AMTRACK ACELA Grounded For want of Brake rotors?

AMTRACK has suspended service on its high-speed 'Acela" train., on the Boston-NYC run. The decision came about because of cracks found in the brake rotors of the locomotive. Now comes the kicker-the brake rotors are only mfg. by one foundry , and that plant is capacity limited. because of this, the trains are stopped till June at the earliest.
I have a few problems with this:
-brake rotors are not 'rocket science"-should’t any local machine shop be able to turn some rotors from castings?
-does AMTRAK, with its armies of consultants, maintainence experts, etc., ever plan on replacing wear-out parts?
Finally, how long have high speed trains been running in Europe and japan-shouldn’t a problem like this have been solved long ago? :confused:

Read 'em quick, before the TIMES starts charging for 'em!

Great overview from this Sunday: Acela, built to be railroad’s savoir, bedevils Amtrak at every turn and Maker overestimated brakes.

And from the first article, here’s why they didn’t just use Yurpeen trains:

And also, as it always does, Canadian perfidy comes into it: :smiley:

The TIMES won a Pulitzer for its coverage of railroad-crossing accidents, and it’s been pretty good at coverage of Amtrak too. I’d check their archves. The NY Observer and the various railfan magazines also watch it closely. It’s an interesting if sad story for those of us who love trains.

Don’t you remember the recent train wreck in Japan and Sri Lanka. We have to take extra precautions. I don’t think we’re out of the clear yet and we still have to fix many problems.

The TGV and Shinkansen systems have operated for years without major trouble (the recent Japanese accident involved a commuter train, and the Sri Lanka accident a non-high-speed train and a bus at a level crossing). The German first- and second generation ICE trains are also pretty reliable (after the flawed wheel design has been corrected; the tilting types still have troubles).

A main factor in slowing down the introduction of high speed rail are IMO that operators want custom-designed, domestically-built trains. For example the German rail systems could have avoided years of teething troubles in high- and medium speed tilting trainsets if we’d have just bought Fiat’s Pendolino trains.

I don’t believe that either or those accidents involved high-speed trains. IIRC, in the 40 years that they’ve been operating, no one has died in a shinkansen crash.

The only fatalities on the TGV have been due to a vehicle on the track and a bomb. There has been a Shinkansen derailment, which had the potential to be serious. But quite frankly, if airplanes could boast a record of only one major accident due to mechanical failure in several decades, and one near-miss, wouldn’t it be rather impressive?

Which raises the interesting question of the relative safety of rail vs. air travel (accidents/injuries/deaths per passenger-mile). I don’t have the figures. I assume both are fairly good. Because of the normally heavy publicity for airline disasters, I think there tends to be a presumption that trains are safer. Anyone know?

From what I recall (I can’t find statistics now), it depends how you measure it: on deaths per passenger-mile, air travel is the safest. But rail pips it if you use deaths per passenger-hour.

Maybe that’s the problem right there. If we’re going to have HSR in the U.S., they’re going to have to do it right and build the system its own special tracks, parallel to but separate from the existing tracks. Can anyone see any reason (apart from the most obvious, cost) not to do this?

Brake rotors on passenger train equipment are cast onto the axle and machined into shape. No amount of bolts can handle the stresses induced if the rotors were set up like those on an automobile.

You’d want to build a completely new track, on a new alignment. Going parallel to existing tracks would have only minimal benefits, while causing a big problem for the speed of operation of the trains.

The intention with Acela seems to match the British Pendolino, in that it is running semi-high speed trains on pre-existing tracks. I don’t understand why that automatically necessitates the Acela units being heavier - it sounds more like an over-cautious use of legislation to me.

Well, I was thinking of using an existing right-of-way because it would require no additional land acquisition or demolition of structures. By the same token, HSR might use the right-of-way of an interstate highway. Even with eminent domain powers, it can’t be easy to acquire a completely new right-of-way in a heavily settled industrial region like the BosWash corridor.

Isn’t the Shinkansen line dedicated solely to it? If there’s nothing else on it…