• Amtrak EMU Discussion - Metroliners, Current Proposals, etc.

  • 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 Tadman
 
The Metroliner MU's were a science experiment gone wrong. They were clearly an experimental design pushed into production in all the wrong ways. The government wanted a show pony to make it look like we weren't falling behind other nations in high speed rail. The PRR wanted the government to fund their passenger trains, so they didn't want to say no. Budd just wanted some business to stay alive, but historically was never a company focused on being the general contractor on bleeding-edge propulsion-oriented projects. Put that all together, mix it well, and half-bake it (literally), and you get a disaster.

This set the groundwork for many disastrous future government train procurements.

Then the Kemalists at Amtrak say "MU's don't work, we'll never do that again" and come up with the Dreadnought-weight Acela.

Don't tell them that every other electrified railroad in the world does just fine with local and high speed electric MU's.
  by njt/mnrrbuff
 
MUS on intercity trains work better in other countries like Europe. They have been tried on Amtrak routes decades ago and they were not successful.
  by Tadman
 
Right, but you have to ask "why?".

Was it that MU's don't work well? Or was there a design or operational issue specific to that case? Consider the EMU and DMU history with Amtrak:

The DMU was the SPV2000. At the time, there was a specific threshold of weight-on-drivers for needing a fireman. Amtrak chose to disconnect one wheelset on each truck in order to halve the weight on drivers number. It was an accounting solution to an engineering problem. It was not approved by Budd. I'm sure someone in the rolling stock engineering group was told to find a way to make it work. The whole thing was a disaster.

The EMU was the Metroliner MP85. For the reasons I stated above, a cabal of government busybodies and functionally bankrupt carbuilder and railroad forced a square peg in a round hole.

The same builder, Budd, was known for the wildly successful and long-lasting DMU called the RDC and so many classes of EMU we can barely count them - Silverliners, subway cars, cosmoplitans, metropolitans, et al...

You have a pattern here. Every time Amtrak thinks they know more than EMD, Budd, GE, we get a big problem. It's happened quite a lot. And usually there is similar equipment that works just fine for another carrier.
  by Engineer Spike
 
I think that Amtrak has gone in a bad direction in equipment acquisition. This also goes for many of the commuter agencies. They seem to be keen on reinventing the wheel. The managers who specify this equipment has little oversight form some politician who has little or no experience on what works, and what doesn't. Therefor every time the taxpayer has to pay for some new design to be developed, then the learning curve on production, then teething troubles, as in the above example of why the Metroliner had so many troubles.

Back in the beginning, Amtrak used modified off the shelf designs. The F40PH was nothing more than a GP40-2 with a full car body, and a HEP generator. The P30CH was a similar adaptation of the U30C. Even the AEM7 was based on proven Swedish technology, adapted for North American service, and built by EMD. I will admit that the market for passenger equipment is limited, so in short runs, the procurement of new equipment is costly. Near to me is the Bombardier plant in Plattsburgh. They had the Acela, NYC subway, and M7 projects back to back. There was quite a lull before the NJT double decker program. In the inerrrimn, people got slayed off. I now one guy who got a job with the county, and didn't return. Therefor, a new person had to be trained to do the job he once did.

Getting back to the NJT project, at least they standardized with AMT on the double deckers, and the electro diesels. The to agencies could share the costs of the development. Why couldn't ConnDOT get in on this, instead of developing the new M8? Was the GCT clearances an issue?

All of these examples were cited as an example of how I think that a proven design could work. Some off the shelf components could product a reliable product. It is time to pull back on these transit managers who think that they have to create the news, most up to date technology, which still may not have been proven in the real world of lackluster maintenance, and unfamiliar shop crews. How many times has the issue of snow or water caused a new design to fail, at least until additional expensive mods could make them watertight.
  by BandA
 
The Metroliner cars are over 50 years old, so it doesn't make much sense for a large operator like Amtrak to restore EMU capabilities. Perhaps for a small operator starved for capital & needing a one-off solution.
  by mtuandrew
 
BandA wrote: Thu May 21, 2020 3:09 pm The Metroliner cars are over 50 years old, so it doesn't make much sense for a large operator like Amtrak to restore EMU capabilities. Perhaps for a small operator starved for capital & needing a one-off solution.
No one in America needs an MU that badly, least of all Amtrak. If they did for some reason, they could rent an Arrow III from NJT, lease a newer MU from SEPTA or Metro-North, or order them new.
  by njt/mnrrbuff
 
Amtrak is not going to use any more Arrow IIIs as Amfleet replacements. The Arrow IIIs, just like the Amfleets are going to be joining the retirement club. As for the bringing back the EMU capabilities in the old Metroliner cars, that's not happening. MUs work fine on many commuter rail routes where many stops are a mile or two from each other. In my preference, I don't think Amtrak needs to buy MUs as the entire Amfleet replacement. The Sprinters aren't old and many of them will need to pull whatever the Amfleet replacements will be. Whatever replaces the P42s and other Genesis locomotives that operate on state supported routes that expand beyond the NEC-I am not counting on MUs but maybe some sort of dual powered charger unit. If Amtrak were to buy MUs, maybe buy them for services like the New Haven-SPG Shuttles and the Piedmonts but in the end, my preference is for Amtrak and its state partners to stick with locomotive hauled equipment. That's what VIA rail is doing for their replacements for the corridor services in Ontario and Quebec.
  by Jeff Smith
 
Wow, this turned out to be an interesting necro-post, er, topic revival!

Isn't Amtrak considering EMU's as an Amfleet replacement? I think it's been discussed in here: https://railroad.net/viewtopic.php?f=46&t=159257

That said, we can certainly discuss it in a separate topic!
  by Tadman
 
mtuandrew wrote: Thu May 21, 2020 4:46 pm
BandA wrote: Thu May 21, 2020 3:09 pm The Metroliner cars are over 50 years old, so it doesn't make much sense for a large operator like Amtrak to restore EMU capabilities. Perhaps for a small operator starved for capital & needing a one-off solution.
No one in America needs an MU that badly, least of all Amtrak. If they did for some reason, they could rent an Arrow III from NJT, lease a newer MU from SEPTA or Metro-North, or order them new.
NJT did a study perhaps ten years ago that indicated for consists <7 cars, EMU was optimal. Above that, loco-hauled was optimal. I think this was pre-PTC and probably made a lot of assumptions that were aimed at commuter start/stop. But there is a study out there just the same, and it tells us that, give an operating pattern, there is an over/under where the EMU is a good idea. The Keystone comes to mind.

Now that raises the question "is it worth having five Keystone sets in a sea of ACS and Acela2?". In an Amtrak-only world, no. But in a world where there are 5+ different fleets of EMU on the corridor and shops capable of maintaining them on contract, it's not the worst idea ever.
njt/mnrrbuff wrote:Amtrak is not going to use any more Arrow IIIs as Amfleet replacements. The Arrow IIIs, just like the Amfleets are going to be joining the retirement club.
BandA wrote:The Metroliner cars are over 50 years old, so it doesn't make much sense for a large operator like Amtrak to restore EMU capabilities.
Agreed on both counts, no sense in bringing back something pre-1980. It would make much better sense to tack onto the next corridor-oriented commuter EMU.
  by mtuandrew
 
As I said before, no one needs a remotored Metroliner. It makes zero sense as a passenger train in today’s world. However, it’s an interesting thought experiment that I’d like to explore. Maybe shortly before Acela, Amtrak could have decided it needed a self-propelled track inspection vehicle consisting of a dedicated powered Metroliner - depowered Metroliner Michigan Coach with instruments - powered Metroliner set. (I don’t know why, but that’s the most likely scenario I could imagine.) From bottom to top:
-the motors would have needed extensive reconditioning from sitting so long (or being dragged in Capitoliner service. Perhaps GE or Adtranz could have replaced the original 255 hp GE motors (or 300 hp Westinghouses) with newer motors? Still would have been DC, but perhaps lighter for the same horsepower.
-the control system never seemed to work right either, so would have been worth removing it and retrofitting something else. Cam control and Ignitrons would not have been either practical or safe at that point. The rebuild would have been a good audition for the companies that were interested in building the American Flyer (now known as the Acela Express.) At the time, state of the art would have been, what, IGBT control? I think Bombardier was the only one on the continent building MUs at that time (for Montreal), so they would have been a good starting point. (Perhaps there was some other company in Mexico - sorry for the omission if that’s the case.)
-whoever rebuilt the control system would also have needed to rebuild the resistor banks and regenerative braking system.
-I haven’t heard anyone complain of pantograph difficulties, so those would have been a straightforward fix to factory condition if parts were available.
-everything else, Amfleet standard as much as possible.

—————

For a museum looking to operate one at low speed, I suppose you’d have to go to RRMPA and take as many measurements and notes as possible. Also would need every Budd plan you could lay your hands on, as well as core motors for rewinding - I can’t find a sentence of info on GE1254-A1 motors as Wikipedia says they had. Maybe you’d be better off just transplanting whatever you could from a Silverliner IV headed to the scrapper.
  by John_Perkowski
 
The irony is, we have truly a metric crap ton of plans which have stood the test of time.
Heavyweight Pullman’s and parlor cars ran at 100MPH behind GG1s and P-5s in the 30s. The plans and the builders drawings are at the Illinois Railroad Museum, on permanent loan from Bombardier.
Streamline cars before WWIIran at 100MPH plus and did so safely on jointed rail

Why are we reinventing the wheel? Heck, take Jack Deasy’s MOUNT VERNON out to Pueblo and measure it on the test track...
  by bdawe
 
John_Perkowski wrote: Fri May 22, 2020 10:41 pm The irony is, we have truly a metric crap ton of plans which have stood the test of time.
Heavyweight Pullman’s and parlor cars ran at 100MPH behind GG1s and P-5s in the 30s. The plans and the builders drawings are at the Illinois Railroad Museum, on permanent loan from Bombardier.
Streamline cars before WWIIran at 100MPH plus and did so safely on jointed rail

Why are we reinventing the wheel? Heck, take Jack Deasy’s MOUNT VERNON out to Pueblo and measure it on the test track...
how long does it take to get a string of concrete-floor heavyweights up to 100 mph behind a GG1, and how are you running those GG1 without all those lovely PCBs?

The giant blaring horn fact of the matter is that the American passenger railroading tradition is backwards. The rest of the world has a metric crap ton of plans that have stood the test of time in daily service at orders of magnitude greater usage than anything in the United States. Not a single wheel need be reinvented because the reinventing has gone on quite a bit since 1943 when the last GG1 rolled off the assembly line.
  by RRspatch
 
One of the reasons EMU's and DMU's fell out of favor in this country is the added costs they entail. Every EMU and DMU is considered a "locomotive" by the FRA and therefore needs to be inspected every 92 days. Add in the fact that each cab now needs PTC (be it I-ETMS or ACSES or in the case of MARC BOTH) you're talking even more costs. I believe plain old dumb coaches only have to inspected once a year. With the exception of Metro North, LIRR and SEPTA most operators have moved towards locomotive hauled trains.

Another factor is that locomotive hauled trains are scalable. Just add more coaches and another locomotive as needed. Most EMU and DMU sets aren't.
  by njt/mnrrbuff
 
The one idea that I had for running EMUs is maybe Amtrak can work out something with PennDot to buy dedicated EMU trainsets for the Keystone Corridor. Mus would work great on the Keystones-many stations are close to each other, with the exception of the long gap between Parkesburg and Lancaster. Of course, the downside of this is that I don't think PennDot would want these trainset to operate on other Amtrak NEC trains.
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