on Sun Apr 29 14:17:03 2012
. . . that is, as soon as the bid goes out. Not a big jump in capacity if they're to have only 90 seats as compared to the single-level Horizon-fleet's average of 70 seats per car.
Port Huron Times Herald
Amtrak to upgrade Blue Water rail cars
New coaches will have two levels of seating, Wi-fi
11:00 PM, Apr. 24, 2012Trains pulling cars with two levels of seating featuring built-in Wi-fi and even room for passengers’ bikes are in the Blue Water Route’s future.
By JULIANNE MATTERA | Times Herald
Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said he expects the bi-level cars will be on train routes in about three years. The specifications for the train cars were designed by a committee that included Amtrak, the company’s state partners, the Federal Railroad Administration and other groups, he said.
“Don’t doubt that we want to get these cars deployed and in service as quickly as possible,” Magliari said.
The Federal Railroad Administration announced Friday it would be taking bids to manufacture about 130 new bi-level passenger rail cars in the United States. The administration’s High-Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail Program will provide funding for the $551 million project.
The bi-level trains will be able to reach speeds of 125 mph, although the railroad might not be capable of supporting such speeds. Currently, the trains running on the Blue Water Route can travel up to 110 mph in western Michigan.
Current coach cars have about 70 seats; the new cars will have about 90 seats.
Single-level trains will continue to be used after the bi-level cars are put on Michigan railroad tracks, Magliari said. Amtrak has been adding amenities, such as Wi-fi, and is considering adding bike racks.
Magliari said new equipment typically brings more passengers.
The Port Huron Amtrak station, 2223 16th St., has been serving more passengers in recent years, according to Amtrak’s numbers. The station had 24,015 departures and arrivals from October 2010 to September 2011. The previous year, that number was 17,580.
Rail passengers are coping with delays as crews do maintenance work on the tracks to eliminate speed restrictions. The work has lengthened travel times on the Blue Water route by 45 minutes, Magliari said.
Maintenance work is expected to wrap up by early May, Magliari said. Speed restrictions were imposed on sections of the train tracks in March because of needed maintenance.