Goodbye Acela, Hello Avelia

Aug 26th, 2016 | Posted by

The Northeast Corridor is getting new trains in five years. Today Vice-President Joe Biden announced the Acela trains will be retired, to be replaced by the Alstom Avelia:

Alstom and Amtrak announced today that they have signed a contract for Alstom to design and build 28 new high-speed trains, which will run on the Northeast Corridor (NEC) between Boston and Washington D.C. Amtrak and Alstom also signed a long-term contract under which Alstom will provide Amtrak with long-term technical support and supply spare components and parts for the maintenance of the new trainsets. Together, these contracts are worth €1.8 billion ($2 billion)….

The train ordered by Amtrak is Avelia Liberty, the latest development of Alstom’s high-speed train range Avelia. The new trainset will be able to carry up to 33% more passengers than the current Acela trains. The trainset configuration includes an innovative compact power car and nine passenger cars, with the possibility of three more being added if demand grows. The train is capable of travelling at speeds up to 300 km/h (186 mph), but will initially operate at a maximum speed of 257 km/h (160 mph) based on NEC track speed limits. Additionally, each concentrated power car is equipped with Alstom’s pioneering Crash Energy Management (CEM) system.

The trains will be manufactured in the United States at Alstom’s facility in Hornell, New York. And it’s made possible by a $2.45 billion loan from the U.S. Department of Transportation – the largest such loan in USDOT history:

Officials said about $2 billion would be spent on the new trains. The rest of the loan will be used to upgrade several stations, including those in New York and Washington, and to improve track reliability and safety.

Amtrak expects increased revenue from the more frequent Acela service to help it pay back the loan, the biggest in the history of the Department of Transportation, officials said.

I think this is amazing. Obviously the only thing better would be track and catenary upgrades along the NEC to allow the Alstom trains to go their top design speed. But this is going to allow a major increase in capacity on the NEC.

Most of all, it demonstrates that the United States is already a good place for high speed rail – and that we need a lot more of it.

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  1. Clem
    Aug 26th, 2016 at 20:50
    #1

    Branding confusion alert!
    Avelia is an Alstom brand
    Acela Express is an Amtrak brand
    These new trains will continue to operate as Acela Express.

    Jerry Reply:

    There is a good Alstom HSR video in the above referenced Alstom press release.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Or Amtrak might chose to create an entirely new brand.

    By the way, what happens to the old Acelas? Scrap heap? They are not that old; they were only introduced roughly 16 years ago. DB for example is only now retiring its 1970s intercity rolling stock (after one or two renovations, though)

    Nathanael Reply:

    They are disliked because they are high maintenance. The HHP-8s, with essentially the same design, were retired before the AEM-7s, which are older.

    Useless Reply:

    Bahnfreund

    what happens to the old Acelas? Scrap heap?

    They will be returned when 20 year lease is expired.

    Reality Check Reply:

    Being returned is merely a transaction … the question was “what happens to the old Acelas”?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Run them to Harrisburg for few years to establish there is enough demand to exercise options on the new trains? It would free up Amfleets for the Regionals. Adding a business class car to a Regional doesn’t cost much but generates a lot of ticket sales. Adding a coach class car does too.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Electrify some other route and run them there?

    They are FRA compliant, right?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It’s electrified to Harrisburg. They could reassign the old Acelas to the Keystone service. Which would free up cars for the Regionals. Or they could run the old Acelas as Regionals. Everything that goes to Boston can tilt? Which would free up cars for the trains that terminate in New York. Until they exercise the options and get additional new trains.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Also, how are twenty-something trains supposed to replace sixty trains and increase capacity?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The new trains run and the old trains continue to run. For the few years it takes Alstom to build more trains.
    Substitute old Acelas for the current Keystones, the cars that now run to Harrisburg can be added to trains already in the schedule. Extend an 8 car train to 10 cars, that’s a 25 percent increase in fares they collect without much more expense. Or:
    The current Regionals to Boston get to use the old Acelas and the cars from that get inserted into trains that are already in the schedule.

    Jerry Reply:

    Good idea for the Harrisburg run, but it will be five years before the new trains are ready.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Five years from now there will be even more sold out trains that could use another car or two or three…

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Why is the line only electrified to Harrisburg and not further West?

    synonymouse Reply:

    A very good question and some level of answer could be provided by the plan not long ago of killing the wire to Harrisburg.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    World War ii and the Pennsylvania Turnpike happened.

    Jerry Reply:

    Didn’t the Pennsylvania Turnpike use old railroad tunnels?

    Peter Reply:

    Parts were built using rail ROW that never had track, and others used ROW where the track had just been ripped up.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Just once I’d like old highway ROW repurposed for bikes or trains. Just once.

  2. Jerry
    Aug 26th, 2016 at 21:16
    #2

    Might Siemens and Alstom be in future competition to provide the train sets for the CA HSR?

    Useless Reply:

    Jerry

    Might Siemens and Alstom be in future competition to provide the train sets for the CA HSR?

    At $2 billion for 28 train sets, no.

    Useless Reply:

    CHSRA expects to spend $3.276 billion to acquire 95 train sets, so Alstom’s offer is too rich for CHRSA’s budget of $33.7 million per train set average price.

    It is estimated that for the entire Phase 1 system up to 95 trainsets might be required. Trainset expenses, according to the 2014 Business Plan, are planned at $889 million for the IOS (Initial Operating Segment) in 2022, $984 million for the Bay to Basin in 2027, and $1.4 billion for the completed Phase 1 in 2029, for a total of $3.276 billion.[20]

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_High-Speed_Rail#Acquisition

    Joe Reply:

    Unfortunately your manufactured explanations don’t jib with the record.

    The technical requirements for CA and Amtrak were released for industry comment and the conclusion was the requirement did not allow for a common design thus are distinct procurements.

    Any manufactuer’s singular solution for Amtrak were deemed not feasibly compatible with HSR requirements. Alstom’s success with Amtrak is not negative evidence a separate bid would too expensive for CA.

    Please stop.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    I think Siemens has the best chances to get the CaHSR deal.

    But Alstom seems to be better at building FRA approved tanks at higher speeds…

    Useless Reply:

    Bahnfreund

    But Alstom seems to be better at building FRA approved tanks at higher speeds

    Only the so-called FRA approved high speed tanks may run on California’s high speed railway. So no Siemens in California HSR.

    Domayv Reply:

    Your claims do not hold any water. As Bahnfreund said, Siemens will be the best bet for CAHSR, given that they have a facility in Sacramento, with plans to expand (this would make all the more sense with the HSR should they be selected)

    Useless Reply:

    Domayv

    Siemens will be the best bet for CAHSR, given that they have a facility in Sacramento

    What good is an in-state facility when Siemens has never and ever built FRA compliant passenger rolling stocks before? Forget about high speed trains, I am talking about slow speed trains.

    Domayv Reply:

    ACS-64, Charger and the passenger cars for the Florida Brightline

    Useless Reply:

    Domayv

    ACS-64, Charger and the passenger cars for the Florida Brightline

    ASC-64 and Charger are locomotives.

    Is Brightline FRA Tier I compliant or is running on a waiver? I can’t see any confirmation.

    Domayv Reply:

    @Useless The Brightline coaches are Tier I compliant

    Useless Reply:

    Domayv

    The Brightline coaches are Tier I compliant

    Where did you get this info? I looked up and couldn’t find any.

    After all, why should you expect FRA Tier 1 compliance when

    1. Brightline is privately owned and operated.
    2. Brightline does not share tracks with freight trains or other passenger trains.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It’s so cheap to build because most of it will be on Florida East Coast’s existing mainline. Shared with freight.

    Peter Reply:

    Brightline will of course share tracks with freight.which tracks do you think they’ll be using.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Brightline will share tracks with freight. Though I don’t know whether the 125 mph section will be shared.

    Peter Reply:

    The 125 mph will be a new build, unshared (IIRC).

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Okay. Will its track geometry allow more than 125 mph in the future with appropriate rolling stock?

    Joey Reply:

    Bahnfreund: The route has some long straight segments but also a fair number of sharp curves (some of which are not even suitable for 125 mph). But it also has a lot of grade crossings, so track geometry probably isn’t the limiting factor anyway.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Okay.

    Probably they will only think about a speedup if and when they acquire new rolling stock. And maybe they’ll then also look at electrification.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Also, the FRA seems to be slowly but surely moving away from buff strength tanks on rails

    Useless Reply:

    Bahnfreund

    Also, the FRA seems to be slowly but surely moving away from buff strength tanks on rails

    FRA revealed in its memos that vendors agreed to 800,000 lbs buff strength for Tier III train sets.

    The only thing that’s going away is the 2,000,000 lbs buff strength rule for locomotives. But the minimum coach car strength remains same as before.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Look, I am no expert, but to me the higher requirement seems to be the more relevant one.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Buff strength should really be eliminated entirely as it’s stupid. It was abandoned in road vehicles decades ago in favor of crash energy absorption. The thing to watch is the degree to which the FRA allows this.

    Useless Reply:

    Joe

    Any manufactuer’s singular solution for Amtrak were deemed not feasibly compatible with HSR requirements.

    AMTRAK required service-proven tilting. Only Alstom and Talgo had in service tilting solutions.

    Alstom’s success with Amtrak is not negative evidence a separate bid would too expensive for CA.

    California doesn’t require tilting, so Rotem has the lowest price of FRA Tier III capable train sets. In fact, CHSRA’s train set acquisition budget appears to be using Rotem’s numbers, since Alstom is nowhere near capable of supplying 95 train sets for $3.2 billion that CHSRA budgeted. A KTX-II set is priced $30 million, whereas Alstom and Siemens prices are closer to $50 million for their stock Euro-spec trains. The Alstom Frankentrain for Alstom was contracted at $71.4 million each.

    Clem Reply:

    After the usual markups a KTX-II will cost at least $50M in California. It’s not a manufacturer thing, it’s a California thing.

    Useless Reply:

    Clem

    It’s not a manufacturer thing, it’s a California thing.

    Well, other manufacturer’s prices should increase proportionally. Doesn’t change the Rotem’s price advantage.

    The only vendor that could potentially beat Rotem’s price would be CRRC, because Chinese Communist Party may decide that they must win California HSR rolling stock contest at any price to serve domestic political propaganda.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Does Rotem have a factory in the US or even California?

    Because buy America will certainly benefit companies with pre-existing factories that don’t have to build one from scratch “just” for 95 trains.

    Useless Reply:

    Bahnfruend

    Because buy America will certainly benefit companies with pre-existing factories that don’t have to build one from scratch “just” for 95 trains.

    95 train sets is for Phase I only.
    More are required for Phase II.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    But bidding for Phase II will be separate from bidding for Phase I, right?

    So there is no guarantee that whoever gets the contract for Phase I gets it for Phase II

    Useless Reply:

    Bahnfreund

    So there is no guarantee that whoever gets the contract for Phase I gets it for Phase II

    Of course not, but the incumbent has a huge advantage over new challengers.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Only if the incumbent does not fuck up big time.

    Joe Reply:

    Useless
    https://www.hsr.ca.gov/docs/newsroom/archives/ATK_14_011_Amtrak_Ca_Request_Bids_Hi_Speed_Trainsets.pdf

    As I noted, the Amtrak’s solution is distinct. It does however show how procurements are driven by requirements, not a commercial, off the shelf best fit.

    The “Frankentrain” shows how your focus on cost is a weak predictor of success.
    Trains must be able to operate at sustained speed of 200mph.

    What’s the top operational speed for KTX-II?

    Useless Reply:

    Joe

    The “Frankentrain” shows how your focus on cost is a weak predictor of success.

    The problem with Frankentrain is that AMTRAK becomes the first operator of this one of a kind train, essentially an alpha-tester. You do not want to be the alpha tester of a brand new product.

    Joe Reply:

    Problem or not, it’s not a lowest cost, off the shelf product. If you’re telling us who’s going to win the CA bid, you need to focus on what’s driving the decisions. Throw alpha FUD all you want, it’s not a factor.

    The Amtrak bid apparently included maintenance — maybe I am mistaken. If it’s also maintenance then the supplier is assuming more risk for poor product quality.

    What’s the top speed of the KTX-II ?

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Maintenance costs are not the only risks of a new design.

    If it is unreliable due to things that would be worked out in the next edition, on time performance and availability suffers. Which are things every railroad should care about. A lot.

    J. Wong Reply:

    The problem with your connotation of this equipment as a “Frankentrain” is that it was cobbled together and somehow is a “brand new product” with all the attendant problems associated with such an “alpha”, but nothing proposed by Alstom and accepted by Amtrak is as you imply. The basic platform on which they will be building has been tested through many hours of in-service operation, which is why they branded it as part of the Avelia family, and that isn’t just marketing. Please identify what features you think make this a new product and not just a variant of an existing platform.

    Joe Reply:

    And what’s the top operational speed of the KTX-II?

    Roland Reply:

    KTX-II: 190 MPH. KTX-III: 230 MPH.

    Joe Reply:

    190 MPH means the KTX-II isn’t compliant.

    KTX-III, never heard of it. Who operates these ?

    Useless Reply:

    Joe

    KTX-II has a tested top speed of 220 mph, making it good for 198 mph revenue service. However, this revenue service speed cannot be used until the existing TGV-K train sets retire.

    Useless Reply:

    Joe

    KTX-III, never heard of it. Who operates these ?

    He is referring to the HEMU-430X, the fastest revenue service train in the world.

    However, the HEMU-430X is a UIC+(Korea uses an enhanced safety standard over European UIC standard as a form of trade protection in railway equipment, because European vendors are guaranteed free access to Korean market under equal condition) train model with 5 MJ impact absorber, it cannot be made to be FRA Tier III compliant and Rotem is not offering this model for California.

    Joe Reply:

    KTX-III is not in service is it? Alpha model. Very unproven — right?

    The KTX-II can’t meet the 200mph sustained operating speed.

    Maybe the Korean engineers will mix and match parts to build something complaint for CA.

    Useless Reply:

    Joe

    The KTX-II can’t meet the 200mph sustained operating speed.

    Rotem needs to improve the top speed of KTX-II by 2 mph to reach 200 mph stipulated. This is a not major challenge.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    The dreaded Korean Frankentrain?

    Joe Reply:

    2?
    Actually the web says the KTX-II sustainable top speed is slower than 198 mph. It’s at least 10mph too slow at 190 mph and I haven’t seen any indication it’s capable of performing in California’s topography.

    Also I leaned the KTX-III is High-Speed Electric Multiple Unit 430 km/h eXperimental
    That’s not a commercial product name.

    A non-qualifying train like the KTX-II isn’t going to win any CA bid on cost.

    Joey Reply:

    There might be some discrepancy here between design and operating speeds (operating is typically 90% design).

    Joe Reply:

    Maybe. The data don’t show 198mph as the designed speed. Don’t know where that originated.

    Curious about the certainty expressed by Useless and the paucity of data backing up the assertions.

    IMHO there will be vendors offering product capable of 200 mph sustained operate speed. I see no rational reason CA will cut a corner on trainsets and buy a lesser capable product. It would be challenged both by competitors and critics.

    I recall a past controversy over locomotives that were marginally capable of the required speed. It was in IL.

    Useless Reply:

    Joey

    Actually the web says the KTX-II sustainable top speed is slower than 198 mph.

    No, the tested certified speed of KTX-II is 352.4 km/hr(218.97 mph).
    the certified max revenue service speed of KTX-II is 317 km/hr(197 mph).

    The reason why the KTX-II doesn’t run at 317 km/hr is simple, it shares track with TGV-K which is rated at 305 km/hr, and must run at 305 km/hr while TGV-K trains are still in service.

    But the Korean government doesn’t plan a revenue service speed of 317 km/hr when TGV-K trains retire, they plan 350 km/hr because Korea’s main HSR corridors are built to 350~370 km/hr revenue service speed standard(Minimum curve radius of 7,000 m). This is a must in order to satisfy angry voters who want an international airport nearby and not travel to Incheon Airport. So there is still a room for speed improvement.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Aren’t those speeds rather energy inefficient?

    I know there is no technological barrier to those speeds even with existing trains (The Velaro achieved 400 km/h in unmodified test runs), but they become fuel hogs for a time saving that is not all that big in the end.

    Useless Reply:

    Bahnfreund

    Aren’t those speeds rather energy inefficient?

    It is not the energy efficiency that concerns operators, but wear and tear on tracks and power lines that is the biggest challenge of sustained 220 mph+ revenue service.

    Basically the axle load has to be kept below 14 ton on a 370 km/hr train in order to have same wear and tear as a 17 ton axle load 300 km/hr train.

    Hence a full FRA Tier III compliance and a 220 mph+ revenue service cannot co-exist.

    Joe Reply:

    @Useless Link to 198 mph sustainable speed.

    Still not complaint with CA’s need for 200mph+

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Back in the 60s “everyone” thought the Japanese were nutZ. No one could run train in regular service at 125. If we wanted something more than 100, 110 we’d need new technology like magnetic levitation or hovertrains.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    I am not sure you are right with your 1960s claim.

    Being that there was a test run at 125 mph in Germany back when the Kaiser was still around.

    Experts in the field of railways knew it was possible, there just wasn’t the money to pay for it – yet.

    Speeds much in excess of 300 km/h are of course possible today. But you have to ask what the business case looks like. Especially if you intend to serve more than a handful of stops every couple hundred km. A similar thing is true for flying at speeds bigger than ~ Mach 0.9 – it is possible and has been done even with passengers, but the business case does not look promising.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    If they knew it was a good idea to just run regular trains on regular tracks why were their a gazillion different projects building maglev? And almost as many for hovertrains? There was the V/STOL advocates telling us we’d all just take the PRT – on cables suspended over the streets – to the closest V/STOL port. There would be one downtown, in midtown and uptown. All of it powered by hydrogen from the fusion plants that were going to be in commercial service in just a few years.

    http://www.popsci.com/archive-viewer

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Maglev – even in Germany where there was great obsession with it – was only ever a fringe thing. The real engineers mostly did what they always do: Incremental improvements to existing things. But the politicians sometimes pledged a billion here or there to other stuff in order to see where it goes and not to be accused of ignoring the potential technology of the future.

    Useless Reply:

    J. Wong

    The problem with your connotation of this equipment as a “Frankentrain” is that it was cobbled together and somehow is a “brand new product”

    In the engineering world, there would be no objection to such a classification.

    Please identify what features you think make this a new product and not just a variant of an existing platform.

    There are many instances of a product built with parts from different existing products not performing as expected due to interactions. For example, Acela’s bogies were derived from TGV, but it had excessive wear and tear due to heavier weight of Acela and the Acela became a maintenance nightmare.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    The Eurotrain https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eurotrain did quite okay until politics killed it

    J. Wong Reply:

    But engineers don’t get to designate what is considered “brand new”, and usually they don’t really care.

    Do you think the Authority is really going to take an “off-the-shelf” train-set anyway?

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Who knows. At this point in time it is mostly idle speculation anyway. Probably the order won’t officially go out for a handful of years.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    This would explain why CHSRA abandoned their joint procurement with Amtrak for rolling stock a few years back.

    I’m not sure it’s all about cost, either. It also makes sense that the Brown Administration wasn’t interested in rewarding Alstom after what happened to van Ark.

    My hunch is that the Authority is waiting for the TPP to be ratified. That will allow them a more lucrative deal similar to what Schwarzenegger was pushing to open markets overseas.

    Faber Castell Reply:

    They shouldn’t hold their breath.

    car(e)-free LA Reply:

    I’m hoping it gets ratified during the “lame duck period.”

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    It might well be.

    Obama might also shut down Gitmo while a lame duck.

    Especially if Trump gets elected. Clinton/Gore also did a couple of “poison pills” as a lame duck to spite Bush.

    Joe Reply:

    Ted;

    Market Analysis is a required step for federal procurements. CA Amtrak did a standard inquiry to industry which assessed the feasibility of meeting joint requirements with a single train design.

  3. Useless
    Aug 26th, 2016 at 21:29
    #3

    This Acela replacement is a loco-pulled train, not an EMU. Obviously, it was not possible to meet FRA Tier III crashworthiness regulation with EMUs.

    However, at $71.4 million per train set, this is rather costly assuming this is a fixed price contract(If not, then even costlier), and you almost certainly won’t see this train in California where there is no tilting requirement where a stock Rotem KTX-II can run for half the price.

    Domayv Reply:

    this again?

    Domayv Reply:

    also, the Budd Metroliners (which are the Acela trainsets’ spiritual predecessor) are EMUS (married pair but still)

    webster Reply:

    …and NJT, Septa, and Metro North all operate EMUs, on that corridor…

    Useless Reply:

    webster

    Those are slow speed EMUs; a train has to be lighter to run faster, so there is no way of meeting the FRA crash standard with EMUs running faster than 150 mph. Pretty much all FRA Tier III HSR train sets will be loco-pulled.

    J. Wong Reply:

    Not! CAHSR will be running EMUs that are fully FRA Tier III compliant based on the constraints of the route.

    Useless Reply:

    J. Wong

    CAHSR will be running EMUs that are fully FRA Tier III compliant

    There is no such thing as an FRA Tier III compliant high speed EMU. Only loco-pulled high speed trains can be FRA Tier III compliant. Just look at Alstom’s Frankentrain.

    Clem Reply:

    You are making unfounded claims. While it is certainly more difficult to build an FRA Tier III compliant EMU, it is by no means impossible.

    Useless Reply:

    Clem

    Difficulty means higher cost. Additionally, can an FRA Tier III compliant EMU be cost competitive against FRA Tier III compliant TGV and KTX that are pretty identical to what’s currently in production plus additional structural reinforcements?

    Remember, an FRA Tier III compliant EMU can only be sold in the US and vendor’s home market won’t touch it. Can such a “America only” custom train price compete against lightly modified loco-pulled train models currently in production?

    Clem Reply:

    1) cost doesn’t appear to be a strong discriminator. Look at the extreme costs of the Amtrak Alstom order, and the Caltrain Stadler order. We are a rich country and we evidently don’t mind over-paying.

    2) See discussion below regarding operation on steep grades. California HSR will have mountains steeper and taller than anything ever seen in France, Spain, Japan or South Korea. Your mountains are tiny and easily scaled by loco-hauled trains.

    Roland Reply:

    “We are a rich country and we evidently don’t mind over-paying” is the root cause of the appalling state of transportation infrastructure in California (can you spell “Bay Bridge” or CalFranKISSentrains?)

    Roland Reply:

    French translation for “While it is certainly more difficult to build an FRA Tier III compliant EMU, it is by no means impossible”: http://french.about.com/od/vocabulary/a/cherchermidi.htm

    synonymouse Reply:

    There is a difference between a rich place and a State with a number of rich people showing up, hanging about partying and posing.

    Overall the 99% is just hanging on and if times were to turn bad they would be shortly thoroughly screwed. Partying like it’s 1929.

    Yeah, it is a rich workers’ paradise where they cannot find a few million to lay car tracks on Katella or hang some wire on Geary. And nowadays for a change you have a real car builder in Sacramento no doubt lobbying for work and the dildos in Anaheim kill an obvious project with ridership potential.

    synonymouse Reply:

    @ Clem

    The Alps are real mountains but the Swiss have real money.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Well the Velaro (a pre-existing train design) can climb up to 4% grades at full speed. I doubt California will build steeper rail lines.

    Clem Reply:

    No train can maintain full speed on a 4% grade, not even the Velaro.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Okay, I will try and come up with a source for my claim and you will try to come up with a source for yours. Deal?

    Clem Reply:

    My source is the laws of physics. To maintain 320 km/h up a 4% grade, i.e. vertical speed of 12.8 km/h or 3.55 m/s, m*g*hdot is 475000 * 9.81 * 3.55 = 16.5 megawatts, before you consider drag. Ergo train must lose velocity.

    Nathanael Reply:

    What’s the limit on power transfer through the overhead?

    16.5 megawatts / 25 kilovolts = 660 amps. Doesn’t seem too high to me.

    Nathanael Reply:

    So, Clem, I think I just debunked your claim.

    Citation needed for the assertion that trains can’t deliver that much power. Or, alternatively, you might like to make a claim based on traction, perhaps?

    Useless Reply:

    Domayv

    Alstom had Pendolino EMU that could have met the speed requirement and come with less headache/risks, but have decided to create this one of a kind Frankentrain with TGV power car + AGV body + Pendolino tilting bogies. Why? Because EMUs could not meet FRA Tier III crash standard.

    It is all but confirmed by this configuration that the FRA Tier III requires locomotives to protect front and rear end of train set from collision.

    Peter Reply:

    We don’t know why they went with a power car.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    It’s consistent with how the Cascades utilized Talgo-made cars in Washington and Oregon, though. And that goes for *both* the use of a dormant locomotive to act as caboose *and* having the trains tilt.

    It would also explain why the Authority does not want to be subject to STB jurisdiction…since they would assuredly impose these requirements on CAHSR as well.

    synonymouse Reply:

    They are not under STB?

    Clem Reply:

    They are, and wanted to be, since it potentially allows them to sidestep certain state laws.

    Joe Reply:

    Complements of Jeff Denham who thought STB would add road blocks

    https://denham.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/denham-statement-surface-transportation-board-ruling-california-high

    For the same benefit, Texas High Speed Rail sought STB jurisdiction but was denied.
    http://trn.trains.com/news/news-wire/2016/07/20-ruling-by-stb-strikes-blow-to-texas-high-speed-rail-project

    synonymouse Reply:

    Perhaps PBCAHSR will terminate in San Jose thus no conflict with Caltrain

    Joe Reply:

    PBCAHSRTejonJerrySprawlWheresMyPudding will continue as blended service to 4th and King.

    Car(e)-Free LA Reply:

    Mabye

    Roland Reply:

    Blended service will start at the San Francisco Transbay Transit Center and MAY be extended to Gilroy AFTER the opening of the Pacheco base tunnel.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Joe, Gavin will likely be Governator in a couple years and who knows where this thing will go. Consider how much and how far it has drifted already.

    For certain any part of the Bay Area to Fresno will lose money.

    J. Wong Reply:

    Actually, if you look at the numbers it wouldn’t be too hard to break even on a Bay Area to Fresno HSR. The current San Joaquin subsidy isn’t that much and raising the fare and providing fast HSR service would work because there would be no equivalent competition.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    But nobody lives in Frenso HURR DURR Points refuted a thousand times

    Also the only “profitable” (as defined with extremely insane definitions) HSR lines are Lyon to Tokyo. (sic!).

    J. Wong Reply:

    Caltrain will have EMUs as well so no conflict. And freight operations will be time separated so no issue there either. Both FRA and the STB will be perfectly happy with CAHSR EMUs.

    Clem Reply:

    No, freight will not be time separated. Caltrain EMUs will be FRA Tier I (alternate) compliant, and the HSR sets will be FRA Tier III compliant, both of which allow mixed operations with freight at speeds less than 125 mph.

    J. Wong Reply:

    Right, I forgot about the 125mph speed limit. So contra-@Useless, EMUs are fully FRA Tier III compliant as proposed on the CAHSR route.

    synonymouse Reply:

    AFAIK SMART is time separated and it is heavy FRA stuff. Is it CBOSS that gets Caltrain a papal dispensation? Actually an indulgence is closer.

    Clem Reply:

    I believe Caltrain’s waiver of compliance for a few specific FRA crashworthiness requirements has been overcome by events, since FRA regulations now allow “alternate” ways of complying. Crumple zones are a thing now. I’m not sure, but I suspect the conditions of the waiver (one of which was PTC before EMUs) no longer apply. PTC is of course required for other reasons than compensating for what was then perceived as a lack of crashworthiness.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    If CaHSR wants to throw its weight around it could probably get some deal to get UIC approved trains approved for their corridor. Without having to resort to Indian Broad Gauge ;-)

    Clem Reply:

    FRA compliance is not optional. It’s the law.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Ever heard of the word “waiver”?

    If a hinky dink commuter railroad can get it by throwing its weight around, why can’t CaHSR?

    synonymouse Reply:

    PBCAHSR is a “hinky dink commuter railroad”.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    @ syno: Like BART?

    Useless Reply:

    Peter

    We don’t know why they went with a power car.

    Locomotives were the only means of meeting FRA Tier III crash standard.

    The same applies to other FRA Tier III projects, namely California HSR.

    Clem Reply:

    [citation needed]

    Max Wyss Reply:

    The most obvious reason is that the trains can be lengthened without much problems. Second reason is that for the NEC, the power and tractive force requirements are not that high, allowing for 8 driven axles per train.

    Reality Check Reply:

    The Amtrak video says and shows Avelia is articulated … and cars are shown being inserted mid-train, not at the ends.

    I was heartened to see that, as I believe articulation makes for a lighter, better performing train.

    Reality Check Reply:

    Also notable in Amtrak’s Avelia video:

    • only one fairly narrow door per car
    • a wheelchair is shown in a way that suggests — but does not explicitly say — level “roll on, roll off” boarding

    Clem Reply:

    Per ADA the door opening has to be wider than 32″. Roll-on level boarding is theoretically required, although the NEC platforms may be grandfathered to allow bridge plates (as currently used by Acela Express). California will not be allowed that shortcut.

    Nathanael Reply:

    36″ is the ADA standard for door widths. FRA has been pretty loose about allowing small bridgeplates, particularly if they’re automatic, but extremely rigid about boarding height.

    Clem Reply:

    32 inches wide

    Nathanael Reply:

    That’s… suspicious and probably out of date. Any number which is inconsistent with the standard rules for buildings and housing stock should be viewed as unlikely to still be valid.

    Nathanael Reply:

    ….ah, I see, 32 inches *clear width*. That’s probably still valid. Housing doorways are expected to lose 4 inches of clear width because they’re swinging doors and have handles.

    Even sliding doors like Amtrak uses on the Amfleet would have to be wider than 32 inches in order to provide 32 inches *clear width* when open, thanks to the slightly curved edges of the door frame.

    Clem Reply:

    Also “all but confirmed”: Rotem will have plenty of competition here in California.

    Useless Reply:

    Clem

    Sure. Just down to Alstom, Talgo, and Rotem. EMU vendors need not apply to bid.

    Domayv Reply:

    CAHSR is looking for a train that has sufficient horsepower and tractive force to cross the mountains, which a loco-hauled train won’t meet. They’re looking for an EMU

    And Talgo trains are incapable of meeting the 50 inch platform requirement

    Clem Reply:

    Power is never a problem for a loco-hauled train. Tractive effort also isn’t a problem in most cases, even in mountainous terrain, provided that the train is going fast and tractive effort is therefore low. Recall that max tractive effort is installed power divided by speed; this value only becomes large at low speeds with few powered axles. The limiting case is then starting and accelerating on a steep grade on wet rail with one failed inverter unit. That corner case is where an EMU works better than a loco-hauled train, thanks to the greater number of powered axles. But even that difference is less pronounced than it used to be, since all high-speed trains now have advanced traction control that operates separately on each axle.

    The upshot: loco-hauled or EMU will both work just fine for California, even on long sustained grades over the Tehachapi and San Gabriel mountains.

    Max Wyss Reply:

    Beg to contradict with examples:

    a) The ICE1 are banned from the Geislinger Steige (moderately steep for HSR with 2.2%), if one locomotive is not fully functional

    b) For the Frankfurt – Köln HSL, ICE1 and ICE2 are banned, because of the steep grades (around 4%) (however, it may also have to do with the braking equipment requirements).

    For long steep grades (as to be expected in California), the advantages of momentum (which are made use of, for example in the LGV PSE) no longer apply, and then it turns into simple physics to determine the tractive force needed to maintain and to reach a given speed, and how many driven axles will be needed, considering the allowed axle loads. Hint: 8 would not be enough for reliable operation.

    synonymouse Reply:

    But wouldn’t a PBCAHSR Avelia ramming a Caltrain KISS produce some distinctly unpleasant results in the mind of the the FRA-STB?

    Clem Reply:

    The ICE1 is a fine example of a train with poor traction control, unable to operate anywhere near the adhesion limit.

    Max Wyss Reply:

    @synonymouse: It depends on the speed of impact. If I remember correctly, according to the TSI crashworthiness standards, a speed of impact of 36 km/h would be handled by the energy absorbing elements only. They had to be replaced, as well as the covers, but the latter pieces are non-structural, and essentially replacement parts. the energy absorbing elements are by definition replacement parts.

    In a more likely collision scenario, the trains get in each others way (over a switch). Due to the rather low center of gravity, the TGV would most likely remain upright; and the KISS probably too, because the impact would be below the center of gravity. Overturning, as we saw in Oxnard would most likely not happen.

    @Clem: Well, the ICE1 locomotive is rather old, and there has been an enormous progress with drive controls since then. Nevertheless, due to the low axle load, you won’t be able to get more than 27t tractive force (68 t x 0.4) (…which is a very high adhesion coefficient; for standard operation, 0.3 should be used). Also keep in mind that an ICE1 has 11 to 14 pretty heavy cars.

    Max Wyss Reply:

    I think I gave a keyword myself, which calls for distributed power for the California trains: Braking. For the planned speeds downhill, you will need dynamic (in other words, regenerative) brakes; mechanical brakes are not very powerful at high speeds, even magnetic track brakes. There are eddy-current brakes, but they have negative effects on the structure of the steel of the rails (because the braking energy gets dissipated in the rails, heating them up).

    Therefore, with 16 braked axles it is easier to maintain safe operation than with 8. Also note that there are not many locomotives/EMUs around where the braking force is similar to the tractive force (only the BLS class 465 after a recent software update comes to my mind).

    Clem Reply:

    @Max,the results are highly dependent on the rail friction coefficient. With the “wrong kind of leaves” all bets are off.

    Assume 3.5% grade, 30 km, standing start, one powered bogie out of commission.

    mu = 0.25 (dry rail)
    AGV, 300 pax, with one bogie out (of six): 10’49” @ 103 mph average
    TGV Duplex, 500 pax, with one bogie out (of four): 10’41” @ 105 mph average

    mu = 0.12 (snow, with a bit of sand thrown in for better traction)
    AGV, 300 pax, with one bogie out (of six): 11’55” @ 94 mph average (starts easily and accelerates)
    TGV Duplex, 500 pax, with one bogie out (of four): 29’32” @ 38 mph average (barely starts, struggles to accelerate since what little tractive effort is available is needed to fight the grade)

    At high speeds, with regenerated power limited to the rated traction power (highly optimistic!), the regenerative braking effort is not large (because it is power/speed) therefore can easily be provided by 8 braked axles without reaching any adhesion limits.

    Roland Reply:

    @Clem: Once again you are making up problems that only exist inside seriously convoluted minds:

    1) 3.5% grade. How long is it going to take for you to grasp the basic concept that any tunnel not designed to blend high-speed freight and passenger traffic is destined for cataclysmic financial failure?

    2) “Snow, with a bit of sand thrown in for better traction”. Kindly help me understand which part of “BASE tunnel” it is that you do not understand.

    synonymouse Reply:

    cataclysmic financial failure?

    How long do we have to wait?

    Clem Reply:

    Believe it or not, Tejon and Tehachapi get snow. There will never be base tunnels through seismically active areas. The topographical choice is steep grades or no HSR.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Or at least base tunnels that stay where they were and the way they were.

    On the other hand one hundred years ago, like yesterday, half a million first worlders got killed in one day in a war that was supposed to be over by Christmas. Never count out overweening stupidity and obstinacy and our current honchos have that in spades.

    synonymouse Reply:

    I forgot vanity.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    I have heard that the requirement for Cologne-Frankfurt actually is “Be able to start at the steepest grade from a dead stop with only half the engines working”. Which may or may not be protectionism as I doubt all that many trains in the world meet those requirements. The Velaro D of course does with flying colors. And the steeper design helped control costs and environmental impacts; Most of the route runs along the Autobahn, which would not have been possible for a less steep route.

    Clem Reply:

    That’s a standard requirement for any high-speed equipment, and usually also specifies degraded adhesion conditions (rain, snow, leaves).

    Roland Reply:

    1) “A destructive earthquake with a magnitude of 6 or higher can be expected every 50 to 150 years. The last time such an event occurred was in 1946, near Sierre in canton Wallis. Such an earthquake could occur anywhere at any time in Switzerland.” http://www.seismo.ethz.ch/eq_swiss/index_EN

    2) Who is talking about crossing a major fault in a base tunnel in California ????

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    But you said trains lose speed at 3.5% grades.

    William Reply:

    @Clem, doesn’t the high axle load and slower acceleration still count against power-car based trainsets, when comparing against distributed-powered ones?

    Clem Reply:

    Nope. EMUs only out-accelerate a (dual) loco-hauled HST at relatively low speeds. At the speeds we care about everything is power-limited, not adhesion-limited. Where EMUs shine is in the corner case described above.

    Max Wyss Reply:

    However, you will get to limits with the power of a motor because of size and weight limitations. At the moment, this is at around 1600 kW. So, if you could work with 16 driven axles at 1000 kW, you have smaller and lighter motors, AND more power.

    Clem Reply:

    More power is not useful or desired. There are diminishing returns in the energy vs. trip time equation.

    Roland Reply:

    Glad to hear that we have got this sorted out. Could you please enumerate what is left of the CalFranKISSentrain’s “business case” now?

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    The name?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Or stuffing 25Hz 12kV/60Hz 25kV equipment under a car was risky.

    Peter Reply:

    I doubt that was the reason. The original ICE 3 can, depending on the version, handle up to four different voltages.

    Max Wyss Reply:

    Might have been an issue … 50 years ago. This has been done with EMUs for more than 20 years, even with the limitation of 17t axle load.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    How many years did it take to get approvals for ICE3? They need more capacity on the NEC circa 2005.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    The newest generation ICE3 spent several years in limbo over a software problem. It delayed braking by about a second and the Eisenbahnbundesamt (German FRA) would not allow them to enter service before the problem was fixed. Siemens, DB and the EBA really got into each others hair over that and the press covered it all with a mixture of DB bashing and ignorance that they are so fond of.

    Roland Reply:

    And that, ladies and gentlemen pretty much eliminates the need for high platforms and the stupid double-set of doors “solution” looking for a “problem” that never existed.

    The time has come to thank LTK and Stadler for their relentless dedication to passenger comforts and to re-issue the Caltrain EMU RFP which should not be a problem now that we have substantial evidence that the first RFP was never issued.

    Clem Reply:

    How does this Amtrak high-floor train eliminate the need for high platforms? Are you going to insist (as you long did with Bombardier’s Fieccia Rossa for Italy) that a high-speed train has finally been invented that can do level boarding with low platforms?

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    It’s pretty clear that (loco-hauled) TGV Duplex can meet the bill with minor carbody changes Alstom has already said they can do.

    Talgos, too.

    And many more coming to contininent Europe in coming three or more decades before California has the HSR infrastructure that justifies buying HS trains.

    High floor is simply a mistake. Too bad. But we’re only allowed mistakes around here. America’s Finest Transportation Planning Professionals will never allow otherwise.

    Domayv Reply:

    how can talgo even do 50 inch when the highest boarding height they have is 750mm with AVRIL

    Clem Reply:

    “Meet the bill” = 760 mm

    Roland Reply:

    “Meet the BI-LEVEL bill” = 550 mm

    Joey Reply:

    With generous North American loading gauges and slight ramps down inside the doors, 760mm would be fine.

    Roland Reply:

    Ramps down inside the doors are not allowed. With regards to ““Meet the bill” = 760 mm”, read this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Railway_platform_height#Russia

    Joey Reply:

    The ADA disallows interior steps down. Fixed ramps are fine.

    Clem Reply:

    There is the snack car problem, no matter how infuriating, brought on by ADA. That’s why the Brightline, old Acela Express and new Acela Express trains are all wheelchair-navigable from one end to the other. High floor is your only option when grandfather clauses are not available to you to confine wheelchairs in one car, preventing equal access to all amenities. High floor HSR is not a choice, it’s the law.

    As for Europe or anyone else migrating to low floor HSR (>300 km/h) vehicles, name some!

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    Clem,
    Stop with the ADA nonsense. ADA does not make such requirements. That is why the PR material says the new Acela trains “exceeds ADA” requirements.

    Clem Reply:

    Is it really nonsense? Have you read 49 CFR Part 38? I’d like to be wrong.

    Peter Reply:

    The various applicable sections of 49 CFR 38 must also be read together with 49 CFR 37.42.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    Clem,
    Is there a particular paragraph in 49 CFR that you are referring to? Because two years ago, you yourself wrote the following on your blog:

    760mm is high enough that a single-deck high-speed train can be designed with a continuously accessible floor with no interior steps throughout the entire length of the train, per ADA requirements.

    Peter Reply:

    Even the EC250 is not level throughout, it has 940 mm floor height as well as 1200 mm floor height above the bogies.

    Clem Reply:

    Regarding single-level 760 mm HSR: yes it’s possible (though currently not in service anywhere), but we were talking about a train of a similar architecture to the TGV Duplex, or perhaps a high-speed version of a California Car.

    I looked into this again and found this clearly written guide on what is and isn’t required for HSR ADA compliance. It reads a lot better than the CFR and provides the rationale for various requirements in understandable terms.

    I was wrong about upstairs food service needing to be wheelchair accessible.

    However, a California Duplex high-speed train, just like a single-level high-speed train, would be required to provide:
    – level boarding at EVERY platform-facing door
    – wheelchair access to at least one door per side of EVERY car that has doors
    – at least 1 wheelchair space in EVERY car that has doors, presumably on the lower level
    – an ADA compliant accessible bathroom in every car that has a bathroom, presumably also on the lower level

    Access between cars is not required, although access to every car is.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    Regarding single-level 760 mm HSR: yes it’s possible (though currently not in service anywhere)

    Talgo Avril received final certification 2 weeks ago.

    Clem Reply:

    Remind me again who ordered the Talgo Avril and how many?

    Roland Reply:

    @Clem,

    Glad to read that you finally unbumfuzzled yourself. Now that this is sorted out, can you help me understand what was wrong again with the Omneo specification with 7 toilets, 961 seats and 80 bikes other than the Board-mandated 8/1 seat/bike ratio?
    http://www.caltrain.com/Assets/_Public+Affairs/Government+Affairs/pdf/5.19.16+BAC+Correspondence+Packet+1.pdf (page 13)

    Joe Reply:

    Roland

    Can you repost the Caltrain response to your Omneo suggestion?

    Also a link to your proposed emu design since there isn’t a hybrid Omneo.

    Thanks in advance

    Clem Reply:

    @Roland: your envisioned end state was a fine end state (Omneos with unassisted level boarding) but there was no transition strategy offered for how to get there from 8 inches. Since you are so fond of cryptic hyperlinks, this one seems appropriate.

    Roland Reply:

    “wheelchair access to at least one door per side of EVERY car that has doors” fits the Omneo bill perfectly because the only cars with doors are the single-level cars which happen to be the same cars with the ADA toilets (between the doors).

    As far as a “transition strategy offered for how to get there from 8 inches”, it depends of what “there” is. If the answer is “50 inches”, you are asking for a solution to a non-existent problem. If the answer is “22 inches”, start with mini-highs (just like what we have now) followed by a gradual raising of the rest of the platforms over time.

    Roland Reply:

    @ Joe: Same link. Please make sure to also read my response to their response to which I never received a response (page 2).

    Clem Reply:

    No, that’s not how these things work. The miracle is still occurring. How can your Omneo train (a) serve a mix of 8″ and 22″ platforms (what entry step arrangement) and (b) provide unassisted level boarding with a gap less than 3″ at a 22″ platform, and (c) pass a 22″ platform at 110 mph with no risk of striking it even with a suspension failure. You haven’t answered these questions, and now might be a good time to start.

    Roland Reply:

    Just like the bi-level I just got on. Level-boarding will occur gradually when the time comes one platform at a time.
    As far as “suspension failure”, what about ballast shift? Did you “forget” that the only way to maintain the aspect between TOR and platform edges is slab track with direct fixing at every station?

    Clem Reply:

    It’s like the details of level boarding pass right over your head! Steps down are a tripping hazard and are not allowed, so having a passenger step from the 22″ platform across the 15″ entry step (the 15″ entry step needed for 8″ platforms) to the 22″ vehicle floor will not work.

    J. Wong Reply:

    Oh, hey, @Roland is willing to clamber down from the 22″ ADA platform or take a big step across to board a bi-level. Even I have done that. But strangely most other passengers who board would rather stand in the narrow strip between the ADA platform and the train and board by stepping up.

    So for someone so concerned with Caltrain service, he seems willing to accept the obvious increase in dwell time caused by his proposed level boarding transition strategy.

    Roland Reply:

    It always amazes me how some genii advocate for climbing high platforms with level boarding at 50 inches while being completely oblivious to the necessity of having to climb back down to a first floor at 22 inches and the resulting flights of stairs that eliminate between 8 and 16 seats per carriage: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-MjDvhWnaR0s/UQ39VVCc69I/AAAAAAAAAo0/CDInF9OGVwo/s1600/incompatible_platform.jpg

    J. Wong Reply:

    The bi-levels will always have stairs no matter how they are boarded (low or high).

    Roland Reply:

    Wong again. When was the last time anyone had to climb down a flight of stairs with their bike after boarding a Bombardier bi-level?

    Peter Reply:

    Even if I agreed with you that this mattered, which I don’t, three steps is not a “flight” and is less steps than have to be negotiated today with the Gallery cars (in addition to not being as steep as the Gallery car steps). Additionally, with the steps being on the inside, dwell times will be reduced because the train won’t be waiting for people with bulky bikes to board or disembark.

    Clem Reply:

    @Roland, we all note that you still failed to describe precisely how your plan for “level-boarding will occur gradually when the time comes” actually works. I’m starting to think it’s all arm waving and no substance. Your proposed solution needs to meet criteria (a), (b) and (c) as described above. Can you finally reveal to us what it is?

    Roland Reply:

    @Clem, we all note that you still failed to describe precisely how your plan for a 200M CalFranKISSenTrain with:
    (a) 950 seats
    (b) 80 bikes
    (c) Wheelchair access to at least one door per side of EVERY car that has doors
    (d) At least 1 wheelchair space in EVERY car that has doors
    (e) One ADA-compliant toilet in EVERY car with wheelchair space
    actually works.

    I’m starting to think it’s all arm waving and no substance. Your proposed solution needs to meet criteria (a), (b), (c), (d) and (e) as described above. Can you finally reveal to us what it is?

    Clem Reply:

    Let the record show that you haven’t the first idea how “level-boarding will occur gradually when the time comes”

    Joe Reply:

    I’m tired of mistakes and losing Mr. Mlynarik

    Will you Fire those “Finest Transportational Planning Professionals” and hire only the highest qualified people? It’s easy and with you in charge we’ll be sick of winning.

    You and The Donald sound so alike.

    J. Wong Reply:

    The video shows level boarding w/o stairs at all. Sure seems like a high platform. So how does it show that the need for high platforms is eliminated when all they show are high platforms?

    Clem Reply:

    The NEC platforms are 48″ tall by 67″ from track center. Ours will be 50″ by 72″.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Well, that’s silly. Why not use 48″ by 67″?

    Clem Reply:

    (1) it makes it easier to obtain a waiver of GO 26-D, the state regulation that governs side clearances for freight, and (2) it enables the use of 3.4 m wide rolling stock such as used in Japan.

    Roland Reply:

    Kindly help me understand which part of “HSR systems will need to be compatible with some existing North American equipment (height, width, crashworthiness) to allow for some sharing of track”
    it is that you do not understand
    http://vtaorgcontent.s3-us-west-1.amazonaws.com/Site_Content/05_29.pdf (page 7)

    Clem Reply:

    If this has anything to do with the Capitol Corridor serving the Transbay Transit Center through a new tunnel, “kindly” let us know.

    Once again, level boarding is a regulatory requirement for HSR. The platform height for HSR needs to be selected according to what floor heights are available. By far (by very far!) the most commonly available HSR floor height is 1250 mm or thereabouts. There are a few exceptions, and some people’s crystal balls indicate that a general trend towards lower heights such as 760 mm is afoot, although said crystal balls are very murky.

    Also recall that steps down into the vehicle are not allowed. Therefore, compatibility with Tier I intercity rail cars (18″ floors) is not ever going to happen. There is no way for HSR to become “compatible with some existing North American equipment” without the North American equipment itself becoming compatible with HSR.

    This is precisely what you just saw happen with Caltrain, so I don’t understand what upsets you so.

    Roland Reply:

    Understood on Capitol Corridor but any solution that ignores compatibility with North American bi-levels is plain ridiculous.

    As far as “precisely what you just saw happen with Caltrain”, don’t hold your breath (unless you really want to to turn blue).

    Nathanael Reply:

    Clem, I do not understand your first statement:

    “(1) it makes it easier to obtain a waiver of GO 26-D, the state regulation that governs side clearances for freight,”
    How does 50″ high rather than 48″ high do this?!?!?

    “and (2) it enables the use of 3.4 m wide rolling stock such as used in Japan.”
    Fine, 48″ by 72″ then. If we ever do have trains from the east coming out to California, the 5 inches can be handled with bridgeplates. I believe we have that much of a gap at some of the eastern stations anyway. So, fine, go wider than the east coast standard.

    But why would you ever use 50″ instead of 48″?

    Eric M Reply:

    Wrong, as noted by a past FRA meeting: A Notice by the Federal Railroad Administration on 08/10/2016

    Informational presentations will be provided on the high-speed passenger rail equipment (Tier III) rulemaking

    Hence, the Tier III rules are not yet set and is ongoing.

  4. swing hanger
    Aug 27th, 2016 at 10:09
    #4

    I know they are just artists impressions, but that is pretty aggressive tilt, and seem to suggest that the locomotives will also have tilt capability…

  5. Eric M
    Aug 27th, 2016 at 10:19
    #5
  6. Eric M
    Aug 27th, 2016 at 10:24
    #6

    Guess the new train-set is based off the Pendolino high-speed train

    Eric M Reply:

    Is a

    Clem Reply:

    Sort of. There are no articulated Pendolini, so the tilting Jacobs bogie is a new thing.

    Eric M Reply:

    So are they going to stick to the Jacobs bogie, or stay with current design Pendolino, as Amtrak might want to have the train-sets more modular?

    Eric M Reply:

    In reference to the ETR 600

    Useless Reply:

    Eric M

    So are they going to stick to the Jacobs bogie

    Yes, unpowered tilting Jacobs bogie.

    Clem Reply:

    You might want to read the material and watch the Alstom video.

    Eric M Reply:

    Yeah, I guess the video really emphasizes the Jacobs bogie

    Joey Reply:

    The Pendolino also has distributed traction.

    Eric M Reply:

    Sort of a combo of both as it has some unpowered cars/bogies, but definitely not push/pull

    Useless Reply:

    Eric M

    Sort of a combo of both as it has some unpowered cars/bogies, but definitely not push/pull

    It is definitely a loco-pulled train and not an EMU. Alstom says so itself.

    The trainset configuration includes an innovative compact power car and nine passenger cars, with the possibility of three more being added if demand grows.

    http://www.alstom.com/press-centre/2016/8/alstom-to-provide-amtrak-with-its-new-generation-of-high-speed-train/

    Eric M Reply:

    I was talking about the Pendolino with Joey

    Joey Reply:

    True, but I am unaware of any high speed train that has all axles powered. Whether you alternate powered and unpowered bogies on the same car or have alternating unpowered cars doesn’t make a huge difference.

    Joey Reply:

    And the same can be said of lower speed trains as well. Distributed traction doesn’t necessarily mean all cars are powered.

    Clem Reply:

    Some Japanese Shinkansen sets have 100% powered axles, e.g. certain variants of the N700

    Joey Reply:

    Ah, good to know. It’s not requirement for being considered an EMU though.

    Useless Reply:

    Eric M

    Guess the new train-set is based off the Pendolino high-speed train

    This is a one of a kind Frankentrain, consisting of TGV power cars, AGV coach cars, and Pendolino tilting bogies. Only the tilting bogie comes from the Pendolino.

    Clem Reply:

    According to Alstom there are hundreds of Avelias in service.

    Useless Reply:

    Clem

    According to Alstom there are hundreds of Avelias in service.

    What Alstom refers by “Avelia” means its passenger train line up consisting of TGV Duplex, AGV, and Pendolino models.

    The train that Alstom offered to AMTRAK is a Frankentrain consisting of parts from all three train models.

    Clem Reply:

    By using the term “Frankentrain” do you mean to imply there is a high level of technical risk? If so, what is it, specifically?

    Steven L. Reply:

    “Franken-” as a prefix just means that it’s been pieced together from a bunch of disparate parts, like Frankenstein’s Monster.

    J. Wong Reply:

    It has the added implication that it is “un-natural” or un-desirable. It isn’t a neutral description.

    Joe Reply:

    It’s a silly way to describe manufacturing.

    So you take an Chrysler engine and outsourced 8spwed transmission and Mercedes frame and piece it together with jeep and fiat parts to build the Dodge Durango. A highly ratedas reliable SUV built in America.

    J. Wong Reply:

    Its not silly it, is derogatory. Anyone using the term “Franken” is implying that is somehow defective and undesirnable.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    I am just an engineer and not an English major, but I belive the underlying message of Frakenstein’s monster was that he was the only chapter that behaved in a “human” way. Everyone else was evil and/or broken in different ways.

    So maybe it is a compliment, that the other trains only look good, but don’t function well.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    That should read character not chapter

    Peter Reply:

    Sadly, most people just use it as a derogatory term. Most people also think the the monster was Frankenstein, not the guy who created the monster.

    Joe Reply:

    Intended to be derogatory but really it’s a dead giveaway that the source isn’t serious.

    The entire metaphor is seeped in ignorance including the mob with torches chasing something they don’t understand.

    Jerry Reply:

    Yes but, will Frankenfood be served in the train’s dining car?
    Or will that be part of Monsanto’s/Montezuma’s revenge?

    Useless Reply:

    Clem

    By using the term “Frankentrain” do you mean to imply there is a high level of technical risk?

    Steven explained it perfectly. The parts are proven in service individually, but never as single product.

    Edward Reply:

    Or:

    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/5/53/Logo_DB_Bahn_Frankenbus_2008.svg/654px-Logo_DB_Bahn_Frankenbus_2008.svg.png

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Franken is an area in Germany. Around Nuremberg. Lovely place, actually. “Fränkische Schweiz” is particularly popular with mountain climbers…

    Peter Reply:

    Oh NOES, a company is developing a new product!

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    On noes, an immensely unqualified client has dictated crazy specifications. Special needs! Special snowflakes! Specials costs! Special delays!

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    “Special snowflake” is used as a dog whistle in the more disgusting corners of anti-feminism.

    I am not sure you are aware of that.

    EJ Reply:

    I think “Frankenstein” in this context means “non-Korean.”

    Max Wyss Reply:

    I don’t think so; Alstom claims that more than 1000 trains of that type are/were running. That means the “classic” TGV design. I may be wrong, but there are/were not more than 500 tilting trains out there, built by Alstom and the predecessors (essentially FIAT, using their own and the SIG tilting technology).

    Also, I have not seen any reference to tilting in any of the press releases. If they were tilting trains, you could be sure that this would be mentioned, wouldn’t it?

    So, that tilting is purely artists rendering, IMHO.

    Useless Reply:

    Max Wyss

    Also, I have not seen any reference to tilting in any of the press releases.

    The train also includes Alstom’s innovative Tiltronix anticipative tilting technology, which allows the train to manoeuvre curves safely and more comfortably at high speeds.

    http://www.alstom.com/press-centre/2016/8/alstom-to-provide-amtrak-with-its-new-generation-of-high-speed-train/

    Max Wyss Reply:

    I stand corrected. The Tiltronix trademark application implies that it is essentially a software solution, expanded with ways to tilt control pantographs.

  7. Joey
    Aug 27th, 2016 at 11:05
    #7

    I’m skeptical that 300 km/h capable trains are a good idea here. All the low-hanging fruit in terms of speed improvements to the NEC are in fixing the lower speed sections, not new very high speed track. If you really prioritize time saved/dollar spent, these trains will be at lest near the middle of their useful life before we see any track that might be capable of such speeds.

    Joe Reply:

    What’s the added cost over purchasing a slower top speed and possibly slower accelerating train?

    Useless Reply:

    Joe
    Joey

    What’s the added cost over purchasing a slower top speed and possibly slower accelerating train?

    This train is super expensive at $71.4 million per set, twice the price of slower EMUs.

    If it was possible to make the Pendolino meet the FRA Tier III regulations Alstom would have offered the reinforced Pendolino, but a loco-pulled train was the only way to comply with the FRA Tier III standard, hence this super-expensive high risk Frankentrain proposal.

    Clem Reply:

    [citation needed]

    Joe Reply:

    Hilarious.

    FWIW “technical” assessments that include a reference to Frankenstein are strongly correlated with bullshit.

    Roland Reply:

    Hilarious.

    FWIW “comments” posted by systems scientists who look at system level properties and reflectively disagree with anything written by anyone else are strongly correlated with bullshit.

    Joe Reply:

    Validation!

    Thank you.

    Roland Reply:

    Il n’y a pas de quoi.

    wdobner Reply:

    I agree. I would have much rather seen Amtrak order new single level coaches that could be used systemwide than pursue another faux HST which will only be used on a small number of premium trains. They have plenty of ACSs to potentially reduce the number of Acela runs and reintroduce a Metroliner-like train while cycling the Acelas through a rebuild.

    Of course the Acelas’ lack of capacity is a major factor in their replacement. Amtrak attempted to order additional cars and rejected the proposal due to its exorbitant cost. So we’re stuck with another “HST” on the NEC while the Amfleets get older.

    Clem Reply:

    What a relief then that the cost of the new trains is so reasonable. *cough*

    MarkB Reply:

    The price apparently includes 15 years of parts and service. It is not the hardware as delivered that is 70-some-odd million dollars.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The small number of premium trains is where Amtrak .makes money.

    Domayv Reply:

    I have a feeling that the Amfleet replacements are going to be a further development on the Amfleet series, like how the Surfliner cars and the new bilevel fleet are this to the Superliners (which came from the Santa Fe double deck cars)

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Viewliners or Horizons for places not in the Northeast that that need single levels and options exercised on the new Acelas for the Northeast. Tilting trains to Richmond, Harrisburg, Hartford and Albany would be very handy.

    Nathanael Reply:

    The Amfleet series has no future since it’s a space-wasting design. Attempting to mimic the round shape of airplanes was a vanity move and rather stupid.

    The future Amfleet replacements will probably be in the Viewliner series more or less. Amtrak owns the designs and it’s a very versatile shell.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The Phoebe Snow made it between Hoboken and Binghamton in four and half hours. Tilt through Monroe County PA, Morris County and Essex County NJ would speed your trip from Binghamton to New York. It’s nice and straight and already grade separated between Binghamton and Scranton and the Delaware Water Gap and Port Morris…..

    Nathanael Reply:

    Sigh, yeah, I’d love a tilting train from Binghamton to Hoboken… or even any train, really…

    Domayv Reply:

    I’m going to bet Bombardier owns the Amfleet/Metroliner design because they brought all of Budd’s designs

    Nathanael Reply:

    Correct, they do. They own the Pullman Standard designs too. And the Canadian Car & Foundry designs. And the Hawker Siddeley designs. And they own the entire mess of companies which became Adtranz, including the ABB and Daimler-Benz railway businesses, which included the British Rail designs. And they own all the designs from a huge list of other European rolling stock manufacturers, and a Mexican company, and so on.

    Bombardier owns nearly all the older designs of almost all sorts of railcar thanks to a very large number of mergers and purchases.

    Joey Reply:

    I was looking more at straight New Pendolinos – other than some conspiracy theories by Useless they seem to be very uniquely suited to the NEC – ~250 km/h operating speed and high cant deficiency because of the tilt.

    Useless Reply:

    Joey

    I was looking more at straight New Pendolinos

    Alstom concluded that it was not possible to design and build EMUs that could pass the FRA Tier III crash standard inexpensively. So this is why Alstom chose a loco-pulled configuration over an EMU when they could go either way.

    EJ Reply:

    Ugh, I hate to side with Useless here, but, yeah, New Pendolino variants run, highly successfully, all over Europe on lines which have similar performance demands to the NEC, so isn’t it plausible that Alstom simply couldn’t build a EMU which met FRA Tier III crash standards?

    Clem Reply:

    The only issue is running at > 125 mph

    Joey Reply:

    The ETR 600/610 are capable of 250 km/h

    Clem Reply:

    With respect to staying in FRA Tier I

    Joey Reply:

    It’s hard to say decisively, but it looks like Amtrak required options for 300-350km/h in the contract. I supposed if they had offered a 250 km/h train but then Amtrak decided to use those options, they would have had to move to a completely different rolling stock platform.

    Useless Reply:

    Joey

    but it looks like Amtrak required options for 300-350km/h in the contract

    Alstom says 186 mph is the top speed, meaning the max revenue speed is 167 mph.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/27/us/politics/amtraks-answer-for-aging-acela-fleet-160-mph-trains.html

    The company says the train is capable of traveling at 186 m.p.h.

    Joey Reply:

    Interesting. This article specifies an initial operating speed 255 km/h but capable of operating at 300. I would would trust Railway Gazette to make the distinction between design and operating.

  8. car(e)-free LA
    Aug 27th, 2016 at 12:03
    #8

    This is slightly off topic, but does anyone here know the cost per mile for building a double-tracked high speed rail tunnel?

    Useless Reply:

    car(e)-free LA

    It depends on contractors.

    Somewhere in the world, high speed rail tunnels are built for $100 million per mile. In the US, it’s like $1 billion per mile.

    agb5 Reply:

    The specs are a bit vague, what is the geology, granite, shale, waterlogged?
    Are you sure your want one tunnel and not twin tubes?
    What distance?

    Car(e)-Free LA Reply:

    Twin tubes for three miles through mostly sedimentary rocks.

    Roland Reply:

    Anywhere between EUR 13M and 48M/KM in Venezuela: http://tinyurl.com/j5mfav5

    Such a short tunnel could be built as a single-bore two-track. The North Downs tunnel (2 miles) was built for GBP 75M (5M BELOW budget and 2 months AHEAD of schedule). The others are twin-bore single track: http://www.dr-sauer.com/files/drsauer/public/content/news/272/original/ctrl-enters-second-phase.pdf

    Roland Reply:

    http://tinyurl.com/j5mfav5

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Random opaque deliberately obfuscated link. Nobody should ever click on such things.

    Roland Reply:

    The following link is for systems scientists who look at system level properties and reflectively disagree with anything written by anyone other else:
    http://www.infrastructurecost.com/Tunnel_Excavation_Master_Estimate.swf

    Reality Check Reply:

    Shockwave Flash (.swf)? Sorry, we don’t play that anymore.

    Roland Reply:

    Please provide evidence documenting your qualifications as a systems scientist who looks at system level properties and reflectively disagrees with anything written by anyone else.

    agb5 Reply:

    According to UK government guidelines, it should cost about this much:

    – EPB Tunnel boring machine: £18,000,000 (2x)
    – Fixed costs (EPB machine): £35,000,000
    – Time related costs: £1,100,000 per week
    – Tunnel Constructed (EPB machine): £22,000 per route metre of twin tunnel
    – Disposal of excavated material in a commercial tip: £4,500 per route metre of twin tunnel
    – Tunnel Portal (depending on topography): £20,000,000 to £65,000,000 each
    – Ventilation shaft (depending on location): £10,000,000 to £30,000,000 each
    – Systems in tunnels: £4,000 per route metre

    For a 4830m (3 miles) long tunnels £106,000,000 for tunneling and £21,000,000 for soil disposal, £19,000,000 for systems.

    So about £300,000,000 + 73 weeks x £1,100,000 per week = £380,000,000 (in 2011£)

    Roland Reply:

    These are worst case scenario estimates used by the British Government to come up with a funding plan for HS2. Nobody knows what the actual costs will be until the bids start coming in and a lot will depend on the state of the economy at the time. A good example is what happened when the Crossrail bids started coming in 2010: http://www.tunneltalk.com/Crossrail-Dec10-Tunnel-contracts-awarded.php

    agb5 Reply:

    That is why they are called “guidelines”. The original post was asking for guidelines, not a final quote.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    It depends on too many factors to give a definitive answer.

    What material are you tunneling through? Cut and cover or normal tunneling? What machines do you use? And so on.

  9. JimInPollockPines
    Aug 27th, 2016 at 18:44
    #9

    looks nice. any interior pics?

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Of a train that hasn’t even been built yet?

    Roland Reply:

    https://youtu.be/pLAx6pND1dg?t=80

Comments are closed.