Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak equipment’

Amtrak Describes Plans for Superliner Fleet

March 27, 2019

Amtrak recently released a five-year fleet plan that envisions replacement and rehabilitation of the passenger carriers Superliner fleet that is used on some long-distance trains.

The carrier envisions spending $405 million to rehab the Superliner fleet and %1.55 billion to replacement the oldest Superliner cars. Replacement is projected to begin in 2022.

The plan said the Superliner replacement and rehabilitation is contingent upon Amtrak receiving a congressional reauthorization in 2020 that provide direction as to what type of service Congress wants Amtrak to provide.

The fleet plan also describes how 130 new Viewliner cars are to be deployed. Amtrak envisions restoring sleeping car service to overnight trains 65 and 66/67 in the Northeast Corridor.

Amtrak last issued a fleet plan in 2012.

Amtrak Eyeing Superliner Replacement or Rebuilding

December 10, 2018

Amtrak has given a hint that it is considering a plan for replacement or rebuilding of its Superliner fleet.

In a letter to Rail Passengers Association Jim Mathews, Amtrak Chairman Anthony Coscia said the carrier is evaluating what he termed an “appropriate strategy” for the Superliner fleet, which is primarily assigned to long-distance trains.

Coscia noted that several of Amtrak’s equipment fleets are nearing the end of their useful lives.

“We are eager to grow and expand service to currently underserved cities, corridors and communities across the country,” Coscia wrote. “We are hopeful there will be opportunities for expansion onto new routes in places like Kansas, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois.”

He also indicated that Amtrak’s PRIIA-required Route Improvement Plans are providing an opportunity to examine options for daily service for the Cardinal and Sunset Limited.

“Of course, to do so will require reasonable cooperation from our host railroads and available equipment,” Coscia wrote.

It is not yet what steps Amtrak might take to address the wearing out Superliner fleet.

Will Horizon Fleet Get a New Look?

December 29, 2017

Amtrak has gotten a fair amount of publicity about its revamping of the interiors of its Amfleet equipment. But will that look be applied to the interiors of Heritage fleet coaches that are ubiquitous on Midwest corridor trains? And will Superliner equipment get a new look? Goodness knows it sure could use it.

It is not that these interiors look bad or are unappealing. But Amtrak CEO Richard Anderson has indicated that he learned during his airline industry days that the interior needs to be refreshed every once in a while so that passengers don’t feel like they are riding in something that is multiple decades old.

Shown is a Horizon fleet coach assigned to the southbound Illini, which is sitting in Chicago Union Station waiting to depart for Carbondale, Illinois.

Amtrak to Give Amfleet Interiors New Look

September 7, 2017

An Amtrak rendering of what the interiors of its Amfleet coaches will look like after being refurbished.

Amtrak said this week that it plans to overhaul the interiors of the cars used in corridor service in the Midwest and Northeast.

In a news release, Amtrak said the cars will received new seat cushions, carpeting, LED lighting, flooring and upgraded wainscoting and bulkheads.

Business class cars will receive new curtains while café cars will get redesigned galleys. Amtrak said it plans to spend more than $16 million on the renovations.

Much of the work will affect Amtrak’s Amfleet I cars of which more than 450 are coaches.

It will done in stages and take nine months to complete. This fall Amtrak plans to install business class carpets and cushions, coach class carpets and cushions, LED lighting and upgrade the restrooms.

During the winter, work will continue on installation of carpets, cushions, and LED lighting, plus the installation of business class curtains, refreshed wainscoting and bulkheads, and renovating the café cars.

The project is expected to wrap up during next spring and summer.

“Amtrak is committed to offering a premium customer experience and these modernized interior features are a marked improvement in the overall ambience on board,” said co-Amtrak CEO Wick Moorman. “The upgrades offer customers what they told us they want more of during their travels – a more comfortable, refreshed look and feel.”

Anderson Discusses Amtrak’s Priorities

September 6, 2017

Amtrak has dropped the idea of reducing the distance between its seats.

Appearing on the CBS program This Morning, Amtrak’s co-CEO Richard Anderson said that the spacing between seats, known in the industry as pitch, will remain unchanged.

“One of our great advantages is that there are no middle seats,” Anderson said. “Our coach on Amtrak is much, much better than first class on airlines.”

Anderson is a former president of Delta Air Lines. The airline industry is notorious for its efforts over the years to reduce seat pitch in order to cram more passengers aboard its planes.

During the interview, Anderson said that infrastructure repair is the passengers carriers “first imperative.”

The next priority is better service. “We’ve got to clean up our trains, run our trains on time, fix the interiors of our trains, and grow our services in the regions that provide the highest level of service to the communities around the country,” Anderson said.

Anderson said the new equipment that Amtrak has ordered for its Acela Express service will increase capacity in the Northeast Corridor by 40 percent.

He did not, though, say anything about buying new equipment to replace cars used on long-distance trains. Some of that equipment dates to the 1970s. Instead, Amtrak plans to refurbish that equipment.

Increasing service frequency on some routes is an Amtrak goal, but that appears to be limited to densely populated regions.

“If we could get our train speeds up and operate more densely-populated urban corridors, it would be a great service to the traveling public in America,” Anderson said.

Sunset Ltd. Equipment Moved from NOLA

August 30, 2017

Amtrak has moved equipment assigned to the Sunset Limited out of New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Harvey curtaining operation of the train.

An online report said that the equipment was moved to Chicago on the City of New Orleans. No. 58 had its usual consist plus the cars being ferried from New Orleans.

The Sunset equipment included P43DC Nos. 60, 68 and 4.

Also evacuated were Superline cars 39008, 32053, 37016, 33024, 31012, 34005, 34138, 31018, 34090, 33049, 38062, 32019 and 39017, and Viewliner baggage car 61063.

Boardman Sees Possibility of Funds Coming to Bolster Amtrak’s Aging Long-Distance Fleet

December 11, 2015

Although he didn’t make any promises, Amtrak President Joseph Boardman sees a glimmer of hope that the railroad’s aging Amfleet and Superliner equipment might be replaced or at least supplemented.

In an interview with Trains magazine held a week before he announced that he will retire from Amtrak in September 2016, Boardman said he didn’t expect any difference in the annual appropriations but that the transportation legislation authorizes money for the “Gateway” Hudson River tunnel project might free up funds that can be used to buy equipment for long-distance trains.

Boardman said that means “that there’s going to be capital money that needs to be made available for our national system and to replace and improve the equipment we have out there.”

Much of Amtrak’s current fleet was built in the 1970s or 1980s and is now older than the streamliner era equipment that it inherited when it began operations in 1971.

In the meantime, Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles continues to build new Viewliner equipment at its plant in Elmira, New York.

“We’re really working hard to make sure we get the CAF deliveries for long-distance equipment,” Boardman said. “We have all the baggage cars now, the dining cars are in the climate chamber, and then we move on to (the baggage dorms and sleepers).”

Boardman doesn’t expect to see equipment arrive for the Northeast Corridor during his remaining time with Amtrak although he does expect to announce the details about an equipment order within the next three months.

“I don’t expect to be here when they get here, but I want to make sure they get ordered and that gets done before I leave,” he said.

At present, Amtrak doesn’t have “a final figure from the vendor and we don’t yet have approval on a Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing loan but we are doing all the due diligence that we are supposed to do to make that happen.”

During Boardman’s watch, Amtrak began taking delivery of new Siemens electric locomotives with 56 of the 70 ordered having been delivered thus far.

Boardman said he wants to get Amtrak’s Advanced Civil Speed Enforcement System version of positive train control installed on all sections of the Northeast Corridor by the end of 2015.

When he steps down next year, Boardman will have served as Amtrak’s president for eight years, which will be the second-longest tenure among Amtrak presidents. Only W. Graham Claytor Jr. at 11 years served in the post longer.

The announcement that Boardman would retire came in a letter to employees that was sent a month after the Amtrak board of directors had voted to extend Boardman’s tenure for another two years.

“When I look back at this time I see so many accomplishments and so many changes we made to make America’s Railroad a stronger, safer and a more important part of our nation’s transportation system,” Boardman said.

“Our debt is lower, our revenues are up, our ridership is up, our labor efficiencies have improved. There’s no question that we’ve got more to do — I think we’re more incremental (recently) because we have so many things to move forward, like Americans with Disabilities Act improvements and implementation of all of the ideas and concepts that came out of the PRIIA legislation. I think we’ve gotten a lot done.”

Amtrak on Display at Toledo National Train Day

May 10, 2015
It can't pull a train anymore, but F40PH No. 406 still looks the part.

It can’t pull a train anymore, but F40PH No. 406 still looks the part.

Sure, seeing the Norfolk Southern GoRail locomotive motivated me to drive to Toledo on May 2 for the National Train Day event.

But what I really wanted to see was Amtrak P42 No. 42. It is dressed in a striking livery that honor’s America’s veterans. It was every bit as classy looking as I expected it be and it was my first time seeing it in person.

And then there was Amtrak No. 406. Built in July 1988 by EMD, this F40PH has since had its traction motors removed and been converted to a NPCU, meaning that it can provide head-end power and be used to control a locomotive, but it can’t pull a train.

Yet for appearances, it looks just like it did when it came out of the EMD factory, complete with a Phase III livery.

Last Saturday it provided HEP for the Amtrak exhibit train and I found myself being transported back a decade or two when the F40 was the king of the Amtrak diesel fleet.

During their heyday, the F40 was the Rodney Dangerfield of locomotives.

A lot of railfans didn’t care for them. They made a lot of noise when standing in the station and they were diminutive in stature compared with their big six-axle freight cousins.

Not too many people are going to say they prefer the look of an F40 over the sleek streamlining of an EMD E or F unit.

I’ve always been partial to the short-lived SDP40Fs that Amtrak purchased in 1973 and 1974, but the F40 proved to be the locomotive that enjoyed the longer life even if it had been designed with corridor service in mind.

So I spent some time looking over the 406 and remembering all of the trips I made behind the F40 fleet until it began to be replaced in the middle 1990s.

It’s funny how something that was so common two decades can seemingly vanish overnight.

In time the same will likely happen with the P42. Will I someday have pangs of nostalgia upon seeing one of those? Probably, yes I will. But that day hasn’t come yet.

What I came to see.

What I came to see.

It's almost highball time for the next Amtrak train to New York at Toledo's Central Union Terminal. If only it were true.

It’s almost highball time for the next Amtrak train to New York at Toledo’s Central Union Terminal. If only it were true.

A father and his daughter spend some quality time in the Sightseer lounge, imagining they are taking a train trip.

A father and his daughter spend some quality time in the Sightseer lounge, imagining they are taking a train trip.

Built in 1950 for Union Pacific, sleeper Pacific Bend has racked up thousands of miles and seen a lot of places in its lifetime. No longer carrying revenue passengers, it is now assigned to the Amtrak exhibit train.

Built in 1950 for Union Pacific, sleeper Pacific Bend has racked up thousands of miles and seen a lot of places in its lifetime. No longer carrying revenue passengers, it is now assigned to the Amtrak exhibit train.

Amtrak's latest slogan on the side of former baggage cars turned exhibit cars.

Amtrak’s latest slogan on the side of former baggage cars turned exhibit cars.

The gray of P42 No. 42 is a throwback of sorts to the days of New York Central vanish sitting on these very same tracks.

The gray of P42 No. 42 is a throwback of sorts to the days of New York Central vanish sitting on these very same tracks.


1st New Viewliner Baggage Car Leave Plant

May 19, 2014

The first new baggage car constructed by CAF USA for Amtrak departed the plant in Elmira Heights, N.Y., last Friday morning.

The train had Amtrak P42DC No. 203, Amfleet food service car No. 43358, new baggage car No. 61000, and GP38H-3 No. 520.

The 61000 is the first of 55 baggage cars being built for Amtrak. The body of the car is based on the single-level Viewliner car design and features two sets of double doors that swing inward. The baggage cars will also include bike racks.

4 Amtrak Viewliner II Cars Nearing Completion

October 29, 2013
Amtrak's Viewliner diner "Indianapolis" is the only such car in the fleet, but it will soon have company as new Viewliner II diners enter service within the next year. The Indianapolis is shown on the eastbound Lake Shore Limited at Cleveland in June 2012.

Amtrak’s Viewliner diner “Indianapolis” is the only such car in the fleet, but it will soon have company as new Viewliner II diners enter service within the next year. The Indianapolis is shown on the eastbound Lake Shore Limited at Cleveland in June 2012.

Amtrak recently offered the news media a glimpse at the new Viewliner II cars that are being built by CAF USA in Elmira, N.Y.

Four cars – a baggage car, diner, baggage dorm and sleeper – are nearing completion and are expected to be field tested this winter on the Northeast Corridor.

The $298.1 million order for 130 single-level long distance passenger rail cars includes 25 sleeper, 25 diners, 25 baggage/dormitory cars and 55 baggage cars. More than 120 suppliers in 25 states and 93 cities are providing parts for the new rail cars.

The new cars will be used on Eastern long-distance trains, including the Lake Shore Limited and Cardinal. The baggage cars will be used on long-distance trains nationwide.

The new long-distance cars will both replace and supplement the existing single-level fleet and allow Heritage fleet cars built in the 1940s and 1950s to be retired.

The first of the new cars is expected to begin service in summer 2014. Those are expected to be baggage and dining cars.

All 130 cars are expected to be delivered by the end of 2015 or early 2016.
Amtrak placed the first of its original order of 50 production Viewliner sleeping cars in service on the Lake Shore Limited in November 1996.

Those cars, built by Amerail, reequipped most of Amtrak’s single-level trains. Amtrak produced three prototype Viewliners, two sleepers and one diner, at its Beech Grove, Ind., shops in 1987.

The new Viewliners will feature modern interiors with better layouts, better lighting and more efficient air conditioning and heating systems, additional outlets to power personal electronic devices, improved accessibility for passengers with disabilities, and bicycle racks in the baggage cars.

The new cars also feature improvements for employees such as functional kitchen layouts that are easier to maintain, a more efficient process to stock food, and an improved baggage car for easier organization, including the addition of bike racks.

The baggage cars can accommodate up to 16 bicycles, baggage dorms up to eight. The baggage cars will have hinged doors that seal, which is designed to provide climate control.

They also will have good lighting, and two levels of pull-down racks (one near the floor) so that suitcases normally will be placed on racks instead of on the floor.

The dining cars have 12 tables, including one ADA table (seats on just one side).

Sleeping cars have 12 roomettes, two deluxe bedrooms (which can be sold as a single suite) and one ADA room, whose door is powered.

For roomette passengers, there are two public restrooms and one shower. There are still fold-down sinks in the roomettes.

For this fleet only, Amtrak is reintroducing its Phase III red white and blue stripes, and the company’s original logo.

Amtrak President Joe Boardman said a decision has not been made on the extent to which the new Viewliners will enhance capacity rather than simply replace older cars. He noted, however, that the order includes 25 diners whereas Amtrak has only 16 single-level diners today.

CAF USA, based in Washington, D.C., is the U.S. subsidiary of Spain’s Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles S.A.