Monday, July 9, 2012

Amtrak makes NEC HSR sound even worse

Costs for state of good repair, capacity enhancement, and 427 miles of HSR from Washington D.C. to Boston, MA is now 151 billion dollars. The updated NEC HSR report puts the actual HSR bit at 110 billion in 2011 USD. In year of expenditure dollars, I believe that's 200 and 145 billion dollars respectively.

In keeping with Amtrak's ambitions of making everything in America far more costly than the rest of the world, the plan includes $5.2 billion for high speed rolling stock, of which there would be a grand total of 58 train sets acquired (12 in 2020, 32 in 2025, 14 replacing the original 12 in 2040). At 90 million USD each, that's about three times the cost of buying and maintaining 20 ETR 610s for 17 years, or three times the purchase price of a brand new AGV.

In all honesty, Amtrak needs to be purged of everyone who signed off on this report and thought it a good idea. The greatest roadblock to decent passenger rail service in America, both in the NEC and elsewhere, is Amtrak itself.


  1. That comes out to more than $200 million a kilometer. In other words, more than enough for the Spanish to dig subway tunnels from Boston to DC and back, with enough money to build California HSR as well.

  2. So.... for approximately four million dollars a trainset you can get a seven car ETR-610 and maintain it for 20 years... if we are generous to Loco hauled stock we can say that the ETR-610 is the equivalent to six amcans.

    Buy 65 trainsets and cut the ACS-64 order to the number required to haul LD trains. You could then retire the entire NEC coaching stock fleet and distribute the best of it to other routes using older equipment.

    And that 65 trainset order would still only be $2.6bn.
    Who wants an NEC where every train can match Acela timings with ease?

    1. It would be 4 million per car, not per trainset.

      The link Paul provides puts the cost of buying and maintaining each New Pendolino at €33 million per (I believe 7-car) set. It's more than $4 million per car, but that includes rolling stock maintenance, which is a significant fraction of the total life cycle cost.

    2. I know that... it was just a typo.

      I corrected this problem with my final value

  3. The Plan integrated the infrastructure improvement plan and the "vision for the NEC" plans into one plan that effectively improves near term capacity on the existing NEC and overlays the new HSR express network on top of it.

    the reality is that even when the express 220mph network is running the older network will still be used by regional and commuter system. Effectively you cannot build the "HSR Vision" network for $117 billion in 2040, while not making improvements needed for the current network to remain viable in 2040. in essence the current NEC will become the local lanes and the future HSR will be the express lanes.

    The cost of the infrastructure plan was 56 billion dollars, and the NEC vision plans 117 billion dollars and you have 173 billion combined compared to 151 billion for this plan.

    The logic of Amtrak, much like the California HSR, is to do as much as possible to increase near term ridership in order to build a stronger case for the construction of the express HSR network. Building greater frequency and improving quality of service are low hanging fruit and will help build the rail Market and make it more attractive for potential private partnerships.


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