• Amtrak DMU / RDC Potential Operation Discussion

  • 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

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  by MattW
 
I have to admit, I'm a little annoyed here. It seems we have a lot of people thinking any future DMU would just be a rehash of the RDC and SPV2000 and nothing more. Why are we so stuck thinking that we can't do better? Like the rest of the world has. It's this kind of thinking that seems to be endemic to US Railroading and Amtrak in particular that won't let us have a truly modern rail system. That because one particular product at one time, didn't work, nothing like it will! Why are we stuck in this rut?

We also seem to have a lot of people focusing on bad seats and spacing. That's a minor detail. DMU is about the technology of a lightweight, short consist with quick acceleration due to having an engine in every, or at least every other car. That's it. Just because you don't like the seats in a particular model out there does not remotely mean that any future train will have the same seats.

In terms of where. A route I'd toss out would be Atlanta-Augusta on the old Georgia Railroad. If Atlanta had a robust regional network, then whatever equipment used on say Atlanta-Chattanooga could be used here, but if not, then a DMU would serve the small communities well. I also think a train up the L&N's Hook and Eye route via Canton up to Blue Ridge would be ideal for a DMU.
  by Gilbert B Norman
 
Mr. Matt W, I trust you have reviewed the earlier posts at this topic authored by those who have ridden DMU's overseas, where the technology presumably has advanced since the RDC (oh, and it's ill fated knock off, the SPV), and that such reviews are indeed "mixed".

If the only expectation of attracting passengers to commercial transportation over, say, Atlanta-Augusta (i 've ridden the GARR all the way on a '70 excursion and partway '73 on the "Mixto"), is a busload, then that is why "We The People" built I-20.

If there cannot be reasonable expectation of patronage sufficient for a locomotive hauled train operating in the league of drive time competitive (that's a tall order given Georgia's topography much North of Warner Robbins) , then just "stay out of the kitchen".
  by mtuandrew
 
I suppose that’s the problem, isn’t it? Between airlines and a robust highway network, American DMUs are out of a job for the most part. On most of the commuter routes where they operate, a locomotive-hauled consist would currently equal or surpass DMUs in terms of capacity & capital cost, and come close for economy of operation & acceleration. So, for Amtrak, VIA, or any NAFTA-area passenger line to consider wholesale adoption of DMUs, any potential unit has to either fill a special niche (like Tri-Met) beat a locomotive-hauled train in acceleration, total emissions, capital costs, and per-seat operational costs. Tough target to hit in all categories, though modified crash energy management standards and modern noise/vibration/harshness insulation help a lot.

I’ve wondered why no commuter roads have gone back to the “doodlebug” model of a powered coach (or combine, or baggage car) pulling up to 3 cars apiece. The Colorado Railcar DMU was rated to pull a couple trailers, but otherwise I haven’t seen other recent DMUs designed to do such. I dunno, it just seems like (say) a 2000 hp doodlebug with bike racks + three Shoreliners makes more sense than a BL20GH + three Shoreliners without bike capacity.
  by Arborwayfan
 
I rode two different DMUs in Europe in 2017-18. I think I have a post about them earlier in the forum. The short version is I thought they were fine, but not special. One of them was three cars, that is to say long enough for reasonable locomotive-hauled trains. the other was not much bigger than an articulated light-rail car, and was kind of noisy. It was designed specifically to run on a scenic branchline route in Norway, as a guaranteed connection with much larger through trains, along a steep valley with a two-lane highway; in other words, it runs in a place where the railroad is at least as good as the road, so it makes sense to run passenger trains with 50 or 100 passengers three or four times a day. To me, those are the prime DMU locations. How many places like that exist? Busy long commuter routes need longer trains anyway; busy short routes should probably have some kind of electric rail. Lightly traveled areas with wide, straight roads probably don't need trains at all. (The self-powered passenger car existed in the US because railroads had to offer passenger service on lightly traveled routes in a time of declining demand.)
  by Gilbert B Norman
 
I must say, Prof. Martland, I've always wondered who Pat McGinnis "was having relations with" to order up all the RDC's he did after he was "exiled" to the B&M.

Surely to have operated ten car trains of such was inviting "dis economies of scale". Ten "locomotives" for cyclical inspections; surely spending much more on gas.

Yes I know some of those units were RDC-9 trailer units and with only one engine...but still.

Of course, lest we forget on his prior "gig" down my way on the New Haven, he decided that their RDC's were to be "Doodlebugs" and pull a trailer Coach. Of course, Budd "got wind" of this little "stunt" and voided, or at least threatened to, the units' warranties.

I suppose that is why he bought the 9's, before he headed off to his next "gig" - the "clink".
Last edited by Gilbert B Norman on Fri May 29, 2020 7:30 am, edited 1 time in total.
  by Arborwayfan
 
Funny, Mr. Norman, I almost said something about the B & M wanting "Budd cars" for their rural branchlines, and then realized that probably most of the RDCs spent most of their time around Boston, and maybe mostly in trains of several, and that in any case I didn't know what I was talking about. So your comment about wondering is a perfect follow-on to mine.

As an aside, kind of OT except that it does have a little information in it, when I was a little kid I thought they were called Budd cars that because they made a budbudbudbud sound; that's what they sounded like to me when they ran past the Arboretum in Roslindale. I remember watching the trains with my mother, must have been about 1977-78, maybe 79, and waiting to see if they would be several Budd cars on their own or if there would be a locomotive. I don't ever remember seeing just one Budd car alone, although I have seen a picture of a single Budd crossing Bussey Bridge. We always went at afternoon rush hour, so maybe they uncoupled one car to run alone off peak? Usually if there was a locomotive it was coupled to Budd cars, as far as I can remember. I was about 4, but I have a pretty clear image of trains of Budds with MBTA locomotives (Fs, I suppose; I just remember purple and streamlined). Of course after the Blizzard of 78 they'd mostly have had locomotives because the Budds' engines no longer worked right, but preschooler me didn't know that, and could never understand why there would be Budds with exhaust coming out the top but pulled by a locomotive (Budds still providing their own heat and electricity, I suppose?).

Sam M.
  by David Benton
 
The idea of running DMU's would not be one a day in Europe . It could be hourly , probably 2 hourly at least . and it would connect into a network almost definitely . A long train once a day is not ideal for anyone , except maybe the railroads.
That why I often say Amtrak would be better running several Thruwaybuses , rather than (or as well as) one train a day . But then , some of you guys would probably want the bus to have a 1950's 500 hp truck engine, and have a 1/4" steel body :-D .
  by eolesen
 
mtuandrew wrote: Thu May 28, 2020 5:09 am They are, but commuter services aren’t running it so... a placeholder by Amtrak seems appropriate.
If there isn't justification for a commuter operation to get FTA funding, how would it be appropriate for Amtrak to operate it as a state subsidized route?....
  by west point
 
There might be a calling for DMUs that could couple onto regional trains. Say a 3 car DMU tidewater train could ave one car tack onto a regional train at Richmond, shutting off engine , brake check, and away you go. However still have the problem of getting NY city accepting the diesel fuel in tunnels ?
  by Gilbert B Norman
 
"Been there done that", Mr. West Point.

Amtrak operated their SPV-2000's SPF-WAS in the matter you immediately outlined. Even with their rooftop cooling gear, they had clearance to operate through NYP.

But it sure seemed like a "waste" to me for each one-way trip, to have the capital costs of the propulsion gear used for 62 miles only to be "draged" for another 299.
  by Tadman
 
west point wrote: Fri May 29, 2020 4:09 am There might be a calling for DMUs that could couple onto regional trains. Say a 3 car DMU tidewater train could ave one car tack onto a regional train at Richmond, shutting off engine , brake check, and away you go. However still have the problem of getting NY city accepting the diesel fuel in tunnels ?
Gilbert B Norman wrote:"Been there done that", Mr. West Point.
Amtrak operated their SPV-2000's SPF-WAS in the matter you immediately outlined. Even with their rooftop cooling gear, they had clearance to operate through NYP.
But it sure seemed like a "waste" to me for each one-way trip, to have the capital costs of the propulsion gear used for 62 miles only to be "draged" for another 299.
You could do that with a branch like NPN or Port Huron, but wouldn't it be wiser to keep that DMU on the branch, doing rapidfire service between outlier and junction? Then all you have is 5-10 minute layover and cross-platform, rather than 20-30 minute couple and brake test.

I've thought for a few years now that a DMU to Port Huron, meeting every Detroit train at Battle Creek, makes far more sense than running a long train to quiet Port Huron. Michigan is a bit like Scotland, and the DMU concept could open up a few markets. Toledo to Detroit to Port Huron, the BC-Port Huron branch, even Traverse City service.
  by Jeff Smith
 
I'm going to cross the continent, and mention my beloved Monterey. I'm not sure what if any trackage is left, but given Cali's friendly transit environment, I'd say Carmel, Monterey, Seaside Heights, Pacific Grove, etc. would be popular.
  by bdawe
 
Jeff Smith wrote: Fri May 29, 2020 10:38 am I'm going to cross the continent, and mention my beloved Monterey. I'm not sure what if any trackage is left, but given Cali's friendly transit environment, I'd say Carmel, Monterey, Seaside Heights, Pacific Grove, etc. would be popular.
Union Pacific pulled the switch at Castroville 20 years ago, though SP never reached Carmel. Most of the track is still there, but it's encased in Ashphalt bikepath beyond Sand City
  by MattW
 
Gilbert B Norman wrote: Thu May 28, 2020 10:17 am Mr. Matt W, I trust you have reviewed the earlier posts at this topic authored by those who have ridden DMU's overseas, where the technology presumably has advanced since the RDC (oh, and it's ill fated knock off, the SPV), and that such reviews are indeed "mixed".
Yes, the reviews are mixed, but that's true of most equipment these days. Most of the negative comments in this thread seem to be either old equipment, or superficial things, like seats. A seat being bad doesn't mean DMU technology itself is bad.
If the only expectation of attracting passengers to commercial transportation over, say, Atlanta-Augusta (i 've ridden the GARR all the way on a '70 excursion and partway '73 on the "Mixto"), is a busload, then that is why "We The People" built I-20.
I envy you, I came 7 years too late to ride the old Georgia mixed, and 10-12 years too late to remember it if I did! But I don't disagree with you, the Georgia road in a vacuum doesn't make a good route, the "detour" between Avondale and Conyers away from I-20 is what kills the run time. Though besides that, it's actually pretty direct. And as part of a regional network, I think it would be a worthwhile line.
If there cannot be reasonable expectation of patronage sufficient for a locomotive hauled train operating in the league of drive time competitive (that's a tall order given Georgia's topography much North of Warner Robbins) , then just "stay out of the kitchen".
Eh, the Fitz and Manchester to Atlanta is pretty direct, if there was a connection at Cordele between CSX and NS, it'd be even more direct from Jacksonville and you'd get Macon. Of course, these days the Fitz is congested and loaded with 13kft trains.
  by gokeefe
 
For the sake of this conversation it seems worth noting that NNEPRA is conducting a study of a very short commuter rail line that would go from Westbrook to Portland. As the sole passenger service operator in Maine (excluding insulars and museums) it seems extremely likely to me that they would select Amtrak as the contract operator. This service also would be a near certainty to operate with DMUs.

So "yes" DMUs could happen in Maine but it *will not* be on the Downeaster for reasons related to flexibility and reliability over longer distances.

Sent from my Pixel 2 XL using Tapatalk

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