Amfleet

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Amfleet
Corrugated silver tubular rail cars with red, white, and blue striping
Amfleet I coaches at Kingston, Rhode Island
Two reclining seats with blue upholstery
Amfleet coach seats
In service 1975–present (Amfleet I)
1981–present (Amfleet II)
Manufacturer Budd Company
Built at Philadelphia, PA
Family name Budd Metroliner
Number built
  • 492 (Amfleet I)
  • 150 (Amfleet II)
Formation Single car
Fleet numbers
  • 25000–25124 (Amfleet II coach)
  • 28000–28024 (Amfleet II diner-lites)
  • 43344–43397 (Amfleet I full dinettes)
  • 48140–48196 (Amfleet I club-dinettes)
  • 81501–81547 (Amfleet I business class)
  • 82500–82999 (Amfleet I coach)
Capacity Up to 84 seats
Operator(s) Amtrak
Specifications
Car body construction Stainless steel
Car length 85 ft 4 in (26.01 m)
Width 10 ft 6 in (3.20 m)
Height 12 ft 8 in (3.86 m)
Floor height 51 12 inches (1.31 m)
Platform height 17 inches (430 mm)
Doors
  • Amfleet I: 2 pairs end doors, automatic operation
  • Amfleet II: 1 pair end door, manual operation
Maximum speed 125 miles per hour (201 km/h)
Weight 106,000–113,000 pounds (48,000–51,000 kg)
Power supply 480 V AC
Train heating Electric heat and air conditioning
Bogies Budd Pioneer
Braking system(s) Pneumatic, 2 tread and 2 disc per axle.
Coupling system AAR type H
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge

Amfleet is a fleet of single-level intercity railroad passenger cars built by the Budd Company for American company Amtrak in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Budd based the Amfleet design on its earlier Metroliner electric multiple unit. An initial order for 57 cars in 1973 to supplement the Metroliners on the Northeast Corridor grew to two orders totaling 642 cars, sufficient to reequip all the services on the Northeast Corridor and many other routes around the United States.

The Amfleets were the first new locomotive-hauled cars ordered by Amtrak and the first such cars built in the United States since 1965. The introduction in the mid-1970s led to improved reliability for Amtrak's trains and ridership gains. As of 2015, Amfleet cars are used extensively in the eastern and mid-western United States, forming the backbone of Amtrak's single-level fleet.

Background[edit]

Silver tubular railcar with enclosed front end
The Budd Metroliners were the basis of the Amfleet design.

Amtrak assumed control of almost all private sector intercity passenger rail service in the United States on May 1, 1971, with a mandate to reverse decades of decline. Amtrak retained approximately 184 of the 440 trains which had run the day before.[1] To operate these trains, Amtrak inherited a fleet of 300 locomotives (electric and diesel) and 1190 passenger cars, most of which dated from the 1940s–1950s.[2] These cars were aging, in need of maintenance, and in many cases incompatible with each other. Amtrak recognized the need and opportunity to standardize on a single design.[3]

Very few railcars had been built in the United States since the 1950s; the last locomotive-hauled cars were an order of ten coaches built by Pullman-Standard for the Kansas City Southern Railway in 1965.[4] An important exception was the Budd Metroliner electric multiple unit. This fleet of 61 cars had begun operation on the Northeast Corridor in 1969 under Penn Central and quickly gained acceptance with the traveling public, despite various engineering problems. Writing in the mid-1970s, railroad historian John H. White Jr. described them as "Amtrak's brightest star."[5] In 1973 Budd still had the tooling in place from the Metroliner order, meaning that any new order derived from that design could begin almost at once.[6]

Design[edit]

Undercarriage of a rail car
The air-conditioning unit underneath an Amfleet car

As designed the Amfleet I cars could operate at speeds up to 120 mph (193 km/h).[3] Both the Amfleet I and Amfleet II are now rated for 125 mph (201 km/h).[7] Electric heating and air conditioning, operated by head-end power from the locomotive, are used to maintain passenger comfort.[8]

An Amfleet car is 12 feet 8 inches (3.86 m) tall, 10 feet 6 inches (3.20 m) wide, and 85 feet 4 inches (26.01 m) long.[9] The car body itself is built up from spot-welded stainless steel sections.[3] The Budd Pioneer trucks have dual disc brakes on each axle; a later rebuild added tread brakes.[10] The wheels have a diameter of 36 inches (914.40 mm).[11]

The interior design recalled contemporary jet airliners.[12] In common with airliners the cars featured narrow windows, which inhibited sight-seeing.[13] The windows on the Amfleet Is were 18 by 64 inches (45.72 by 162.56 cm); this was increased to 22 by 64 inches (55.88 by 162.56 cm) in the Amfleet II.[14] Another factor in choosing small windows was the high incidence of rocks thrown at train windows in the 1970s.[8] Reinforcing the impression of traveling in an airliner, the passenger seats themselves were built by the Amirail division of Aircraft Mechanics Inc.[15]

A uniformed conductor in a train doorway
A conductor stands in the vestibule on an Amfleet I coach. The trapdoors are in the closed position

Amfleet I cars can be identified by having vestibules at both ends of the cars; Amfleet II cars have a single vestibule.[16] The Amfleet I has chemical flush toilets; while the Amfleet II has retention toilets.[7] All Amfleet cars have trapdoors, permitting their use at both high- and low-level platforms. The distance from the rail to the bottom step is 17 inches (430 mm); to the floor level 51 12 inches (1.31 m).[17]

Coaches[edit]

Budd built 361 Amfleet I coaches; 90 were configured for long-distance use (60 seats) and 271 for short-distance use (84 seats). All 125 Amfleet II coaches were designed for long-distance service and contained 59 seats. In all standard Amfleet coaches seating is 2×2; in the Amfleet II a single accessible seat accounted for the odd number. The Amfleet IIs were later rebuilt with 60 seats.[18] Amfleet seats have swing-down tray-tables for at-seat food service, overhead and underseat luggage storage. There are two restrooms at one end of the car.[19]

Under the Capstone refurbishment program most Amfleet I short-distance coaches had three rows of seats removed, reducing their total capacity from 84 to 72 seats. During the 1980s most of the Amfleet I long-distance coaches were refurbished for use on the Metroliner service. All have since been rebuilt, either as 62-seat business class cars or 72-seat short-distance cars.[20]

Cafes[edit]

Rows of tables with two by two seating
The open seating area in an Amfleet I club-dinette

Budd built 54 Amfleet I "Amcafe" cars and 37 Amfleet I "Amdinette" cars.[18] The cafes had a snack bar in the middle of the car and 53 coach seats; the dinettes had eight booths and 23 coach seats.[19] Each cafe weighed 110,000 pounds (50,000 kg).[3]

Amtrak rebuilt the cafes into numerous configurations during the 1980s and 1990s. These included all-table dinettes, club cars for use in Metroliner service, and club-dinettes with a mix of tables and club seats. By the 2010s most cafes were configured as club-dinettes; some had been converted into all-table dinettes.[21] Five dinettes were rebuilt for use on the Inter-American; lounge seats replaced the coach seats. 21 dinettes were also refurbished for Metroliner service.[22] By the 2010s all the remaining dinettes were rebuilt with all-table seating, save two which were converted into short-distance coaches.[21]

Club cars[edit]

Budd built 40 Amfleet I "Amclub" club/parlor cars. These cars had a snack bar in the center, 18 club seats in a 2×1 configuration, and 23 coach seats.[18] These cars provided first class service on select trains.[23]

None of the Amclubs remain in their original configuration. Three of the original club cars were delivered with all club-style seating for a total of 33 seats; five of the original style were rebuilt to match. As the original Budd Metroliners were withdrawn many of the Amclubs were refurbished for use in Metroliner service. Three were rebuilt for use on the Montrealer, with booths and lounge seating replacing the coach seating and club seats. These were later rebuilt as all-table dinettes. Most were rebuilt as club-dinette cars; with one half given over to booths and the other 2×1 seating. Others were rebuilt as full-length business class cars, with 62 seats. Still others were converted to 72-seat coaches.[24]

Lounges[edit]

Budd built 25 Amfleet II "Amlounge" lounge cars. They differ from other food-service cars in that the snack-bar was off-center. On the shorter side were 27 seats in varying configurations; on the longer side ten four-seat booths. Amtrak rebuilt 14 of them as smoking lounges between 1998–2000: in the short end an enclosed lounge replaced the seating area. All 25 cars were rebuilt as diner-lite cars between 2006–2010. In this configuration the short end has 19 seats, arranged in booths; the long end has seven booths and a conductor's office.[18] The Amfleet II lounge weighed 113,000 pounds (51,000 kg).[17]

Sleeping cars[edit]

In the late 1970s Amtrak converted two Amfleet I coaches into sleepers (Nos. 22900 and 22901). Two prototype Superliner roomette modules were installed, displacing twelve seats. The cars were used on the WashingtonCincinnati Shenandoah. Regular sleepers returned to the Shenandoah in 1979 and the two coaches were returned to a standard configuration. These conversions were termed "Ampad."[25][26]

History[edit]

See also: Heritage Fleet
A postcard depiction of a silver tubular railcar
Mid-1970s postcard advertising the then-new Amfleet cars
Two trains meet in a valley
Some Amfleets saw service on western long-distance trains until the completion of the Superliner I order. These 1981 Desert Winds had a Heritage Fleet sleeping car, Amfleet I dinette, Hi-Level transition coach, and Superliner I coaches.

Amtrak placed a $24 million order with Budd on October 12, 1973 for 57 "non-powered Metroliner cars." These, together with new GE E60 electric locomotives, were to provide additional Metroliner service on the Northeast Corridor.[27] Amtrak expanded its plans in June 1974, ordering 200 more cars for $81 million.[28] On October 25 it added another 35 cars.[29] Finally, in April 1975, with the first deliveries imminent, Amtrak added 200 more cars to the order for $86 million.[30] This brought the first order to 492 cars, with a total cost of $192 million.[31] Amtrak intended to use 212 of the cars on Northeast Corridor service.[32]

A public unveiling took place at the Budd plant in Northeast Philadelphia on June 19, 1975, after which four cars were sent to the High Speed Ground Test Center in Pueblo, Colorado for evaluation.[31] The first Amfleet cars began running on the Northeast Corridor on August 5, 1975.[33] Amtrak heralded their arrival, calling 1975 as "the Year of the Amfleet". As the cars were distributed throughout the system, timetables would note that trains now had "Amfleet Service" and that trains had been "Amfleeted".[3] A 1978 study conducted by the Federal Railroad Administration found that ridership increased 11% on the Amfleet-equipped Northeast Corridor trains, with at least some passengers choosing the slower but more comfortable Amfleets over the faster but less reliable Metroliners.[34]

The rollout of Amfleets throughout the system was restricted by the availability of locomotives with HEP or special generator cars.[35] The first non-Northeast Corridor train to receive Amfleets was the Blue Ridge, on December 1.[36] By November 1976, 350 Amfleets had been delivered and 78% of Amtrak's short-haul trains used either Amfleets or equally-modern Turboliner trainsets. Routes using Amfleets outside the Northeast Corridor included the Blue Ridge, Colonial, Twilight Limited, Wolverine, Illinois Zephyr, Abraham Lincoln, State House, Illini, Shawnee, Black Hawk, San Joaquin, Mount Rainier, Pacific International, Puget Sound, and San Diegan.[37] The Amfleet's modern HEP system proved invaluable during the unusually harsh winter of 1976–1977, which sidelined many of Amtrak's aging steam-heated coaches. Amtrak suspended numerous routes and pressed the short-distance Amfleet I coaches into long-distance service.[38] Budd completed delivery of the Amfleet I order on June 9, 1977.[39]

A boxy silver locomotive in snow
An AEM-7 hauling Amfleets on a Metroliner service in 1987
A row of stainless steel cars at a station
The Lake Shore Limited in 2004 with a Heritage Fleet dining car and Amfleet II coaches

Amtrak ordered 150 more Amfleet cars from Budd on March 13, 1980, at a cost of $150 million.[40] These cars, dubbed Amfleet II, were intended to replace rolling stock on Amtrak long-distance trains, featuring larger windows, more legroom, and folding legrests.[41] Budd delivered the first four cars on October 28, 1981; the unveiling took place on November 11. The final cars arrived on June 11, 1983. The Amfleet IIs were the last intercity cars Budd built.[42] The continuing unreliability of the Budd Metroliner led to refurbished Amfleet I coaches displacing them in Metroliner service in 1981. New EMD AEM-7 electric locomotives pulled the trains.[22]

On long-distance single-level trains Amfleet cars mixed with Heritage Fleet cars, supplemented in the 1990s by Viewliner sleeping cars. In 1990 Amfleets could be found on every long-haul route east of the Mississippi River.[43] Horizon Fleet coaches replaced Amfleet coaches on most Midwestern and California short-haul routes in 1989–1990.[44] The Superliner II order in the early 1990s would lead to the removal of Amfleets from the Auto Train and Capitol Limited.[45][46]

At the end of 2012, 473 Amfleet I and 145 Amfleet II cars were still in service. The Amfleet Is had travelled an average of 4,125,000 miles (6,638,544 km); the Amfleet IIs 5,640,000 miles (9,076,700 km).[47] The Amfleet I cars continue to be used on corridor services in the Northeastern United States such as the Downeaster, Empire Service, and Northeast Regional, although they can also be found in the Midwest and California. Amfleet IIs continue to be used on single-level long-distance trains.[7]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Kelly, John (June 5, 2001). "Amtrak's beginnings". Classic Trains. Retrieved September 13, 2016. 
  2. ^ Simon & Warner 2011, p. 108
  3. ^ a b c d e Amtrak. "Digging into the Archives: Introducing Amfleet". Retrieved June 8, 2014. 
  4. ^ Baer, Christopher T. (April 2015). "A GENERAL CHRONOLOGY OF THE PENNSYLVANIA RAILROAD COMPANY ITS PREDECESSORS AND SUCCESSORS AND ITS HISTORICAL CONTEXT: 1965" (PDF). Pennsylvania Railroad Technical and Historical Society. 
  5. ^ White 1985, p. 645
  6. ^ "From Ugly Duckling To Graceful Swan". On Track. 1 (1): 12. June 1981. 
  7. ^ a b c Amtrak 2015, p. 25
  8. ^ a b Solomon 2016, p. 91
  9. ^ Bing, Berry & Henderson 1996, p. A1-14
  10. ^ Bing, Berry & Henderson 1996, p. A1-3
  11. ^ Bing, Berry & Henderson 1996, p. A1-6
  12. ^ White 1985, p. 644
  13. ^ Lukasiewicz, Mark (April 11, 1981). "Sleek Amtrak cars outshine Via stock". The Globe and Mail. 
  14. ^ Hediger 2015, p. 22
  15. ^ "AMI Sees More Growth In the Coming Year". Colorado Springs Gazette-Telegraph. February 23, 1975. p. 113. Retrieved February 14, 2017 – via Newspapers.com.  free to read
  16. ^ Foster 1996, p. 120
  17. ^ a b "New Amfleet II Railcars". Amtrak. c. 1980s. 
  18. ^ a b c d Simon & Warner 2011, p. 194
  19. ^ a b Amtrak 1990, p. 6
  20. ^ Simon & Warner 2011, pp. 203–205
  21. ^ a b Simon & Warner 2011, p. 198
  22. ^ a b Amtrak 1990, p. 7
  23. ^ Burks, Edward C. (November 28, 1976). "Half of Amtrack's Riders Travel On New Amfleet or Turbo Trains". The New York Times. Retrieved February 12, 2017. 
  24. ^ Simon & Warner 2011, pp. 197–198; 205
  25. ^ Sanders 2006, p. 69
  26. ^ "Amfleet Cars". The Wilmington Chapter NRHS Official Newsletter. 32 (3). July 2009. 
  27. ^ Clancy, John Q. (October 14, 1973). "New Equipment To Double Amtrak Metroline Service". Philadelphia Inquirer. 
  28. ^ Congress 1974, p. 41
  29. ^ "Amtrak Orders 35 More Cars". The News-Palladium. October 26, 1974. p. 20. Retrieved February 12, 2017 – via Newspapers.com.  free to read
  30. ^ "Railroad Sleeping, Passenger Cars Are Ordered By Amtrak". Valley Morning Star. April 2, 1975. p. 39. Retrieved February 12, 2017 – via Newspapers.com.  free to read
  31. ^ a b "New Amtrak Metroliner Car Unveiled". The Cumberland News. June 20, 1975. p. 1. Retrieved February 12, 2017 – via Newspapers.com.  free to read
  32. ^ GAO 1976, p. 31
  33. ^ "August and September in Amtrak History" (PDF). Amtrak Ink. Vol. 15 no. 8. August–September 2010. p. 20. 
  34. ^ USDOT 1978, p. 38
  35. ^ Baer, Christopher T. (April 2015). "A GENERAL CHRONOLOGY OF THE PENNSYLVANIA RAILROAD COMPANY ITS PREDECESSORS AND SUCCESSORS AND ITS HISTORICAL CONTEXT: 1975" (PDF). Pennsylvania Railroad Technical and Historical Society. 
  36. ^ West Virginia Department of Transportation, State Rail Authority (March 12, 2013). "West Virginia State Rail Plan: Intercity Service Review". Retrieved October 5, 2014. 
  37. ^ Burks, Edward C. (November 28, 1976). "Half of Amtrack's Riders Travel On New Amfleet or Turbo Trains". The New York Times. p. 81. 
  38. ^ Graham-White & Weil 1999, p. 56
  39. ^ Baer, Christopher T. (April 2015). "A GENERAL CHRONOLOGY OF THE PENNSYLVANIA RAILROAD COMPANY ITS PREDECESSORS AND SUCCESSORS AND ITS HISTORICAL CONTEXT: 1977" (PDF). Pennsylvania Railroad Technical and Historical Society. 
  40. ^ "Budd to Build New Amtrak Cars". The New York Times. March 14, 1980. p. D3. 
  41. ^ "Amtraking" (PDF). Trainmaster. No. 244. Pacific Northwest Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society. November 1981. 
  42. ^ Baer, Christopher T. (April 2015). "A GENERAL CHRONOLOGY OF THE PENNSYLVANIA RAILROAD COMPANY ITS PREDECESSORS AND SUCCESSORS AND ITS HISTORICAL CONTEXT: 1980-1989" (PDF). Pennsylvania Railroad Technical and Historical Society. 
  43. ^ Amtrak 1990, p. 8
  44. ^ Amtrak 2015, p. 40
  45. ^ Sanders 2006, p. 48
  46. ^ "Bi-level Superliner". Railway Age. 196 (3): 26. March 1995. Retrieved January 14, 2017.   – via EBSCO's Academic Search Complete (subscription required)
  47. ^ Amtrak 2012, p. 22

References[edit]

External links[edit]