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  #41  
Old Posted Nov 20, 2012, 4:09 AM
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Long-distance trains can be successful if the route includes a bunch of city pairs where rail can compete. The Lake Shore Limited is a money suck but Chicago to Cleveland, Toledo, Cleveland to Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh to Buffalo, and so on could carry the route if frequency and reliability were improved.

The longer-distance trains in Europe sometimes work like this, so if you are going long distance, you see the seats around you get filled up and empty out repeatedly as passengers churn.

I'm really interested to see if the Wolverine can start to resemble a European train service - most of the track is now under public ownership and the major conflict points that cause delays are being eliminated. The speed will only be 110mph but the service could become amazing with unfettered access to the tracks. I'm hoping even the small cities along the route can start to post high ridership numbers.
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  #42  
Old Posted Dec 15, 2012, 8:28 PM
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Amtrak Acela Replacement Plan Creates Bombardier Rivalry

Read More: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-1...la-trains.html

Quote:
Amtrak’s plan to replace its fleet of Acela trains provides an opportunity for Siemens AG (SIE), Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. (7011), Hitachi Ltd. (6501) and others who want to compete with Bombardier Inc. (BBD/B), the supplier of equipment used since the service’s start.

- Replacing the Acela, which can operate at speeds of as much as 150 miles per hour, may be Amtrak’s biggest equipment purchase since it bought the original trains in a contract valued at $1.2 billion when signed in 1996. Amtrak doesn’t have a cost estimate because it’s at “the very beginning of this process,” Steve Kulm, a railroad spokesman, said. Montreal-based Bombardier worked with Alstom, based in Levallois-Perret, France, to build the 20 Acela train sets that consist of locomotives integrated with passenger cars. “We would love to work with Amtrak on their next generation of trains,” Maryanne Roberts, a Bombardier spokeswoman, said in an e-mail yesterday.

- Amtrak’s decision to buy new trains comes as it develops long-range plans to offer service as fast as 220 miles per hour (354 kilometers per hour) in the Northeast, an effort it has said will cost $151 billion. The railroad doubled its share of air-rail travel between New York and Washington, to about 75 percent, between 2000 and 2011 after the Acela was introduced and airport security became more time-consuming after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. In announcing the fleet replacement yesterday, Amtrak said it scrapped a plan to buy 40 Acela passenger cars from Bombardier and lengthen each train set by two cars to increase capacity.

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  #43  
Old Posted Dec 16, 2012, 5:42 PM
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I've been meaning to post this for a while and speaking of replacing rolling stock...

...I ran across an auction website advertising the auctioning of some of Amtrak's previous high tech high speed trains, the Turboliner. So sad, hopefully someone has plans to preserve them:


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  #44  
Old Posted Dec 17, 2012, 10:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Busy Bee View Post
I've been meaning to post this for a while and speaking of replacing rolling stock...

...I ran across an auction website advertising the auctioning of some of Amtrak's previous high tech high speed trains, the Turboliner. So sad, hopefully someone has plans to preserve them:
The auction was of NY state's defunct Turboliners and a warehouse full of spare parts. The locomotives and coach cars, along with most of the spare parts, were brought by scrappers and will be cut up and melted down. The auctions netted NY only $420K, but will save a $150K a year in warehouse fees. Times Union article on the two auctions.

Amtrak reportedly has or had 3 mostly intact but non-functional Turboliner sets still in their yard at their Bear DE shops. Likely to suffer the same fate eventually as the NY state Turboliners.
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  #45  
Old Posted Dec 19, 2012, 9:28 PM
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What is the reason they are replacing the current fleet, what is the issue with them? They appear quite new.
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  #46  
Old Posted Dec 19, 2012, 10:34 PM
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What is the reason they are replacing the current fleet, what is the issue with them? They appear quite new.
The Acela first entered service in 2000, they've been around just 12 years!
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  #47  
Old Posted Dec 19, 2012, 10:37 PM
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Originally Posted by electricron View Post
The Acela first entered service in 2000, they've been around just 12 years!
Isn't that newish? Why are they replacing them then?
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  #48  
Old Posted Dec 19, 2012, 11:08 PM
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Originally Posted by aquablue View Post
Isn't that newish? Why are they replacing them then?
The current Acelas are likely to remain in service through at least the end of this decade. Amtrak is just starting what will be a long process of placing an order for Acela IIs which will be entirely new trainsets. There are still a lot of regulatory issues for the FRA to settle on Tier III specs which could allow Amtrak to buy something close to an off-the-shelf HSR EMU trainset rather than the near customized design of the current Acelas.

The original plan, or at least one version of the plan for the Acelas was to order 26 trainsets with 8 passenger cars each (6 business class, 1 cafe, 1 first class car). After cuts, Amtrak ended up with 20 Acela trainsets with 6 cars each, which was a huge drop in capacity. The Acelas are now frequently sold out and maxed out on capacity too often for peak weekday travel.

Amtrak was planning as of earlier this year to buy 40 new Acela coach cars and add 2 coach cars with a total of 130 seats to each trainset. But after asking Bombardier for a quote for a limited production run of 40 unique cars, the company reportedly came back with a high price and declined to open their books to an audit to justify the quote. Amtrak decided the best approach was to instead order new HSR trainsets, which should be lighter in weight, cost less to operate, and be able to run at higher speeds if the Next Gen NEC tracks are ever built.
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  #49  
Old Posted Dec 19, 2012, 11:14 PM
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Thanks.
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  #50  
Old Posted Dec 19, 2012, 11:54 PM
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Originally Posted by afiggatt View Post
The current Acelas are likely to remain in service through at least the end of this decade. Amtrak is just starting what will be a long process of placing an order for Acela IIs which will be entirely new trainsets. There are still a lot of regulatory issues for the FRA to settle on Tier III specs which could allow Amtrak to buy something close to an off-the-shelf HSR EMU trainset rather than the near customized design of the current Acelas.

The original plan, or at least one version of the plan for the Acelas was to order 26 trainsets with 8 passenger cars each (6 business class, 1 cafe, 1 first class car). After cuts, Amtrak ended up with 20 Acela trainsets with 6 cars each, which was a huge drop in capacity. The Acelas are now frequently sold out and maxed out on capacity too often for peak weekday travel.

Amtrak was planning as of earlier this year to buy 40 new Acela coach cars and add 2 coach cars with a total of 130 seats to each trainset. But after asking Bombardier for a quote for a limited production run of 40 unique cars, the company reportedly came back with a high price and declined to open their books to an audit to justify the quote. Amtrak decided the best approach was to instead order new HSR trainsets, which should be lighter in weight, cost less to operate, and be able to run at higher speeds if the Next Gen NEC tracks are ever built.
It would be very nice if all of that falls into place. This country needs to have true high speed rail linking its largest employment centers with each other, particularly up and down the East Coast. One should easily be able to travel between New York and Philly in 30 minutes.
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  #51  
Old Posted Dec 20, 2012, 12:06 AM
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It would be very nice if all of that falls into place. This country needs to have true high speed rail linking its largest employment centers with each other, particularly up and down the East Coast. One should easily be able to travel between New York and Philly in 30 minutes.
Best chance IMO would be to get a foreign investor to build it and run it as a private enterprise. Amtrak will probably never get the republicans to support it.
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  #52  
Old Posted Dec 23, 2012, 11:59 PM
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I just took the Wolverine from Ann Arbor to Chicago a few days ago, and since it's one of the routes getting the most attention upgrade-wise, I'll share my experience. This was also my first time riding Amtrak as I usually fly.

First off, the tickets were cheaper than the cost of driving and the scheduled length was about the same, give or take 30 minutes due to traffic. Flying was also more expensive and considering the time to travel to/from the airport and other hassles it wouldn't have been any quicker.

The Ann Arbor station was not the nicest but it was functional. The waiting room was kind of small and packed with people but it's not like you have to arrive hours in advance so it's not really a big issue. I had already printed my ticket and arrived about 20 minutes before the scheduled departure time. Parking was free and only about a 5 minute walk over a bridge to the platform.

Once on board, I found the seats to be roomy, comfortable, and the overall condition of the rolling stock to be far nicer than a normal airliner. A nice wide aisle plenty big for 2 people to pass by was another obvious plus. There were 2 power outlets every 3 or so feet below the windows, so for the most part everyone had access to an outlet. The overhead compartments had ample room for suitcases and whatever else. Although Amtrak has size restrictions for carry on luggage, it didn't seem to be enforced.

I had a speedometer on my phone that I was checking every now and then, and for the most part the train was going the max allowed speed. The only exception to that would be the segment within Illinois which is obviously pretty congested. The highest speed I recorded was 115 mph. Unfortunately my GPS connection wasn't very good so I couldn't get a reliable average speed over the course of the trip, but if I had to guess I'd say it was probably 65-75 mph, not that far off Acelas average speed.

The cafe car was well stocked and prices were reasonable. All of the conductors were very nice and accomodating. When passengers didn't sit where they were supposed to they never moved them or said anything. (someone going to Jackson sat in front of me, on the Chicago-bound car)

As someone who flies regularly, I was kind of shocked to see there was absolutely no security of any kind. Just walk up and get on. On the way to Chicago I had my laptop with me and using my phone had internet the whole route except in a few rural areas. I was coming back during an evening when a snowstorm was supposed to hit the city causing hundreds of flights to be canceled, and although Union Station was a bit of a mess at the time, we still left exactly on time. (almost down to the second, it was strange) The train was maybe 70% full to Chicago, and 95% full leaving Chicago.

So bottom line: affordable, quick, relaxing.

Will definitely look into using Amtrak more.
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  #53  
Old Posted Dec 24, 2012, 12:07 AM
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We all know that passenger rail needs to be improved.

But the current situation isn't working, so what can be done about it?

Amtrak is a hobbled behemoth which is riddled with problems. What's more I don't know if true coast to coast service is feasible. Chicago to San Fran and such type of service might have to be phased out. As it stands it can't compete with the airlines.

I think that Amtrak should be pared down into various regional bodies. Kinda how Bell Telephone used to be. Or kind of like British/National Rail. That way it can focus on serving individual regions better. We all see the importance and success of the NEC.

I think that similar success could be duplicated in the Midwest and to a lesser extent the West Coast. It won't be true high speed rail. But if we could get strong inter-city service comparable to what they have in England or France, I think people would be actually willing to buy into the high speed rail thing more.

I don't think many americans frankly care about High Speed Rail. Why would they, most haven't seen a rail system that actually works. If we had trains that could get people to and fro major regional cities that are competitive with the airlines, I think there would then begin to be a bigger groundswell for High Speed service OUTSIDE of transit advocates.

But we gotta start somewhere.
Why not sell Amtrak to Canada's Via Rail? They seem to know how to run a passenger rail service.
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  #54  
Old Posted Dec 27, 2012, 5:05 PM
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Best chance IMO would be to get a foreign investor to build it and run it as a private enterprise. Amtrak will probably never get the republicans to support it.
Thats the plan for New England , but between NYC and DC Amtrak wants to do it...
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  #55  
Old Posted Dec 28, 2012, 12:24 AM
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Originally Posted by Kngkyle View Post
I just took the Wolverine from Ann Arbor to Chicago a few days ago, and since it's one of the routes getting the most attention upgrade-wise, I'll share my experience. This was also my first time riding Amtrak as I usually fly.
I'm glad you had a good experience. The Wolverine and Hiawatha are usually very good. Lincoln Service was more on par with the long-distance trains (i.e. crappy/unreliable) but I haven't taken it since the recent improvements began. I don't think your train could have gone faster than 110mph legally, although 125mph is conceivable in the future with certain upgrades.

Most of the stations along the Wolverine are new or renovated. You'll be happy to know that Ann Arbor is looking to replace its station (and has Federal money in hand) but they have not decided whether to rebuild on the current site or a new site by the UM hospitals.
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Last edited by ardecila; Dec 28, 2012 at 8:29 AM.
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  #56  
Old Posted Dec 28, 2012, 3:27 AM
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I think that Amtrak, due to 40 years of uncertainty, by government standards, is lean and very well run. All the years of being beaten up by Congress- not knowing year to year if there will even be an Amtrak- has made their management very realistic.

How to improve Amtrak? Why, what they have been saying for years- provide at least five years of guaranteed increasing funding, and, grow incrementally.

I believe that rather than put 'umpteen' billions into an ego exercise of high speed rail along the NE Corridor, increase the average speed 1 mph per year along the line. In addition, start improving the speed of connecting lines. Start with Richmond and Norfolk, and, get them to 90 mph, then continue to increase the average speed 1 mph/year. Do the same thing between Chicago and New York.

Work a deal with UP to buy moth balled rail line west of Phoenix. Get the average top speed to 90 between Tuscon and LA.

Of course, this will not happen, because every conservative politician since I was a kid uses cutting Amtrak as a symbol of fiscal frugality (LOL).
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  #57  
Old Posted Dec 28, 2012, 8:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Wizened Variations View Post
I think that Amtrak, due to 40 years of uncertainty, by government standards, is lean and very well run. All the years of being beaten up by Congress- not knowing year to year if there will even be an Amtrak- has made their management very realistic.

How to improve Amtrak? Why, what they have been saying for years- provide at least five years of guaranteed increasing funding, and, grow incrementally.

I believe that rather than put 'umpteen' billions into an ego exercise of high speed rail along the NE Corridor, increase the average speed 1 mph per year along the line. In addition, start improving the speed of connecting lines. Start with Richmond and Norfolk, and, get them to 90 mph, then continue to increase the average speed 1 mph/year. Do the same thing between Chicago and New York.

Work a deal with UP to buy moth balled rail line west of Phoenix. Get the average top speed to 90 between Tuscon and LA.

Of course, this will not happen, because every conservative politician since I was a kid uses cutting Amtrak as a symbol of fiscal frugality (LOL).
Increase the average speed 1 mph per year rather than put in world standard HSR in the NEC? Sounds like a ridiculous suggestion Sir! That is hardly progress, that is third world incompetence and we should be aiming higher than that, don't you think? Also, building a proper HSR in the densest area of the country (a region denser than France & Spain) is hardly merely an ego boosting exercise. I think you have it all wrong and don't understand the subject. The fact that you ended your post with such a negative outlook is disturbing. Luckily I am not swayed by your pessimism as I don't believe you have fully researched and understood the benefits of HSR.
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  #58  
Old Posted Dec 28, 2012, 10:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Wizened Variations View Post
I think that Amtrak, due to 40 years of uncertainty, by government standards, is lean and very well run. All the years of being beaten up by Congress- not knowing year to year if there will even be an Amtrak- has made their management very realistic.

How to improve Amtrak? Why, what they have been saying for years- provide at least five years of guaranteed increasing funding, and, grow incrementally.

I believe that rather than put 'umpteen' billions into an ego exercise of high speed rail along the NE Corridor, increase the average speed 1 mph per year along the line. In addition, start improving the speed of connecting lines. Start with Richmond and Norfolk, and, get them to 90 mph, then continue to increase the average speed 1 mph/year. Do the same thing between Chicago and New York.

Work a deal with UP to buy moth balled rail line west of Phoenix. Get the average top speed to 90 between Tuscon and LA.

Of course, this will not happen, because every conservative politician since I was a kid uses cutting Amtrak as a symbol of fiscal frugality (LOL).
1 mph/year would take almost a 100 years just a bit ridiculous. Its embarrassing to if that is all we could do especially when china can build the largest high speed network in about 6 years.

I don't see the ego boost comment fit into the equation either because it makes perfect sense to upgrade the NEC especially since it is the only profitable section of the nation and densest part of the country. Not to mention it has been proven to capture a good market share. At least to me it makes perfect business sense to upgrade that section to high speed rail as it is most likely to achieve the highest ridership and most profits.
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  #59  
Old Posted Dec 28, 2012, 4:04 PM
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What Wizened Variations is suggesting is the exact same thing that the SNCF, RENFE, Trenitalia, British Rail, and Deutsche Bahn did in their respective countries--it's one of the major reasons European rail is so good.

Yes, HSR is sexy. It is cool. Es hat das Sex-Appeal. But the reality is that while the TGV, AVE, ICE, etc., are all symbols of a country's passenger rail prowess, they are merely top-level overlays on a fundamentally well-run system.

EDITED TO ADD: The only major thing I would change would be to break Amtrak into seven segments, six each to concentrate on improving passenger rail within specific regional submarkets (Northeast/New England, Midwest, Southeast, Texas, Cascades, and California) and one to run the long-distance routes.
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  #60  
Old Posted Dec 28, 2012, 7:04 PM
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What Wizened Variations is suggesting is the exact same thing that the SNCF, RENFE, Trenitalia, British Rail, and Deutsche Bahn did in their respective countries--it's one of the major reasons European rail is so good.

Yes, HSR is sexy. It is cool. Es hat das Sex-Appeal. But the reality is that while the TGV, AVE, ICE, etc., are all symbols of a country's passenger rail prowess, they are merely top-level overlays on a fundamentally well-run system.

EDITED TO ADD: The only major thing I would change would be to break Amtrak into seven segments, six each to concentrate on improving passenger rail within specific regional submarkets (Northeast/New England, Midwest, Southeast, Texas, Cascades, and California) and one to run the long-distance routes.
No, it is not similar to Europe because they have improved their slower lines while putting in HSR lines at the same time.

Also, unlike European countries, he precluded adding HSR in the best HSR market in N. America and then suggested increasing speed by 1 mph per year on existing rail which is silly. Train speeds don't increase by 1 mph / year anywhere. Waiting 20 to 30 years to upgrade our slow rail to slightly higher speed rail before thinking of putting in proper HSR is a waste of time. This is because land prices will increase and will make any future HSR even more expensive to construct. So, no. I disagree vehemently. Any decent HSR train line will have a trickle down affect that will encourage more investment in slower regional branch lines as more passengers will be attracted to ride the system by the HSR trip times. However, in the case of the NEC, the second slower layer is currently in place (the current line). It is also being considered for 160mph acela operation in certain sections in NJ (up from 135mph top speed). So, again 1 mph/year improvement on the NEC is ludicrous. This is where HSR needs to be and it has the best business case. Amtrak has taken 70 per cent market share on the NY-DC route due to post 9-11 airport hassles. It could increase up to 90 percent + if HSR was added.

Last edited by aquablue; Dec 28, 2012 at 7:18 PM.
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