• Amtrak’s Growing Pains with Siemens Locomotives

  • Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.
Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.

Moderators: GirlOnTheTrain, mtuandrew, Tadman

  by Bracdude181
 
ApproachMedium wrote:You cannot compare the "teething" of the acs 64 and other siemens engines with the GEs. We loved the siemens when i came. It was great. Its gotten worse. The problems with software modifications to account for poor hardware is not working anymore. The HHP-8 was new in early 2000s. They were all retired by 2014 because of the high cost to operate. The oldest Siemens loco is nearing 10 years. They are falling apart already. You cannot compare a locomotive that is entirely managed by computers vs a locomotive that still ran off mechanical functions. Literally every single thing in the siemens passes thru a computer system. The headlights, the horns, every button light switch etc on the dash. It all is connected and all functions are commanded by digital means/software.

This isnt grandads alco with a hard wired headlight switch and resistors for dimming.
Why is it like this nowadays where every little thing is computer controlled?
  by rcthompson04
 
The software issues should be impacting Brightline and SEPTA. Have we heard similar things from them?
  by ApproachMedium
 
rcthompson04 wrote: Thu Jun 30, 2022 2:34 pm The software issues should be impacting Brightline and SEPTA. Have we heard similar things from them?
The software updates are amtrak specific, though preformed by Siemens
  by scratchyX1
 
Bracdude181 wrote: Thu Jun 30, 2022 1:57 pm
ApproachMedium wrote:You cannot compare the "teething" of the acs 64 and other siemens engines with the GEs. We loved the siemens when i came. It was great. Its gotten worse. The problems with software modifications to account for poor hardware is not working anymore. The HHP-8 was new in early 2000s. They were all retired by 2014 because of the high cost to operate. The oldest Siemens loco is nearing 10 years. They are falling apart already. You cannot compare a locomotive that is entirely managed by computers vs a locomotive that still ran off mechanical functions. Literally every single thing in the siemens passes thru a computer system. The headlights, the horns, every button light switch etc on the dash. It all is connected and all functions are commanded by digital means/software.

This isnt grandads alco with a hard wired headlight switch and resistors for dimming.
Why is it like this nowadays where every little thing is computer controlled?
Marc upgrades to hippo software in theirs, made them usable.
I do agree , not everything should be software, just because you can.
Image
  by photobug56
 
ApproachMedium wrote: Thu Jun 30, 2022 1:22 pm
photobug56 wrote: Wed Jun 29, 2022 8:02 pm So maybe the right question should be - why did LIRR buy such junk? I get it; few choices. But I remember hearing early on that LIRR knew how bad these locos were.
LIRR was HELL BENT on only buying EMD powered machines. They got what they paid for. They were a huge thorn in the side of SIEMENS and the other two agencies with the dual modes because their managment/engineers DEMANDED an actual air horn valve instead of the electronic button because they did not like how the button worked on the DE/DM engines and insisted that they ran a bunch of hoses to the cab and back to the roof for horns.

Stupid.
Hard to disagree! While I want horns that sound decent and do the needed job without disturbing neighbors, unless you are talking a steam loco, I don't care what powers them. As to EMD, it was long a proud entity with great products, but I'd guess that the people behind those great products wouldn't want to be associated with the LIRR junk. I would guess that LIRR overpaid though. And from what I've heard repeatedly, has little interest in properly maintaining them. I have plenty of memories, usually sitting up front EB, of sitting somewhere in Queens while the train operator tried repeatedly to get the diesels to start, and besides the sound, you knew to keep an eye out for the black cloud that came when it finally (if it did) start. WB, everything going dead - or half of each car going dead, as they tried to get EMODE working. My fav; pulling into Jamaica, lights going off, numerous attempts to go E, an announcement to get off and grab an overcrowded M across the platform, and just after 95% of riders had gotten off, them getting E working, conductor announcing that the train would proceed, and pulling out mostly empty.
  by photobug56
 
scratchyX1 wrote: Thu Jun 30, 2022 3:37 pm
Bracdude181 wrote: Thu Jun 30, 2022 1:57 pm
ApproachMedium wrote:You cannot compare the "teething" of the acs 64 and other siemens engines with the GEs. We loved the siemens when i came. It was great. Its gotten worse. The problems with software modifications to account for poor hardware is not working anymore. The HHP-8 was new in early 2000s. They were all retired by 2014 because of the high cost to operate. The oldest Siemens loco is nearing 10 years. They are falling apart already. You cannot compare a locomotive that is entirely managed by computers vs a locomotive that still ran off mechanical functions. Literally every single thing in the siemens passes thru a computer system. The headlights, the horns, every button light switch etc on the dash. It all is connected and all functions are commanded by digital means/software.

This isnt grandads alco with a hard wired headlight switch and resistors for dimming.
Why is it like this nowadays where every little thing is computer controlled?
Marc upgrades to hippo software in theirs, made them usable.
I do agree , not everything should be software, just because you can.
Image
I remember engineers on LIRR telling me about piles of computers on the DE's and DM's - and in the C3's, and how unreliable they were.
  by ApproachMedium
 
The MARC HHPs only had two that got those mods. They still are not reliable and you still barely see them out there. In fact they didnt run a single HHP for 2 years thru covid
  by STrRedWolf
 
scratchyX1 wrote: Thu Jun 30, 2022 3:37 pm Marc upgrades to hippo software in theirs, made them usable.
I do agree , not everything should be software, just because you can.
Image
MARC (and MTA Maryland a whole) requires all firmware source code to be put in escrow… enough that the technicians are taught and tested on rough programming skills even on the bus side.

Escrowing the source code is a good idea IMHO… but I’m biased towards having programmers deal with it.
  by eolesen
 
Code escrow is standard. Finding people who can update some of the older machine languages is the problem...
  by west point
 
Well maybe Amtrak wrote some new language into the second contract. Those items making Siemens to correct these problems?. This thread reminds me of electric throttles on some new autos. At least a mechanic throttle failure you can pull the throttle back or shut off ignition Electric throttle? Anything electrical can fail in ways that cannot be stopped.
  by photobug56
 
I've gotten the impression that what makers are willing to computerize on locomotives greatly outpaces what they are actually able to do well. Kind of reminds me of Microsloths attitude toward Windoze - lots of new features whether we need them or not, and whether or not they actually work. I get that certain things are needed or are good, such as Tier 4 pollution controls, and remote diagnostics. But what good is it if it's unreliable?
  by ApproachMedium
 
Its a lot of cute stuff but ill tell you what, its not like its space aged. For example, tapping your foot on the acknowledge pedal on the footboard JUST RIGHT yields a nonsense fault that sets off an alarm that says "ACKNOLEDGEER FOOTPEDAL DEFECTIVE". Its because the pedal, and literally everything else in the cab, is wired thru I/O stations. They are basically just remote input output modules that reside on the vehicle bus (ethernet) and are programmed to accept inputs (buttons switches) and process outputs (lights indicators wipers etc). Teh reason for the message is that every switch button etc is not only wired for its pressing function, but for its NOT pressing function. Or its off. For those who know electronics almost every industrial button relay or switch will have Normally open and Normally closed contacts. Both sets are wired thru the monitor system. If the button or switch gets "stuck" it will set off a fault that its no good and will ignore it until the fault clears by means of the item returning to its correct position.

Why on gods green earth do we need nonsense like this????
  by CSRR573
 
ApproachMedium wrote: Tue Jul 05, 2022 3:32 am Why on gods green earth do we need nonsense like this????
The best is the TOD that constantly goes back to traction status when your trying to read important data. One of our tech literally said it was one of the best mods they've done so far
  by photobug56
 
I was a programmer for a couple decades, and in school learned Basic Assembler Language (one step above machine language), and normal languages. I learned that my code needed to be readable, explainable, consistent. Releasing new versions had a process that included appropriate testing. And along the way I learned that the GUI - use interface, had to be clear, concise, and easy to use. I often had regulations to follow, too. My code was sometimes meant for people who hated using computers, and it had to be very easy to use, and as idiot proof as possible.

All of that is important on a loco that is 'fly by wire'. They do fly by wire for efficiency and to reduce pollution, as well as making things easier to diagnose. But in the process it becomes far too, far more complicated. That seems to be where Siemens is today, with the code and systems so complex they can't actually manage them effectively.
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