The approval of performance and technical design specifications for next generation bi-level passenger rail cars is a major achievement that supports Amtrak’s plans to advance and support the growth of new or existing state-supported corridor service, renew and replace its national fleet and foster the development of a domestic rail manufacturing industry.
“This clears the tracks and provides strong direction so Amtrak and states can move forward with modern bi-level equipment designed with updated passenger comfort, conveniences and safety features to meet the ever-increasing demand for more rail service,” said Amtrak President and CEO Joseph Boardman.
Today, Amtrak, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), and interested states approved the new design as part of a Next Generation Corridor Equipment Pool Committee established under Section 305 of the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act (PRIIA) of 2008. Host freight railroads, passenger railroad equipment manufacturers and other passenger rail operators participated in the technical discussions as well.
The bi-level passenger car specifications are the first to be issued by the Section 305 committee and include three car types for use in corridor intercity passenger rail service: coach car, cab / baggage car, and café / lounge car. It is the third generation of the popular California Car design first introduced in the 1990s and subsequently advanced with Amtrak’s Surfliner equipment.
The approved design specifications are available here.
Approval of this design supports the growth of state-supported passenger rail routes because the FRA has indicated that Federal funding support for the acquisition for equipment used in corridor services must meet the design specifications resulting from the work of the Section 305 committee.
Boardman explained that the finalization of this design also supports Amtrak’s implementation of a comprehensive Fleet Strategy Plan to replace and expand its national fleet of locomotives and passenger rail cars. This plan includes the priority replacement of approximately 250 of its bi-level Superliner 1 equipment that have been in service for nearly 30 years. With the bi-level design specifications now in place for corridor service, Amtrak can move forward with using this design as the foundation for the development of new bi-level long- distance equipment to replace these aging Superliners.
The PRIIA Section 305 requirements were developed to primarily promote the creation of a pool of standardized, interoperable equipment for Amtrak and the states to use in various state-sponsored corridors with flexibility and efficiency. This pool equipment is meant to largely share design elements and systems in order to improve maintainability and lower design and acquisition costs. It can also incentivize the creation of domestic manufacturing capacity for intercity passenger rail equipment.