Amtrak NEC, Downeaster, Acela, & Long Distance

F-Line to Dudley

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With this be a good time to take one Hudson River tube out of service maybe over a weekend to do some interim repairs?
Everybody keeps saying to do things like this. "Why not front-load a bunch of Pike Realignment project stuff" and blah blah blah. But these are megaprojects with huge number of moving parts, and some of those moving parts are considerably more paralyzed by COVID-19 than others so where does the coordination come from to whole-hog expedite things? Yeah, Amtrak can do some overdue night track work right now by lengthening its overnight shift...but that's only spot repair work already on a schedule for some month of this year or already on this week's overnight schedule slate and just potentially packable into expanded night hours. Being in perpetual-motion repairs is the only reason anything whatsoever would be moveable around the calendar at all. But the full-on gutting/rebuilding of the North River tubes that was supposed to come 3-years-per-tube after Gateway came online hasn't even been prelim designed yet, or funded for design...because the fucking Feds are still playing chicken with Gateway funding in the first place. Congress isn't taking up any nonessential business right now so you've got no revenue streams to pay a design firm to get even the first rehab design doodles started, few design firms are fully-staffed right now, and Amtrak itself is not fully staffed because the records dept. that would have handy all the last several decades' of inspection reports on every itty-bitty last thing that's wrong with the tubes is furloughed as nonessential. Where's the starting point when those are the default conditions???


I'll say it again in another thread: this is NOT an "opportunity" for disruptively innovating construction schedules. Only the deadest-simple stuff with materials pre-existing onhand like regularly scheduled night trackwork or roadwork has any ability to be stacked n' packed right now. If third-party contractors or any supply chain involved, there's 95% likelihood that at least one of the involved third parties has one hand tied behind its back on staffing just like the rest of the world. And the rest of the basic project-coordination management universe of desk jockeys tasked with triaging anything remotely complicated between multiple parties has basically been sent home as nonessential. Not to mention fat chance of proceeding with anything that needs as prerequisite for "shovel-ready" any outstanding permit applications to be signed by some local, state, or federal authority whose offices are long closed and who are only handling emergency filings from their virtual-remote perches for foreseeable future. The across-board logistics aren't close to aligning for getting "spare-time" project starts. You're seeing that in the real world...more grab-n'-go DOT stuff like lane closures for always-running pavement work because there's no bureaucracy to square to reshuffle that deck, largely self-contained projects not overly dependent on outside materials deliveries continuing uninterrupted, and almost everything else either stopping or significantly slowing because the virus outruns the reach of all possible triaging creativity with supply chains. Expect more of exactly the same during this interregnum, no matter whose project it is.
 
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stick n move

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Did no one tell siemens that the chargers are ugly as hell. Seriously what were they thinking? It starts to curve and then just stops... Its too drastic and looks horrible.
 

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Did no one tell siemens that the chargers are ugly as hell. Seriously what were they thinking? It starts to curve and then just stops... Its too drastic and looks horrible.
Brightline's Chargers have a full sloped nose with coupler cover disguising the flat drop-off. Model number "SCB-40" while the Amtrak statie route and commuter rail model is "SC-44" and the new long-distance model is "ALC-42" (bigger fuel tank and slightly different propulsion vs. coach HEP power load balance than the SC-44 more appropriate for big power-hungry LD trains, but otherwise identical). The Brightline nose jobs are considerably better-looking while being functionally identical.



Sloped vs. "chopped" nose was a design difference guided by the usage differences between the AMTK and Brightline sets. Brightline's only run in a double-ended configuration with a loco at each end, and are run with static number of cars every single run (almost like a de facto integrated trainset a la the Acela, even though the Viaggio Comfort coaches are really standard-coupled coaches just like any Amfleets). That reduces the need for using the nose couplers enough that they could opt for the fancy cosmetic cover-over you normally only see on HSR trainsets like the Acela I and Aveila noses. Brightline also has only one type of yard setup at the ends of the lines for idling trainsets with its own homogenized plug-in power source, meaning the universal layover power cable plugs next to the nose couplers could also remain covered as they rarely need to be direct-accessed. Brightline's also have an unusually undersized plowblade, it being South Florida and all where snow is rare and basic obstruction deflection is all that's necessary to protect the underside of the loco. While I'm not sure if the nose cover is compatible with a regular 'universal-climate' plowblade or not (I think it is, as Siemens offers the SCB-40 in its general product catalog), the sloped effect is much enhanced by the absence of a bog-standard snowbelt-sized plow sticking out the front.

Amtrak could not opt for the sloped nose. The power plugs have to remain exposed for fitting universally inside of a wide variety of layover yard configurations across the country. They obviously need the all-weather plow, especially in Chicagoland where this year it was very snowy compared to our non-winter here. And they need the perpetually exposed couplers for wide variety of reasons. Such as:
  • Zero routes in the country regularly run as static-size double-drafts...only pull-only with some minority of push-pull using commuter-like cab cars. Wider variety of turnaround moves required, some assisted with switcher power. Greater need for covering all bases re: which end of the train has to couple temporarily with something on between-run chores.
  • Non-static consist sizes. At big hubs like Chicago, sets get rotated around different routes regularly and have cars added/subtracted to suit. When it's not a big enough job for a dedicated yard switcher (like at an outlying layover), sometimes that means using the #2 passenger set in the yard to nudge a car in/out of place on the #1 passenger set in the yard using its nose.
  • All diesel LD trains run in 2-loco lash-ups at the head coupled "nose-to-butt" instead of double-draft. 1 loco provides strictly hauling power, no electricity...1 loco provides strictly consist electricity, no propulsion. And each fail-safes the other as a backup capable of doing both jobs should something crap out on the very long trip. That's a very different power setup from Brightline's double-drafts where each loco is behaving like an HSR power cars in splitting propulsion and electricity 50/50 each unit. The total cleaving of propulsion vs. HEP loads that AMTK uses is the most performance-efficient and fuel-efficient type of lash-up for LD's. LD sleepers and diners have monstrous electricity requirements compared to standard corridor biz class and dinette coaches, and LD's in general put way more electrical demand on coach HVAC systems than short-haul corridor routes because of the multiple climate zones they cross en route. Saddling the propulsion leader with HEP duties on those types of trains would otherwise murder Amtrak's fuel consumption and grind the diesel fleet to dust in half as many years, so the split leader lash-ups are actually the "best-practice" way of doing that job. Incumbent Genesis fleet, upcoming "ALC-42" Charger variant, and the prior-generation F40PH's (which are still in use on all VIA Rail LD's in Canada) are all factory-optimized for that kind of trainlining. But obviously those ALC-42 nose couplers will be in use more often than they're not, so the nose covers are a maint-intensive cosmetic waste. FWIW, Brightline's "power car"-esque sharing scheme has certain worthy advantages for corridor routes, but Amtrak's statie network of short-haul routes really doesn't average enough cars (even on the 110 MPH Michigan routes) to overtax a single leader so they aren't looking to mimic that setup. They're more focused on backfilling with more frequencies once the new coaches arrive rather then lengthening trains, which puts more fleet management emphasis on working the single-loco schedules to max efficiency before ever entertaining a move to double-drafts. Pros/cons-wise those choices all strategically wash in each Brightline's and Amtrak's favors equally; no one's doing it "better" than the other, just taking different approaches to each RR's default operating circumstances.
  • Equipment shuttles. Several routes are designated as major equipment transfer carrier routes between major yards, meaning they will routinely be towing extra locos or unused passenger cars on a revenue trip requiring the nose couplers. The Lake Shore Ltd. is one of the biggest such transfer dumps nationally. The Boston leg normally runs 1 loco + 1 Viewliner sleeper + couple Amfleet II coaches in its base revenue configuration, but because Albany Shops are the source for all Downeaster equipment you will sometimes see it lugging as many as 3 locos, several Amfleet I coaches, and/or a DE-branded baggage-cab car to/from South Station for routine maintenance or mandatory 92-day loco/cab inspections in Albany. The west-of-Albany combined LSL is then a major throat between all East Coast shops and Amtrak's primary maint HQ at Beech Grove, IN outside Indianapolis. So all kinds of crap will get chucked on an LSL between NY/Albany and Chicago then get shuttled to Beech Grove on an equipment extra. The NY-Chicago Cardinal performs similar function coupling/de-coupling its Beech Grove dumps @ Indianapolis. The Chicago-Seattle Empire Builder and CHI-LA Southwest Chief are the other big inter-region equipment pipes...sometimes also the Texas Eagle/Sunset Limited and Coast Starlight.
All told, that's enough daily usage for the nose gear that it's better off not having the cosmetic cover at all. Plus the fact that as a piece of hardware the cover itself would get nicked up pretty good when the snowplows are in use around the Chicagoland snowbelt, so they wouldn't look so pretty after a few years of punishment to begin with. Hence, doing away with it. But the need to design-accommodate cover and non-cover variants in one unibody design meant the non-cover version got "uglified" quite a bit by the flat face...because that's what's there but in-hiding in the SCB-40 variant.


So...not a looker, but at least there's well-defined design logic for why that's the case. And that design logic has directly benefitted Siemens at selling many more units of them, so it's tough to question the logic of that decision on dollars and sense.
 
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Next Gen Equipment Committee has been busy this week ripping out the PowerPoint presentations.

http://www.highspeed-rail.org/Documents/Amtrak Procurement and Program Update.pdf

This one covers a smorgasboard of stuff related to mostly the in-service fleet.:
  • Siemens Charger (SC-44 statie order) 2-year service progress report. Initial impressions, issues to stamp out, etc. So far things looking good. Harsh winter in Chicagoland caused some issues with excessive snow being sucked in, but that was corrected with a software fix to have the engine room blowers auto-set to a higher ambient internal pressure during bad weather. Weather extremes are a typical unknown for new makes because it's impossible to lab-test for a full shitty winter's worth of attrition. Couple stumbles in parts availability from Siemens on the Service & Support contract (windshield supplier took a dump, and other misc. issues with oft-replaced "consumables"), but that was quickly stamped out and now they aren't waiting very long for parts when they have to go to shop. Loads of PTC implementation snafus since each of these locos has to carry signal units for like 5 different PTC systems, but that's a one-time hurdle that everyone is going through to some degree. Lessons are being rolled up into the mods for the national ACL-42 order and VIA Rail order for the Canadian Corridor (esp. the cold-weather issues). Most impressive takeback was that the engines have a *LOT* of pep...takes off like a rocket even under heavy HEP load from powering lots of coaches, and makes the not-at-all-underpowered Genesis look like a total gimp in comparison. Downeaster riders, take note; that's a coming attraction.

  • Amfleet livery refresh. Program started last year to 10-year update the interiors of the Amfleet I's (and identical-interior Metroliner cab cars), since the replacement procurement will be batched out so long-duration that the very last of nearly 500 AmCans won't be retired until very late this decade. Hence the need for another 10-year interior update. Interior mods--new LED lighting, seat cushions, carpeting, window curtains + restroom improvements--have predictably scored very high with customers. Next phase of the refresh kicking off improves the dinette and biz class table fixtures; , new/improved trash receptacles; adds ADA handrails to vestibules + new slip-resistant flooring to vestibules; adds new tray tables to seats; improves restroom exhaust and air fresheners. Also expands refresh program to long-distance Amfleet II's (which are slotted last in-order for replacement)...coaches only, as the LD dinettes they seem to be slowly phasing out in favor of Amfleet I-substitute dinettes now that the new Viewliner diners are in-service. Exterior mods on-tap for roof leaks (an experimental black-roof Amfleet has been roaming the wilds for about a year now testing material), which has become the leading old-age problem for the cars...plus additional prevention measures for leaves/debris getting sucked in by the underside HVAC units.

  • GE Genesis "last" refresh before replacement. Some targeted component replacement on the P42DC's, P40DC's, and dual-mode P32AC-DM's. A couple years ago they installed telemetry-logging computers onboard the diesel fleet to log failure data, and that's informed what components need the most work. Nothing major, but seems like they're having more trouble with winter extremes as the carbodies age and develop more air leaks. Most of the targeted refreshes go straight there. Right now the diesel fleet is:
    • 62 new statie SC-44 Chargers (1 wrecked in the 2017 Cascades disaster)
    • 186 in-service Genesis P42's...plus double-digit units out-of-service as the recent Charger surplus has them slow-walking repairs.
    • 13 in-service Genesis P40's (midlife overhaul made them identical to P42 spec, except for mechanical air brakes and 103 MPH instead of 110 MPH top speed). First on-dock for retirement. ConnDOT will probably end up buying most of these, as it's snapped up and is actively rebuilding all other existing P40's for the Hartford Line.
    • 18 in-service Genesis P32AC-DM dual-modes assigned exclusively to the Empire Corridor. These are the most heavily-worn class of Gennies with lowest spare ratio.
    • 20 in-service GE Dash 8's (basically lower-powered 'proto-Gennies' in a conventional freight carbody, ordered as a test bed before the main thrust of early-90's Gennies). These are dual-configured for either/or revenue service or work + switcher duty, and with the Charger surplus are now pretty much 'soft-retired' from revenue duty. Recently rebuilt and staying long-term as work power because their mileage is pretty low, but will only be seen on a revenue train either rescuing a dead engine or riding shotgun on an equipment transfer to its next work assignment. Being 'jack of all trades' engines they kind of ride like ass in passenger service, so have been rare sightings in the wild in recent years (almost never venturing Northeast).

  • New loco update. Some hyper-technical specs porn on the ACL-42 'national' Chargers. 75 on-order for the base contract, 150 options to displace the rest of P42 fleet. I'm not an expert in what most of that technojargon means, except "holy HEP load, Batman!" These things will be able to power some truly monster-sized LD consists...sleepers, diners, lounges, bag cars, worlds-destroying HVAC units. Not to mention taking a packed-to-gills Thanksgiving Weekend extra 12-car Virginia Regional off from a dead stop on a single unit without hesitation. These things can handle electric loading the likes of which would give a Genesis a heart attack. Note also the design mods for fitting "third rail shoes". The New York State/Empire dual-mode RFP issues later this year, and if Siemens is baking in dual-mode leaning design mods into the base diesel build now it means they're a 90% shoo-in to win the dual-mode contract over lead competitor Bombardier.

  • Acela II and Amfleet I replacement slides. All old info recapping timelines...nothing new to see here.
 
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stick n move

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Yea I know about the brightline locos, they definitely look better. Even though the regular chargers cant have that cover, I wish the original design had just been better from the beginning, oh well.
 

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In the Update that F-Line linked, they describe the 2018 RFP for new Diesels (on page 10) that resulted in the section of the ALC42s (on page 14).
As described on P. 10, they RFP'd that the Diesel have/show "Options for catenary power or DC 3rd Rail power draw "

Was that an optional option? Asking "please indicate whether" your Diesel could (in later procurements) be fitted with a 3rd rail (for use Albany-to-NYP and maybe onward to Long Island) or catenary (for use VT/CT/Inland to NEC to VA/NC?
 
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F-Line to Dudley

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Yea I know about the brightline locos, they definitely look better. Even though the regular chargers cant have that cover, I wish the original design had just been better from the beginning, oh well.
The Charger (and electric Sprinter) are all heavily derived from the modular Siemens Vectron Euro series, which numbers about 1000 units after 10 years in production and covers the whole spread of (various voltage) electric, diesel, and dual-mode flavors. That is similarly offered with and without cosmetic nose cones...the vast majority of orders coming without it for same reason that most systems have a need for maximum coupling flexibility and no purely 'aesthetic' moving parts like a moving nose cone to bother maintaining.

You'll notice one (depressing) common thread in the hundreds of pics of umpteen Vectron variants on that Wiki link: flat fucking face. The Vectron's predecessor lineage, the mid-90's to mid-'aughts EuroSprinter: flat fucking face.


So there really isn't an "original" Charger design that would've looked worlds better, because the Eurozone daddy and granddaddy designs have looked exactly that way for 20+ years while being an undisputed Top 2 world seller that whole time. They didn't change the basic aesthetic for the U.S. FRA variant because..."Top 2 world seller" and don't mess with success or success' supply chain. I get the coulda/shouldas of making an aesthetic splash when first-time importing to a new continent, but from a biz and supply chain standpoint it really couldn't have ever broken that way. The design has been "flat fucking face with optional cover-over nose job few buyers actually opt for" for too long, and something basic would get broken in the process of trying too hard to over-reshape the structural carbody front end strictly for looks. So they leave it be, because what be is what lets them sell market leaders on two continents from the same modular platform...something literally no other builder in the world can claim right this moment in passenger stock.
 

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For RFP (on page 10) that resulted in the section of the ALC42s (on page 14) they RFP'd "Options for catenary power or DC 3rd Rail power draw "
Was that an optional option, in which (future dual mode variants of the selected) ALC42 can do the 3rd rail but not catenary?
No...because the dual-mode RFP is separate and has existed on a separate trajectory for years now. What it means is that since the dual-mode RFI was issued 5+ years ago Siemens has refined its would-be design to the point where it's asking to bake in the carbody mods into the base diesel platform now so the same frame can be ripped out for the dual version. Siemens is all about the modularity of its platform, and parts/design commonality between the Sprinters and Chargers is a humongous attraction for Amtrak...so being able to uniframe their whole U.S. diesel universe has to be considered holy grail for their manufacturing scale. At the time of the duals RFI reply they were *near* the specced weight target but not *at* the weight target on projected dual design, and said that they could produce a 110 MPH (i.e. same as Genesis) dual within-weight but needed more R&D time to make weight with a 125 MPH spec target.

With a half decade's time for that extra R&D and a very small weight shortfall to begin with, it's overwhelmingly likely that they've got their design now fully sorted. Since the carbody changes sympatico with those dual-mode design changes and making weight therein came after the SC-44, they are being specifically included up-front in the ALC-42 specs (both AMTK and VIA versions). I imagine after some cutoff point the commuter rail SC-44's that are being ordered at steady clip will be migrated over to the same one-size-fits-all frame as a "Version 1.1" rollup of sorts that bakes in all other improvements. The dual-mode version would presumably have highly modularized E-mode and diesel mode compartments because that's how they do it with the Eurozone Vectron dual-modes. And the modularity would mean that the E-mode compartment can be swapped between DC third rail and AC pantograph variants without design changes. That's where the New York triple-procurement of NYSDOT/Amtrak + Metro North + LIRR duals (anywhere from 70 to 95 units depending on whether the MTA goes all-dual/no-diesel outside of ConnDOT or continues with split dual GCT/Penn fleets and straight-diesel shuttle fleets) offers a way in for VADOT/NCDOT, PennDOT, and ConnDOT/MassDOT to later buy a minority fleet of pantograph duals at really nice price point. However, dual power plants are still a big enough production to require very different configuration from a straight-diesel setup. So basically they're just resetting some global carbody changes that fit all variants, and then minimizing the design deviations for the mode compartments to just the interior engine room.

It is very likely possible to bake a stock ALC-42 and add a third-rail helper engine just for getting in/out of Penn/GCT and nothing more. That's not new at all; 1950's NYNH&H EMD FL9's (currently the newest addition to the Cape Dinner Train's historic fleet) did it with third-rail helpers for nearly 5 decades. The jet-turbine powered Turboliners were quick-retrofitted for third-rail helpers. Even Bombardier's JetTrain, the laudable but futile effort to port the Acela I design to diesel territory with a newer-fangled 125 MPH jet turbine design, had a third-rail helper on its lone prototype. That's not hard at all, and it appears they are rolling up the flex to augment exactly that way on the base ALC-42 build. But New York is very specifically ordering "equal modes" for the triple-procurement, and is doing so because the LIRR + MNRR units with many more miles of third-rail territory to tap so strongly outnumber the Empire/Penn units, and they get their optimal ordering scale buying all 3 at the same time with the same make. So even if a helper-shoed ALC-42 is a better value in an Amtrak-only universe...this isn't an Amtrak-only universe. New York State is going to be the sole owner of all 70-95 units split between the three agencies, so "equal mode" duals are where they get their paydirt. Reserving the capability for helper E-mode in the ALC-42 may have jack nothing to do with Amtrak or U.S. market prospects at all; it may just be a design tweak that starts here at first available opportunity but gets backported to the Euroland "Vectron" series and nets them a few actual sales over there instead.

What we are now hearing is that Siemens has got its "equal mode" design fully sorted for that RFP, and is advance-baking any global changes to the Charger frame into the ALC-42's by request so it's ready to roll for that duals RFP. Also probably means that Bombardier, which is now actively delivering its second batch of ALP-45DP "equal mode" pantograph duals to NJ Transit, was never able to make any headway against the weight target in the RFI...which it was in much tougher straits than Siemens against because the ALP-45 starts out way heavier than the Charger with fewer feasible avenues for improvement. The second batch for NJT are merely refreshed clones at same insane obeseness, not any sort of "Version 2.0's" that made any significant strides towards target. BBD seems to have waved the white flag on feasibility of meeting the New York RFI specs, while it only took Siemens a "Version 1.1" tweak--nothing nearly as radical as a "Version 2.0" overhaul--to make weight. So that pretty much telegraphs how the bidding is going to play out.
 
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Not quite a dress rehearsal yet, but moving at a pretty good clip on its new home rails. . .


EDIT: From the lighting inside being turned on end-to-end, I guess the trainsets can take a standard HEP power draw from the tow locomotives while pantographs are down. Because that's more than just the battery-power emergency lighting...it looks like they have the whole consist lit to typical mid-evening / between-stop half-brightness ambient levels. Something they definitely wouldn't do on a tow move for how it would kill the batteries, so it must be taking regular hotel power from one of the attached Genesis locos. I don't think Acela I's had that fail-safe capability in a power outage. Every time I've heard of a blackout hitting the NEC during the A1s' service lives, they've had to be towed in the dark...whereas the Regionals come right back to lighting & HVAC life the second the diesel couples to the dead electric and starts piping HEP electricity to the coaches. While this power sharing may be capped such that you're not going to see the HVAC fired up to 100% loading during a diesel tow, it's a welcome feature. Transmission snafus do happen, especially in weather extremes, but in the 21st century no dead electric train should have to be completely dark and 100% interior-incapacitated in a contingency.
 
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The paint job is nice, but that discontinuity between the sides of the power cars and the coaches is really visually jarring.
 

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I like the red at the bottom, but you probably wont see that at high floor stops
 

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I like the red at the bottom, but you probably wont see that at high floor stops
And similar to the very thin red stripe at the bottom of the dining car in front of it on the YT still photo, the platform level is functionally traced by the color change as a visual accessibility cue.


I'm not wild about this scheme overall, but the thing about paint is that...it's paint. It can be repainted at literally any time. And Amtrak repaints stuff a real lot. Anyone remember the hideous Capstone-scheme teal Amfleets when they tried to apply the confusing Acela Regional branding to the conventional NE Regionals back at turn of century?



Yeah, that misguided decision only lasted 2 years before they scrubbed the Acela logo and repainted the coaches in good old Phase VI stripes.
 

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The best thing that I love about the new Acela cars are that distinctive Viewliner style of the cars!!!!:)
 

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The paint job is nice, but that discontinuity between the sides of the power cars and the coaches is really visually jarring.
Yea this doesn't make any sense to me. All they had to do was flare the sides out ever so slightly towards the back of the power car and it would have been nicely streamlined.
 

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Yea this doesn't make any sense to me. All they had to do was flare the sides out ever so slightly towards the back of the power car and it would have been nicely streamlined.
We got what we got as the result of what the FRA would and would not concede. They would allow a lightweight TGV passenger section which has the angled side but they would not allow people in the power/frontmost car.

The virtue of this whole trainset is that it was created from a world-standard kit of parts and options. If we'd been able to have the TGV-standard occupied lead car we could have had the TGV power car shape. But the requirement that it have two un-occupied locomotives at each end meant reaching into a different (and flat-sided) part of the kit.

Yes, on static display its going to drive us all nuts, but when boarding or alighting, the real touchpoints are the windows and doorways--and at least at NYP and online stations, people will not interact with the loco-passenger boundary (yes, at WAS and BOS, you have to walk past the loco on your way onto the terminal platforms)
 

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We got what we got as the result of what the FRA would and would not concede. They would allow a lightweight TGV passenger section which has the angled side but they would not allow people in the power/frontmost car.

The virtue of this whole trainset is that it was created from a world-standard kit of parts and options. If we'd been able to have the TGV-standard occupied lead car we could have had the TGV power car shape. But the requirement that it have two un-occupied locomotives at each end meant reaching into a different (and flat-sided) part of the kit.

Yes, on static display its going to drive us all nuts, but when boarding or alighting, the real touchpoints are the windows and doorways--and at least at NYP and online stations, people will not interact with the loco-passenger boundary (yes, at WAS and BOS, you have to walk past the loco on your way onto the terminal platforms)
TGV has ordered 100 trainsets of the "Aveila Horizon", which is the Euroland fork of the same source design. First unit won't be in-service until 1 year after the Aveila Liberty and we don't have mockups yet (at least not from any English-language source Googleable), but Alstom designed the family modularly from the get-go to get sourced to either/or FRA or TGV sets of standards. So what we have here is not an "adaptation" kludged off something pre-existing and imported (though the Aveila's predecessors are all TGV product so the DNA runs strong). It was all pre-designed to break one continent or the other off a single base design. TGV ordered it because they wanted a 20% procurement + cost-over-lifetime savings over previous procurements where they've gotten tired of paying for home-field design premiums...so the whole thing was teed up to favor a modular 'family' design. We'll have to see if the funkiness with the power car transitions is a specific design hook for diverging the U.S. and French versions around the differing passenger carry regs. It's entirely possible it looks like that on purpose to make the TGV version easier to serve.

In this case, Amtrak was simply first to place the order and first to get stock delivered...but TGV's contract with Alstom runs 10 years to the end of all exercised options and is worth 5x as many trainsets. Costs are definitely going to amortize well because S&S supply chain is going to be maximally robust come midlife, in stark contrast to the neverending Bombardier support nightmare with the A1's.
 

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Freakin' finally, 6 years after the final EIS, some signs of movement on advancing the replacement of the NEC Shoreline's Connecticut River Bridge. Will replace the current 1907 single-leaf bascule with a faster-moving bascule with redundant leafs for each track, wider shipping channel for shorter openings, and slightly thinner materials on deck construction for fewer openings. Lift span and raising the level of the span were ruled out as not meaningfully decreasing rate of full openings (which isn't too busy to begin with...1907 span is just hella unreliable at closing after it's been opened). Will be built immediately adjacent to current bridge on existing approach, which NYNH&H built at quad-track width as future-proofing for eventually twinning the bridge to 4 tracks. Old bridge will be demolished after new one is complete, flipping the future-considerations 'twinning' berth to the north side of the approach. Will whack current 45 MPH speed restriction and re-raise to 70 MPH (90 MPH design speed, but pinned in by sharp curves on both approaches).

East Lyme NIMBY's are mildly stirred by the temp construction truck access road on the East side and voting for a delay, but that's small-potatoes. The feds refusing to shit or get off the pot with funding commitments since 2nd-term Obama has been positively maddening, as all the legwork for the fed Finding of No Impact Statement just released was done/finished half-decade ago and just sitting in a file cabinet awaiting further action.

This is the last NEC movable east of Milford still needing replacement. All of the others on the Shoreline got complete replacements between 1984-2012 and are at full state-of-repair. This is *the* solved bottleneck prerequisite for extending all Shore Line East commuter trains from Old Saybrook to New London (currently only a shade under half the schedule goes to NLN), ending the stupid "will they/won't they?" waiting game over full deployment of M8 EMU's to SLE, adding the desired Old Lyme infill stop between OSB & NLN with the service increase, and being able to proceed to Step 1 on studying the final extension to Mystic & Westerly past New London. Of course, they could still take another half-decade leaving design-build in a file cabinet if Trans Sec. Chao orders this held up on austerity grounds, but if they're already going to the trouble of negotiating with the towns over temp construction access and maritime access outages that signals that right now it's proceeding like it's up for imminent placement on somebody's CIP-like 4-year planning calendar for construction starts. Long fricking overdue.
 

jlichyen

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Will be built immediately adjacent to current bridge on existing approach, which NYNH&H built at quad-track width as future-proofing for eventually twinning the bridge to 4 tracks. Old bridge will be demolished after new one is complete, flipping the future-considerations 'twinning' berth to the north side of the approach. Will whack current 45 MPH speed restriction and re-raise to 70 MPH (90 MPH design speed, but pinned in by sharp curves on both approaches).
I read somewhere (must have been Alon it was Sandy Johnson) complaints about the cost and the fact that it doesn't fix the curves or raise the height at all. Looking at the site on Google Maps, that I-95 bypass looks pretty nice right about now.

Either way, I really could have used the service improvements back when I was traveling between NYC and New London for school...
 
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Scalziand

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Any realignment proposal would definitely go through hell in the EIS with all the wetlands it would impact. The cursed NECFuture proposal had the southeast CT bypass starting here, maintaining the arrow straight western approach on an oblique bridge across the river. The head banging issue to me is that they are going to be somewhat reworking the approaches anyway in the current proposal in order to shift the new bridge 50 ft south., abandoning the old set of piers. The existing open berth is on the north side of the current bridge. The height is being raised 6ft to 24ft though so that should help reduce required openings.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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I read somewhere (must have been Alon it was Sandy Johnson) complaints about the cost and the fact that it doesn't fix the curves or raise the height at all. Looking at the site on Google Maps, that I-95 bypass looks pretty nice right about now.

Either way, I really could have used the service improvements back when I was traveling between NYC and New London for school...
The I-95 bypass studied by NEC FUTURE was absolutely bugfuck, exchanging better curves for incredibly worse grades and requiring a MOAR TUNNEL-thon through perpetually crumbling Connecticut trap rock outcrops that are long-term unstable (why they have to keep getting shaved again and again in the highway cuts) and pornographically expensive to tunnel through because of crazy-quilt water tables. TBM'ing wouldn't be applicable for much of it because of the way the whole rock mass starts flaking away in jagged shards when the drill bit gets put to it. I've read Levy's preference for that alignment...but he did at least caveat it up front saying it was a crayon-drawn 'draft' he was doing during early-COVID isolation. It was inexcusable for NEC FUTURE to blow through that much $$$ presenting this as 'the' plan without so much as having a consulting geologist on the project.

Basically, the the only reason the whole substandard I-95 bunny-hop got constructed in that inland swath in the first place was the U.S. had shittons of surplus Wartime dynamite laying around unused, and there were more cows than people in the mid-50's living around it because all the population density was packed along US 1 on the Shoreline. So they just blew dynamite through all those rock seams for 30 miles get through there and cut some reimbursement checks for broken barn windows. The notion that anyone could come in 70 years later when the density is built up and do the same thing is absurd on its face. For one, the utter inattention to what shitty up/down/up/down grades this would create would've made it a much poorer-performing rail corridor in the real world than NEC FUTURE's alignment assumed. Acceleration wouldn't have been maintained nearly well enough to be a true 165 MPH corridor conforming to the same bunny-hop that kicks your car out of cruise back to acceleration every 90 seconds. So that in itself was pants-on-fire bad.

There's no move forward without a thorough THREE-dimensional look-back at NEC FUTURE's work. Where it'll most likely be need to be tossed outright rather than troubleshooted. And since the locals have already violently rejected it, even that may not be worth the effort. The most feasible re-route may well still be New Haven-Hartford and the Midland routing via Willimantic and Central RI to Providence, which NEC FUTURE avoided looking at in enough detail to make serious conclusions about because they were so suspiciously adamant about forcing the I-95 alignment. The whole study package was a regrettable exercise in waste via poorly vetted over-assumption, and is virtually useless as a document of record. Some future Admin. is just going to have to burn it and start completely over less recklessly.
 

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