Amtrak’s New InterCity Trainsets Looking Good
September 30, 2022
Association President & CEO Jim Mathews accepted an invitation this week to walk through a hard mockup of Amtrak’s proposed InterCity Trainset coach and cafe car designs, his third visit to the mockup this year to share suggestions and insights with the design team.
Design reviews started last summer, almost immediately after Amtrak announced the $7.3 billion deal for at least 83 and as many as 213 dual-power (diesel and AC catenary) trainsets from Siemens, which will resemble the Brightline trainsets operating today in Florida.
Since May of this year, your Association has been participating in these reviews to share feedback and suggestions with the Siemens and Amtrak design teams bringing this new equipment to life.
This Spring we focused on a physical review of a representative portion of the interiors of the trainsets, where designers and outside stakeholders began to get a sense of handicap accessibility, aisle width, and placement of things like luggage racks, seats, tables, the luggage tower, the size and location of the vestibule and side doors, and the toilets. This “soft mockup” process was followed by hard mockups of the food-service areas and interiors for both the Coach and Business class seating areas, as well as the toilets and vestibules.
During this week’s hard mockup review, we were able to sit in and evaluate seating options in both classes, as well as get a good look at the ADA-compliant restroom design and fixtures, and the food-service car arrangement, storage areas, galley, and point-of-sale terminal.
The program is in good shape, and Siemens expects to begin car shell production on this new equipment later this year.
“In 2019, when I testified before the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, I told lawmakers how important it was to give Amtrak the ability to commit long term to replacing what I called a ‘rolling museum’ of tired old equipment,” Association President & CEO Jim Mathews said. “This week’s hard mockup review continues the exciting progress we’re seeing in finally giving America’s passengers what they deserve: modern, clean, accessible, comfortable, appealing trainsets that will be new enough – and with enough Siemens technical support – to ensure that passengers will get where they need to go safely, efficiently, and on-time.”
This week Jim was able to review many features and elements he discussed with the team during previous walkthroughs, including details in the ADA-compliant restroom design and arrangement, accommodating additional wheelchairs/mobility devices in the new multi-ADA seating area, using innovative lighting and fabric throughout the design, including at-seat cart food/beverage service as an addition to pickup service at the counter or lining up at the counter to place an order, and refining visible cues for things like grab handles, doorways and entryways, and seating classes.
“I was especially pleased to see real movement on an issue I have pushed Amtrak on for nearly 15 years – getting automated defibrillators installed in every trainset,” Mathews said, noting that designers agreed to put in a change order to include two AED units on each train.
In addition to Amtrak’s Northeast Regional routes, these new trainsets are expected to run on the long-distance Palmetto, plus the state-supported Adirondack, Carolinian, Cascades, Downeaster, Empire Service, Ethan Allen Express, Keystone Service, Maple Leaf, New Haven/Springfield Service (Amtrak Hartford Line and Valley Flyer), Pennsylvanian, Vermonter, and Virginia services.
"The National Association of Railroad Passengers has done yeoman work over the years and in fact if it weren’t for NARP, I'd be surprised if Amtrak were still in possession of as a large a network as they have. So they've done good work, they're very good on the factual case."
Robert Gallamore, Director of Transportation Center at Northwestern University and former Federal Railroad Administration official, Director of Transportation Center at Northwestern University
November 17, 2005, on The Leonard Lopate Show (with guest host Chris Bannon), WNYC New York.