By Railfan & Railroad Staff
Amtrak took the next step forward in replacing its long-distance passenger equipment fleet in late December when it issued a request for proposals to manufacturers. That followed a request for information issued in December 2022 and resulted in tentative interest from multiple rail car suppliers.
While Amtrak has been making significant investments in recent years — from a new Acela train to new equipment for state-supported routes — the long-distance passenger equipment is in its fourth decade of service. Wrecks and derailments have also thinned the fleet, especially the Superliners. Amtrak hopes to have new long-distance equipment in service during the first half of the next decade.
“We believe in the future of our Long Distance service,” said Amtrak Board Chair Tony Coscia. “Amtrak’s Long Distance network provides vital mobility and an economic link for communities around the country. A new Amtrak Long Distance fleet will help us modernize and transform the service to meet the needs of customers now and into the future.”
The new equipment will appear on a number of routes, including the Auto Train, California Zephyr, Coast Starlight, Crescent, Empire Builder and Southwest Chief. In recent years, Amtrak has invested $28 million to refresh the current fleet, hoping to make them last long enough for the new cars to arrive. The request for proposal outlines requirements to improve core elements of long-distance service, including coach seating, private rooms, food service, enhanced accessibility, and route experience. Following vendor selection, critical steps of final design, development and production are expected to occur over the next several years.
“Procuring new equipment for our Long Distance trains is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reimagine our iconic routes through a modern, accessible, and sustainable fleet,” said Amtrak President Roger Harris.