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Troubles at Nippon Sharyo with Amtrak coach order


bikkuri bahn

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bikkuri bahn

Delay of two more years.  Also read the DMUs in Toronto are also having large number of failures, mainly drivetrain related.

In a written response to questions from The Wall Street Journal, Nippon Sharyo said the 88-foot-long Amtrak cars are “different from all of the existing railcars” it has built for U.S. customers. “Programs of this type are complex undertakings, have high thresholds for safety and technical challenges are not uncommon,” the company said.

It had to rely on suppliers that it has never worked with before and found some components so difficult to obtain in the U.S. that it sought permission to make them in Japan, the California Department of Transportation said.

 

http://www.wsj.com/articles/delays-may-derail-stimulus-funding-for-amtrak-railcars-1460308921

 

*if paywall encountered, use google search

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Thanks. The article is purposely not quite right. The following is from Caltrans:

 

Bi-Level Railcars – The First Article Inspections (FAI) are continuing for the bi-level

railcars. Thirty inspections out of the required 44 have been completed. Carshell

design update meetings are taking place monthly between Nippon Sharyo (NS),

Caltrans, Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), and the Federal Railroad

Administration (FRA) during the carshell production phase-down. NS foresees

production resuming sometime in February 2016. Fire Safety Tests on materials

remain at 93 percent complete. Due to Carshell production test failure, Final Design

Review has been pushed back and the estimated closure date has moved to

sometime in May 2016. The Software Escrow Agreement has been executed.

Drawing packages are currently in the process of being approved and closed out.

 

Document can be found here: http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/transprog/ctcbooks/2016/0316/69_3.9.pdf

 

The project is late, but that's not at all uncommon here (two other major projects underway are also late by about the same amount of time). What makes this different is that some of the project's funding has a deadline later this year - if it's not spent by then (as in cars delivered) then the money disappears and other bad things happen. Inside information about the project was leaked to the press so that some sort of deal could be worked out to extend the deadline. One way to see this is that the schedule in the article is longer than currently projected by the project team - this gives them wiggle room just in case things don't get worked out technically.

 

It's also worth noting that this is the first railcar project with the 100% US content requirement (it's normally 60%, 50% for Amtrak). Getting a waiver on domestic content now is pretty much impossible, that should have been done early on. Amtrak already has waivers in place for their new trainsets even though the order has yet to be signed. I wish Nippon Sharyo luck.

Edited by Jace
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So a japanse company's US branch tries to build 100% US made trains with the required parts industry long gone overseas. This means they have to either build up local production capacity for every little part or try to be creative with material usage to build from what they have. The latter would mean middle ages/early industrial age guild level hand made items for most things that could have been purchased off the shelf from asia. This would make the resulting cars more expensive (and full custom items with no long term spares) and still not result in the reconstruction of a strong mass manufacturing base. Imho 100% US made mass produced is not possible this way, just something hacked together from what is still available.

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So a Japanese company's US branch tries to build 100% US made trains with the required parts industry long gone overseas. This means they have to either build up local production capacity for every little part or try to be creative with material usage to build from what they have.

It's not quite like that. The US supply industry has not disappeared thanks to the long standing 60% requirement but at the same time it has not really expanded. The carbuilders get stuck with a much more limited supply base which does make the cars more expensive.

 

In addition, the regulations for the state cars (it differs on cars with 60% content - there are several Buy America regulations out there) require that only 'components' be 'manufactured' in the US. There are no sourcing requirements on any of the parts that go into the components. Key are the definitions of a component (any part added to the car during final assembly) and of manufacturing (transforming the parts). Strictly speaking, components are then things like windows, HVAC units, trucks and of course the carshell itself. On a unitized HVAC system, the compressor can come from anywhere. Still, moving component manufacturing to the US can prove to be difficult as is evident with this project.

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Very interesting Jace, thank you for the posts.  If a waiver is done at the correct time and accepted, how much can the 50%/60% be reduced?  I had read about Buy America when the Silverliner 5s were in the news but I never really understood how much of those were built in Korea and just shipped over here (I also didn't know if I was reading accurate information :grin)

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bikkuri bahn

Thanks Jace for the info.  You should post this over at the Amtrak Unlimited forum, which seems to have the most long-running thread about this project.

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If a waiver is done at the correct time and accepted, how much can the 50%/60% be reduced?

Waivers are typically done on a component basis, not on a vehicle, the one big exception is when carbuilders ask to be able to build the prototypes at their main facility (e.g. Kawasaki in Kobe) so that they can test them properly before shipping to the US. To get a component waiver, you have to show that you cannot find or build that particular component in the US. You'd still have to meet the 60% content requirement.

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