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Posted by 243129 on Friday, November 2, 2018 3:06 PM

BaltACD

Marketers sell the sizzle, not just the steak.  NEC Regionals are steak, Acela is sizzle.  Acela II will be fresh sizzle to sell.

 

The NEC does not need "sizzle" nor Acela. The market is there thanks to our outdated interstate system and population surge in the northeast. The train beats the plane NYP-WAS midtown to midtown and sells itself without the glitz and "sizzle" which could be added to the conventional fleet with the savings realized from not purchasing Gen 2 'white elephants'.

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Posted by 243129 on Friday, November 2, 2018 2:48 PM

zugmann

 

 
243129
It is the infrastructure that does not permit the speed on the NEC to be clear. The Acela is a waste that is why there is no reason to purchase Gen 2 trainsets.

 

So we shouldn't replace the aging Acelas (and even ancient-er amtubes) becuase a flyer printed 30 years ago had a line of text that didn't come true?

 

That is correct. The money could be well spent upgrading Amfleet or purchasing new conventional equipment.

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Friday, November 2, 2018 2:34 PM

Overmod
You do of course realize that an Acela trainset is basically no different from a set of passenger cars with two locomotives; the difference is that the locomotives are integrated as 'power cars' and run top-and-tail instead of doubleheaded, but there are no distributed motors in the consist as there are in the lightweight ICE and the other trains Volker was discussing. 

I realize a bit more than what you assumed about DB trains.  The first 60 ICE trainsets - class 401 - (introduced in 1990, now called ICE 1s) have a power car at each end and up to 14 intermediate cars.

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Posted by BaltACD on Friday, November 2, 2018 1:11 PM

Marketers sell the sizzle, not just the steak.  NEC Regionals are steak, Acela is sizzle.  Acela II will be fresh sizzle to sell.

Never too old to have a happy childhood!

              

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Posted by Anonymous on Friday, November 2, 2018 11:20 AM

charlie hebdo

 

 
VOLKER LANDWEHR
The european railroad decided to use locomotive drawn train up to 200 kph (125 mph) and above that trainsets. I believe reason was, among others, the axle load limit which only allowed limited power installed in a locomotive, not enough to propel a train to 300 km/h (186 mph). The limit seems to be about a maximum of 6,400 kW as in Siemens Vectron, Bombardier Traxx, and Alstom Prima II locomotives.

 

Would that possibly have been the reason why the Acelas were chosen rather than locomotive-drawn cars?  Perhaps also why the original higher speed equirment in the NEC NYC to DC on the PRR was Metroliner trainsets?  Higher top speed and better acceleration?

 

I would assume it. Acela Express has 4,800 kW per power car and 25 tons axle load.

There is a criterion, the P2-force, new locomotives need to comply to. There was a discussion of allowable speeds for a dual-power PRIIA locomotive on basis of existing designs. The Siemens Charger complies for 125 mph, the additional loads for shoe pick-up would reduce the compliance speed to 110mph.

charlie hebdo
Perhaps also why the original higher speed equirment in the NEC NYC to DC on the PRR was Metroliner trainsets? Higher top speed and better acceleration?

Here I think it was the weight and volume of the electrical equipment at that time. An Amtrak E60 (1972+) has 4,500 kW and weighs 387,000+ lbs on six axles. The Metroliner cars needed about 1,650 kW per two cars. Axle loads were 20,75 tons. I think it was easier to spread the electrical equipment over all cars than putting it into a locomotive and pull 6 cars.

To come back to the Budd Metroliners. They were designed for 150 mph but limited to an operational speed of 120 mph (190 kph).

On a Trains website is some history of the Metroliner train: http://trn.trains.com/railroads/2006/06/metroliners-amazing-career

It give different travel time over the time.

- October 29, 1967: 3:20 hours travel time NYC to WA, DC
- April 2, 1969:____2:30 hours non-stop
- October 26, 1982: 2:59 hours with 2 intermediate stops

With speeds of only up to 120 mph the curve speeds must have been higher I think. Acela Express takes 2:58 with 5 intermediate stop at max. lateral acceleration of 0.1g.

I asked before, can someone tell the allowed lateral acceleration in 1969?
Regards, Volker

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Posted by Anonymous on Friday, November 2, 2018 10:38 AM

charlie hebdo
In the case of DB, the various ICEs often operate on trackage stretches that do not allow speeds over 200 km.

Here is a map of the German ICE-train network: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/eb/ICEtracks.png

You can see that all routes contain sections with speeds of 200 - 230 kph (125 - 143 mph) or even less.

Deutsche Bahn got the first ICE-1 trains long before a line capable of its speed was finished.
Regards, Volker

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Posted by Overmod on Friday, November 2, 2018 10:09 AM

charlie hebdo
Would that possibly have been the reason why the Acelas were chosen rather than locomotive-drawn cars? Perhaps also why the original higher speed equipment in the NEC NYC to DC on the PRR was Metroliner trainsets? Higher top speed and better acceleration?

Taking this up in reverse order: I think you are 110% correct about the Metroliners.  Their development (out of the Pioneer III work) came at a time that the state of wheelslip control limited effective horsepower per axle, and something alternative like a Speed Merchant 'top and tail' approach would have been inferior to what was by then well-understood high acceleration achievable from contemporary MU trains.  Admittedly much of the higher top speed in the original design work was predicated on lower-unsprung-mass truck design (Pioneer inside-bearing with no nose-suspended motors, which would arguably not have held up well with the late-PRR-into-PC state of track maintenance!) and what was chosen was 'not as good' for very high speed as the later option of Rc-4 power trucks and Amfleet unmotored Pioneer-based on the cars.

In my opinion part of the answer to your question about the Acelas is in the relative failure of the HHP-8s, which were I think originally conceived as locomotive alternatives to the dedicated trains.  You do of course realize that an Acela trainset is basically no different from a set of passenger cars with two locomotives; the difference is that the locomotives are integrated as 'power cars' and run top-and-tail instead of doubleheaded, but there are no distributed motors in the consist as there are in the lightweight ICE and the other trains Volker was discussing. 

We of course tolerate much higher axle-load ratings than most European systems, even those intended for very high speed, and the state of traction control (not just 'slip control' any more) is vastly improved over the old toaster days (where walking-speed starts were a necessity, not just a demonstration of good passenger-train handling, but there was adequate power for 'high enough' speed even in the Rc-4s (the speed involved in, for example, the Chase wreck being some proof of this).  It's still a bit of an open question whether "locomotive" vs. distributed drive is preferable for speeds up to about 160mph -- I think other factors, including operating and 'costed-down design' economics, are more important than number and type of motor now, in that general range.

One later improvement that I think favors distributed drive is the use of permanent-magnet motors in modern high-speed trains.  These physically can't be run in overheat for any substantial period of time as when the Curie point is exceeded in any part of the permanent-magnet material, there is nonreversible flux loss.  So it makes better sense to have relatively 'many' for a given required horsepower if you want them small enough to be truck or "underfloor" mountable, or to keep mass effects minimized.

I think Volker will have good insights on both things you've asked.

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Thursday, November 1, 2018 9:59 PM

VOLKER LANDWEHR
The european railroad decided to use locomotive drawn train up to 200 kph (125 mph) and above that trainsets. I believe reason was, among others, the axle load limit which only allowed limited power installed in a locomotive, not enough to propel a train to 300 km/h (186 mph). The limit seems to be about a maximum of 6,400 kW as in Siemens Vectron, Bombardier Traxx, and Alstom Prima II locomotives.

Would that possibly have been the reason why the Acelas were chosen rather than locomotive-drawn cars?  Perhaps also why the original higher speed equirment in the NEC NYC to DC on the PRR was Metroliner trainsets?  Higher top speed and better acceleration?

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Posted by blue streak 1 on Thursday, November 1, 2018 3:45 PM

The busiest portio of the NEC is the 249 miles between NYP and WASH.   If funds could be found to upgrade 12.5 miles track to at least 160 MPh in 20 years then Acela-2s could make the trip in 2hours and NERs in 2-1/2 hours in the same 20 years.  That upgrading would including easing all curves, constant tnsion CAT, complete undercutting and reballasting of all track,  installing 160 MPH turnouts , and necessary signaling.  Each year some mileage on curves  and some on the straigways especially next to adjaecent tracks always uppgraded.

10 years and 25 miles probably not feasible ?

The situation NYP - BOS is much more complicated ! 

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Posted by Anonymous on Thursday, November 1, 2018 2:46 PM

First an apology: There are two post before where I hit submit by accident. Being still moderated I can't delete or edit them.

243129
t is the infrastructure that does not permit the speed on the NEC to be clear.

No question, here you are right.

243129
The Acela is a waste that is why there is no reason to purchase Gen 2 trainsets.

I think that is not that easy. I take the relation New York to Washington DC as reference. An Acela Express takes 2:58 hours, a Regional 3:25 hours. So the Regional, limited to 125 mph, takes 27 minutes more with just three more station stop.

So Acela's higher top speed allows an about 20 min better running time. Are these 20 minutes worth the money? At least they brought the NEC a 71% share of the combined rail/air traffic on the New York to Washington DC route.

With 20 minutes more travel time business travels might change back to air travel. Amtrak decided to go with an Acela Express replacement. What they bought might enlarge the gap. The FRA's increase of lateral acceleration to 0.15g allows higher curve speed on the same curvature. The higher tilt adds to this. The track structure must be able to bear the higher forces but no new alignement is necessary to incremental speed increases.

That the Acela Express has shortcomings was caused largely caused by FRA doubling the buff load after the purchase during the design process. An ICE-1 train with two power cars and 14 intermediate cars weighs 880 tons, an Acela Express of the same configuration would weigh 1100 tons. Car length are the same.

The European railroad switched to trainsets for high speed from the beginning. The dynamic effects of high speeds lower the allowed axle loads considerably, in Germany from 24.8 tons to about 21.5 tons at 175 mph. At higher speeds even less. A multi-system 125 mph locomotive like the Siemens Vectron with 5,000 kW continous power has axle loads of 24 tons, the ACS-64 with the same power 27 tons.

As the additional power couldn't be put into the locomotive it was spread over two power cars.

The same applies to Amtrak. You can't put the additional weight for larger traction motors, heavier trucks, heavier transformer, heavier power electronics for 150 mph into a single locomotive without violating the lower axle loads. So you limited to a trainset with two power cars or EMUs.

If the Avelia Liberty specifics are necessary? I don't know. I see them as way to pressurize Congress for faster improvement  of the NEC.
Regards, Volker

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Posted by Anonymous on Thursday, November 1, 2018 1:51 PM

Overmod
With regard to the HHP-8: I am going by the original specs that Bombardier was supposed to have rolled into the design when it was like an 'electric analogue of the JetTrain' -- in other words, electronics suitable for 8000hp continuous and "150mph+10%" design running speed in NEC service. To my knowledge there were no expedient corners cut in the design of the running gear after the design was approved for production ... or before the reliability issues at 8000hp, particularly some aspects of cooling, made functional derating a necessity.

Sorry, I didn't find an Amtrak specification though the Amtrak Fleet Strategy of 2010 describes HHP-8's max. speed as 135 mph. I think it doesn't matter when comparing HHP-8 and ACS-64 on the NEC. Both run with Tier one railcars and thus are limited to 125 mph in operation.
Regards, Volker

 

 

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Posted by Overmod on Thursday, November 1, 2018 12:34 PM

VOLKER LANDWEHR
I don't think the proposed PRIIA equipment can [be] upgraded to 150 mph easily. The PRIIA equipment is designed for maximum speeds of 125 mph and falld into FRA's crashworthiness Tier 1 standard while 150 mph falls into Tier 2. There are different requirements for doors, windows, trucks because of the increased. All elements are available from, in case of Siemens, the ICE-trains. Nevertheless the cars would be a completely new design.

I'm in complete agreement, and everything I know about the PRIIA process indicates that so much of the design work is predicated on 'no more than 125mph' that it would be impractical to modify the detail design for higher sustained speed.  Just not firsthand or hands-on experienced with the actual state of the design progress.

I do think that a case could be made to see whether some part of the basic PRIIA 'engineering' could be adapted to providing power trucks distributed in a consist, especially if 25kV-plus cabling within the train could be avoided.  But, as you note, superior alternatives that are not compromise-engineered are readily available, the Avelia being one.  The only concern then applies to whether a full HSR-compliant design is necessary when even peak speed from it will seldom be demanded and might not be operationally necessary, and on that point Joe is entitled to have a different opinion from you or I and not be incorrect.

The European railroads decided to use locomotive-drawn trains up to 200 kph (125 mph) and above that, trainsets.  I believe reason was, among others, the axle load limit which only allowed limited power installed in a locomotive, not enough to propel a train to 300 km/h (186 mph). The limit seems to be about a maximum of 6,400 kW as in Siemens Vectron, Bombardier Traxx, and Alstom Prima II locomotives.

There are a couple of other factors, including how much power can be reliably put through the necessary low-unsprung-mass transmission and final drive arrangements essential for true high-speed service.  I think there's an interesting as-yet-unwritten SAE paper opportunity out there for how the designs changed as various aspects of materials science and fabrication, motor design, electronics and so forth improved differentially and became seen as practical ... or disproved as disasters ... in a given railroad environment.

 

... I would expect the locomotive for a 150mph train to be a complete new design because of [more specific] Tier 2 crashworthiness requirements, more powerful electrical equipment, more powerful traction motors, new designed trucks (not available yet) and that within axle load limits determined by vehicle dynamics.

The first concern is, in itself, showstopping if it involves much more than clever CEM applied to existing locomotive structure.  Only a detail design analysis is likely to 'prove or disprove' the feasibility of doing that.  On the other hand, the actual modeling, virtual testing, and genetic-algorithm improvement of design are now made so easy that even small 'development budgets' allow analysis to proof-of-concept for almost anyone actually interested.

With regard to the HHP-8: I am going by the original specs that Bombardier was supposed to have rolled into the design when it was like an 'electric analogue of the JetTrain' -- in other words, electronics suitable for 8000hp continuous and "150mph+10%" design running speed in NEC service.  To my knowledge there were no expedient corners cut in the design of the running gear after the design was approved for production ... or before the reliability issues at 8000hp, particularly some aspects of cooling, made functional derating a necessity.

On the other hand, I am reasonably certain I could get a 150mph locomotive out of a mothballed HHP-8 at least as easily as I could get a 120mph locomotive out of a GG1*, for considerably less money than involved in a pro rata 'share' of the cost of the 28 HSR trainsets.  Again, I agree that such a locomotive as practically rebuilt would be poorly suited to running faster than that, even if provided with "faster" trainsets, so the discussion returns to Joe's original contention that the complexity and cost of any new 'Acela replacement' trains need be no greater than the infrastructure would allow during the replacement service life.  Which I have to wonder might be shorter for lightweight heavily-stressed Avelia trainsets even with all the joys of modern science and technology, and perhaps with no more utility for subsequent 'slower-speed' services than the Acela trainsets are supposed to have, so perhaps Amtrak wouldn't even get Gateway fully open to through traffic unrestricted by the point the new trains would benefit, let alone meaningful improvements north of New York along the Shore Line, or in building out a second spine, in all the areas needed for functional time reduction.

 

 

Perhaps that led Amtrak to go with an of the shelf HSR [design] that can get Americanized.

I have no intention either of second-guessing Amtrak's procurement analysis or of claiming the Avelias wouldn't be more successful and better-loved than the Acelas they'd replace.  In fact, let me repeat that I avidly look forward to seeing them come into service, and succeed among other things in driving a quicker optimization of large parts of the NEC to higher speed, quicker trips, and lower dwells.  The issue in this thread is not about how good the trains are, but if their marginal cost increase over what the prospective NEC requires in a design is worthwhile compared to lower-cost shorter-term options...

The truth of the matter is really that the Avelias are essentially a 'done deal' in some quantity; construction having been underway for some time and presumably penalty clauses effective for cancellation of some substantial number of the anticipated trainsets, even before considering the sunk cost of spare parts, training, and so forth needing to be applied across the smaller number of trains.  So Joe's is really more a hypothetical argument than a 'what should Amtrak do?' live policy discussion, and I wish we would take it up more strictly as such.

*It was not easy, and not particularly cheap (at what I recall being about $4.25M a pop), and still dramatically oversize and heavy, compared to the Rc-4 derived alternative.  But it was the only other thing that would actually run that speed and survive under prevailing conditions, in that era...

 

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Posted by zugmann on Thursday, November 1, 2018 12:21 PM

243129
It is the infrastructure that does not permit the speed on the NEC to be clear. The Acela is a waste that is why there is no reason to purchase Gen 2 trainsets.

So we shouldn't replace the aging Acelas (and even ancient-er amtubes) becuase a flyer printed 30 years ago had a line of text that didn't come true?

  

The opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of my employer, any other railroad, company, or person.

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Posted by 243129 on Thursday, November 1, 2018 9:54 AM

charlie hebdo
some base the entire argument on the idea that because the NEC does not permit Acelas to reach their designed top speed, it is a waste.

It is the infrastructure that does not permit the speed on the NEC to be clear. The Acela is a waste that is why there is no reason to purchase Gen 2 trainsets.

https://beta-static.photobucket.com/images/k234/Joe-Mc/Highspeed1999%20_2_zpsnrcf6yw7.jpg

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Wednesday, October 31, 2018 11:01 PM

Did it ever occur to the naysayers about Acela that there were and are sound reasons for using trainsets (as opposed to loose-car passenger trains with separate locos) beyond marketing?  In the case of DB, the various ICEs often operate on trackage stretches that do not allow speeds over 200 km.  Perhaps Volker can fill us in with more details, but I have observed this practice for years. 
I mentioned the UIC and other standards for defining HSR only because some base the entire argument on the idea that because the NEC does not permit Acelas to reach their designed top speed, it is a waste. 

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Posted by Anonymous on Wednesday, October 31, 2018 2:19 PM

Overmod
likewise, I can't say definitively whether any of the PRIIA construction could be "improved" for safe 150mph operation.

I don't think the proposed PRIIA equipment can upgraded to 150 mph easily. The PRIIA equipment is designed for maximum speeds of 125 mph and falld into FRA's crashworthiness Tier 1 standard while 150 mph falls into Tier 2.

There are different requirements for doors, windows, trucks because of the increased. All elements are available from, in case of Siemens, the ICE-trains. Nevertheless the cars would be a completely new design.

The european railroad decided to use locomotive drawn train up to 200 kph (125 mph) and above that trainsets.

I believe reason was, among others, the axle load limit which only allowed limited power installed in a locomotive, not enough to propel a train to 300 km/h (186 mph). The limit seems to be about a maximum of 6,400 kW as in Siemens Vectron, Bombardier Traxx, and Alstom Prima II locomotives.

As for the cars I would expect the locomotive for a 150mph train to be a complete new design because of crashworthiness Tier 2 requirements, more powerful electrical equipment, more powerful traction motors, new designed trucks (not available yet) and that within axle load limits determined by vehicle dynamics.

And that for a series of 28 train sets. Perhaps that led Amtrak to go with an of the shelf HSR-railcar that can get Amercanized.
Regards, Volker

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Posted by Anonymous on Wednesday, October 31, 2018 12:42 PM

Overmod
I were serious I'd ask whether the ACS64 Sprinters (we need a better nickname), which I think are superior to even AC-drive AEM-7s, could be adapted to match at least some of the HHP-8 performance envelope.

What should be adjusted? I don't see large differences between HHP-8 and ACS-64. My information is from the following sources:

HHP-8: Data sheet MARC/Bombardier: http://www.sonic.net/~mly/Caltrain-Electrification/2000-08-Rolling-Stock-Draft/a5.pdf

ASC-64: Septa specification: https://www.septa.org/business/bid/100k/detail/High-Speed%20Electric%20Locomotives%20RFP%2014-237-JFK%20Initial%20Release%20121214%20(File%202%20of%202%20Technical%20Specification).pdf

Speeds
For both the following is identical: max. design speed 135 mph; max operating speed: 125 mph

HHP-8: 14 cars at max. speed; 18 cars at reduced speed; cars not specifid
ACS-64: 18 Amfleet cars at 125 mpg (from Siemens data sheet); According Septa able to pull 14 cars of 160,000 lbs each

Acceleration:
For both: 5 miles in 5 minutes and 10 miles in 7.5 minutes.
HHP-8: 1 locomotive + 8 cars
ACS-64: 1 locomotive + 7 cars of 160,000 lbs each.

For both locomotives the performance needs to be achieved with 1,000 kW HEP power use.

HHP-8 has 6,000 kW continous power rating
ACS-64 has 5,000 KW continous power rating and 6,400 kW maximum (short time)

So where do you see need for adjustments?
Regards, Volker

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Posted by Overmod on Wednesday, October 31, 2018 12:02 PM

charlie hebdo
I suggest you read the definitions of high speed rail which I posted. You might just learn something.

Don't see anything there I don't already know in better detail from more knowledgeable sources.  But hey! thanks for mentioning it; I'd certainly have appreciated the heads-up if there had been.

(This is NOT to disparage all the areas, from German railroad practice through WWI aircraft to, of course, psychology where you will find me reading attentively, presuming distinctive competence ...)

And what product or service have you successfully marketed lately/ever?

A number, in different fields.  Again, almost certainly more than you, which is really as much of an issue in your attempts to foment some pathetic p-ssing contest here as anything actually substantive you've brought up.  This is not an ad hominem matter any more; it's a discussion about how wisely Amtrak spends what is likely to be scarce resources during a period where very substantial investment in infrastructure becomes necessary.  And I repeat both that less expensive rolling stock will fulfil what is meaningfully achievable until that investment has been made, and that spending money on features that can't be practically used makes less sense than providing attractive amenities and service improvements if the higher speed can't be fully used.

In my opinion, no argument that hinges on 'Acela's shorter timings' being a justification for true HSR trainsets factors into the argument that is the focus of this particular thread.  Joe's original point included that the speed of any alternative would be raised to give effective trip time comparable to what current Acela performance yields, and I do think that is technically achievable with the kinds of alternative we've discussed.

I do share Mr. Landwehr's concern with the failure of the Amfleet car in the Cayce accident.  I think there had been some conception in the industry that Budd fabrication and design analysis were at least equal for the Amfleet production as for earlier generations of stainless cars; at least some of the cars when built had considerable and notable camber (and a quick inspection of recent videos will reveal how many of them still do) which indicates remaining reserve on the strength of the construction.  If there are structural weaknesses, either emergent or original, in any 'necessary' series or configuration of Amfleet shell, that would affect the safety of rebuilding the cars to run at their nominal design speed range as Metroliner derivatives.

In my opinion, none of the Viewliner modified shells are suitable for sustained, regular operation at speeds in excess of about 125mph, but I have nothing but anecdotal evidence for that; likewise, I can't say definitively whether any of the PRIIA construction could be "improved" for safe 150mph operation.  This is a little reminiscent of the motive-power issue in the NEC in the mid-Seventies, when the only "high-speed" locomotive for use was generations old, no matter how you tried rebuilding any of the newer alternatives: all the recent American work has been prioritized around the joint effectively HrSR standards and those may not be 'fast enough' to give the necessary speed for effective competition with the other modes recently mentioned.  (I certainly hope, if they are the only alternative, that they will prove to be...)

Seems to me the Acela service has been very successful based on the numbers.

Yes, it has.  But only the portion of its success directly attributable to higher overall speed/shorter actual trip time is a focus of discussion here.  In particular any perceived amenity difference between the Acela or an improved more conventional train needs to be carefully considered, as it is not difficult to provide far superior ones in most meaningful 'business' respects in a rebuilding, particularly one that can use a significant amount of the dedicated amount per trainset on amenities rather than super-speed construction or features.  The 'numbers' for Acela include many factors other than speed, including the marketing-affected perception of exclusivity, and I think are less self-evident proof of HSR superiority than you may think.  Haven't there been some studies (focus-group or otherwise) that provide properly-corrected published data reporting why Acela riders favor using the service?

There is another 'ringer' question that would apply to operations and rebuilding, which is the issue of 'negative cant deficiency'.  Many portions of the NEC would clearly benefit from implementation of intelligent tilt; I find it almost incomprehensible that Amtrak routinely runs the Acelas without the feature enabled.  The British, in pioneering true HSR design in the Sixties, assumed that competent active tilt would be essential above 125mph, and much of the design of practical HSR since then has included it even for special lines with strict attention to minimizing horizontal and vertical curve issues.  What was difficult to implement and control as late as a few years ago is now relatively easy, and (at least theoretically) there are features in mandated PTC that would allow full tilt of 'legacy' clearance carbodies without risking contact between trains on curves.  This one thing alone ought to promise reasonable timing reductions in many places, almost certainly enough that would add up to make even a train with lower top speed than Acela time-competitive with it.

Now, of course, if I were involved, I wouldn't hesitate to build the new trains for all the reasons given, and take special pains to insure as many changes in infrastructure (more constant-tension cat, removal of all the little high-shock points observed in the Acela dynamic testing, improvements to wayside power and storage, etc.) as would facilitate faster running in the areas where that is currently possible, as between New Brunswick and Trenton.  I'd also very carefully work out how and where to implement as high a speed improvement as practical with the available tilt systems, starting right now with some of the available FRA high-speed track-geometry analysis equipment. So in a sense I'm playing devil's advocate for Joe's ideas, more than expressing what I'd like to see done.

But then again, I'd also be wanting to ensure that the amenity and service improvements that would go into the slower 'alternatives' be provided to the greatest extent the lighter-weight trains would support, so it would be difficult to distinguish popularity based on shorter time with popularity of better onboard 'user experience' -- or to assess any net difference between perceived worse characteristics or amenities of the new trains and whatever shortening of trip time they actually produce in the first decades of their presumptive service lives.

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Wednesday, October 31, 2018 7:40 AM

Overmod
Overmod wrote the following post 9 hours ago: charlie hebdo I suspect neither Joe or Overmod have much knowledge of marketing. Unfortunately, you would be even more than usually wrong.  I might point out that my education in marketing, in part at the Columbia Business School, is likely to be both somewhat more extensive and on a more advanced level to anything you might be able to claim, either academically or otherwise.  But that is beside the point.

Wow!!  Mr. Polymath strikes again, claiming education and expertise in yet another field. There are no limits to what those Ivy League boys can do!!

I suggest you read the definitions of high speed rail which I posted.  You might just learn something.  And what product or service have you successfully marketed lately/ever?  Seems to me the Acela service has been very successful based on the numbers.  One bright spot for an organization with an otherwise dismal history.

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Posted by daveklepper on Wednesday, October 31, 2018 3:14 AM

243:  Don't forget, the Empire Builder provides winter mobility to some communities that have zero other winter mobility.

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Posted by Overmod on Tuesday, October 30, 2018 9:52 PM

charlie hebdo
I suspect neither Joe or Overmod have much knowledge of marketing.

Unfortunately, you would be even more than usually wrong.  I might point out that my education in marketing, in part at the Columbia Business School, is likely to be both somewhat more extensive and on a more advanced level to anything you might be able to claim, either academically or otherwise.  But that is beside the point.

The issue here is not 'shiny new trains', it's '2.4 billion for shiny new trains a substantial part of the expense of which is for very high speed, speed that is essentially completely wasted when there will be little practical high-speed route to justify the substantial marginal expense.  It does not take an Ivy League education to figure out that using that money on slower-speed but more service- or luxury-intensive equipment that costs less now and less to maintain later represents actual common sense, rather than a 'build it and there will be intolerable pressure to build all the second-spine amenities to justify All That High-Speed Capital later' ... you can't possibly believe that would follow, do you?

Meanwhile, I see you're also a firm proponent of that magnificent University of Chicago marketing dictum "if we can't make a profit on the margin, we'll make it up with volume".  Completely aside from (1) the Brightline trains are at best 125mph capable, and (2) what Joe was calling for in Corridor improvement trains was essentially just as 'shiny and new' as Brightline, applying your 'wisdom' to using Zefiro sets in the Corridor would entail buying still more excessively expensive trainsets that can't use much of their expensive capacity, to run no better than feel-good service time improvements over what an enhanced ACS64 and coach 'regional' could do until major track, catenary, and operating improvements have been made.

There is also the implied straw-man argument that '40-year-old locomotives' or Amfleet shells are necessarily run down and shabby after a full rebuilding.  One might as well complain that the NYC Mercury train was run down and shabby because it was rebuilt from commuter cars.  One example of what I think is successful rebuilding 'to a price' is the sets of French first-generation TGV stock that have been adapted to economy service.  Merely because the rebuilding costs less than whole expensive new trains does not imply that corners will be cut or cheap industrial design utilized.  Certainly that is not part of Joe's argument.

That's not to say I disagree with looking a gift horse in the mouth and cancelling the Zefiro order completely, if the Government won't miss the money and won't feel the need to compromise Amtrak elsewhere because of the wasted opportunity capital.  It's just that I know I can market better amenities far more easily than imaginary high speed.

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Tuesday, October 30, 2018 9:33 PM

243129
The 'take the train market' is in the 500 mile and under trip. Midtown to midtown service without the hassle associated with flying. Frequent, dependable and timely service in America's crowded urban corridors...Gone are the days of silver service and epicurean delights. It is no longer an adventure. The train is a means of getting from A to B in a timely manner. This is why the long distance train is in jeopardy. They should be run in the summer months as tours because of the monumental delays they suffer in winter they cannot be depended on.



As edited, I agree wholeheartedly with your post.  

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Posted by 243129 on Tuesday, October 30, 2018 8:03 PM

blue streak 1

Some of these points do need more consideration.   Maybe the Amfleets could be retrucked to operate at say 140 and the same for ACS-64s.  Then continue upgrading the NEC all the way from NYP - WASH.  If Acela-2s make the 160 then that should be enough difference to market each NERs and Acelas?

 

I would rather see new Amfleet style coaches and upgraded locomotives than Gen 2 ACELA trainsets.

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Posted by blue streak 1 on Tuesday, October 30, 2018 7:58 PM

Some of these points do need more consideration.   Maybe the Amfleets could be retrucked to operate at say 140 and the same for ACS-64s.  Then continue upgrading the NEC all the way from NYP - WASH.  If Acela-2s make the 160 then that should be enough difference to market each NERs and Acelas?

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Posted by 243129 on Tuesday, October 30, 2018 7:53 PM

charlie hebdo
I wonder how successful Brightline would be/have been if they had started with 40 year old, second hand, rehabbed coaches and locomoives?

Shoreline East is doing very well with "40 year old, second hand, rehabbed coaches and locomotives". Ridership is up, the commuters are happy.

The 'take the train market' is in the 500 mile and under trip. Midtown to midtown service without the hassle associated with flying.

Frequent, dependable and timely service in America's crowded urban corridors can be attained with conventional equipment rather than glitzy, super expensive, airplane style  'high-speed' trainsets that have yet to accomplish what they were touted to do.

Seventeen or so years and it's time to replace these trainsets? GG-1's and stainless steel coaches lasted nearly 50 years. AEM-7's and Amfleet coaches 30+ years.

Gone are the days of silver service and epicurean delights. It is no longer an adventure. The train is a means of getting from A to B in a timely manner. This is why the long distance train is in jeopardy. They should be run in the summer months as tours because of the monumental delays they suffer in winter they cannot be depended on.

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Posted by Anonymous on Tuesday, October 30, 2018 3:19 PM

Overmod
The art -- as Joe was saying before everyone piled on him -- is in rebuilding them with proper interiors, nice leather (or even pleather) seating, plenty of power points of different types, fast WiFi connecting to fast Internet ... decent food, decent snacks, etc. No one will mistake them for commuter coaches then.

For me the question is, does it makes sense to rebuild outdated passenger cars that are at least 35 years old? Are these cars sound enough for another, how much, 20 years?

After the Amtrak #91 accident in Cayce SC with a broken Amfleet II lounge car I have my doubts.

Overmod
... you might be better off rebuilding existing equipment qualified to run at what several people here already acknowledge as perfectly adequate top speed for a future Corridor, with a fraction of that money, to achieve things that I suspect a great majority of Corridor riders would appreciate more than shiny new Zefiros.

You are in market with airlines, buses and individual cars. On Acela Express (AE) business travel and commuting account for 61% of the travellers, on Northeast Reginals (NR) this are 32%. That reflects that the AE is about 30 minutes faster on the relations New York to Boston and New York to Washington DC.

Make the AE slower and you are in danger to loose business travellers to the airlines. HSR is not only about the fasted possible speed but also about travel times short enough to compete with airlines.

If Amtrak needs an Alstom Avelia Liberty with a top speed of 186 mph and a 7° tilt upgradable to 220 mph without tilt can be questioned. As far I have found Amtrak asked for 160 mph and possible  modification to 186/ 220 mph when needed. Perhaps Amtrak got the 186 mph as by-product when buying an standard design. At least it promises high acceleration.

As the FRA raised the lateral acceleration for passengers from 0.1g to 0.15g and Avelia Liberty's tilt of 7° compared to Acela's 4° the Avelia Liberty can be faster on the same ROW if the track structure can withstand the higher forces.

The Avelia Liberty is an articulated train with two cars sharing on truck. It is said to run more comfortably and to be safer in derailments. An Eurostar derailed at about 186 mph without jackkniving and with only few lightly injured passengers, no fatalities. Other HS-trains like ICE-3 proof that the articulation is not a necessity.
Regards, Volker


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Posted by charlie hebdo on Tuesday, October 30, 2018 2:33 PM

zugmann

No matter how many times you rebuild the amfleets - they still look like commuter coaches from the 1970s.   Yeah, they are functional - but so is a 1992 Toyota Camry.  Yet there are still lots of people that would rather have a new Audi, Tesla, or Ford F150.   It's going to be hard to get people excited about higher speed rail if they are riding the same trains they did 10, 20, or 30 years ago as a kid.

 

I also don't think Acela was purely about faster speeds (although it was a pretty important part).  It was about bringing something new to the table that people could get a little excited about.   Of course, I think there is a big difference between the views of operating personnel (and railfans) vs. marketing and promotion people, so that's why some may pine for the ol' amtubes.  (or maybe it's one of those things that remind us that we aren't as young as we wish to be).

 

I suspect neither Joe or Overmod have much knowledge of marketing.  Contrast their pushing the cosmetic rehabbing of Amfleets for the NEC vs the proven success of Acela,with what the Florida Brightline folks are doing (also successfully, so far).  Brightline 

"Brightline, instead, started with its advantages, like an existing rail corridor, and real estate development possibilities. It then set out goals, like frequent service on modern trains, and did what was necessary to make it happen. In some cases, they weren’t sure how they were going to achieve their goals, but they proceeded with confidence nonetheless.

The end result is outstanding. The trains themselves are comfortable, quiet, and smooth. The hyper-modern stations and trains are part of the “wow” factor, luring people out of their cars. (The new coaches we’re getting in the Midwest will be the same basic design, so we’ve got good things to look forward to.)

Brightline began service with many trains every day, which is crucial. Often, new services plan to start with only one or two trips a day, hoping to scale up in the future. Instead, they see underwhelming ridership as a result of the limited schedule. Brightline understands that the convenience of a frequent schedule is a major part of the “will I take the train?” equation. Proving that point, I noticed that even mid-day, off-peak trains were busy."

I wonder how successful Brightline would be/have been if they had started with 40 year old, second hand, rehabbed coaches and locomoives?

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Posted by zugmann on Tuesday, October 30, 2018 1:43 PM

Overmod
It's always been a pity that the HHP-8s couldn't be made reliable - just as I have not yet stopped being very sad that the Starships weren't the pinnacle of diesel performance.

Any word on how MARC is making out with their HHP8s?

  

The opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of my employer, any other railroad, company, or person.

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Posted by Overmod on Tuesday, October 30, 2018 10:33 AM

243129
The best 'fix' for the HHP-8's would be to relegate them to the junk pile where they could keep the E-60 company. An AEM-7 like locomotive would be my choice to head the fleet so to speak.

It's always been a pity that the HHP-8s couldn't be made reliable - just as I have not yet stopped being very sad that the Starships weren't the pinnacle of diesel performance.

If I were serious I'd ask whether the ACS64 Sprinters (we need a better nickname), which I think are superior to even AC-drive AEM-7s, could be adapted to match at least some of the HHP-8 performance envelope.  If some of those receive 'retrofit kits' for 150mph operation (something extremely unlikely at this point for any AEM-7s that have been reserved), that should give the same "functional Acela equivalent' that the article advocated for reasonable near-term "best-case performance".

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Posted by 243129 on Tuesday, October 30, 2018 10:21 AM

Overmod
Heck, there might be money left over to fix the HHP-8s so they run properly at their design speed -- there's your Amfleet Acela right there. But $2.4 billion might not be enough to accomplish that..

The best 'fix' for the HHP-8's would be to relegate them to the junk pile where they could keep the E-60 company.

An AEM-7 like locomotive would be my choice to head the fleet so to speak.

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