I think we're on the same page here. In the last year or two here, the hottest topics on this forum have been what to do with redundant older fleets - Acela, Amfleet, Horizon, Genesis. Some guys don't want them around, others believe we can make them roll forever.mtuandrew wrote:True enough, Tad. The Horizon fleet ought to be railworthy as long as Amtrak cares to keep it that way, assuming it can find body-specific parts or order a small run of one-off pieces.
The question becomes, when do you stop sinking money into your 1991 Dodge Ram 12-passenger van and upgrade to a 2019 Mercedes Sprinter coach?
I don't think there's any question that they should be replaced, like the Sprinter argument above. We cannot rely on 40yo coaches to operate efficient service. The question then becomes "is there an economic benefit to keep the older cars around and are they safe?". If the Siemens order is roughly 1 for 1 to midwest coaches, it might make sense because the Horizon fleet is in reasonably good shape (believe they were gently overhauled about ten years ago), they are reasonably simple to maintain, and they're long paid for.
That last part is important. They're paid for. That means it costs far less to use them as a surge fleet than ordering additional Siemens cars. That also means they will run the least miles of anything in the fleet, lowering maintenance needs, and only roll when tickets are highest priced. Superbowls, Thanksgiving, inaugurations, etc... By keeping a reasonable surge fleet that we're assuming for the moment is actually profitable, that allows the railroad to pay down capital costs of new fleets like the Siemens cars in a faster manner.
So assuming a simple to maintain surge fleet can be kept profitably, it's a symbiotic relationship with the new cars. The new cars can be ordered in a slightly smaller fleet and be paid off faster. Given the need for simplicity and reliability, the Acela fleet is probably out, as is the Genesis fleet. They're used hard, complex, and not supported by a manufacturer.