Amtrak is expected to commence field testing of its new long-distance passenger rail cars in the final quarter of 2013, as production of the first rail cars units nears completion..
Currently being built under a $298.1m order, the new long-distance cars are set to replace the existing US fleet and fill the gap that will be created after old cars, manufactured in the 1940s and 1950s, will be decommissioned.
Around 130 single-level long distance passenger rail cars, which include 25 sleepers, 25 diners, 25 baggage/dormitory and 55 baggage, will be constructed and may be operated on eastern routes such as Lake Shore Limited, Cardinal, Crescent, and Silver Service. The baggage cars are likely to be used across the US.
During the field test, one each of the sleeper, diner and baggage/dormitory cars will be evaluated.
Amtrak board member Tom Carper said: “The long-distance routes represent the most attractive business improvement opportunity for Amtrak and the new equipment will help us achieve cost reductions, more efficiency, revenue growth and better service.”
Work on the cars is currently being carried out by CAF (Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles) USA at its facility in Elmira, New York, which will also perform the manufacturing and final assembly. Parts for the new rail cars are provided by more than 120 suppliers in 25 states and 93 cities.
CAF CEO Andres Arizkorreta said: “We are proud to have CAF-built equipment operate on Amtrak’s national network and eager to have passengers experience the improved amenities provided on modern equipment.”
The first units are expected to enter service in the summer of 2014, while all 130 cars are likely to be handed over by the end of 2015.
Currently serving 40% of America’s rural population, Amtrak long-distance trains are the only remaining scheduled intercity transportation in many places.