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After a run to and from Carlisle the test train stands on the Down Goods Loop at Carstairs station awaiting a further run south. USA: Amtrak has abandoned plans to lengthen its current fleet of 20 Acela Express trainsets to increase capacity, and instead intends to procure a new fleet of high speed trains to operate on the Northeast Corridor between Washington DC, New York and Boston.
Amtrak ridership has increase by 50% over the past decade, and in the financial year to September 30, the federally-owned inter-city passenger operator carried a record 31·2 million passengers, of which 11·4 million used the Northeast Corridor. The corporation had planned to purchase a further 40 intermediate cars to lengthen the current six-car trains as a stop-gap measure, but testifying before the House of Representatives Transportation & Infrastructure Committee on December 13, Amtrak President Joe Boardman confirmed that this would be 'too expensive', as well as posing technical challenges. In its updated vision document for development of the Northeast Corridor Amtrak says upgrading the current line to a state of good repair and increasing capacity would allow 'limited growth' and some journey time improvements between now and 2030. Amtrak operates 20 Acela trains along the heavily traveled Northeast corridor between Boston and Washington, D.C. On the other side of the scanners, people are rethreading their belts, slipping back on their coats and sliding into their shoes, some kneeling to retie them.
That is unless you ride the Acela train as I just did for a quick, overnight trip to New York on business. I am in Washington for the annual Electric Drive Transportation Association conference, held just blocks from the Capitol and Union Station.
Unquestionably and wading through the security gauntlet here at National Airport only reconfirmed that. The Acela is the U.S effort to offer fast train service that people in Europe and Japan take for granted. In a stroke of sheer brillance in this age where every business traveler packs a laptop computer and cellphone, each seat has access to a 110 volt power outlet. The seats not only recline but also have lumbar support and foot rests and there is limousine-like leg room. Each of the twenty trains in the Acela system are composed of six cars carrying a total of 304 passengers, close to the maximum seating capacity of a Boeing 767.
According to the Friends of the Earth, the average Amtrak train, most of which are diesel, put out two-thirds less greenhouse gases than cars and trucks and one-half that of commercial aircraft. While Amtrak reduced the amount of diesel fuel it used in 2005 over 2004 by 10 percent, it increased its ridership for the third start year. In so many ways, it's like stepping back in time half a century before Homeland Security, discount airlines, and the national Interstate system.
Former Toyota President Hiroshi Okuda poses with first generation Prius at 1997 Tokyo Auto Show. Elmwood Park, in the center of Omaha, straddles the southern edge of the University of Nebraska at Omaha campus. Taking my cue from the folks at CalCars and Jim Woolsey, I brought along a prop, a short, yellow 'dongle' of an extension cord. Greater demand for weight reduction and aerodynamics put railcar manufacturers on track to greater and more extensive use of composites. Source: SiemennsThe Siemens Velaro travels through Spain at up to 350 kph (218 mph), the fastest train in Europe. When it comes to composite applications, two characteristics of high-speed trains distinguish their designs from those of conventional trains. Moreover, he continues, while running noise (produced by the wheels on the track) is a conventional train's primary noise component, aerodynamic noise predominates in high-speed trains. Aerodynamic detailing also is a must for the ventilation system, which draws in outside air. A trademark of SNCF, the TGV train set has been operating for more than 20 years and has carried more than 400 million passengers. Key composite components include interior sidewalls, interiors of toilet modules, the driver's desk and covers around the doors. The 40-plus noses (two for each train set, plus a few spares) were built by the now defunct fabricator GSM (Montreal, Quebec, Canada).
Another major composite set on the Acela are the shrouds that surround the two air conditioning units per coach car, which are positioned on car roofs.


Composite undercarriage covers, developed for the high-speed Acela, shield the equipment mounted on the underside of the train. Earlier this year, the Spanish National Railways (Red Nacional de los Ferrocarriles Espanoles, RENFE) ordered ten new high-speed train sets from Siemens AG (Erlangen, Germany), a 240 million Euro contract, or about $311 million (USD).
The Spanish trains are built on Siemen's Velaro platform, which evolved out of German Rail's (Deutsche Bahn AG) trademark Inter City Express, or ICE.
Siemens engineers note many advantages of composites, including aesthetic flexibility, the ability to increase pre-assembly of the train, and integration of multiple functions in one component. Design requirements for interior composite components of Velaro E and ICE trains do not differ significantly from Siemens' conventional train interiors. Like the Acela Express trains, Siemens' Velaro E and ICE trains also use composites for outer protection of the undercarriage, aerodynamic roof hoods, air ducts, and the train's head and bow noses. Siemens reports that wet hand layup and heated compression molding are the predominant fabricating methods for these composite components, each used for about 40 percent of the parts. As in most emerging markets for composites, lack of familiarity with the materials and their performance characteristics is the biggest barrier to broader application. All three train manufacturers nevertheless anticipate growing use of composites in the rail sector, especially as high-speed trains compete effectively with air transportation. From the leather seats to the first class car and lounges, Acela is the definition of riding in style. The British pantograph needed to be mounted on a framework to raise it to enable the pantograph to reach the OHLE, which is approx.
Instead, he said the operator would issue a Request for Information in early 2013 to start the process of replacing them with a larger fleet of new trains to operate more frequent services. From my experience the last couple days, this is definitely how to travel on trips under 500 miles, especially when and if America upgrades its track system, most of which is a century or more old. These contoured components not only provide smooth aerodynamic performance but must meet tight geometric tolerances as well. Since air resistance rises geometrically with speed, "you can reduce the loads by going to good aerodynamic shape," says Frank Duschinsky, director of systems engineering and contracts for Bombardier (Berlin, Germany). Composite front ends, or "noses," abound in high-speed train sets because aerodynamically contoured composite structures are relatively simple to fabricate. Composites are the principal material for air inlets on high-speed trains because of the complex shapes and curvatures needed to alleviate noise. Alstom's name is associated especially with the SNCF-trademarked TGV high-speed trains of France.
Nearly 500 TGV train sets operate worldwide, with 60 percent of these trains traveling at 270 kph (168 mph) or faster. Most of these solid-laminate components are layed up by hand, using polyester resin and chopped glass strand mats, reports Christophe Pailler, Alstom Transport interiors specialist. Even with the sleek contouring of the nose, he points out, it still provides sufficient strength. On low-speed trains, no shielding for roof-mounted units is required, but at high speeds, the Acela's shrouds control both noise and air-inlet volume. The train's large windows incorporate hand layed up composite masks, similar to the pull-down shades found on airplane windows, with fiberglass reinforcement to support these large polyester panels.
A Siemens-led consortium created the ICE 3, a train design now widely used in Germany and The Netherlands (although the ICE moniker is used only in Germany).
This last characteristic, according to Siemens, has changed the job specifications of components suppliers, enabling the company to assign responsibility for a whole system and its modular features to a single supplier. The company sees the most important influence coming from national requirements, which are different for each country.
Pantographs (the extensions that connect the train to overhead electrical power) also are protected by composite covers. A few parts also are made from prepreg (5 percent), injection molding (5 percent) and extrusion (10 percent).
Composites currently are used strictly on superstructure in trains, but experimentation with primary structures may not be far off.


Our Acela Express service stretches from Washington, D.C., all the way up to Boston and is definitely a fan favorite!
In fact, on November 7, 2013, Acela ridership peaked at more than 15,000 riders, making it the single best day in Acela’s 13-year history. By comparison, "metallic materials can require rather difficult metal beating to achieve a rounded form, for example," Lacote says. Bombardier teamed with Alstom to build train sets for the Amtrak Acela Express, the first high-speed transit in North America.
He adds that Alstom also uses compression molding of sheet molding compound (SMC) and resin transfer molding (RTM) when the size and number of components justify tooling and equipment costs. North American regulations require trains to withstand intrusion into occupied areas in a collision at two times the maximum speed of the train. But increased aerodynamic demands as well as greater impact from rocks kicked up by the train warrant the Acela's undercarriage covers. Various lines in the network are currently in all phases of planning, design and implementation. An interior panel, for example, might include three-dimensional geometries for aesthetics, yet also be designed to bear loads, incorporate warmth and noise insulation, and provide impact protection. Both train types use composite panels for interior ceilings, walls, cabinet coverings and other components. One of the most recent additions to the TGV fleet is TGV Korea, which carries passengers from Seoul to Busan and from Seoul to Mokpo in South Korea. The polyester resin includes fire-protection additives that make the resin compliant with the French fire standard NF F 16-101.
The ability to vary the design architecture within the part clinched the group's decision to use composite materials, he adds. Under each car, three covers are mounted adjacent to each other to shelter the entire underbody. Hand layed fiberglass composites also make up the toilet modules and the control panel in the engineer's cabin.
Designers still prefer natural materials such as wood for many applications both for aesthetics and for costs. We do not have enough experience with composites to guarantee this when using them in the vehicle's primary structure." He also points to lack of data on the impact behavior of composites when struck with ballast at very high speed. Some 46 train sets entered service in April 2004, and South Korea's national railway, Korail, announced after its first 100 days of operation that more than 7 million passengers had already taken advantage of the high-speed service. Each Acela train consists of front and rear locomotives with six passenger coaches in between. The biggest challenge the designers encountered was fitting the nose to the tight tolerances of the rest of the train, which required a smooth, perfect fit. On the sides of each shroud, two composite air-intake "ears" are mounted in a secondary joining process.
The three covers differ from each other to fit around the particular equipment under that portion of the train car, and each sandwich structure includes a hinged bay for access to the equipment.
These changes notwithstanding, the Spanish operating conditions left the use of composites on the train sets essentially the same as the ICE 3. The need for more insulating layers within composite components as compared to wood can exacerbate the cost differential between the materials.
The complex-contoured intakes also were hand layed up and vacuum bagged from the same materials as the shrouds.
Light weight and durability were factors in the selection of composites for these interior components, but for the Acela, use of composites provided a bonus. Advanced tilt technology, developed by Bombardier, improves the ride quality as the train travels through curves at high speeds.



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