Amtrak plans to replace dozens of aging trains: costs $ 7.3 billion


  • By Tom Krisher / The Associated Press

(Detroit) – Amtrak plans to spend $ 7.3 billion to replace 83 passenger trains, some nearly half a century old, although much of the funding has yet to be approved by Congress.

Amtrak said on Wednesday that under the contract with German automaker Siemens AG, some of the trains will be hybrid, capable of running on diesel and electricity where cables are available. The new trains will replace Amfleet, Metroliner and state-owned equipment from 2024.

The new engines and passenger cars will be built at a US plant in Sacramento, California.

The new trains will have more comfortable seats, better ventilation systems, individual power outlets and USB ports, onboard WiFi and panoramic windows. Amtrak CEO William Flynn says they will pollute much less than older trains when running on diesel.

Trains will run on lines in New York, New England, California, the Northwest, Virginia and elsewhere.

In Pennsylvania, said a spokesperson, part of the Pennsylvanian the route from Philadelphia to Harrisburg will switch from diesel to electric. This should shorten journey times, as trains on the Pennsylvanian will no longer have to live in the Philadelphia station when switching from electric to diesel operation.

Siemens says the first delivery will take place in 2024 on the Cascades line in the northwest, with the remainder continuing through 2030. Manufacturing will begin in 2023. The trains will have one engine and about six to eight cars.
The contract will include the equipment and a long-term parts and service supply agreement, the statement said.

In an interview, Flynn said the trains will be able to go up to 125 mph (201 kilometers per hour) and will be able to switch from electric to diesel without current delays due to engine changes. Trains are often limited to 90 mph (145 kilometers per hour) by track conditions, he said.

Amtrak says the money will come from around $ 200 million already approved by Congress, as well as future funding that must be approved. “We expect to have annual funding for our part of the trains,” he said.

“If there should be a time when this money is not specifically available, we also have the option of funding the units,” said Flynn. That money would be reimbursed by the states along with trains and passenger fares, he said.

Amtrak’s board of directors has approved up to $ 4.9 billion for equipment, parts and service and $ 2 billion to modify its facilities. Initially, Amtrak will purchase 73 trains and a 20-year parts and service agreement for approximately $ 3.4 billion.
Amtrak ridership hit a record 32.4 million passengers in 2019 before the coronavirus pandemic hit, Flynn said.

Passenger volume is around 62% of what it was before the pandemic, he said.

Before the pandemic, Amtrak operated about 310 trains per day, but now it’s about 201. Flynn expects the schedule to be fully restored by September or October.

In 2016, Amtrak contracted with French rail manufacturer Alstom to build 28 high-speed trains for the Acela Express service in the Northeast Corridor.

The infrastructure bill proposed by President Joe Biden’s administration provides $ 66 billion for freight and passenger rail transport. Biden routinely drove Amtrak between Washington and his home in Wilmington, Delaware, during his 36 years as a senator and proposed a big increase in federal money for rail service.
Proponents say that increased use of public transit and rail would reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

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