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What doomed original Metroliner concept?
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   What doomed original Metroliner concept?
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   Author  Topic: What doomed original Metroliner concept?  (Read 3395 times)
RARITAN_CLOCKER
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What doomed original Metroliner concept?
 
« on: Aug 18th, 2005, 1:04pm »
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                         What was the reason why Amtrak replaced the original Metroliner MU's with locomotive hauled consists? Certainly, when they last ran as MU's, they were not "ancient" (as they were ultra-modern in 1968...), so, I would think they could have ran longer than they did. But, what I'm curious about, is why did Amtrak scrap the MU concept for the Metroliner? Today, of course, "Metroliner" refers to a service, and not a type of train. Could a second-generation Metroliner MU have worked?

« Last Edit: Aug 18th, 2005, 1:04pm by RARITAN_CLOCKER » Logged
Walt_C
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Re: What doomed original Metroliner concept?
 
« Reply #1 on: Aug 18th, 2005, 1:55pm »
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I don't think that the concept of a high speed MU consist was flawed, but the Metroliner cars ( originally called "corridor cars") were. Development had been begun by the PRR, and the cars were placed into service without having been extensively tested, as had been PRR practice during its heyday. As a result, they developed many bugs, and finally, Amtrak simply withdrew them and replaced them with more  a standard locomotive- trailer car consist.( I don't know that I would have wanted to be the engineer on one of those trains in the event of an accident, the engineer's compartment was smaller than similar compartments on many rapid transit cars and only the front "wall" of the car separated the compartment from the outside world)  The Amfleet Cars which replaced the Metroliners were described as "Metroshell" cars--- de-electrified Metroliner Cars---but they are not the same cars.  I understand that some of the MU cars still run in several places, but not on Amtrak trains.

« Last Edit: Aug 18th, 2005, 1:59pm by Walt_C » Logged

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silver_champion
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Re: What doomed original Metroliner concept?
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« Reply #2 on: Aug 18th, 2005, 2:20pm »
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I loved the Budd build Metroliner cars in 1969. They were late into service because of the bugs in them. Also I think that they were push into service by the goverment not the railroad itself. To see some pictures of these cars please go to my web site at;   //photoshow.comcast.net/richardtrains


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RARITAN_CLOCKER
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Re: What doomed original Metroliner concept?
 
« Reply #3 on: Aug 18th, 2005, 2:38pm »
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             Walt: that could very well be why Amtrak eventually scrubbed the MU concept for future Metroliners. I know one of the original cars was donated to the museum at Strasburg awhile back. I think that the only drawback with loco-hauled Metroliners is that the engines must be "run round" at the end of the line, vs. the old double-ended MU concept, which, of course, involved no turning at terminal points.

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RARITAN_CLOCKER
Former Member
Re: What doomed original Metroliner concept?
 
« Reply #4 on: Aug 18th, 2005, 2:41pm »
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  silver_champion: Now THAT'S a METROLINER!! Truly state-of-the-art for the "swingin' 60's"!

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Walt_C
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Re: What doomed original Metroliner concept?
 
« Reply #5 on: Aug 18th, 2005, 3:41pm »
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Another factor to consider is the loss of all of the old line traditional American car builders. Though the Budd company was an experienced passenger car builder, they hadn't done that much with electric MU equipment ( though they did build the M-3 "Almond Joy" rapid transit cars for Philadelphia's Market- Frankford Subway-Elevated). By the time Amtrak withdrew the Metroliner Cars, almost all of the U.S. car builders were gone.  
 
    It is interesting to speculate whether another attempt would have been made to develop a high speed electric MU car  to replace the Metroliners if such builders as the J.G.Brill Company, Pullman- Standard, or the St. Louis Car Company were still in the car building business.


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Pennsy
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Re: What doomed original Metroliner concept?
 
« Reply #6 on: Aug 18th, 2005, 4:13pm »
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Hi All,
 
I thought enough of them to get my own consist in HO gauge. Looks really nice on the layout. Doesn't like sharp turns, however.
 
One thing I must agree upon, they did have a reliability problem, especially in bad weather. And even with all pantographs up. I have videotape (Mark I Video) showing a GG-1 with both pantographs up, leading a metroliner consist, also with all pantographs up, at speed going down the NEC in the dead of winter with icicles and snow etc. all over the place, including the catenary. The GG-1 was there to ensure that the metroliner made it down the NEC.


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Dyed in the wool PRR fan.
RARITAN_CLOCKER
Former Member
Re: What doomed original Metroliner concept?
 
« Reply #7 on: Aug 18th, 2005, 5:05pm »
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Walt: Budd also built the "Brightliner" (R-32) BMT/IND subway cars for the NYCTA in 1964 (they still run today). You are correct; by the time Amtrak retired the original Metroliner MU's the old traditional domestic car builders had faded into oblivion. HAD these old companies (or, at least, one or two) had survived, perhaps they would have been the builders who created the second generation of Metroliner MU's.

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RARITAN_CLOCKER
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Re: What doomed original Metroliner concept?
 
« Reply #8 on: Aug 18th, 2005, 5:09pm »
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       Alan: Don't forget that the original Metroliners were equipped with the European-style "frog leg" pans....this could have been why that GG-1 was hauling the Metroliner....the G's traditional pans were tried-and-true!! Perhaps the "frog legs" weren't too fond of Northeast winters!

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Pennsy
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Re: What doomed original Metroliner concept?
 
« Reply #9 on: Aug 18th, 2005, 6:08pm »
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Hi Raritan,
 
Quite possible, but didn't the AEM-7 have Faively type pantographs as well? True the Stenison type pantograph is quite robust and can take quite a beating, but the AEM-7's also ran with both pantographs up during the dead of winter as well. Add to that the fact that you don't see Stenison type pantographs any longer, and you have your answer. I have had the opportunity to observe the Faively type pantographs of the Gold Line's LRV's, from Siemans. They are quite hefty in their construction and it would take quite a bit to destroy them.. I do not include being dive bombed by a car running off the overhead freeway, which has happened.


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RARITAN_CLOCKER
Former Member
Re: What doomed original Metroliner concept?
 
« Reply #10 on: Aug 18th, 2005, 10:45pm »
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 Alan: You have a point. Possibly, the "second-generation" frog legs were constructed with more "heft" than the original Metroliner's. I'm now realizing you're right about the old pans vs. the new....the LAST time I saw the old "diamond" pans was way back in 1985, when NJT retired the old 1930 Lackawanna "Edison Wickerliner" MU's.

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George_Harris
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Re: What doomed original Metroliner concept?
 
« Reply #11 on: Aug 19th, 2005, 12:00am »
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The metroliners were very complex mechanically.  They were able to hit 150 mph, and I believe did so in test running, but never had the track to do it on regularly.  If, in the late 60's, the government had been willing to do the rebuilds necessary for the speed capabililties of the equipment to be exploited, the US would have retained leadership in railroading.  The trouble then and now is a lack of grasp that it takes more than just high speed equipment to have high speed railroading, you must have high speed track.  More likely, my cynical opinion is that they wanted to look like they were doing something without the commitment needed to truly do it right.
 
The metroliners were also fairly heavy for an EMU car.  Partly because a lot of the minturization of contols and elctronics that we now have did not exist then, at least not in the robust reliability necessary.  
 
The ICC, and now FRA, considers a powered car a locomotive for inspection purposes, so you have the worst of both worlds from a recordkeeping and maintenance perspective.  Instead of a locomotive and coaches, you have a string of locomotives.  
 
In the early 70's, my wife and I rode from Washington to Baltimore and back, coming back on a metroliner.  At that time you could walk up into the operator's cab, and we did.  Pennsy / PC did treat it like a premium service.  The engineer was wearing a suit, which I was told was required.  The speed limit, IIRC, was 110 mph, but the digital speedometer was reading 117 mph.  Track was good, between interlockings.  Going over the turnouts we danced all over the place.   Saw one of these later (Bowie), and the poor tie condition and mud in the track was downright scary.  The timber condition between interlockings was quite good (no concrete ties in those days), but in order to keep their production numbers up, the tie gangs skipped the interlockings.  
 
George


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RARITAN_CLOCKER
Former Member
Re: What doomed original Metroliner concept?
 
« Reply #12 on: Aug 19th, 2005, 1:28am »
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     George: thanks for sharing those fantasic Metroliner memories! The engineers were required to wear suits?? MAN!! Imagine that today?? That was a real touch of class!! I remember cutting out every newspaper article and photo I could find of the Metroliner, putting them into a scrapbrook, which, unfortunately, I no longer have. Until we moved out of Union City in 1971, I often walked down one block west from our old apartment building to the old Two Guys parking lot, where I could look out into the Meadows and see the PRR/PC trains zipping in and out of the Bergen Portal about a few hundred yards (if that) out. If I was lucky, I'd catch a Metroliner, and watching those sleek, silver MU's rocket along with horns blaring and pans arcing was a sight I'll never forget!

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George_Harris
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Re: What doomed original Metroliner concept?
 
« Reply #13 on: Aug 19th, 2005, 7:32am »
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A couple of other things:  At that time the Metroline schedule was 30 minutes Washington to Baltimore, and mabe a couple of more southbound.  40.1 miles according to the PRR timetables.  Regular trains were scheuled for 40 minutes or longer.  Both very impressive to me given that the ICRR was the only railroad I had ridden regularly that had any significant plus 60 mph scheduling.  
 
I was working at that time, for a few months that is, in the construction of the WMATA Major Repair Yard and the rebuilding of a portion of the Ivy City coach yard for the Washington Terminal company.  The whole thing being part of the first of the Washington Metro construction.  Therefore, I could see the metroliners go by every day all day long.  They came out from under the New York Avenue overpasss respecting the 30 mph speed limt, and then, as they say, put the pedal to the metal.  Don't know the real number, but it seemed like they were already above 60 by the time they got to the Ivy City engine terminal.  Since the rail was jointed at that time you could really hear the accelerating rate of joint clicks.
 
That was the time Southern was still running the Crescent so every morning we had the four big green E's come through.  A little later was the southbound move of the four Southern F's for the Piedmont.  Somehow the Southern E's always seemed to be much better than the Amtrak ones.  The odd trains were the Washington section of the Broadway, usually two coaches a diner and one sleeper pulled by either one GG1 or a pair of diesels., and the Washington section of the National Limited, usually one coach pulled by a G.  
 
Somehow I hadn't though about this stuff for a long time.
 
George


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Walt_C
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Re: What doomed original Metroliner concept?
 
« Reply #14 on: Aug 19th, 2005, 10:39am »
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In theory, the advantage of the MU concept is that,with each car being powered, as you add cars to a train's consist, you also add additional power ( and braking power). In theory, an MU train can be of infinite length, and should have the same operating characteristics as a one ot two car consist.  In actual practice, however, I suspect that there are limitations on this theoretical concept.
 
   With regard to high speed operation, the biggest limitation on speed is the track. There were even early 20th Century steamers which could reach 100 plus MPH with an average length consist.
 
   The Metroliners suffered because of the "bugs" which were described in an earlier post, but also suffered because the NEC trackage was just beginning to be upgraded to handle truly high speed traffic.  I suspect that the financial effects of the designation of every powered MU car as a locomotive is also a prime factor in the failure of Amtrak to sponsor development of a "second generation" Metroliner type  EMU car.


« Last Edit: Aug 19th, 2005, 10:42am by Walt_C » Logged

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RARITAN_CLOCKER
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Re: What doomed original Metroliner concept?
 
« Reply #15 on: Aug 19th, 2005, 12:47pm »
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       Walt: some good points. Yes, we often tend to forget that, all too often, the condition of some of the rails back in the early Metroliner era was not the best, and, as such, could severely limit the potential of a truly "high speed" train like the original Metroliner. The "Super Train" concept also made its presence known on former NYCRR rails, in the former of the original Turbotrain and the Turboliners. It was obvious that these trains were an attempt to recapture at least some of the long-haul ridership that was lost to airliners and private autos. Of course, the Turbotrain and the Turboliners were diesel-electric, and could also operate off of the ex-NYCRR's underrunning third rail into GCT, whereas the Metroliner was strictly electric, and could only operate off of overhead catenary.

« Last Edit: Aug 19th, 2005, 12:49pm by RARITAN_CLOCKER » Logged
GP72ACe

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Re: What doomed original Metroliner concept?
 
« Reply #16 on: Aug 19th, 2005, 2:04pm »
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Neither Turbotrain nor Turboliners were diesel-electric (they were/are gas-turbine with mechanical drive; the UAC burned jet fuel while the RTL burns diesel-grade fuel).  
 
Also the definition of "diesel-electric" is not "dual-mode"—a diesel-electric engine uses a diesel prime-mover to generate electricity for traction motors, whereas dual-mode can draw current from either an external electric source or a prime-mover.  (Both UAC and RTL had separate traction motors to run on third-rail; and in fact, the RTL Turboliners' traction motors are underpowered, even today, to get the trainsets through the East River Tunnels.)
 
Slightly OT:  The fastest non-electric passenger train was the TGV Turbine experiment, which hit 192 mph in tests (and was built in the 1960s to boot).  The TGV system went all-electric in response to rapidly rising oil prices; this is a lesson that the USA should have learned in the 1970s, and is coming back to haunt us now.
 
Anyway, back on-topic:  The Metroliner concept in and of itself was not flawed; except perhaps in being a copy of the urban MUs.  Germany's ICE III and ICT (tilting) trainsets are configured as fixed-consist EMUs.  Unfortunately, the FRA won't allow that nowadays (their rules for Tier II vehicles on FRA track such as the NEC state that "no passengers may be carried in the forward power car of a Tier II vehicle")...but were the USA to build dedicated HSR corridors, the rules would be different...
 
BTW, I am somewhat fond of the original pre-production Metroliner look (before the name "Metroliner" was born); it looks sleeker somehow to me.  Let's hear what everyone thinks...

And of course there were the high-speed noses applied to the SPV2000 demonstrator that IMHO would have looked superior on the Metroliner, here and here...


« Last Edit: Aug 19th, 2005, 2:06pm by GP72ACe » Logged
Walt_C
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Re: What doomed original Metroliner concept?
 
« Reply #17 on: Aug 19th, 2005, 2:46pm »
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I like those "noses"---- much better looking than what actually appeared on the cars!. The two links remind me somewhat of the Disney Monorail. And they would have provided more room for the engineer than existed in the actual Metroliner ( nee "corridor") Cars.

« Last Edit: Aug 19th, 2005, 2:50pm by Walt_C » Logged

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RARITAN_CLOCKER
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Re: What doomed original Metroliner concept?
 
« Reply #18 on: Aug 19th, 2005, 2:57pm »
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 Irish: thanks for the correction on the Turbotrain and Turboliners; they were NOT diesel-electrics as I originally posted......dang(!!)......why do I ALWAYS get that one screwed up?? Anyway, that pic of the pre-production Metroliner was truly awesome; the styling was very much of the type that was popular in the mid-to late 1960s. Really a sharpy! And the PRR keystone just finishes it off!

« Last Edit: Aug 19th, 2005, 3:03pm by RARITAN_CLOCKER » Logged
ClydeDET
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Re: What doomed original Metroliner concept?
 
« Reply #19 on: Aug 20th, 2005, 12:20pm »
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Several reasons, some of which have been touched on, for the "failure" of the MEtroliners as originally conceived.
 
One was track conditions - then and now.  When the Pennsy was "The Standard Railroad of the World" and had the Washington-NY track in premier condition (with 152 pound rail on most of it), high speed would ahve been possible with some adjustements. Not so by the time the Metroliners came along - and still not, really.
 
Another is first cost. Powered cars, for all their advantages in theory, are necessarily more expensive than un-powered cars. you have the motors. you have the control equipment. you have the power pick-up gear (pans and associated mechanicals).  In addition to all the other things that all passenger cars have (HVAC, etc).
 
A third is operating costs. Without reference to FRA classification of a powered car as  locomotive, with all that implies, there is still the need to provide more, and more expensive, maintenance than a towed car requires. Remember those motors, controls, pans, etc?
 
Add to it the fact that there ain't nobody to build new ones, provide spares, and all that, and the Metroliners start becoming unattractive after a few years of operation - and for sure when it coms time to replace them.
 
It should be noted (withot regard to the Metroliner issue) that one of the really serious problems AMTRACK faces at this point in its life is related to replacement equipment. Budd is gone. St Louis Car is gone. ACF is gone. Pullman-Standard is gone. Bombardier doesn't build the sort of cars needed for long-haul trains unless I've been missing something. Auxiliary equipment is a problem (one of the things that eneded steam on the Norfolk & Western was lack of suppliers of such things as water pumps, feed-water heaters, and the myriad other appliances a steam loco uses that are NOT the same aas the ones on a diesel). Every time a currently operating car is destroyed or just renedered non-economically repairable in an accident, AMTRAk loses capacity it can't replace.
 
And no - I don't have an answer. I'm not even sure anybody could establish a real car-builder in the US now, not even if they had money they didn't have to pay back to get the plant up and operating. Would go double for long-distance high speed MUs.


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