2-Stroke Diesel Engines on BR

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Back in the 1950s, when British Railways was beginning work on the “Modernisation & Re-Equipment Programme” – effectively the changeover from steam to diesel and electric traction – the focus in the diesel world was mainly between high and medium speed engines.

On top of which, there was a practical argument to support hydraulic versus electric transmission technology – for main line use, mechanical transmission was never a serious contender.

Lens of Sutton - LMS 10000The first main line diesels had appeared in the very last days before nationalisation, and the choice of prime mover was shaped to a great extent by the experience of private industry, and English Electric in particular. The railway workshops had little or no experience in the field, and the better known steam locomotive builders had had some less than successful attempts to offer examples of the new diesel locomotives.

In Britain, the changeover from steam to electric traction became a very hit and miss affair during the 1950s and 1960s.  Orders for the rail industry, and especially the locomotive industries, was subordinate to the railway workshops – which in the ‘experimental’ years received the lion’s share of the work.  That said, the supply chain included companies like English Electric and Metropolitan Vickers, who had had considerable experience in non-steam traction, especially in export orders.

GEC TRaction Photo SP 8671Examples operated in British Railways experimental period between 1948 and 1956 was powered by ‘heavy oil engines’ – the use of the word ‘diesel’ seemed to be frowned on by the professional press in some quarters.  The few main line types that had been built were based around medium speed, 4-stroke power units, with complex valve gear, and perhaps over-engineered mechanical components.  Power to weight ratios were poor.

In the USA in particular, where fuel oil and lubricating oil costs were much less of a challenge for the railroads, 2-stroke diesel engines were common, with much higher power to weight ratios, but equally higher fuel costs.  Indeed, the Fairbaks-Morse company had designed and built opposed piston engines, long before English Electric’s ‘Deltic’ prototype appeared.

Napier_deltic_animation_large

A fascinating glimpse into the workings of the 2-stroke ‘Deltic’ engines. In this animation, the source of the power unit’s name as an inverted Greek letter ‘Delta’ is perhaps more obvious.

Eventually, BR produced its modernisation plan, and included numerous diesel types, for operation and haulage of the very different services in all regions of the UK – they were dominated by medium speed 4-strokes, and only two examples of the 2-stroke design.  The two examples were at opposite ends of the league – both in terms of operational success – and perhaps in the application of the 2-stroke to rail traction.

Intermodel locoThey remained the only two examples in main line use until the 1980s/1990s, when as a result of privatisation of rail services, many more 2-stroke powered examples were ordered and delivered from the major manufacturers in the USA.  It may be though, that this technology will see only a brief life, as further electrification, and other technology changes take place.

This is just a brief overview of some aspects; please click on the image below for a few more thoughts:

2-Stroke Diesels Cover

Useful links:

M-V Article cover page

 

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L&Y Locos At Work on BR

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One year before the grouping of railways in 1923 the Lancashire & Yorkshire and London & North Western Railways amalgamated, forming the largest operating railway system in this country. It lasted only one year. After the formation of the LMSR a series of internal wranglings and power struggles, that would have pleased the most ardent admirer of Machiavelli, resulted in LNWR and L&Y motive power strategies becoming subordinate to that of the Midland company. The political ramifications of those early years of the LM S – despite having the former LYR chief mechanical engineer as the first head of that department under the new regime – were very Jong lasting indeed. While many hundreds of ancient and small Midland Railway designs survived the purges of the 1930s and 1940s, in common with the LNW R types, the locos of the Lancashire & Yorkshire taken over by BR in 1948 numbered only a few hundred.

1249 Ex LYR Pug 0-4-0St No. 51206

Ex LYR “Pug” 0-4-0St No. 51206 at Sandhill 30/05/1960. (c) Frank Dean

It is surprising how long lived many of these steam engines were, some even from before the turn of the 19th & 20th centuries, with working lives of 30 and 40 years or more.  Even some of the later designs under the ‘Big Four’ grouping of 1923, with their more effcient boilers and performance were withdrawn and scarpped perhaps too early in their working life.

The Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway evolved to serve the industrial heartlands and teeming populations of Lancashire, and West Yorkshire in particular, incorporating along the way the world’s first passenger railway, the Liverpool & Manchester.  The core of the system that stretched from Liverpool to Manchester, Leeds and the east coast port city of Hull was the Manchjester & Leeds Railway.  The initial 51 miles ran from Manchester Victoria Station to Normanton, and a total length of 51 miles.  By 1847, the route included Wigan, Preston, Blackburn, Bolton, Burnley and numerous mill towns, reaching Todmorden, Rochdale, Wakefield and Normanton.

By 1922, and the merger with the giant LNWR, the Lanky had a total of 1,417 miles of main line, and 2,217 miles, with sidings included.  The company had also employed the undoubted talents of Barton-Wright, John (later Sir) Aspinall, Hoy, and Hughes as Locomotive Superintendents / Chief Mechanical Engineers.  It is a tribute to their skill, and indeed innovation, that many of their designs survived until nationalisation – indeed, one of the Barton-Wright types traced its design back to 1877, and almost 100 were handed over to BR in 1948.  (It is true that they were modified between 1897 and 1900 under Sir John Aspinall’s watch.)

Aspinall 3F 0-6-0_Carnforth 1979

Built in January 1896, Ex L&Y No. 1300 became LMS number 12322, and in July 1950 BR number 52322, and withdrawn in August 1960. She was at Nuneaton (2B) in 1950, Wigan (Springs Branch) in 1954. Seen here at Carnforth Steamtown in 1979. (c) Rodger Bradley

No fewer than 8 representatives of the L&Y are preserved – including 2 ‘Pug’ 0-4-0ST, the Horwich Works 2ft gauge shunter “Wren”, and the classic Aspinall 2-4-2T No. 1008 at the National Railway Museum.  One of Barton-Wright’s 0-6-0 goods engines from 1887, No. 957 was built by Beyer Peacock and was in use on the Keighley & Worth Valley a few years ago.

It is not the purpose of this piece to cover every detail, but rather to give a flavour for how many and how long these locomotives from the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway survived into theage of the diesel as well as nationalisation.

 

Click on the image below to read on ….

L&Y Booklet cover

Usful links:

Vanderbilt - NY Times header 1901

LYRS logo

Worth Valley logo

Further Reading …

“The Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway in the 20th Century” – Eric Mason, published 1954 & 1961 – Ian Allan

“The Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway – A Concise History” – O.S. Nock,  published 1969 – Ian Allan

 

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Springburn Closure

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What was once the heart of the Scottish rail engineering industry – the Springburn district of Glasgow – has been dealt perhaps a mortal blow, with the announcement of the closure of Gemini Rail’s Springburn Depot.  There was never a railway works or even a maintenance depot bearing the name Springburn, but it was an area home to the North Briotish Loco Co.’s Hyde Park and Atlas Works.  Side by side with these were the Caledonian’s St Rollox and the North British Cowlairs Works – all of which built many thousands of railway locomotives, for home and export around the world.

Gemini Rail Services plant in Springburn to close with 120 jobs set to go

This closure was announced in December, and confirmed in January, with the loss of upt to 200 jobs, although it will not be completed until 2020.  Local and national politicians in Scotland and from the trades unions have been saddened and disappointed by the decision to close, and lose yet more engineering skills.

St Rollox, which was the only works retained in Glasgow by British Railways, was upgraded as nearby Cowlairs was closed in 1968.  It became part of British Rail Engineering in the 1980s, and renamed Glasgow Works, with the rump of the works being transferred to the BR Maintenance Ltd (BRML) arm in 1987, and renamed again as Springburn Level 5 Depot.

During its time as St Rollox in BR days, the closure of Barassie Works and Inverurie meant that all work came to the one remaining workshop in Scotland – the Glasgow Works.  In 1995 BRML was privatised and the St. Rollox site was sold to a Babcock/Siemens consortium along with the Wolverton site. In 2002 it was then sold to Alstom. In 2007 Alstom sold the site to RailCare Ltd. RailCare continued to operate the site until it went into administration on August 2, 2013.

Knorr Bremse were subsequently involved, and finally Gemini Rail, which began life in 2009, and remains based in Birmingham.  In a statement, announcing the closure, the company made this statement:

“…. with sincere regret that Gemini Rail Services announces that severely adverse market conditions means it will be closing operations at Springburn.”

The company also suggested Springburn’s location and a major decline in work contributed to the depot’s was ongoing, unsustainable losses.

Springburn rail depot’s closure confirmed with up to 200 jobs lost labelled a ‘betrayal’ of Scottish rail industry

Looking at this, and given the UK Government’s continued insistence about the ‘huge invetment’ in the rail network, capacity, trains and services, this seems an odd reason for the closure of the depot.   Scotland still has trains to operate and in need of maintenance.

So now, rail engineering, as with shipbuilding and heavy engineering has finally come to an end in Scotland.  Whilst we can see that there are still discussions, consultations and negotiations going on – this is a tragedy for UK engineering, and another loss – we can only hope it doesn’t turn into another supermarket or office park.

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BR Standard Steam Locomotives – Class 4MT 2-6-0

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Three years after nationalisation in 1951, the first of a new range of standard steam locomotives took to the rails, only 6 years after the end of the Second World War, and in the same year as the ‘Festival of Britain’. The post-war years were marked by shortages – not just of food and everyday items – but also by shortages of labour and the raw materials for industry.

Britain was still operating a rail system dependent on steam and coal, but was also casting an eye to the adoption of oil, and new power systems to rebuild its railway network, and its locomotive stock. Many of the steam types still in use were well past pension age, and had been designed for specific routes and operating requirements of their previous owners.

Standardisation of components, and other aspects of design and construction had been pursued most strongly by he GWR and LMS, whilst others such as the LNER and Southern Railway had pursued a more varied path. The Southern in particular was probably the most radical and innovative of the ‘Big Four’ in the years leading up to nationalisation.

E.S. Cox, was Executive Officer (Design), Railway Executive and in a paper he presented to the Institution of Locomotive Engineers made this comment about standardisation:

“Partial standardisation was effected during World War II with the L.M.S. Stanier 2-8-0’s which were built and run by the four main line The Austerity 2-8-0’s of Mr. Riddles’ design are also an example of the overall standardisation.”

The design process from 1948 onwards included – of course – the Interchange Trials’ – which helped develop both the overall design principles, and detailed assessment of the performance of key components and sub-assemblies. Then, in 1951, 12 steam types were announced that would provide almost universal route availability across British Railways, but where an existing design met those requirements, it would be adapted into what became the BR ‘Standard’ designs. The Class 4MT 2-6-0 tender design came in at design No. 7 in the original plans:

BR Standards - original 1950-51 list

The list above shows that the subject of this little overview was not even provided with a number range, or quantity at this stage. It was to be introduced in 1952, with Doncaster as the parent office for its design, and building of the eventual 115 locomotives would take place there, and at Horwich Works. There were 11 batches – constructed between December 1952 and October 1957 – but although Doncaster was awarded orders E395 (76020-4) in 1952, E396 (76025-34), part of this last order (76030-34) was built at Derby. In 1954, Doncaster was given order E397 (76035-44), but these too were transferred to Derby.

Horwich had the honour of building the first of the class – 76000 in December 1952, and the last to be built, 76099, was also outshopped in November 1957, despite Doncaster turning out the last numbered member (76114) the previous month.

However, it still begs the question why the class were ever needed, given that its design was very much based on Ivatt’s last 2-6-0 design for the LMS, since no fewer than 82 of that design were built by Doncaster and Darlington between 1948 and 1952. At least it made sense to give Doncaster the prestige of being the parent office for the design of this BR version.

All four of the class rescued for preservation were built at Horwich Works, and those that are operational carry the standard BR lined black livery:

Preserved Class 4s

Click on the image below to follow the story in a little more depth.

Class 4 Cover

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Did BR Workshop Closures Benefit Manufacturers?

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Back in the 1960s, as the British Railways Workshops were being re-organised under a programme announced in 1962, the UK still had a significant number of private sector manufacturers.  Although, some were already in serious financial difficulties, as they tried to make the transition from building from steam to diesel and electric traction.

In 1965, the British Railways workshops in North Road, Darlington, some 1,400 employees were  building diesel locomotives.  So, they had made the transition, and as part of BR were supporting the modernisation programme.

Darlington – the birthplace of railways – the locomotive works closed in the same year that England won their one and only football world cup, resulting in the loss of more than 2,100 jobs. From the autumn of 1962, when news of Darlington’s closure was announced, thousands of protestors filled the A1 (the Great North Road) in the centre of the town, and the traffic struggled to pass. These protests continued – and were widely reported in the local press – continued until the works was closed in 1966.

Politicians too were alarmed at the prospect of closure of the works, and in 1965, the local MP ( Ted Fletcher) made this observation in the House of Commons:

  • I did address a Question to the Minister on 22nd March asking him what reduction had taken place in the manpower of the railway workshops over the last five years. I was informed by the Minister that 24,000 jobs had disappeared in British railway workshops over the last five years. So it seems to us that over the five years of Tory rule preference has been given to private enterprise, and publicly-owned industry has been deliberately sabotaged for doctrinaire reasons and, as a consequence, the labour force has been allowed to run down too rapidly.

More tellingly, in the same session Ted Fletcher made this interesting observation:

  • As far as I am aware, A.E.I. has not got any locomotive building works. Much of this work is put out to subcontractors. The jigs, the tools, the templates, and the fixtures in Darlington North Road shops were transferred to a private firm—Beyer-Peacock in Manchester—so that it could fulfil a subcontract for part of the order for diesel locomotives.
  • This action was taken by the Railways Board in spite of the assurance given by Sir Steuart Mitchell at that time to the Railway Shopmen’s National Council that everything possible would be done in the granting of new orders to alleviate the necessity for redundancy at Darlington. Machinery and equipment were disposed of to private enterprise.
  • At the same time, the manpower in the workshops has been allowed to run down.

Fascinating – was it true?  Was this a way of the Government trying to support the failing Beyer-Peacock, because the prevailing view about railway workshops was ‘over capacity’, and yet, according to Ted Fletcher in the debate:

  • It (British Railways)has completely over-estimated the number of redundancies that should take place. This is borne out by the fact that many railway workshops now work a considerable amount of overtime. This includes some shops in Darlington. As much as 30 hours a week are now being worked in overtime in many workshops.Many of the thousands made redundant struggled to find work, but the nearby Darlington & Simpson Rolling Mills provided some opportunity for continued employment in engineering.

It is equally ironic perhaps that in addition to the closure of BR’s Darlington Works, Beyer-Peacock’s Gorton Works were closed in the same year – 1966.  Rather like the North British Loco Co. in Glasgow, which closed in 1962, Beyer’s foray into diesel traction was not successful, as they allied themselves to the Western Region’s use of diesel-hydraulic types.  Perhaps the company’s most well known design was the ‘Hymek’ Type 3.  That said they also fabricated the mechanical parts for diesel-electric and electric locomotives, but they found that subcontracting activity uneconomic.

Hymek - Beyer Peacock

Beyer-Peacock’s transition to non-steam construction was not helped by its decision to construct these Type 3 design for BR Western Region’s attempt to use hydraulic transmission. This example of the publicity material was sound, but the product was less successful.                                        Photo courtesy: Historical Railway Images

Clayton Type 1

The ill-fated Clayton Type 1 was very definitely non-standard, and had technical shortcomings too.

On top of that, Beyer Peacock also built what was perhaps the worst diesel locomotive ordered by British Railways – the infamous “Clayton Type 1”.  BR had ordered no fewer than 117 of this twin engined, centre cab design, straight off the drawing board, and Beyer’s were unfortunate enough to be the sub-contractors for the last 29, built in the company’s final year of life, 1965.

Looking at Beyer’s position in the 1960s, the possibility of the Darlington tools being transferred to Manchester increases.  In 1962 Beyer’s were awarded 2 orders for 18 locomotives each, of the Type 2, (Class 25/3 in TOPS numbering) 1,250hp Bo-Bo design, to be numbered in the range from D7598 to D7677.  The other 44 locomotives were to be built at Derby.

NB: The heading illustration shows the preserved D7628 “Sybilla” – on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway in 2016.  Photo (c) Charlie Jackson, and Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license. 

However, Beyer-Peacock were unable to complete the final 18 locomotives ordered by BR and the work was transferred to Derby.  Given that the Type 2 locomotives were a BR design, and were predominantly built at Darlington – all of Class 25/0, and many from classes 25/1 and 25/2, it does seem likely that any jigs and tools could have been provided to Beyer-Peacock.

The idea that the Government and British Railways Board allowed the transfer of jigs, tools and other machinery to Beyer-Peacock in the 1960s does not seem to have prevented the company from failing.

So, with hindsight both the BR workshops – Darlington in particular, where many BR Type 2 diesels were built – and the Beyer-Peacock works in Manchester were significant losses to the engineering industry.  On the one hand, the BR works closed as part of a Government plan to reduce railway workshop capacity, and on the other a failure of the particular private sector business to make the right commercial choices perhaps.

Useful links:

1966 – Death of Darlington Loco Works

Beyer Peacock – Locomotive Builders to the World

Beyer, Peacock & Co – Grace’s Guide

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South Africa’s Giants of Steam

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On the 31st May 1910, the Union of South Africa was formally established, and brought together the separate colonies:- Cape of Good Hope, Natal, Orange River and Transvaal.  This ‘newly’ created British colony also had a governor general, and six years later, in 1916, legislation was passed to create the unified South African Railways. This included:

  • Central South African Railways,
  • Cape Government Railways, and
  • Natal Government Railways

The first railway was established back in 1845, and over the years expanded across the land, from the Cape, not to Cairo, but into Zimbabwe and Mozambique, opening up the interior of a land rich in minerals, precious metals, especially gold, diamonds and of course coal.

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Not all SAR steam giants were in main line service. The S1 series 0-8-0s, built by North BVritish in 1951, were used for shunting – this particular shuntin g giant was captured on Germiston Shed.     Photo: Malcolm Best – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15843240

As a government agency, South African Railways and Harbours was responsible for this combined rail network, and it was in that form that rail operations lasted until the 1980s, when ‘Transnet’ arrived in 1990. This was the privatisation of what had been effectively a publicly owned, national rail network, for passengers and freight. After 1990, the ‘Spoornet’ division became responsible for rail freight and main line passenger carrying services.

By the early 1990s, there were just over 100 steam locomotives available for regular main line operation in South Africa, and on 1st April 1992 the Transnet Museum assumed responsibility for all operational and withdrawn steam types. There were a lot of withdrawn steam locomotives, stored across the various regions, from the Transvaal and Orange Free State to the Cape and Natal regions. There were still – in 1994 – regular steam workings across all regions, and the Rovos Steam Safaris that travelled from South Africa across to Mozambique and Zimbabwe.

SAR_Class_24_3693_(2-8-4)

Amongst the most numerous designs were the Class 24 4-8-4s, 100 of which were built by the North British Loco. Co. in Glasgow.            Photo by Robert Maidment-Wilson, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15607940

Many locomotives were sold into industrial use at gold and platinum mines, collieries and other locations, and this included the big Garratt types, the GMA/M class, numerous 4-8-2s of classes 12, 14, 15 and a number of the smaller pacific and 2-8-2 designs.

1994 was a watershed year for South Africa, with the first multi-racial elections, universal suffrage, and the ANC win an electoral victory, with Nelson Mandela as President.

SAR Class GMA:M Beyer Garratt type 4-8-2+2-8-4 steam locomotives Nrs. 4066 & 4101 copy

A pair of specially prepared South African Railways GMA/M class 4-8-2+2-8-4 Beyer-Garratt locomotives at Greyville (Durban) ready to head the Centenary Special train – “Durban – Pietermaritzburg 1880-1980” – 1st December 1980. Nos. 4066 and 4101 were built by Henschel (works number 28695 / 1953) and the North British Locomotive Company (Hyde Park, Glasgow 27693 / 1956) respectively. Photo taken Essenwood, Durban, Kwazulu, Natal. Photo courtesy: Historical Railway Images

Many of South Africa’s steam types survived well into this century, and in 2013, there were still 251 listed as assets. Of these only 1, a 19D Class 4-8-2 No. 2526, built by Borsig in 1937 was privately owned, with the remaining assets under Transnet ownership, although, 10 of these were listed as “missing”, and these included a couple of 15F 4-8-2s, and one of the Class 25 non-condensing 4-8-4s. Of the 251 locomotives, 84 were listed in 2013 as ‘for disposal’ – the majority at Krugersdorp and Queenstown depots.

Interestingly, this same list of Transnet assets included many of the railway’s most well known electric locomotives, including the first Bo-Bo design – the Class 1E – from Metropolitan-Vickers in 1923.

But on the steam front, those giants are still there, and operating, but of course in much smaller numbers, and primarily for tourist, and charter specials. There are a number of organisations that operate these locomotives, including these:

  1. Reefsteamers
  2. Umgeni Steam Railway 
  3. Apple Express 
  4. Atlantic Rail 
  5. Heritage Railway Association of SA 
  6. Steam in Action 
  7. Sandstone Heritage Trust 
  8. Bulawayo Railway Museum 

 

The descriptions in the PDF file below is an overview of South African Railway’s “Giants of Steam”, which I hope is of interest:

Cover

Useful links:

I originally wrote this item for the magazine “Engineering in Miniature” back in the 1980s, and wanted to revisit the matter of South Africa’s steam locomotives.  The magazine is still in full swing, and I envy the skills of the model engineers, who are everywhere producing small – not always that miniature – replicas of the real thing.  Their skills in almost every aspect of engineering practice, and their workshop capabilities are something we can all be proud of.

This is a link to the magazine’s site:

EIM Logo from 1980s

 

Amfleet Replacement

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Amtrak is in the business of ordering more new rolling stock and locomotives in 2019. Hard on the heels of that $850 million contract for 75 new Tier 4 locomotives from Siemens Mobility in December 2018, Amtrak issued an RFP (Request for Proposals) in January 2019 for a new fleet of single-level passenger cars. These are to be replacements for the 40+ years old Amfleet I and ex-Metroliner cars, with an initial order/orders to include “75 trainsets or their railcar equivalents”. The responders to this RFP will be required to provide options for equipment for Washington D.C.-New York-Boston Northeast Corridor, Northeast Regional services, and adjacent state-supported routes.

E60CP and Amfleet train

A 5-car consist of Amfleet cars on the NEC, hauled by one of the then new E60CP electric locos

The original Amfleet vehicles, with their stainless steel, corrugated sides and what some have described as “slit like” windows, were awarded the dubious nicknames of “AmTubes” or “AmCans” in some quarters. The fleet has recently refurbished the interiors of its Amfleet I railcars with new seating upholstery and carpeting, but now they are to be replaced – and there are quite a lot to replace! – over 400 in total, including the re-engineered “Metroliners”. The Amfleet cars are described as the workhorses of Amtrak’s passenger rolling stock, and Corporation states their replacements are to include:

  • Improved Wi-Fi equipment and connectivity,
  • Improved seating,
  • Weather-tight doors and vestibules as well as freedom to move throughout the train conveniently.
  • The modernized fleet will also feature large picture windows, improved climate control systems for passenger comfort and completely new designs for restrooms and passageways between cars.

What might be known as Amfleet III will feature bi-directional operating capability, to minimize turn round times and improve operating efficiency.  In addition, the new railcars and trainsets will include all necessary equipment for Positive Train Control technology. This technology follows from the 2008 tragedy, when a Metrolink commuter train crashed head-on into a freight train, with 25 fatalities. In the same year, the US Congress enacted the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008, which decreed that Positive Train Control (PTC) systems be installed on all main-line tracks.   PTC is a safety system that automatically slows down or breaks the train if the engineer misses a signal or goes over the speed limit, thus eliminating the possibility of human error.

The Originals

Amcoach interior - 1970s

Early days for an Amfleet II coach interior. This image dates from the 1970s.

The original Amfleet cars were purchased in 2 series by Amtrak, initially in the 1970s for the Northeast Corridor Improvement Project (NECIP), with Amfleet II appearing later in the 70s and early 1980s on longer distance runs. Locomotive hauled passenger cars were being replaced by Amfleet equipment, designed for 120 mph running. By 1979 there were over 300 such cars in use on the NEC. Fixed formations of mainly six Amfleet cars were planned, hauled by AEM7 type locomotives, reducing the operating cost by avoiding the need to break up and re-form consists at stations or yards. To provide the hourly interval service that was proposed, nine of these train sets were required, five made up from the 34 upgraded Metroliner cars, and the remaining four, of Amfleet and AEM7 locos. Three sets are kept in reserve, in the event of a failure of any of the others used on the New York to Washington workings. There was some difference in 
capacity between Metroliner and Amfleet equipped trains, since the former had only 398 revenue earning seats per train, as compared with the 493 of the Amfleet consists.

AEM7 and Amfleet II train

Classic NEC working, albeit with only a 4-car consist, but this time of the new Amfleet II cars from Budd. Head end power this time is ‘Might Mouse’ Class AEM7 locos, based on the ASEA design from Sweden. Hard to believe this is 40 years ago.

Three orders to the Budd organization in 1973, 1974 and 1975 were for six different designs totalling 492 of the new Amfleet cars. They were initially intended fror short haul services in the North East, but were soon put to work on medium and long haul routes, substituting for the older heavyweight cars, by then described as the “Heritage Fleet”. Unlike the new generation of passenger cars, these were only equipped with steam heating – a factor that was remedied by Amtrak a few years later, when many of the older designs were re-equipped with electric heating systems.

Budd actually manufactured a total of 642 Amfleet I cars from 1975-77, and by the early 1980s, the vehicles in the table below were in active service with the NRPC:

Amfleet Stock Active in 1983

Amfleet Cars 1983

The idea was to improve passenger comfort beyond the ageing “Heritage” fleet, and they appeared at the same time as the long distance “Superliner” cars. These started life in 1973, when Amtrak put out a tender for 235 (283 in service by 1983) multi-use bi-level, multi use passenger cars, from a design by Louis T. Klauder Associates. In contrast to the Metroliner cars used on the Northeast Corridor, these new cars were built by Pullman Standard, with the order placed in February 1975, for delivery between December 1976 and June 1978.

In 1980, Amtrak ordered its new Amfleet II cars from Budd for long-haul passenger services, for which the Corporation had previously converted a number of the ageing ‘Heritage Fleet’ cars. Amfleet II was based on the 85ft long ‘Metroliner’ design, just as the first generation, but provided a single level car for those long-haul routes, at about 70% of the cost of the huge new “Superliner” vehicles.

Alongside these locomotive hauled passenger cars, Amtrak had embraced both a major electrification project, with European style motive power, and revisited turbine propulsion with the ANF Industrie design of ‘Turbotrain’ for high speed passenger workings.

These latest orders, and the RFP for new Amfleet stock is another step along the upgrade path for Amtrak, its motive power, rolling stock, and infrastructure, across the network. It will be interesting to see what the new designs look like, and how they perform in service.

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Interesting & Useful links:

An Amtrak Retrospective

AMTRAK - web page

Amtrak logo 2