acela trainsets if a rebuild is possible. The experience at MARC with the HHP-8 has given us a clear sign that a rebuild of equipment from this particular manufacturer built with similar components is in fact possible. Furthermore the contractor that has conducted the rebuild (Alstom) has an excellent track record with Amtrak.

All of the above being the case and given the capacity constraints inherent in the current service it would appear very reasonable to consider extending the service life of these extremely valuable trainsets. I recommend this if and only if the new service can operate on the same profitable terms as the rest of the service and allow for the capture of new ridership.
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Re: Acela Replacement and Disposition Discussion

Postby east point » Tue Aug 14, 2018 5:17 pm

Gokeef. Agree. What probably Amtrak would need to do if the traffic does fill out would be limiting NJT access to NYP probably by reducing Midtown direct service. The one problem of course is the possibility of one of the North river tunnel bores needing a long time repair.
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Re: Acela Replacement and Disposition Discussion

Postby gokeefe » Tue Aug 14, 2018 7:40 pm

I think now would be a very bad time to require New Jersey Transit to make any cutbacks to direct service into NYP. New Jersey's support for the Gateway project is absolutely critical. It cannot be compromised. That being said I think Amtrak could make some very careful calculations regarding the Empire Service and consider whether or not it would be worth it to preserve that capacity for NEC trains.

Here's another thought. The number of trainsets ordered appears to imply a requirement that Amtrak will be reopening a permanent station at NYG (Grand Central) if we assume that they will operate the trainsets at approximately the same pacing as they do right now. It's the only solution that gives them the breathing room they would appear to otherwise need without impactikg the commuter services (which I assume they are loath to do).
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Re: Acela Replacement and Disposition Discussion

Postby bostontrainguy » Tue Aug 14, 2018 8:20 pm

gokeefe wrote:Here's another thought. The number of trainsets ordered appears to imply a requirement that Amtrak will be reopening a permanent station at NYG (Grand Central) if we assume that they will operate the trainsets at approximately the same pacing as they do right now. It's the only solution that gives them the breathing room they would appear to otherwise need without impactikg the commuter services (which I assume they are loath to do).


And how do you do that with trains that don't have third rail pickup shoes?
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Re: Acela Replacement and Disposition Discussion

Postby gokeefe » Tue Aug 14, 2018 8:41 pm

Empire Service permanently running to GCT with Amtrak P32s.
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Re: Acela Replacement and Disposition Discussion

Postby Backshophoss » Tue Aug 14, 2018 8:52 pm

Believe MN wants Amtrak to go back to NY Penn,any kind of permanent return to GCT will invite
a "Micascope" like review from some of the "critters".
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Re: Acela Replacement and Disposition Discussion

Postby east point » Wed Aug 15, 2018 9:24 am

After a skull session we came to some conclusions. At first maybe taking some AX-1s and move cars making other AX-1 train sets longer. However that seemed to bring up the problem that no AX-1 service facilities can service longer train sets, They have been reported as being unable to be lengthened except maybe WASH Ivy City ?
Then an idea of reducing the lengths of AX-1s and coupling 2 together so that combination would fit in present NYPS platforms. Then the combinations could be separated when needed to fit in the present AX-1s service facilities. However did Amtrak ever test operate 2 AX-1 train sets together at Max speeds ? There may have been perceived problems with CAT bounce with 4 PANs up at once on the PRR style variable tension CAT ? Now once the Constant Tension CAT is installed ?It may have been that at the testing time Amtrak did not have sufficient electric power available to the CAT for 2 sets combined ? With Mutchen converter station is now in operation the power should be available ?
Another thought the combined AX-1s could separate at PHL with front part going to WASH and rear section reversing to Harrisburg . Smaller express trains PHL <> WASH might be right fit for demand ? These trains could be slotted into regular Keystone positions giving the same number of NYPS operations ? This would also allow for HAR <> NYP express service skipping low platform PHL - HAR stops ? That might get low platform stop cities incentive to build high ones ?
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Re: Acela Replacement and Disposition Discussion

Postby Matt Johnson » Wed Aug 15, 2018 10:57 am

I believe it was mentioned here a long time ago that two Acela sets were wired for and tested for combined trainset ops, and the result wasn't good. I don't know if the poor tracking characteristics of the locomotives (lots of yaw oscillation) had anything to do with it. One other thing is I believe the nose shrouds have to be opened and closed manually to expose the couplers, making that a more labor intensive process. And the Acela sets are reportedly limited to 80 mph max with the nose shroud open (presumably that applies to lead unit only).
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Re: Acela Replacement and Disposition Discussion

Postby BandA » Wed Aug 15, 2018 1:15 pm

I'm guessing that if they lengthen their facilities to support AX-2 then they can also support lengthened AX-1s. They aren't going to want to re-engineer couplers at this point.
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Re: Acela Replacement and Disposition Discussion

Postby east point » Wed Aug 15, 2018 3:05 pm

BandA wrote:I'm guessing that if they lengthen their facilities to support AX-2 then they can also support lengthened AX-1s. They aren't going to want to re-engineer couplers at this point.



Aren't AX-2s the sane length as AX-1s so the -2s can fit into present facilities ?
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