CTDOT: New Commuter Car Procurement Underway

New Cars will Meet Expanding Demand with Improved Experience, Strategic Concept, State Funds. Siemens Favored for Supply.

12 June, Hartford CT – Interview with CDOT’s Richard Jankovich, Assistant Rail Administrator, by R&P Associate Editor Christopher Parker

Stamford CT

Siemens’ new cars for Caltrans have been undergoing testing on the NEC (where they can achieve 125-mph speeds), in anticipation of entering service later this year on the Amtrak San Joaquins route {Marc Glucksman}.

R&P: How Is The Hartford Line doing?

RJ: Ridership on the Hartford line (separate from the Vermonter) went from 465,000 for 2018 to 730,000 in 2019 – an incredible increase. We’re very proud of it.

Why new coaches?

We have a lease with Massachusetts that will end ( in 2025 – Ed. ), and people are using [our passenger services] more and more.

Any consideration to buying something off-the-shelf, or piggybacking off existing Amtrak or commuter car orders?

We were looking at the Amtrak spec, the PRIIA spec. We looked regionally. Everything from the material on the flooring to the material on the seating to the technology, that’s 5 years ago. Technology has changed. We’ve reached out to other states [to join our order].

Why single-level equipment?

These cars are going to be used on the Shoreline and the Hartford Line and to provide cars for Amtrak. Waterbury was part of the the discussion. All our shops are single level. If we did multi-level procurement now we have to change that and find more space. We wanted one car that could be maintained and serve anywhere in the system.

In the future we have options. The future vision is of running longer distances into New York ( which has limited height clearance – Ed.) , into Springfield, to Boston via the inland route. There is a lot of market there, tremendous. We work very closely with MassDOT. This equipment will be around for 40 years. There is a lot of opportunities out there. We made a decision about coaches based on what we were envisioning.

Why not DMU’s?

We have only so much of a footprint in the New Haven yard. Capacity in the yard for a DMU shop would be limited. We are at capacity now, and we have 66 more M8’s coming in.

We looked at the future. Eventually we have to go with a locomotive procurement. Our intention is to go with a dual mode locomotive in the future ( required for operating to New York – Ed. ). That also gives us a reason to go with locomotives.

The yard in New Haven has changed [since the days of Budd RDC’s] The EMU’s has become a large storage because of the [increased] volume of trains in New Haven. So currently we have the west end yard for the emu’s and the storage at the diesel shop and then we have the running repair. Amtrak stages their equipment on the north side. Amtrak runs the shop which is owned by CTDOT. It maintains 18 locomotives. Very limited space. We have current space for 50 coaches.

How will the new car acquisition be funded?

The state bonded $300 million. State funds only, no federal funds.

Does use of State funds releases you from Buy America requirements?

We have a three-year lease with Massachusetts [for MBTA MBB coaches]. Our primary concern [in the procurement is whether we would] have the new cars in revenue service [when] the lease expires. Siemens said [they] have manufacturing around the world, and that [their American production capacity may be occupied, so a Buy American requirement may jeopardize our schedule to return the MassDOT equipment.]

What happened to new coaches for Waterbury?

There was only so much money – $300 million – including engineering, design, inspection. If the bid gets down to where we could add the Waterbury back in we would. We just couldn’t do that based on our best estimates.

What Is special about this equipment?

It will be more inviting. These cars are going to be intercity cars. When people get in and ride it, it’s going to be like “wow.” It will be a softer ride compared to the MBB. Won’t be a lot of shaking and shimmering.”

Amenities

  • 2×2 seating [two seats on each side of the aisle in each row,]
  • Between 4-6 workstation tables in each car.
  • Outlets, USB ports
  • ADA bathroom – 1 bathroom per coach
  • LED lighting, with adjustable controls
  • Baggage storage for longer distance hauls
  • Level boarding
  • Gap filler at doorways [as on Brightline]
  • Passenger information screens
  • Advertisement screens
  • Provisions for disabilities
  • Bike storage

Units to be procured

  • Base order: 60 (including cab cars)
  • First option 12 coaches +10 cab cars
  • Options as high as 142

Procurement timeframe

  • RFP: 20.April
  • 1st virtual Q&A: 12.June (Answers in August)
  • 2nd round of questioning
  • Final addendum: Wk3.Sept.
  • Submission: pencil date 16.Oct
  • Award contract: Q1.2021
  • Pilot set (four units) delivery: Q1.2023
  • Completion of order (56 units): Y2025