• 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 MattW
 
amtrakowitz wrote:
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.
*SNIP*
What? Tier-II I believe only allows up to 160mph. So to go faster, they need Tier-III. Also Tier-I MU cars do allow passengers to ride in the front power car: Silverliner V, M7/M8, and I'm sure the Arrow-IIIs, Silverliner II/III/IV and Metra Electric trains all meet Tier-I. If you're saying why not just take a Tier-I body and stick Tier-III mechanical equipment to allow 220mph, well it's sounding like Tier-I and Tier-III aren't identical, namely in needing crash energy management for Tier-III trains. But a lot of this is speculation and based on things we've heard from people who have heard things. Until the standards are created and released, we can't really say if your solution would legally work or not.
  by amtrakowitz
 
MattW wrote:
amtrakowitz wrote:
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.
*SNIP*
What? Tier-II I believe only allows up to 160 mph. So to go faster, they need Tier-III. Also Tier-I MU cars do allow passengers to ride in the front power car: Silverliner V, M7/M8, and I'm sure the Arrow-IIIs, Silverliner II/III/IV and Metra Electric trains all meet Tier-I. If you're saying why not just take a Tier-I body and stick Tier-III mechanical equipment to allow 220 mph, well it's sounding like Tier-I and Tier-III aren't identical, namely in needing crash energy management for Tier-III trains. But a lot of this is speculation and based on things we've heard from people who have heard things. Until the standards are created and released, we can't really say if your solution would legally work or not.
Tier II has to do with operating at 150 mph on the general railway network, yes? (Not 160 mph, for the record; that's the fastest speed permitted on Class 8 track.) Therefore, Tier III must have to do with 200-mph operation on the general railway network, not 125 mph on the general railway network (which both Tier I and II already do, i.e. on Class 7 track)—if there is such a thing on the FRA's books, that applies to high-speed passenger operation. The Northeast Corridor is not a dedicated high-speed railroad that excludes freight and commuter rail, and the plans for 200-mph (plus?) along the northeastern seaboard of the USA do not include operating at those speeds on the railroad that the PRR and New Haven built, but on a brand-new dedicated high-speed railroad that would exclude freight and commuter operations (and, per the recent plans for the $300M/mile duplicate NEC, bypass some cities that it did not serve either Metroliner or Acela to bypass).

And thus far, there is no "Class 10" track that may theoretically permit 220-mph operation. Class 9 track for the FRA allows passenger operation up to 200 mph and no faster.
  by Arlington
 
So, what manufacturers are going to have a satisfactory answer to the joint RFI?

I think it is worth re-reading Amtrak's Jan 17th Press Release in its entirety (PDF here). Yes, there's a bit of a blurring over the differences between what the 3 parties (FRA, Amtrak & CHSRA) want, but you also kind of see where the 3 are working really hard to converge on a solution that serves their aims: political, operational, economic, and safety-wise.

Joe Szabo of the FRA says it was his idea, and I note his emphasis on getting factories here to make *lighter* trains--as if he's already delivered waivers galore:
We applaud both Amtrak and [CHSRA] for answering our call to explore joint procurement of the next generation of high-speed rail equipment. Combining orders will make it easier and more attractive for high-speed rail manufacturers to build factories here in the USA, bringing new high quality jobs and creating ripple effects throughout our domestic supply chain. The end result means the riding public will have lighter, faster, more energy efficient passenger rail equipment.
Amtrak (in the release) says it wants:
a HSR train set able to operate at the current NEC maximum speed of 150 mph and can subsequently operate at up to 220 mph as the tracks and other infrastructure is improved to support the higher speeds. In addition, the preferred train set has Electric Multiple Unit (EMU) power distribution among all cars, operates bi-directionally with a cab car on each end that allows for passenger occupancy and has a seating capacity of 400 to 600 passengers.
CHSRA (in the release) says it wants:
a HSR train set able to operate up to 220 mph and has Electric Multiple Unit (EMU) power distribution among all cars, operates bi-directionally with a cab on each end that allows for passenger occupancy that has a seating capacity of 450 to 500 passengers per 656 feet train set.
  by gokeefe
 
I agree with the 'tea-leaf' read of the inclusion of "lighter" as being an utterance of significance by Administrator Szabo.

I think he also makes a very reasonable point that a combined order is more likely to interest manufacturers in establishing American assembly facilities.
  by Arlington
 
Bloggers are still trying to figure out whom to believe: The FRA's PR department which insists the plan is for "off the shelf" HSR gear, or Amtrak's comment upon FRA's rule-makers which so far (according to Amtrak and others sceptical of the FRA) have not made the kind of changes necessary to permit an off-the-shelf purchase.

The FRA's PR (according to DC.Streetsblog) says:
The FRA and Amtrak are working very closely and cooperatively with each other and worldwide train manufactures through the Rail Safety Advisory Committee (RSAC) to achieve a consensus on safety design standards. There is unanimous consensus on the path forward with all of our stakeholders, including Amtrak, all international railcar manufacturers and other partners. Together through the RSAC process we are writing safety standards will allow proven trainsets used in other countries to operate in the U.S. market. Our process is and has always been a fluid and iterative process. Collectively, our goal is to establish and implement safety standards that are appropriate for U.S. operating environments so that passengers, employees and communities along rail routes are and remain safe.
Which seems to be PR's way of saying "the Final Rule isn't Final, and will yet be re-jiggered by Administrator Szabo"

Meanwhile, Amtrak, in commenting on the rule (which critics of the FRA say is basically-unchanged) complained:
The assumption that the standards simplify the design process of the equipment and would save $2,000,000 per train set is false. The Acela example indicates the exact opposite to be true. The FRA rules, as existing and proposed, eliminate the possibility of purchasing off-the-shelf equipment. The engineering work required to design new compliant equipment alone would far outstrip any possible savings from the rules if there were any to be had.
Not being a rule-reading expert, I can't tell who is right, but the rule that Amtrak doesn't like was published on March 13th here:
http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDe ... -0036-0020
the whole docket is here http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDeta ... -2009-0036

Back to Streetsblog, it appears the FRA rule makers, in defending their not-good-enough-for-Amtrak changes so far, says in its own defense:
Under the final rule it is likely that several carbuilders could provide off-the-shelf equipment that will meet acceleration requirements on minimally compliant track. This will lower costs through increased competition, and use of existing designs. Further, railroads may now be able to order equipment without tilting mechanisms and operate that equipment at high cant deficiencies, thus saving the costs of tilting mechanisms and making the number of available trainsets even greater.

Based on the above, FRA does not agree with Amtrak’s comment for the purposes of this final rule. It is not unreasonable to estimate that the equipment procurement benefits alone will justify the costs of the rule. However, even if FRA eliminates from consideration equipment procurement benefits, as a result of Amtrak’s comment, FRA believes the high cant deficiency and streamlined testing requirements would justify the costs of the rule.
  by Thomas
 
What fleet will likely be chosen for the new Acela trains?

Is it likely that the new trains will have 10 coaches (instead of the current 6)?
  by Gilbert B Norman
 
Just as Amtrak has for every major equipment order since the Amfleets, E-60, and F-40, they have relied upon overseas technology, it is a safe assumption Acela replacements will be same. Apparently, the "buy American" mandate under one piece or another of enacted legislation allows overseas technology; what is important of course, is that the equipment be assembled over here - look at all the "photo ops" - after all, isn't "that is what it's all about" to a pol? By contrast, think of how forty years ago, all the "photo ops" lost when the very first new Amtrak equipment - the RTG Turbos - were ignominiously off loaded from a ship at the Port of Baltimore.

All told, I think it was a gutsy bet on the part of Mr. Boardman to go for a complete fleet replacement of his HSR equipment rather than opting for the safer bet of 40 additional Coaches adding to the existing sets. We await the dealer's "hole card" on that one.

Finally, as Mr. Fan Railer suggests, this topic should be locked or killed and the discussion moved to the on going linked topic.
  by jstolberg
 
he U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) today announced that its Railroad Safety Advisory Committee (RSAC) voted unanimously to recommend that the Transportation Secretary work to implement new crashworthiness performance standards for next generation high-speed passenger rail equipment that will operate in the United States.

The proposed standards would establish performance-based requirements for an interoperable rail network, permitting the use of “service proven” designs and advanced technologies, while ensuring a consistent, systematic approach to safety.
http://www.fra.dot.gov/eLib/details/L04638" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
"Service proven designs" seems to be the key phrase to allow for non-North American equipment standards.
  by gokeefe
 
Here is a more detailed parsing of the press release:
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) today announced that its Railroad Safety Advisory Committee (RSAC) voted unanimously to recommend that the Transportation Secretary work to implement new crashworthiness performance standards for next generation high-speed passenger rail equipment that will operate in the United States.
PARSE:The current standards are no longer suitable and are going to undergo a major revision.
The RSAC is FRA’s technical and policy stakeholder body that includes representatives from various rail industry perspectives, including major international rail builders.
PARSE:The new standards are going to make it easier for manufacturers to sell their products here and will eliminate the requirement to build a "special" American design.
“Today’s vote is another important step in advancing high-speed and intercity passenger rail in America,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.
PARSE:(SECTRANS) I am directing the Department to make a major change to the regulations.
“This vote brings us closer to new jobs and manufacturing opportunities to make high-speed rail equipment for use here at home and abroad.”
PARSE:(SECTRANS) We/I hope some of this change could make it possible to rebuild the U.S. passenger equipment manufacturing base.
The standards, which FRA is developing now before they are published later this year in a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM),
PARSE:The FRA has been told to publish these standards by the end of the year, aka "As Soon as Possible".
...will provide baseline safety requirements for next generation rail equipment that would travel up to speeds of 220 mph on high-speed rail tracks,
PARSE:...so that Amtrak and CAHSR can make a Request for Proposals.
while providing the flexibility to operate with existing freight and passenger systems up to speeds of 125 mph.
PARSE:Confirming that the U.S. mixed operations model will continue.
Once finalized through the FRA’s rulemaking process, the new standards would be employed along the Northeast Corridor and in California, regions both designated for high-speed rail service.
PARSE:We will be watching the FRA closely to ensure they publish this ASAP.
“Today’s action by RSAC is a continuation of FRA’s move away from prescriptive regulations towards more performance-based regulatory environment,” said Joseph C. Szabo, Administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration.
PARSE:The buff strength standard is being deleted in favor of techniques that are proven to protect lives just as well. We consider this to be a world standard.
“I’d like to commend all members of RSAC for advancing these standards forward. They will better align our approach to passenger safety and the use of rail equipment with the rest of the world. ”
PARSE:Thank you to the members of RSAC who delivered for me/us. Glad to see that we are now recognizing that the use of performance based techniques work just as well.
The proposed standards are intended to provide an alternative approach to existing railcar crashworthiness requirements that have influenced the type of passenger equipment built and used in the U.S. market for nearly a century.
PARSE:Buff strength is out. Really.
The proposed standards would establish performance-based requirements for an interoperable rail network, permitting the use of “service proven” designs and advanced technologies, while ensuring a consistent, systematic approach to safety.


PARSE:Key phrase "advanced technologies". PTC will be used to protect trains operating at high speed. Possibly a form that is more advanced than what is being deployed right now.
Since 2009, members of the RSAC have undertaken a review of existing crashworthiness requirements in order to identify a new, technology-neutral, performance-based approach that employs modern and advanced design techniques, such as crash energy management.
PARSE:We waited on these standards for a while. Gave the committee plenty of time and now that the President got reelected we are making sure they complete their work.
Consensus on the proposed standards was reached by the RSAC Engineering Task Force, which is made up of a cross section of the domestic and international railcar supply industry, including 12 railcar manufacturers.
PARSE:Everybody went along with this and we used a lot of manufacturer representation on the committee. We made sure to structure the committee that way in the first place.

Takeaway: The U.S. passenger rail market is reopening for business in a way that it hasn't been in this era of world history (since about 1910).
  by Matt Johnson
 
I suspect that once superior high speed trains start to hit the NEC, the overweight, trouble-prone Acelas won't be around for too much longer. I hope that at least a couple of 'em get preserved in a museum. I still think it was a travesty that none of the UA Turbos were preserved. That was a train ahead of its time!
  by gokeefe
 
Matt Johnson wrote:I suspect that once superior high speed trains start to hit the NEC, the overweight, trouble-prone Acelas won't be around for too much longer.
I will be very interested to see the configuration details. Amtrak has an opportunity here to make a very serious statement about the U.S. commitment to high speed passenger rail and the level(s) of service that they wish to deliver.

As far as the Acela goes I agree, some should be preserved these were very important trains in U.S. passenger rail history and almost single handedly saved Amtrak. They are also a unique design not used or seen anywhere else.
  by Matt Johnson
 
With the HHP-8's slated to go away once the ACS-64's take their place, I wonder what will happen to them. I would assume that they'll likely become parts donors for whatever components might be usable on the Acela Express locomotive fleet. (I realize the major guts are different, but are the trucks the same? And there are the small things like perhaps headlight assemblies, a few of the body panels, windows, doors, etc. I also assume items like the pantographs will likely be stripped.)
  by Backshophoss
 
HHP-8's(Hippos) might be retained as work motors to handle the CWR/ work trains thru NY Penn and the Circus train moves.
Low speed "crap" duties as needed(tow ins).
  by ThirdRail7
 
Perhaps comments like the last three posts should be left out of this thread. They are subjective, speculative and debatable which could lead to a hijack of this thread similar to what has occurred in the ACS-64 thread.
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