• Acela Replacement and Disposition 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 25Hz
 
The main problem in getting over 170 mph is 3-fold. One, you need to get better tracks, 2, new catenary system, 3, adjusted track centers to allow more aggressive superelevation where needed.

This will take billions and years to make a reality. We are at a point where just making things into good repair is not enough, we are past that now... the next step we need is to build for the future, replacing and rebuilding with an eye for upgrades and changes going forward. New tunnels, new substations, new cat towers, a higher standard of engineering and maintenance, and maybe the FRA will have to allow lighter trains and change the crashworthiness standards. If we are responsible in what we do with our rail infrastructure and rolling stock and make the needed changes, things will greatly improve very quickly (though not quickly enough for some). The time for doing nothing and half measures is over, we are falling far, far behind in this.
  by gokeefe
 
25Hz wrote:The time for doing nothing and half measures is over, we are falling far, far behind in this.
Ugh....how cliche. We're falling "behind" everybody. "It's a sinking ship, 'everybody jump!'"

I would challenge you to find any railroad anywhere in the world that is capable of running combined high speed passenger along with conventional heavy duty freight operations. Good luck. Doesn't exist anywhere else. I'm not all that impressed with countries that spend billions of their own (USD equivalent!) building grade separated passenger only corridors here there and everywhere. That's neither technologically nor politically innovative in any sense or fashion. Next time you want to ship a container across the monopolized European rail network have fun when you look at their freight tarriffs for intermodal. Double stack because you're sending a lot? Good luck. Maybe in some places but not in most.

Oh and by the way, Mr. amtrakowitz, as far as signaling systems go that didn't do much to prevent Eschede. I was living "there" when it happenned, I saw the wreaths at the end of the platform at München Hauptbahnhof and having ridden the ICE in nearly the same time period, over the very same rails will never forget it. Read up on the utterly ridiculous and passive slipshod engineering utilized by the DB in making their decisions to change the "tires" on the ICE and your blood would run cold. They made a major design change and never had it tested at high speed. The FRA would throw a fit if something of such a nature were even proposed by Amtrak.

The Northeast Corridor remains in my opinion one of the rare feats of railroad engineering that manages to balance economic necessities and benefits of freight and passenger traffic in the same space. For all their intelligence and supposed innovation that is a nut the Europeans have yet to crack (if they were to even attempt it in the first place....). Stodgy as we all seem to like to think of the FRA and their inconvenient Tier II "safety" standards, they are the only ones who have even tried. I commend them for this and for having the bureaucratic courage to stand up to those who would trade in safety for the sake of expedience.

I am not in the least but convinced that Amtrak is "driving the train" in regards to any changes to HSR rules. The best concession that they might be able to hope for is some kind of amended inspection schedule for EMU trainsets. Other than that I think it's a lost cause to think for even a split second that the FRA is going to give in to political pressure on their crash worthiness standards (which have yet to even be used/proven in a real world high speed accident...knock on wood...).
  by David Benton
 
um , passenger trains of 125 mph and freight services have been running in Britain on the same track for at least 40 years . The last major accident was between a high speed passenger train (doing 140 mph) , and a coal train .(after the passenger train struck a jeep that had landed on the track , no fault of the railways ).
I think there are alot more political and economic reasons why rail freight in Europe is not on the scale it is in the USA , rather than technical ones . major one would be its pretty hard to go more than 600 miles without changing countries . On the other hand , there are alot of short haul freight operations in Europe , ( and NZ ) , that USA class ones wouldnt even look at trying to run economically .
Regardless , there is no point in this arguement . its not about who does what best , its what equipment to what safety standard will best suit .
  by amtrakowitz
 
gokeefe wrote:
25Hz wrote:The time for doing nothing and half measures is over, we are falling far, far behind in this.
Ugh....how cliche. We're falling "behind" everybody. "It's a sinking ship, 'everybody jump!'"

I would challenge you to find any railroad anywhere in the world that is capable of running combined high speed passenger along with conventional heavy duty freight operations. Good luck. Doesn't exist anywhere else. I'm not all that impressed with countries that spend billions of their own (USD equivalent!) building grade separated passenger only corridors here there and everywhere. That's neither technologically nor politically innovative in any sense or fashion. Next time you want to ship a container across the monopolized European rail network have fun when you look at their freight tarriffs for intermodal. Double stack because you're sending a lot? Good luck. Maybe in some places but not in most.

Oh and by the way, Mr. amtrakowitz, as far as signaling systems go that didn't do much to prevent Eschede. I was living "there" when it happenned, I saw the wreaths at the end of the platform at München Hauptbahnhof and having ridden the ICE in nearly the same time period, over the very same rails will never forget it. Read up on the utterly ridiculous and passive slipshod engineering utilized by the DB in making their decisions to change the "tires" on the ICE and your blood would run cold. They made a major design change and never had it tested at high speed. The FRA would throw a fit if something of such a nature were even proposed by Amtrak.

The Northeast Corridor remains in my opinion one of the rare feats of railroad engineering that manages to balance economic necessities and benefits of freight and passenger traffic in the same space. For all their intelligence and supposed innovation that is a nut the Europeans have yet to crack (if they were to even attempt it in the first place....). Stodgy as we all seem to like to think of the FRA and their inconvenient Tier II "safety" standards, they are the only ones who have even tried. I commend them for this and for having the bureaucratic courage to stand up to those who would trade in safety for the sake of expedience.

I am not in the least but convinced that Amtrak is "driving the train" in regards to any changes to HSR rules. The best concession that they might be able to hope for is some kind of amended inspection schedule for EMU trainsets. Other than that I think it's a lost cause to think for even a split second that the FRA is going to give in to political pressure on their crash worthiness standards (which have yet to even be used/proven in a real world high speed accident...knock on wood...)
Blather. Tier II would not have saved any lives vis-à-vis Eschede, especially with an overpass crashing down onto the train. And that is no matter the cause of derailment, and there can be many causes.

Berlin-Hamburg Railway not a parallel to the NEC? Looks to me like they run far more mainline freight than the NEC at faster speeds, and that's without the benefit of a parallel right of way like the NEC has (the former B&O, RDG and LVRR) which really does the bulk of the freight traffic and has the better overhead clearances. Not to mention, the Berlin-Hamburg tilting high-speed trains run at faster average speeds than the NEC, as I also suspect the numerous commuter trains do.

As for the FRA being "the only ones who have even tried", take a look at the TGV Duplex's crash energy management. Although dated (came out in 1995), they aren't too far behind the Acela Express' frontal crash load (AE at 1.8 million pounds and TGV Duplex at 1.1 million pounds—but CEM has improved vastly since those early days). The FRA themselves continue to test CEM versus brute buff strength. 160-mph running has been promised for the railroad now known as the Northeast Corridor ever since the 1960s. Back then, the railroads were looking to mostly reduce weight of passenger cars in order to move more passengers with less horsepower—that whole thing about thermodynamics and being competitive and all.
  by gokeefe
 
amtrakowitz wrote:Blather. Tier II would not have saved any lives vis-à-vis Eschede, especially with an overpass crashing down onto the train. And that is no matter the cause of derailment, and there can be many causes.
Tut tut Mr. amtrakowitz, I didn't suggest such and you know it. My direct reply to your remark about signal systems is simply that some of the best signal and positive train control systems in the world couldn't and didn't prevent Eschede. Incompetence, passivity and inspecting train wheels with flashlights and not ultrasonic test equipment was more than sufficient to cause a major disaster.

Amtrak and the State of California have a big decision to make but the problem remains that the operating environments for these trainsets will be vastly different. For the moment perhaps we should conclude that a tactical error has been made and that CAHSR should in fact be pursuing acquisition of a traditional, "European style" lightweight trainset and Amtrak should be fielding a second generation Tier II compliant Acela with tilting technology.

CAHSR is going to be the loser no matter what here because they are going to end up acquiring a heavier trainset with greater safety margins than necessary and tilting technology that will potentially have no application on their intended corridor of operation.
  by Arlington
 
gokeefe wrote:CAHSR is going to be the loser no matter what here because they are going to end up acquiring a heavier trainset with greater safety margins than necessary and tilting technology that will potentially have no application on their intended corridor of operation.
I'm going to push back the other way. Why are we assuming that California needs a true 220mph non-tilting EMU any time before 2029? Conversely I think they'll need an Acela 2 type trainset at launch and forever in order to serve San Diego and Sacramento and Oakland over electrified conventional rails.

At launch (in 2018), they're making the San Joaquins from Bakersfield to Oakland/Sacramento electric, with a speedway in the Central Valley, but mixing on upgraded conventional tracks at the northern end. [EDIT actually, I'm not sure if this is electric or diesel]

By 2022, they promise a 220mph "Initial High Speed Operations" but only from "from Merced to the San Fernando Valley", i.e., not Los Angeles, not Oakland, not Sacramento. I know they have a 220mph legal mandate of some kind, but if that turns out to be critical, they might have just a single 220mph EMU shuttling back and forth between Merced and Palmdale--the only segment on which they'll operate un-mixed.

If they're getting any HSR-style payback in this period, it will have be in a mixed environment--more like the NEC than the TGV--in order to get to Oakland, Sacramento and LA. Sounds more like a 180mph tilter to me.

In 2027 they connect into San Jose (and mix with Caltrain to SF) and 2029 they connect Palmdale to LA on dedicated tracks, and even then they're on conventional tracks from LA to San Diego. A perfect route to "retire" one's Acela2/CHSR1 fleet.
  by gokeefe
 
Arlington wrote:
gokeefe wrote:CAHSR is going to be the loser no matter what here because they are going to end up acquiring a heavier trainset with greater safety margins than necessary and tilting technology that will potentially have no application on their intended corridor of operation.
I'm going to push back the other way. Why are we assuming that California needs a true 220mph non-tilting EMU any time before 2029? Conversely I think they'll need an Acela 2 type trainset at launch and forever in order to serve San Diego and Sacramento and Oakland over electrified conventional rails.

At launch (in 2018), they're making the San Joaquins from Bakersfield to Oakland/Sacramento electric, with a speedway in the Central Valley, but mixing on upgraded conventional tracks at the northern end. [EDIT actually, I'm not sure if this is electric or diesel]

By 2022, they promise a 220mph "Initial High Speed Operations" but only from "from Merced to the San Fernando Valley", i.e., not Los Angeles, not Oakland, not Sacramento. I know they have a 220mph legal mandate of some kind, but if that turns out to be critical, they might have just a single 220mph EMU shuttling back and forth between Merced and Palmdale--the only segment on which they'll operate un-mixed.

If they're getting any HSR-style payback in this period, it will have be in a mixed environment--more like the NEC than the TGV--in order to get to Oakland, Sacramento and LA. Sounds more like a 180mph tilter to me.

In 2027 they connect into San Jose (and mix with Caltrain to SF) and 2029 they connect Palmdale to LA on dedicated tracks, and even then they're on conventional tracks from LA to San Diego. A perfect route to "retire" one's Acela2/CHSR1 fleet.
That makes much more sense and since I don't follow CAHSR closely my fault for forgetting they were going to be running on mixed lines.

In either case this seems to mean that "Tier 2" more or less "as is" will apply.
  by Arlington
 
Matt Johnson wrote:
gokeefe wrote: In either case this seems to mean that "Tier 2" more or less "as is" will apply.
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-01-0 ... rains.html
Amtrak wants a 220 mph capable EMU. I'm hoping to see something like the Siemens Velaro on the NEC!
Well, yes, both Amtrak and CHSRA both aspire to 220mph EMU service, but looking at the mixed/conventional sections in big cities, there's no market justification for either of them having such trains during the useful life of this train order.

But get the 3 parties together (FRA, Amtrak and CHSRA) and maybe each gets enough political cover to find a compromise solution at the competitive sweet spot (rather than cutting edge) of global HSR, which is more like an affordable, off-the-shelf tilting set in the 160mph to 190mph range with a proven safety record, which I think they can get from Alstom or Siemens, yes?
  by amtrakowitz
 
gokeefe wrote:
amtrakowitz wrote:Blather. Tier II would not have saved any lives vis-à-vis Eschede, especially with an overpass crashing down onto the train. And that is no matter the cause of derailment, and there can be many causes.
Tut tut Mr. amtrakowitz, I didn't suggest such and you know it. My direct reply to your remark about signal systems is simply that some of the best signal and positive train control systems in the world couldn't and didn't prevent Eschede. Incompetence, passivity and inspecting train wheels with flashlights and not ultrasonic test equipment was more than sufficient to cause a major disaster
Going on to suggest that the Northeast Corridor, under FRA guidelines (including Tier II especially crashworthinless), is some sort of paragon following a diatribe about Eschede does indeed suggest a connection, though—for if signaling is not related (and nowhere did I suggest it was nor did I even mention signaling, so I have absolutely no clue where you got that from), then following paragraphs have to be related, otherwise why append in that manner? If not so, then it is necessary to specifically point out that it is unrelated. Eschede is sadly unique.
gokeefe wrote:Amtrak and the State of California have a big decision to make but the problem remains that the operating environments for these trainsets will be vastly different. For the moment perhaps we should conclude that a tactical error has been made and that CAHSR should in fact be pursuing acquisition of a traditional, "European style" lightweight trainset and Amtrak should be fielding a second generation Tier II compliant Acela with tilting technology.

CAHSR is going to be the loser no matter what here because they are going to end up acquiring a heavier trainset with greater safety margins than necessary and tilting technology that will potentially have no application on their intended corridor of operation.
Depends on what this train turns out to be. With CEM improvements, then it is possible to meet frontal and lateral crash loads without adding extra weight. That, however, will not make the Tier II stipulation of carrying no passengers in the forward cab car of a Tier II trainset go away; all MUs on the general railway network are permanently limited to 125 mph unless Amtrak bans passengers from the front power car of a MU above 125 mph, which does them in as far as revenue seating for at least one car.

Either way, CAHSR is going to need something that meets current crashworthiness specs anyhow; at least to Tier 1 crashworthiness, no matter how fast they operate on whatever shared tracks with the general railway network they end up running on (whether 79 mph or 125 mph top speed thereupon). And "European style" doesn't always translate to lightweight.

I might also add the problems with platforms thus introduced with "joint" trainsets. Does this mean that CAHSR now needs to build high platforms, at both Los Angeles Union Station and Caltrain's San Francisco terminal at 4th and King? Unless our Acela replacement has steps and trapdoors (absent from the current Acela Express, although not absent from the Budd Metroliner which was originally projected to have a 160-mph top speed), then segregated tracks and platforms will be necessary at all CAHSR endpoints.
  by andegold
 
The current Acela carries no passengers in either power car for obvious reasons other than FRA regulations. If Acela2 were to be EMU as requested by Amtrak/CA wouldn't that spread the weight? If the trainset is an EMU, it is my understanding, that doesn't require it to be like NJ Arrows or NY M-7s or similar MUs in the US. Aren't the Japanese MUs, at least visually, more akin to the trains that shall not be named? In other words aren't the end cars more power than passenger? Why couldn't the end cars be just long enough to carry the weight of whatever equipment is neccessary but not have any passenger accomodations, taking into account that some equipment could be distributed to the rest of the train, and then neither the length of the train nor the weight of the train would be quite so severely impacted? Also, aren't there one or more commuter roads in the US that keep the cab car passenger free when in push mode? While such a procedure wouldn't work in NY or NJ where every possible seat on a train as long as physically possible is needed to be available for passengers these high speed sets would likely have more flexibility to have a power car with seating in half the car but only allow useage of such seats in the rear car not the lead car.
  by Arlington
 
amtrakowitz wrote:I might also add the problems with platforms thus introduced with "joint" trainsets. Does this mean that CAHSR now needs to build high platforms, at both Los Angeles Union Station and Caltrain's San Francisco terminal at 4th and King? Unless our Acela replacement has steps and trapdoors (absent from the current Acela Express, although not absent from the Budd Metroliner which was originally projected to have a 160-mph top speed), then segregated tracks and platforms will be necessary at all CAHSR endpoints.
CAHSR has always been designed as a high-platform system. Buying Joint with Acela does not introduce the need for high platforms. It has always been there as an assumption (in favor) and a problem (with Caltrain). They have until 2027 before they're running on Caltrain, and either will have to find trains with traps or raise some platforms. That need not be solved now to make a joint order for trains that will be running for 10 years (2018 to 2027) before it ever becomes a problem.
Last edited by Arlington on Mon Jan 21, 2013 5:06 pm, edited 3 times in total.
  by Arlington
 
andegold wrote:Why couldn't the end cars be just long enough to carry the weight of whatever equipment is neccessary but not have any passenger accomodations,
If they find themselves designing a custom machine, they've failed in their stated desire to buy an off-the-shelf trainset more quickly, more cheaply and with less technical risk.
  by MattW
 
Arlington wrote:
Matt Johnson wrote:
gokeefe wrote: In either case this seems to mean that "Tier 2" more or less "as is" will apply.
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-01-0 ... rains.html
Amtrak wants a 220 mph capable EMU. I'm hoping to see something like the Siemens Velaro on the NEC!
Well, yes, both Amtrak and CHSRA both aspire to 220mph EMU service, but looking at the mixed/conventional sections in big cities, there's no market justification for either of them having such trains during the useful life of this train order.

But get the 3 parties together (FRA, Amtrak and CHSRA) and maybe each gets enough political cover to find a compromise solution at the competitive sweet spot (rather than cutting edge) of global HSR, which is more like an affordable, off-the-shelf tilting set in the 160mph to 190mph range with a proven safety record, which I think they can get from Alstom or Siemens, yes?
Such trains aren't the cutting edge of what are being offered by the companies, they seem to be the standard. The AGV, Velaro, and one of the latest Shinkansens all have top speeds in the 200-220mph range. What other trainsets are there? I don't see why we should buy a trainset based on the lowest top speed like you seem to be suggesting? What's wrong with just not driving a 220mph set at 220mph for part of the route? if 220mph equipment is the cheapest of what's being offered, and more importantly, won't need to be replaced or supplemented in just a few years once upgrades to 220mph are complete. Even if it isn't the cheapest, avoiding the need for new equipment later might make the decision to go ahead with 220 cheaper in the long run.
amtrakowitz wrote:
gokeefe wrote:
amtrakowitz wrote:Blather. Tier II would not have saved any lives vis-à-vis Eschede, especially with an overpass crashing down onto the train. And that is no matter the cause of derailment, and there can be many causes.
Tut tut Mr. amtrakowitz, I didn't suggest such and you know it. My direct reply to your remark about signal systems is simply that some of the best signal and positive train control systems in the world couldn't and didn't prevent Eschede. Incompetence, passivity and inspecting train wheels with flashlights and not ultrasonic test equipment was more than sufficient to cause a major disaster
Going on to suggest that the Northeast Corridor, under FRA guidelines (including Tier II especially crashworthinless), is some sort of paragon following a diatribe about Eschede does indeed suggest a connection, though—for if signaling is not related (and nowhere did I suggest it was nor did I even mention signaling, so I have absolutely no clue where you got that from), then following paragraphs have to be related, otherwise why append in that manner? If not so, then it is necessary to specifically point out that it is unrelated. Eschede is sadly unique.
gokeefe wrote:Amtrak and the State of California have a big decision to make but the problem remains that the operating environments for these trainsets will be vastly different. For the moment perhaps we should conclude that a tactical error has been made and that CAHSR should in fact be pursuing acquisition of a traditional, "European style" lightweight trainset and Amtrak should be fielding a second generation Tier II compliant Acela with tilting technology.

CAHSR is going to be the loser no matter what here because they are going to end up acquiring a heavier trainset with greater safety margins than necessary and tilting technology that will potentially have no application on their intended corridor of operation.
Depends on what this train turns out to be. With CEM improvements, then it is possible to meet frontal and lateral crash loads without adding extra weight. That, however, will not make the Tier II stipulation of carrying no passengers in the forward cab car of a Tier II trainset go away; all MUs on the general railway network are permanently limited to 125 mph unless Amtrak bans passengers from the front power car of a MU above 125 mph, which does them in as far as revenue seating for at least one car.

Either way, CAHSR is going to need something that meets current crashworthiness specs anyhow; at least to Tier 1 crashworthiness, no matter how fast they operate on whatever shared tracks with the general railway network they end up running on (whether 79 mph or 125 mph top speed thereupon). And "European style" doesn't always translate to lightweight.

I might also add the problems with platforms thus introduced with "joint" trainsets. Does this mean that CAHSR now needs to build high platforms, at both Los Angeles Union Station and Caltrain's San Francisco terminal at 4th and King? Unless our Acela replacement has steps and trapdoors (absent from the current Acela Express, although not absent from the Budd Metroliner which was originally projected to have a 160-mph top speed), then segregated tracks and platforms will be necessary at all CAHSR endpoints.
Amtrak probably wouldn't be ordering new Tier-II equipment, it'd be Tier-III which should allow occupied leading cars. The last I heard, Tier-III by itself would allow up to 125mph in mixed (freight, Tier-I, Tier-II) traffic, and 125+ in Tier-III-only traffic. However, Amtrak was looking for a wavier from the FRA to allow 125+ operation in the mixed traffic on the NEC with all the fancy signaling that ensures positive separation. Either way, if you read the actual news release, Amtrak not only specifically asks for EMUs, but passenger occupancy of the cab cars.
The News Release (PDF) http://www.amtrak.com/ccurl/620/710/Amt ... 13-012.pdf

I apologize if my reply is not exactly what you are indicating in your post, but the point still stands that Amtrak is asking for EMUs with occupied cab cars which will presumably operate under the proposed Tier-III crash standards.
  by amtrakowitz
 
MattW wrote:Amtrak probably wouldn't be ordering new Tier-II equipment, it'd be Tier-III which should allow occupied leading cars. The last I heard, Tier-III by itself would allow up to 125 mph in mixed (freight, Tier-I, Tier-II) traffic, and 125+ in Tier-III-only traffic
Eh? Tier II already allows 150 mph in all manner of rail traffic (where you have Class 8 tracks and appropriate signaling). Sounds like there is no difference between Tier III and Tier I therefore, since everything "slower" and older than the Acela Express can run at up to 125 mph in mixed traffic, assuming Class 7 tracks and pertinent signaling; and such Tier I trains can be MU cars allowing passengers to ride in the front power car.
25Hz wrote:The main problem in getting over 170 mph is 3-fold. One, you need to get better tracks, 2, new catenary system, 3, adjusted track centers to allow more aggressive superelevation where needed
Most of this is imposed by the FRA without real-world study (such as the thus-far-fictional "Class 9 track"). And trying to "(get) over 170 mph" on a traditional railroad is not a goal that any railroad anywhere in the world is shooting for. Constant-tension catenary versus variable-tension (as opposed to "new" versus old) is a weather-related concern, since the latter tends to sag during hot weather conditions and can be overtensioned during exceptionally cold weather. And thus far, I have not seen (and would like to see) a professional opinion as to where the most effectiveness lies towards increasing average speeds with a combination of superelevation of tracks and/or active-tilt suspension (that can actually allow 9° cant deficiency this time around); after all, track center width concerns between a traditional railroad and a dedicated high-speed railroad may not be the same, especially depending on width of trainset.
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