Thursday, February 19, 2009

Boardman Wants Rolling Stock

Railway Age reports Amtrak CEO Joseph Boardman has written to Vice President Joe Biden and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi advising that the railroad will seek a $1.4 billion appropriation in FY 2010 to purchase new rolling in order to expand service. The request includes "60 electric locomotives for the Northeast Corridor, 25 single-level dining cars, 75 baggage cars, 25 single-level sleeping cars, and 130 bilevel cars for short-distance routes.

1 comment:

  1. Now that it has been clearly established that Amtrak has raised the ante on its shopping list for both Long and Short Distance trains (as defined by their Monthly Performance Reports) to 25 Sleepers, 25 Diners, 75 Baggage, and 130 Bi-Level Coaches (the Corridor shopping list is apparently separate), the question remains where to assign this equipment if in fact all of it materializes.

    Now I realize that perfectly intelligent members, but who have not had railroad industry experience to add to their CV's, question why only 80% of rostered cars are in a consist on a given day. While a private sector concern might choose to seek a higher utilization, i.e. a third Sleeper line on 91-92, Amtrak is a bureaucracy - and bureaucracies do play it safe. "Going for it on 4th down and 2" is just not in the playbook.

    However, it would appear that if all of these cars materialize, Amtrak anticipates adding LD trains. The existing trains assigned a single level Diner, namely 19, 91, 97, would require 15 cars (12 in consist 3 spare) yet Amtrak wants 25; same applies to the Baggage cars where likely 50 could re-equip any LD train on the system; again yet they want 75. The 25 Sleepers could be assigned to existing trains, including adding service to 449 and 67 as well as additional lines on the others.

    I have to wonder where the 130 bi-level Coaches would be assigned. I must wonder if the Amtrak appropriation under ARRA '09 is simply assuming what otherwise would fall to the Federal Transit Administration, or FTA. I was of thought that the burden to add equipment for the locally sponsored services were going to fall to the local level sponsors. But possibly those sponsors, in most cases states, are now so broke that they cannot meet the participation requirements (20% or thereabouts) existing law calls for in order to be a recipient of FTA funding. Therefore Amtrak, "flush" from likely the greatest "one two punch' of legislative victories in its entire history, will step forward and lease these cars to the sponsors at "pay as you go' rates.

    Stay tuned, this will be quite a ride; it could even be equal to the mid-70's when "Whatever Amtrak Wants, Amtrak Gets' was #1 on the Top 40