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Amtrak Fleet Strategy
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atlpete
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Amtrak Fleet Strategy
 
« on: Mar 29th, 2010, 8:55pm »
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March NARP bulletin reports 99 page PDF @ www.bit.ly/fleetplan
$ averages around $1 billion annually through 2040 , cost vs federal budget actuals aside, it does prioritize retirement schedules as follows, first on the block;  
1. 92 Heritage Cars (54-to 62 years old), no surprise there
2. 17 Metroliners (43 years) I'll miss these guys!
3. 412 Amfleet (33-36 years)
4. the Superliners (29-31 years old)
5. 122 Amfleet II's(long haul cars 29-30 yrs old)
Interestingly the Horizon's aren't on the block for now but rather slated for re-assignment from Chicago to a more suitable warmer climate.
Wish list for the next 14 years-
780 single level cars, 420 bi-levels
70 electric motors
264 diesel-electrics(road and terminal power)
25 high speed trainsets  
we'll see


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ClydeDET
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Re: Amtrak Fleet Strategy
 
« Reply #1 on: Mar 29th, 2010, 10:11pm »
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In somebody's dreams (or maybe fantasies). Not that we don't NEED  a retirement and replacement schedule, but - anybody who actually thinks we will see Congress committing $30 billion, even over a 30 year schedule, for that needs psychiatric evaluation and treatment. Da**it.
 
That proposal doesn't look at all unreasonable, though I wonder about a few things it implies. One is - it seems to expect that we have the capacity to build an average of 40 cars a year - and i ask "what plant will THIS happen in?" Another is it (to work) requires Congress to not only buy into the program but fund it year after year. That is just - not likely.
 
Wonder why the Viewliners (not that there are a whole lot of them) seem to be off the list? I'd think that they will be more than due for replacement by the last years of the program.
 
The program doesn't look to me as if it expects a lot of service expansion: 643 single-level cars replaced by 780, and apparently Superliners (417 in service out of 479 built, I believe) replaced essentially one for one (420 - which presumes ALL bi-levels listed for replacement are the Superliners), when one of the problems is too few cars to expand service by adding trains on existing routes, add trains for new routes or even increase the number of cars on current schedules (and yes - i know that just adding cars and power to haul them is NOT always very workable, what with limited platform lengths and all that). Ican't say I like the implications of that 420 number for bi-levels.
 
Maybe my questions will be answered and concerns addressed in the whole 99 page proposal - i suppose I need to get it pulled up, saved, and examined at leisure (I thught retirement would provide a lot of time for reading and things - it doesn't seem to have done that).


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jmlaboda
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Re: Amtrak Fleet Strategy
 
« Reply #2 on: Mar 30th, 2010, 12:11am »
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I'm not sure that complete replacement is the answer.  There are a number of cars that are structurally sound which could be refirbished for far less than what new cars would cost, making this a more cost-effective means of meeting the needs that are presently facing Amtrak and in the near future.
 
Yes, new equipment is badly needed, especially so if there is any chance for future expansion, but many companies will tell you that if what they have can be upgraded it is a better way to go than junking it and pouring needed money into something new.  What they have can be made to work for a lot less than completely new cars.


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NYC_Subway_Fan
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Re: Amtrak Fleet Strategy
 
« Reply #3 on: Mar 30th, 2010, 12:36am »
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on Mar 29th, 2010, 10:11pm, ClydeDET wrote:       (Click here for original message)
That proposal doesn't look at all unreasonable, though I wonder about a few things it implies. One is - it seems to expect that we have the capacity to build an average of 40 cars a year - and i ask "what plant will THIS happen in?" Another is it (to work) requires Congress to not only buy into the program but fund it year after year. That is just - not likely.

 
While no "plant" much less a vendor has been selected, part of the idea of this plan is create enough year to year volume such that 1 or perhaps 2 companies will indeed establish plants here and be able to stay solvent.
 
on Mar 29th, 2010, 10:11pm, ClydeDET wrote:       (Click here for original message)
Wonder why the Viewliners (not that there are a whole lot of them) seem to be off the list? I'd think that they will be more than due for replacement by the last years of the program.

 
They're not on the list because they're already funded and the RFP's already went out for them.  Unfortunately, last I heard Amtrak had not received any bids to build them.  I'm not sure what the status is right now, whether Amtrak is trying to up the quantity ordered to make it more attractive or what they plan to do to get a proposal.
 
on Mar 29th, 2010, 10:11pm, ClydeDET wrote:       (Click here for original message)
The program doesn't look to me as if it expects a lot of service expansion:

 
Alas, you are correct.  The vision seems to be that any growth will either have to be state funded if it involves short haul coaches, or that they'll have to run back to Uncle Sam if more LD cars are needed.  Of course Amtrak also hopes that Congress decides to fund some of the recent study's that they just did for things like the Sunset East & the Pioneer, as those proposals include funding for new cars.


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ClydeDET
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Re: Amtrak Fleet Strategy
 
« Reply #4 on: Mar 30th, 2010, 3:09pm »
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Alas, as i suspected. A limited vision. Which is almost a guarantee for limited success. At best.
 
The situation for replacement Viewliners is is a warning - just where are these cars going to be built? There are no rail-car plants here and the numbers are far too low to justify building a plant - and would any foreign maker with plant be willing to set up for a small order? One that just might run into problems in Congress (or state legislatures - the funding source) because "this is shipping jobs overseas"...
 
Oh - an attempt to access the material gets me a "the site is undergoing maintenance right now. We are sorry for any inconvenience".


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jmlaboda
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Re: Amtrak Fleet Strategy
 
« Reply #5 on: Mar 30th, 2010, 6:32pm »
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As far as a builder goes one of the commuter car manufacturers could easily jump at the chance to do more in the American market.  I don't know how many plants there are but there is opportunity there to see some growth, at least between commuter orders.

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NYC_Subway_Fan
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Re: Amtrak Fleet Strategy
 
« Reply #6 on: Mar 30th, 2010, 7:11pm »
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on Mar 30th, 2010, 3:09pm, ClydeDET wrote:       (Click here for original message)

The situation for replacement Viewliners is is a warning - just where are these cars going to be built? There are no rail-car plants here and the numbers are far too low to justify building a plant - and would any foreign maker with plant be willing to set up for a small order? One that just might run into problems in Congress (or state legislatures - the funding source) because "this is shipping jobs overseas"...

 
I have no idea what was planned for the Viewliners, but there are a few assembly plants still here in the US that put together commuter cars and subway cars.  Additionally I believe that it may still be possible for Bombardier to reactivate the plant where they build the Acela trains.
 
As for a small order justifying things, please consider the fact that Talgo is converting some old buildings in Wisconsin to a plant for building Talgo trains in the US.  Talgo did that on the strength of a 2 train order, a total of 26 cars I believe.  Oregon has since tacked on an order for two more trainsets, doubling things for Talgo's vision.


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Alan,

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jmlaboda
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Re: Amtrak Fleet Strategy
 
« Reply #7 on: Mar 30th, 2010, 7:21pm »
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"Additionally I believe that it may still be possible for Bombardier to reactivate the plant where they build the Acela trains."
 
Let's throw a wrench into the situation...
 
It is my understanding that Bombardier owns both the Budd Amfleet designs and the PS Superliner designs... if someone else tries to build these designs then they would have to pay a royalty to BBD.
 
Now the single level cars... that could be a different story.  Amtrak owns the design of the Viewliner and if they were to build more of them it could actually reduce the cost somewhat, and any builder could then be licensed to build them.


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NYC_Subway_Fan
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Re: Amtrak Fleet Strategy
 
« Reply #8 on: Mar 31st, 2010, 1:01am »
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on Mar 30th, 2010, 7:21pm, jmlaboda wrote:       (Click here for original message)
"Additionally I believe that it may still be possible for Bombardier to reactivate the plant where they build the Acela trains."
 
Let's throw a wrench into the situation...
 
It is my understanding that Bombardier owns both the Budd Amfleet designs and the PS Superliner designs... if someone else tries to build these designs then they would have to pay a royalty to BBD.
 
Now the single level cars... that could be a different story.  Amtrak owns the design of the Viewliner and if they were to build more of them it could actually reduce the cost somewhat, and any builder could then be licensed to build them.

 
I'm confused.  I'm not sure how Bombardier's owning the plans throws a monkey wrench into their reopening the plant where they built the Acela trainsets, so that they can then build still more train cars.
 
As for the designs, Bombardier definately owns the Superliner plans and I'm pretty sure that they also own the Budd Designs.  Alstom however built the Pacific Surfliner cars, and from what I saw in the Amtrak plans it seems that they are thinking of going with the Alstom design for future bi-level cars.
 
So far I've seen no discussion of what type of cars might eventually be ordered for NEC Regional operations, so it would be pure speculation as to what design might be used and who might own any designs.  However, going forward it seems like all single level long distance cars will use Amtrak's Viewliner designs.
 
Already the order that they're shopping around now includes baggage cars, baggage/dorms, dining cars, and of course more sleepers based upon the Viewliner shell.  Currently the original Viewliner Diner prototype is in Beech Grove being redone and once the trucks, AC, and other items like that are done, it will be used to test the modules for the interior to make sure that everything fits and is functional, before the production run.
 
Viewliner's are module cars, where the rooms and other interior items like a roomettte are built else where and then just slid into the car and bolted down.
 
The biggest change to the sleepers will be the elimination of the toilet in the roomettes.  For that reason, one revenue roomette will be lost, as the current attendant's room, what would be room #14 if they had numbered it, will become two seperate enclosed toilets.  The attendant will move to room #12.  Otherwise the rooms will remain largely as is with just some modernization.  The current floor plan can be found here for those who want to try to visualize things.  Finally the beverage station will move from its current location in the side of the shower, down between Bedroom B and roomette #1.  Special note: The diagram is wrong, the car goes H-room, A Bedroom, B Bedroom.
 
The baggage/dorm will see slightly less than half the car devoted to baggage, with shelving modules to hold and organize the bags.  The rest of the car will see 9 roometttes for the crew, a shower, and two toilets.
 
The new diners will see 12 tables, with one being able to accept a wheelchair, although only the person in the first sleeper would actually be able to roll into the diner.  The car will also have centered emergency egress doors, eliminating the current problems that the FRA has with the Heritage diners that have no doors that lead outside, as opposed to the next car.


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Alan,

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jmlaboda
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Re: Amtrak Fleet Strategy
 
« Reply #9 on: Mar 31st, 2010, 3:05am »
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"I'm confused.  I'm not sure how Bombardier's owning the plans throws a monkey wrench into their reopening the plant where they built the Acela trainsets, so that they can then build still more train cars. "
 
Wasn't intending for folks to believe I thought that would stand in the way of the plant starting again... the rather if it came to BBD owned designs being built by someone else it could drive the cost up.
 
The idea of California cars would be ideal for a new generation of bi-level cars. one that I believe could be very beneficial to both passengers and Amtrak, at least on trains where they can run them.  
 
At one point it was reported on one of the Amtrak groups at Yahoo! Groups that Amtrak was looking at developing "Amfleet III" cars but what happened to it I do not know.  
 
The Viewliner shell is versatile and was designed so that refits could be done easier (there's a hatch on side for this purpose) with interiors being modular.  There's great potential there and I am anxious to see what they do with it... given a chance the design could prove to be very useful.


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ClydeDET
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Re: Amtrak Fleet Strategy
 
« Reply #10 on: Mar 31st, 2010, 7:17pm »
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The Viewliner shell is versatile and was designed so that refits could be done easier (there's a hatch on side for this purpose) with interiors being modular.  There's great potential there and I am anxious to see what they do with it... given a chance the design could prove to be very useful.  
 
 
I certainly don't disagree with that - but I understand the RFP for a substantial buy for Viewliners has been out for some 8 or 9 months now (see NYC_Subway_Fan's post [i][/i]), and no bids received. That is - troubling.
 
Note that the Talgo plant will be primarily a matter of assembling the trains from imported, pre-fabricated (and already in production for domestic Spanish purposes) parts, which would not be the case with Viewliners, Superliners or even California cars.


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HwyHaulier
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Re: Amtrak Fleet Strategy
 
« Reply #11 on: Apr 1st, 2010, 9:51am »
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on Mar 31st, 2010, 7:17pm, ClydeDET wrote:       (Click here for original message)
...I certainly don't disagree with that - but I understand the RFP for a substantial buy for Viewliners has been out for some 8 or 9 months now (see NYC_Subway_Fan's post [i][/i]), and no bids received. That is - troubling...        

 
Clyde -  
 
Indeed! And the obviously much smarter than thee and me can't explain why the huge corporations want to take (surprise!) huge chargebacks  
against future anticipated earnings, a direct result of some careless legislation. I digress (albeit it is on point).
 
May 2010 TRAINS arrived yesterday. I have such mixed feeling about what Jim Wrinn does with the mag! Anyway. An extended "happy talk"  
article about this AMTK equipment replacement cycle business. As you noted, it is indeed "troubling" if they can't get anyone to roll the dice,  
and open a US assembly facility. Ah, well. The Chinese likely know how to build good rail cars. Should, much like any good salesman, they  
"...ask for the order...", then who wants to be on record in turning them down?...
 
.......................Vern......................


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ClydeDET
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Re: Amtrak Fleet Strategy
 
« Reply #12 on: Apr 1st, 2010, 2:09pm »
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on Apr 1st, 2010, 9:51am, HwyHaulier wrote:       (Click here for original message)

 
Clyde -  
 
. Ah, well. The Chinese likely know how to build good rail cars. Should, much like any good salesman, they  
"...ask for the order...", then who wants to be on record in turning them down?...
 
.......................Vern......................

 
Well, despite my unconcealed (and unconcealable) loathing for the ChiComs and their propensity for slaving, if they ask fo the order at the price we ahve set, you won't hear me saying "Turn them down" - or refusing to ride in one of the cars....
 
i would prefer to see somebody like Morrison-Knudson (or whatever they call themselves now) or even Bombarier get the job, though. If they can and will do it on or under budget and on time.


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atlpete
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Re: Amtrak Fleet Strategy
 
« Reply #13 on: Apr 1st, 2010, 9:09pm »
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A couple of comments/thoughts to some of the well ground points raised in this string.
1. Domestic content/sourcing mandates often get watered down where procurement is the imperative and the demand(funding) is sufficient; this  usually means foreign fabricated cars or "kits" domestically assembled. ("get 'er done") Chicago area's new electric bi-level mu's and the initial NICTD cars come to mind, Korean cars on the Alaska etc.
2. Conversely true domestic fabrication and assembly could be restored or created given the additional demand offered by Regional and State Agency service growth, which despite the downturn has proven resilient.
3. I totally agree that superficially the amfleet and other like carbodies would have true potential for extended life via refurb and consider the straight retirement shortsighted unless of course; they're truly not as in good a shape as we assume.  
4. The new high speed sets to me are the real wildcard, Amtrak dislikes the Acela for a catalog of reasons but weight is the biggest. Sanctioned variances on FRA structural/weight mandates and/or total segregation from shared-mixed use of specific track on the corridor will have to happen (see dialog around electrification of SF-SJ commuter corridor, will be equally politicized too) or Amtrak will wind up with another track pounding "tank" further kicking up the NE corridor refurb and subsequent maintenance costs.
5. There's a lot of additional content in the Amtrak plan worth reading(and funding points to consider) the baseline of this plan is to double capacity over the next 30 years, alternative financing and incentives (privately owned leased back, investment credits, external grants via other agncies, partnering with states etc.) that leaves me with the feeling that the NJT bi-levels and not the Acela's are the true vanguard of the next ten-fifteen years.  
I look forward to how all this gets resolved, though again am pessimistic about realities of funding.


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ClydeDET
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Re: Amtrak Fleet Strategy
 
« Reply #14 on: Apr 1st, 2010, 10:39pm »
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I'd be quite happy to read the whole plan and see what it says - and think about it - if i couldonly get it. i keep getting a "Site maintenance" notice when I try to pull it up, which is aggravating.
 
I may be too pessemistic, but I can only go with the synopsis I see here until I am successful in getting the whole document.
 
I would REALLY like to see a North American car-builder that could supply our needs, even if it was in partnership with an over-seas company for some of the components we can't supply anymore.  
 
I will also suggest that the basis for ANY new cars should be the Budd example. All stainless steel structure (yes - I know, expensive)  that is unbelieveably rugged. It doesn't suffer corrosion and because of its multiple welds it holds togetehr through rough track and about anything else it encounters. You CAN wreck a Budd car, but you got to work pretty hard at it.


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HwyHaulier
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Re: Amtrak Fleet Strategy
 
« Reply #15 on: Apr 2nd, 2010, 9:30am »
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Clyde -  
 
You may have a shot at seeing the PDF via the Trains mag site. Haven't checked myself. Its May 2010 issue has a reasonably good synopsis  
of the proposition... Anyway, part of the wrangling about a possible vendor is that the prospective, "private sector" interests want to see some  
long term guarantees. Funny how private investors behave...
 
I most strongly agree with your implicit proposition of: "Why re-invent the wheel?". The BUDD technology well known, proved and reliable. Yet,  
compare with atlpete, #4 (above) ref Acela. So, AMTK is in a whine mode about equipment weight? Gimme a break. Heavy equipment is better  
riding equipment. "Compromising down" to lightweight rolling stock is a trap. Recall, too, BUDD product was lightweight vis-a-vis older,  
conventional counterparts. The quest for light weights can be squeezed but so far, to where it places lives at risk...
 
Importing "D-I-Y" kits, assembling here, and thereby claiming US built? Bah! Is there no consideration at all that some sectors are vital to  
Strategic National Defense? That's a point better not re-learned thru the "hard way" mechanism! (Any of the Lodge Brothers here wish to sponsor  
me in application before NDTA? I shudda' done it years back!)
 
.................Vern.................


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ClydeDET
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Re: Amtrak Fleet Strategy
 
« Reply #16 on: Apr 2nd, 2010, 5:07pm »
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on Apr 2nd, 2010, 9:30am, HwyHaulier wrote:       (Click here for original message)
Clyde -  
 
You may have a shot at seeing the PDF via the Trains mag site. Haven't checked myself. Its May 2010 issue has a reasonably good synopsis  
of the proposition... Anyway, part of the wrangling about a possible vendor is that the prospective, "private sector" interests want to see some  
long term guarantees. Funny how private investors behave...
 
I most strongly agree with your implicit proposition of: "Why re-invent the wheel?". The BUDD technology well known, proved and reliable. Yet,  
compare with atlpete, #4 (above) ref Acela. So, AMTK is in a whine mode about equipment weight? Gimme a break. Heavy equipment is better  
riding equipment. "Compromising down" to lightweight rolling stock is a trap. Recall, too, BUDD product was lightweight vis-a-vis older,  
conventional counterparts. The quest for light weights can be squeezed but so far, to where it places lives at risk...
 
Importing "D-I-Y" kits, assembling here, and thereby claiming US built? Bah! Is there no consideration at all that some sectors are vital to  
Strategic National Defense?
? That's a point better not re-learned thru the "hard way" mechanism! (Any of the Lodge Brothers here wish to sponsor  
me in application before NDTA? I shudda' done it years back!)
 
.................Vern.................

 
I saw, some time back, that there is ONE (1) count them, one (1) each facility that can produce the heavy titanium forgings used for modern aircraft (especially military aircraft) lnging gear. It is said to be fully booked, at 100% capacity (NO, zero, surge ability) for several years to come. Is that scary for its national defense implications, or what? Tanks? One plant, running at probably not much more than "this will keep the machines exercised" rate.
 
Railcar plants, whch can't prodcue anything but freight cars, of course, are pretty booked up or moth-balled, with no telling how long to reactivate.  
 
Much as the US and Canada are hooked together now, i'll accept a Canadian plant as "domestic", but I really do want more than just assembly here. Viewliner car-body design is Budd (or at least a lot of Budd input and philosophy), so I'd certainly be happy enough with more of them, especially of the car body was shot-welded and all stainless steel including structural members. Hi-levels could probably borrow the modualr interior concept, but construction needs to be 100% stainless steel (from Amercian steel plants) and shot-welded.
 
I look at history and note that our steel industry was largely built by two main customers: Railroads and the USN (for specialty steels and fabrication - for armor, heavy guns and such and heavy structural members). i see no reason we shouldn't use our (publicly owned - forget the fictions - AMTRAK is owned by the government) passenger railroad to (a) revitalize part of our steel industry and (b) restore some fo the fabrication capabilty that can be used in a nu,ber of places besides rail passenger.
 
But I don't expect much to see that happen.


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HwyHaulier
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Re: Amtrak Fleet Strategy
 
« Reply #17 on: Apr 2nd, 2010, 5:24pm »
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Clyde -
 
Well, OT, but... (Invoking the, "I am a Yankee Doodle Dandy" exception!)
 
Sign on as sponsor of my app to NDTA, why don'tcha'? You mean I'm not the only one who frets over this basic stuff?
 
Steel plants and strategic defense missions? Much of the attraction of Beth Steel at Sparrows Point, MD! In the past,  
a very busy and productive vendor for USN!
 
While we're at it. Much as I like the Danes, they oughtn't to be a substitute for a viable US Merchant Marine...
 
.........................Vern.......................


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Re: Amtrak Fleet Strategy
 
« Reply #18 on: Apr 2nd, 2010, 7:31pm »
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Which NDTA, Vern? And - what would i have to do to get you sponsored, presuming you are serious. I am not a member of any of the organizations that use that acronym...

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jmlaboda
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Re: Amtrak Fleet Strategy
 
« Reply #19 on: Apr 2nd, 2010, 11:56pm »
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"Which NDTA, Vern?"
 
I assume (yah... a bad idea but its a shot anyways) that he is referring to National Defense Transportation Association...
[url]http://www.ndtahq.com/[url]


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