AMTRAK has announced that 10 manufacturers have submitted proposals for new coaches for its overnight routes such as the Auto Train, California Zephyr, Coast Starlight and Southwest Chief to replace its current fleet of vehicles which is up to 40 years old.

Amtrak issued a Request for Information (RFI) to potential suppliers in December 2022 requesting input on replacing its overnight fleet including Superliner I and II double-deck sleeping, lounge and dining cars, Viewliner I and II single-deck sleeping, dining and baggage cars, and Amfleet II business class and catering cars.

The passenger operator says that many of the 800 coaches currently in use on its 14 overnight routes will be reaching the end of their service lives within the next 20 years. The manufacturers’ proposals will mark the “first formal step to completely re-equip the Amtrak Long-Distance Network,” it says.

“We are looking for new trains that improve safety, reliability, accessibility and efficiency while offering the features our customers believe are most important to modernising overnight train travel for the 21st century,” says Amtrak Board chair, Mr Tony Coscia.

An interior view of one of Amtrak's current Superliner coaches used on its long-distance overnight services. Photo credit: Amtrak

Amtrak says the next step will be a formal tendering process, planned for later this year. Funding for the new fleet is to be provided to Amtrak through the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act passed 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 says. Alstom is supplying new Acela trains and Siemens Mobility the Airo push-pull trains to replace Amfleet I coaches.

“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 US manufacturing,” Coscia says.

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