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Rail News: Amtrak

Amtrak kicks off process to replace overnight trains

Responses to a request for information mark the first formal step to re-equip Amtrak's long-distance network, which provides service on 14 overnight routes, including the Auto Train (shown).
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As many as 10 manufacturers responded to a recent request for information (RFI) have submitted ideas for replacing rail cars for Amtrak's overnight trains, the national intercity passenger railroad announced yesterday.

The RFI responses mark the first formal step to re-equip Amtrak's long distance network, which provides service on 14 overnight routes, including the Auto Train, California Zephyr, Coast Starlight, Crescent, Empire Builder and Southwest Chief.

"We are looking for new trains that improve safety, reliability, accessibility and efficiency while offering the features our customers believe are most important to modernizing overnight train travel for the 21st century," said Amtrak Chair Tony Coscia in a press release.

Last month, Amtrak sent to potential suppliers the RFI, which described the scope of the overnight train fleet, including the Superliner I and II, Viewliner I and II and Amfleet II rail cars. Amtrak continues to research design elements and customer amenities for the trains.

Later this year, the railroad will issue a formal procurement request. Funding for the future purchases will come from the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act enacted by Congress and the Biden administration in 2021.

"This represents the final phase in our long-term plan to replace our trains — beginning with new Acela equipment and continuing with the Amtrak Airo™ trains announced last month," Coscia said. "We believe in the future of our long-distance service and we look forward to enhancing the customer experience across the Amtrak network, and further supporting U.S. manufacturing."

The existing fleet of overnight rail cars has been delivered to Amtrak over the course of 40 years, with the first of more than 800 cars entering service in 1979. Most of the equipment in the current fleet will approach the end of its service life after the next decade.