Matt Johnson wrote:Is there anything that makes the proven Alstom Surfliner design non-compliant with modern regulations?
The FRA regs haven't changed since those were delivered in '02. Maybe there'd be a need to revisit the cab car ends, but that's about it. The Surfs were already an update over the Cali Cars on safety, so the lineage hasn't fallen behind the times. However, the PRIAA bi-level standards were ambitious enough in scope to call for other new design features, so even if the the next-gen cars were templated off the Alstom design they would've been a little bit more diverged than just straight-up "Surf 2's" done 15 years later.
In practical sense the reason why you aren't seeing the change order being catered so Sumitromo could go back to the Surfliner design is because the Siemens-Alstom merger hasn't formally been consumated, and is still too many months of regulatory review away from Siemens gaining access to all of Alstom's car designs and intellectual property. While all reports are that the merger will be rubber-stamped without drama, it's not going to take effect nearly soon enough for the schedule targets Sumitromo was faced with for making the substitution. And since they are still the primary contractor, that narrowed the field of replacement subcontractors to builders they had some sort of formal ongoing business relationship with...yes to Siemens, apparently no to Alstom. Siemens, for variety of technical and/or schedule reasons, couldn't attempt adaptation of the Viaggio Twin for U.S. import...so it had to be a single-level substitution because pre-merger that's all they've got for in-house designs that'll work with Sumitromo's tight schedule. Alstom, because of business reasons internal to Sumitromo, couldn't be substituted timely enough to kick off the project with their design in [*wink-wink*]
expectation that a year from now it'll all seamlessly transition to Siemens leadership all the same. Ultimately Sumitromo was still on the hook for the project management failure, so expediency had to rule today even if tomorrow Siemens will possess all the IP required to build anyone updated Super/Surf-clones.
It actually bodes well for the Superliner 1 replacement order that the easiest available source design will soon be in the hands of the vendor who's likely to be in charge of every not-Viewliner piece of rolling stock on the system. The Sumitromo-NS belly-flop had grave implications for Amtrak's ability to cue up a replacement order for those now- 42-year-old S1 cars before they passed their 50th birthday and all the scary MTBF pitfalls of that milestone, since the PRIAA bi-levels were to be the template for doing the single-door LD configuration S3's. And a move back to single-levels would've stressed the LD's in other ways by reopening the can of worms with CAF over whether they ordered enough V2 bags and bag-dorms to handle inadequate or dwindling numbers of S's with lower-level space for those functions. At least now they won't be S.O.L. on adaptable designs and be forced to contemplate even more radical fleet management change, because Surfliner IP and service/support will be safely folded under the Siemens roof by the time #3 in the one-two-three punch of coach mega-procurements (#1 Midwest/Cali, #2 East/Amfleet-replacement, #3 S1-replacement) comes up for bid. They will, if they refrain from the excessive risks they took with the PRIAA bi specs and subcontracting clownshow, have a template design in-hand with their most-preferred supplier which can produce viable Superliner 3's fully trainline-compatible with the not-retirement-age Superliner 2's. And even be able to make future supplemental corridor-configured options for replacing the Cali Cars with more satisfactory-designed Surf 2's when Caltrans is up for fish-or-cut-bait budgeting decision on midlife rebuild #2 for the Cali Cars in approx. 12 years.