Mr Plous contrasts the current procurement practices of Passenger Rail operators with the way things used to be.
The 2009 Stimulus Act was supposed to solve the problem. It contained grants sufficient to fund 130 new bi-level Next Generation coaches, business-class/café cars and coach/cab cars to run in state-supported passenger-train programs in California, Illinois, Michigan and Missouri.On the other hand, Corridor Capital is apparently ready to re-fit the Santa Fe cars and roll them out. As built, the cars were configured for 117 mph operation, to match the gearing on passenger diesels of the day. And their profile matches well with the height of contemporary passenger diesels.
But, here we are more than five years later and the first car in the order has yet to be delivered. Designer Nippon Sharyo built a new plant to produce the cars at Rochelle, Illinois, but so far Car 1 has not emerged, and when it does it will have to go to the Facility for Accelerated Testing (FAST) at Pueblo, Colorado, to be inspected and field-tested. And one example of each car type must be tested and passed before copies can go into serial production, further extending what seems to be turning into an open-ended delivery timetable.
So when will the Next Gen cars actually arrive in numbers sufficient to form a complete train set people can ride?
Depends on who you talk to. Last April, the Illinois Department of Transportation Director of Public and Intermodal Transportation said his state expected its first “pilot cars” would arrive in the spring of 2016 with “production cars” arriving in the fall of that year. That would mean more than five years will have elapsed between the manufacturer’s receipt of a Notice to Proceed with construction and delivery of the first coaches.