Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak Viewliner II cars’

Viewliner Diner In Revenue Service Testing

December 13, 2016

Revenue service testing began last week of the first Viewliner dining car built by CAF USA.

Amtrak logoNo. 68001, the Annapolis, ran northbound from Miami to New York on the Silver Meteor on Dec. 5.

The testing is part of an Amtrak acceptance program for new cars. If No. 68001 passes the testing program, Amtrak will begin taking delivery of additional Viewliners in January.

Amtrak has one other Viewliner diner, No. 8400, the Indianapolis, which was a prototype diner built in 1988.

The Viewliner diners will be assigned to Eastern single-level long-distance train. Amtrak has ordered 25 Viewliner diners from CAF.

Amtrak Describes Removal of Dining Cars From Lake Shore Limited as Temporary Measure

July 25, 2016

Amtrak has confirmed removing Heritage Fleet dining cars from the Lake Shore Limited and substituting Amfleet II café cars.

Although Amtrak said that table service on linen is being provided, one report from the train posted on a railfan chat list indicated that the silverware was plastic and the meals were pre-pared and merely heated by an attendant.

Amtrak logoAs a safety concern, the Heritage diners, which were built in the streamliner era following World War II, were sidelined due to cracks in their frames. The cars began being removed from service in June.

The National Association of Railroad Passengers reported that the removal of diners from Nos. 48/49 is temporary until new Viewliner diners enter service.

The Amfleet café cars are featuring a menu similar to that of the Cardinal and City of New Orleans, trains that have modified dining service.

NARP said it was told by Amtrak that repairing the cracks would require a major effort to repair. Currently, Amtrak has 12 Heritage diners in service.

The Lake Shore Limited was chosen to lose its Heritage diners because it has the fewest full meal periods of Amtrak’s single-level long- distance trains.

Viewliner dining cars are part of an order of new equipment being built for Amtrak by CAF in Elmira, New York.

Amtrak officials said the Viewliner diners are now in production and CAF is addressing a “punch list” of items that Amtrak has created.

NARP said Amtrak officials expect the new Viewliner diners to enter revenue service as early as late summer, which it defined as August or early September. However, that might be for testing on the Northeast Corridor.

NARP said Amtrak has assured the passenger rail advocacy group that once new diners are available, a more conventional dining service would return to the Lake Shore Limited.

Nonetheless, Trains magazine reported on Monday that the type of dining service will vary by train. Once the order of Viewliner diners is completed, they will be assigned to all single-level long-distance trains.

New Viewliner sleepers are expected to begin leaving the CAF plant during the fall.

A review of Amtrak’s CAF Viewliner order conducted by the Government Accountability Office found that the cars are three years overdue.

Amtrak ordered 130 cars for $300 million in 2010 and thus far the only cars to be placed into service have been baggage cars.

The order included 25 dining cars. The GAO report said the order won’t likely be completed until at least 2017.

Boardman Sees Hope For Getting New Equipment to Bolster Amtrak’s Aging Long-Distance Fleet

December 11, 2015

Although he didn’t make any promises, Amtrak President Joseph Boardman sees a glimmer of hope that the railroad’s aging Amfleet and Superliner equipment might be replaced or at least supplemented.

In an interview with Trains magazine held a week before he announced that he will retire from Amtrak in September 2016, Boardman said he didn’t expect any difference in the annual appropriations but that the transportation legislation authorizes money for the “Gateway” Hudson River tunnel project might free up funds that can be used to buy equipment for long-distance trains.

Boardman said that means “that there’s going to be capital money that needs to be made available for our national system and to replace and improve the equipment we have out there.”

Much of Amtrak’s current fleet was built in the 1970s or 1980s and is now older than the streamliner era equipment that it inherited when it began operations in 1971.

In the meantime, Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles continues to build new Viewliner equipment at its plant in Elmira, New York.

“We’re really working hard to make sure we get the CAF deliveries for long-distance equipment,” Boardman said. “We have all the baggage cars now, the dining cars are in the climate chamber, and then we move on to (the baggage dorms and sleepers).”

Boardman doesn’t expect to see equipment arrive for the Northeast Corridor during his remaining time with Amtrak although he does expect to announce the details about an equipment order within the next three months.

“I don’t expect to be here when they get here, but I want to make sure they get ordered and that gets done before I leave,” he said.

At present, Amtrak doesn’t have “a final figure from the vendor and we don’t yet have approval on a Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing loan but we are doing all the due diligence that we are supposed to do to make that happen.”

During Boardman’s watch, Amtrak began taking delivery of new Siemens electric locomotives with 56 of the 70 ordered having been delivered thus far.

Boardman said he wants to get Amtrak’s Advanced Civil Speed Enforcement System version of positive train control installed on all sections of the Northeast Corridor by the end of 2015.

When he steps down next year, Boardman will have served as Amtrak’s president for eight years, which will be the second-longest tenure among Amtrak presidents. Only W. Graham Claytor Jr. at 11 years served in the post longer.

The announcement that Boardman would retire came in a letter to employees that was sent a month after the Amtrak board of directors had voted to extend Boardman’s tenure for another two years.

“When I look back at this time I see so many accomplishments and so many changes we made to make America’s Railroad a stronger, safer and a more important part of our nation’s transportation system,” Boardman said.

“Our debt is lower, our revenues are up, our ridership is up, our labor efficiencies have improved. There’s no question that we’ve got more to do — I think we’re more incremental (recently) because we have so many things to move forward, like Americans with Disabilities Act improvements and implementation of all of the ideas and concepts that came out of the PRIIA legislation. I think we’ve gotten a lot done.”

Viewliner Baggage Cars on Lake Shore Limited

April 6, 2015

Amtrak has begun assigning some of its new Viewliner II baggage cars to the Lake Shore Limited. On Saturday, No. 48 passed through Cleveland en route to New York and Boston with two of the new cars.

No. 48 also had a Viewliner I dining car No. 8400 so that meant that the train operated without any heritage fleet equipment. Indeed, the train had five Viewliner fleet cars.

The Viewliner II cars are being built by CAF USA in Elmira, N.Y. The order includes sleepers and diners as well as baggage cars as Amtrak seeks to phase out the last of its heritage fleet equipment.

Amtrak Viewliner II Baggage Cars Enter Service

March 26, 2015

Amtrak’s new Viewliner II baggage cars entered revenue service this week on the East Coast.

The first trains to carry the cars were the northbound Silver Meteor (New York-Miami) and northbound Carolinian (New York-Charlotte, N.C.).

Altogether, Amtrak ordered 55 of the cars and plans to assign them to all of its 15 long-distance routes.

The cars were built at the CAF USA plant near Elmira, N.Y. Earlier, they were ferried to Amtrak’s Hialeah maintenance facility in Miami for inspection.

Amtrak has ordered 130 single-level, long-distance passenger cars, including diners, sleepers and baggage-dorm cars.

New Viewerliner II Equipment Hitting Rails

October 11, 2014

Amtrak’s new Viewliner equipment has begun appearing in revenue service. A handful of the 130 cars being manufactured by CAF USA have been deployed. The entire Viewliner II order is expected to be done by late 2015. Most of the cars will be assigned to eastern long-distance route, including the Lake Shore Limited. Some baggage cars are expected to see service nationwide. Amtrak altered its order in late August, reducing the number of baggage-dorm cars from 25 to 10 and increasing the number of baggage cars from 55 to 70.

Amtrak Changes Viewliner Order

August 25, 2014

Amtrak has altered its new car order, deciding to cut the number of Viewliner II baggage-dormitory cars from 25 to 10 while increasing by 15 the number of baggage cars that it wants. The cars are being built by CAF USA at Elmira Heights, N.Y. The original order for 25 dining cars and 25 sleeping cars is unchanged.

Amtrak declined to explain why the Viewliner order had changed other than to specifiy that it was done “to address business needs.” The current single-level fleet requires about 17 train sets to operate the Silver Star, Silver Meteor, Crescent, and Lake Shore Limited daily and the Cardinal tri-weekly.

The change in the Viewliner order means that baggage-dormitory cars will not operate consistently on every train. Crew members will therefore need to be accommodated in space in regular Viewliner sleepers.

Increasing the number of baggage cars being built will mean that checked baggage and bicycle carriage will be able to be extended to additional trains in the Northeast Corridor and on state-supported routes.

Viewliner II baggage cars will replace cars that are more than 50 years old.

In a related development, California and three Midwest states plan to acquire an additional 45 bi-level cars from Nippon Sharyo.

The states had ordered 130 cars that are being assembled in Rochelle, Ill. That contract provided an add-on options at a slightly increased cost, depending upon car type.

The order will now include 122 cars to be used in Midwest corridor service and 175 cars to be used in California. The first of these cars are expected to enter service by 2016.

FRA Head Touts Rail Service in Columbus Visit

July 10, 2014

Amtrak doesn’t serve Columbus, but that didn’t stop the head of the Federal Railroad Administration from coming to town on Tuesday to talk about rail passenger service.

FRA administrator Joseph Szabo appeared at a factory that makes undercarriages for railroad passenger cars.

“We believe rail service provides the necessary balance and we can provide states with the tools they need to build these projects,” Szabo said.

There are no such projects currently planned in Ohio “that I’m aware of,” he said.

“By 2050 an additional 100 million people will use rail service, and freight trains will haul an additional 4 billion tons,” said Szabo during his visit to Columbus Castings to tout the foundry’s involvement in a $352 million project awarded to Nippon Sharyo to assemble and deliver 130 bi-level passenger rail cars from its Rochelle, Ill. plant.

The rail cars will be delivered starting in 2015 for use on Amtrak short-haul trains out of Chicago. Some of the cars will also operate in California.

Columbus Castings has a $23 million contract to build the undercarriages of the cars. This could rise to a $40 million contract and 260 rail cars, said Joseph Haviv, the company’s chairman.

“It (has) brought us 30 jobs so far, and we’ll hire 50 more,” he said of the Nippon Sharyo project.

Szabo made a pitch for the Obama administration’s Grow America Act, a four-year, $302 billion plan to repair and expand the nation’s transportation systems. About $19 billion of this would fund rail development programs.

“The Midwest has more rail suppliers than any other region, and Ohio is the No. 1 supplier in the region,” Szabo said.

Columbus Castings also made the undercarriages for CAF USA, an Elmira, N.Y.-based company assembling Viewliner II cars that Amtrak will use on its long-distance routes.

The company also made parts for Hyundai Rotem, which assembled rail cars for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority in Philadelphia.

Columbus Castings employs about 800 in a 1-million-square-foot facility on the South Side of Columbus. Annual revenues are between $100 million and $150 million, Haviv said.

3 More Viewliner Cars Released from Factory

July 10, 2014

Three more Amtrak Viewliner II cars were released on Tuesday from the CAF assembly plant in Elmira Heights, N.Y.

They included diner 68000 Albany, sleeper 62500 Portage River, and baggage-dormitory 69000. All were moved to Amtrak’s Albany/Rensselaer, N.Y. facility.

The ferry move was headed by P42DC No. 79 with Amcafe No. 48154 along as a as a rider car. GP38-3H No. 520 brought up the rear.

These are the first Viewliner II cars to be released since baggage car No. 61000 left the plant on May 16. Now, one of each car configuration is available for testing.

Columbus Company Making Parts for Amtrak Cars

November 16, 2013

A scheduled Amtrak train hasn’t rolled through Columbus since 1979, but a company in the state’s capitol city will be building undercarriages for new Amtrak passenger cars.

Columbus Castings has landed the largest order in its 130-year history, a deal with Nippon Sharyo USA that could be worth up to $70 million and add more than 50 jobs at the steel foundry located on a 90-acre site on the city’s south side.

“If they exercise all their options, this will keep us at full capacity until 2021,”said  CEO Rick Rubusch.  The company employs 650.

Columbus Castings could reap more than $100 million in manufacturing parts for Amtrak passenger cars. In addition to the Nippon deal, Columbus Castings also has orders from Amtrak suppliers CAF USA and Hyundai Rotem Co. for the same railcar components.

Ruebusch said his company has a long history in the rail industry. The former Buckeye Steel Castings has 19 miles of class 1 rail access and the capacity to make parts ranging from 100 pounds to 70,000 pounds.

The business, credited as being the largest single-site steel foundry in the country, is owned by Prostar Partners LLC, a New York-based private equity firm.

Columbus Castings is one of the 10 largest manufacturers in Central Ohio, according to Columbus Business First research.