Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Amtrak, CHSRA call it quits on joint trainset procurement

Written by  David Briginshaw, Editor-in-Chief, International Railway Journal
Amtrak, CHSRA call it quits on joint trainset procurement Amtrak
Plans by Amtrak and the California High Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) to jointly purchase a fleet of high speed trainsets have been scrapped as the two parties have acknowledged that the specifications differ too greatly.

Amtrak requires a fleet of 160-mph trainsets as soon as possible to replace its Acela Express trains currently operating on the Boston-New York-Washington DC Northeast Corridor. These trainsets will need to tilt to cope with the curves on the line to reduce journey times. Conversely, CHSRA wants conventional 200-mph trainsets to operate on its planned, dedicated state-wide network.

Amtrak now intends to issue an RFP (Request For Proposals) in July for a fleet of 28 tilting high speed trainsets, while CHSRA expects to issue its own tender in October for 15 trainsets initially, although it will require up to 70 trainsets during the next 15 years.

“We were hoping it would be possible to leverage a joint procurement and establish a national standard for high speed trains for the U.S.,” said Frank Vacca, chief program manager for the California project (and Amtrak’s former Chief Enginner). “What came out was the fact that [the manufacturers] really were not able to provide a common platform or common trainet that met both of our needs. Now we’re going to have something much closer to off-the-shelf trainsets from the manufacturers. The more we can keep it off-the-shelf, the better it is for cost.”