• 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 gokeefe
 
North Carolina uses Amfleets for the Carolinian which is why I included them in the list of off-corridor services that would benefit from improved fleet availability.

The PRIIA formulas for state funded services would not be very forgiving to PennDOT if they wished to elect Acela equipment over Amfleets. This would be a major change for a state service that already has had to absorb a major cost increase related to how Amtrak must charge for electric traction.

If Bombardier (or Alstom ... whoever it is) is able to repower the HHP-8's I think there is every reason to believe that the Acela's may be considered for retention in secondary service. The one downside is that the Acela would cost Amtrak some capacity in seat availability versus the Northeast Regional trainsets.

Noting who is in charge right now at Amtrak I'm having a hard time believing that an airline executive would so readily throw away highly specialized equipment that commands a premium fare. Airline industry practice would clearly point towards refurbishment and reuse on secondary routes or schedules.
  by east point
 
The question to use the AX-1s once the AX-2s comes into service is just speculation now. Many factors may happen to effect any Amtrak decision so it would be imprudent for Amtrak to decide now what to do. Just a few items which others can provide additional points .
1. How many persons want to ride Amtrak both NEC and nation wide when the AX-2s come into full service ? That is will Amtrak have enough capacity without the AX-1s ?.
2. How reliable are the AX-2s once in service ?
3. Are there sufficient yard facilities for the AX-1s to operate a proposed service ? .
4. Will a new use be financially viable year around ?
5. Will there be available track space ? In the case for NYPS the north River tunnels ?
6. For the NEC will there be enough electrical power for additional CAT service ?
  by gokeefe
 
Assuming that Amfleets are displaced elsewhere the only question that I think could truly be a problem is #3.

Although I don't know the exact numbers on power draw an 8 to 10 car Northeast Regional seems likely to draw the same or similar amount of power as an Acela.
  by mtuandrew
 
east point wrote:The question to use the AX-1s once the AX-2s comes into service is just speculation now. Many factors may happen to effect any Amtrak decision so it would be imprudent for Amtrak to decide now what to do. Just a few items which others can provide additional points .
Great questions. From an outside perspective:
1. How many persons want to ride Amtrak both NEC and nation wide when the AX-2s come into full service ? That is will Amtrak have enough capacity without the AX-1s ?.
Until the new Amtrak Regional coaches come on-line hopefully in the mid-2020s, yes. Amfleets aren’t getting younger, and even if Amtrak is able to pull them and Horizons to the NEC from around the country, they’ll slowly start leaving service.
2. How reliable are the AX-2s once in service ?
I hope very! We will see though, since the tech is proven but the configuration is not.
3. Are there sufficient yard facilities for the AX-1s to operate a proposed service ? .
I don’t know yet. They will need a specific maintenance facility, whether that’s at HAR or at Sunnyside.
4. Will a new use be financially viable year around ?
Better year-round than as a surge fleet, it keeps them in service and inspected.
5. Will there be available track space ? In the case for NYPS the north River tunnels ?
They’d replace the current ACS-64/Amfleet/Metroliner cab sets one for one, so yes.
6. For the NEC will there be enough electrical power for additional CAT service ?
The Alstom AX-2 is supposed to use a similar or lower amount of electricity than the BBD AX-1, so I don’t see why there would be electrical load issues on the NEC. Not sure about the Keystone Corridor (Pennsy Main Line), between the new SEPTA equipment and higher-speed Amtrak equipment.

All this does presuppose that PennDOT is willing to build at least mini-highs at the current low-platform-only stations, and that Amtrak doesn’t have another use planned for the Acelas and is also willing to redo the seating. It does help Amtrak to have a higher-capacity service between NYP and PHL that can move at 150/165 mph though, since these would be larger than the current Keystone sets.
  by gokeefe
 
Here's a question ... How many Northeast Regional trainsets are currently running in WAS-NYP, NYP-BOS or WAS-BOS service?

Also worth noting ... I forgot that Avelia Liberty will be adding trainsets to the net total operated by Amtrak currently for Acela Express.
  by frequentflyer
 
Amtrak is trying to simplify its fleet and reduce mx costs. Eventually LD and regional trains will most likely be Siemen pax cars (there's a post around here somewhere about next gen LD equipment will be single level for ease of operations) and Acela IIs. Jury is still out on DMU/EMUs. Why keep the original Acelas around that are intensive mx? For surge reasons?

Are we going to have this conversation again, when Amfleet and Superliners start to be retired? Keep them for "just in case"?
  by Tadman
 
When a carrier keeps old stuff around for "just in case", it doesn't work nearly as well as they think it will. Many federal carriers in other countries have done that, and they wind up having a giant boneyard full of cars that haven't seen an inspection in a decade, birds nests, water damage, etc... It's not a good strategy. In fact, Argentina just announced they will clean up all the surplus rolling stock because they feel it's worth far more as scrap than surge fleet.

Heck, the Cleveland RTA kept a large fleet of surge cars in the yard out by Hopkins airport for 15+ years for no good reason. It just never adds up by the end of the day.
  by gokeefe
 
I completely agree that "just in case" or "surge" would never justify keeping the Acela trainsets on hand. That being said if there really is the possibility of a rebuild in the making I strongly suspect that Amtrak will at least consider it. There is quite simply too much money to be made if Amtrak is in fact able to run both Acela and Avelia Liberty trainsets in high speed service between Washington, New York and Boston. There are also additional "big bucks" under PRIIA out there for Amtrak coming from any state that chooses to increase the fleet capacity of their state supported services.

I have already made predictions regarding the elimination of the annual operating loss as a result of increased revenues from deployment of Avelia Liberty. The follow on possibilities for the original Acela trainsets are too intriguing to ignore.
  by mtuandrew
 
Commuter fleets are the perfect surge fleet for Amtrak. The concept breaks down out west of course, you can’t steal Metra gallery cars for a week and a half round trip on the Empire Builder, but that’s a reason for Amtrak to consider a fully-single-level (or NEC-bilevel) fleet. A surge fleet needs to be able to run in daily service, and to be run in daily service even once or twice a day.

Apologies for the drift from Acelas, but this applies equally to the AX-1 as to the Amfleet replacement, additional Viewliners, and whatever takes the Superliners’ place.
  by gokeefe
 
When considering secondary operation of the Acela another question that comes to mind is what to do about the FirstClass cars.

Amtrak could take ten of them (and a Cafe) and create two special trains for charters. Even though they are gone for the moment I strongly suspect that charter train operations will return once Anderson departs.

The extra Business class cars would replace the 20 FirstClass cars taken from the trainsets and create a premium "all BusinessClass" configuration that could fit nicely in the niche between the Northeast Regionals and the Acela Express service with the new Avelia Liberty trainsets.
  by Backshophoss
 
I can remember when NJT Arrow III's did their "Break in" runs for Amtrak on the NEC, they were still "new" and not yet abused.
Rode a set from NY Penn to DC and after a while they do somewhat get uncomfortable around hour 3 onward, and was crowded to the point
that any movement in the aisle was not easy. :(
By now the Arrow IIi's are worn out and abused to a point that the ride quality is crap.
Return trip was behind X995 in Amfleet I's, not a bad ride and could get to the "AmCafe car easy enough,was not crowded on that trip.
You could always use the Acela I's as second sections of popular Acela trains when the Acela II's are online.
As a converse to the all 1st class set,a few sets would become all coach for that 2nd section service.
  by daybeers
 
mtuandrew wrote: PennDOT plans to continue using Amtrak equipment for the Keystone Service, right? It’s in both their and Amtrak's interest to ask for AX-1s in semi-captive service, especially if they can shave off time in curves and hit 125 mph in places where the current service is only allowed 110.
They're not going to upgrade the Keystone Line to 125. It's far too curvy and there are far too many stations in such a short line.
  by gokeefe
 
Backshophoss wrote:You could always use the Acela I's as second sections of popular Acela trains when the Acela II's are online.
As a converse to the all 1st class set,a few sets would become all coach for that 2nd section service.
That's actually a really interesting point. What are the options for MU on the Acela sets? Can they be coupled and operated as a single train (with two crews of course)?
  by Matt Johnson
 
There are a lot of intriguing possibilities for post Avelia secondary uses of the original Acela sets, and then there are good arguments against maintaining expensive unique trains which require unique parts. It's an interesting tradeoff study, and if there's an economic case for keeping 'em, I wonder if eliminating the tilt mechanisms and/or downgrading to say, 125 mph max might reduce wear and maintenance enough to make any difference. I'll leave it to the experts to determine if they're structurally sound and safe for continued high speed use after their 20 year primary career ends.

100 coaches (80 passenger coaches, 20 cafes) is nothing to sneeze at - that's quite a sizable fleet and at CAF Viewliner production rates, represents like a century's worth of equipment acquisition! :)
  by mtuandrew
 
gokeefe wrote:That's actually a really interesting point. What are the options for MU on the Acela sets? Can they be coupled and operated as a single train (with two crews of course)?
Not sure about the interoperability, but the other issue is length - I don't know how many stations on the NEC can platform 14 cars anymore.
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