Historic, multi-billion-dollar request for proposals tees up generational investment for the future of Long Distance intercity rail travel
WASHINGTON – Amtrak is taking a major step towards improving overnight, cross-country train travel by issuing a formal Request for Proposals (RFP) to railcar manufacturers to begin the replacement of Amtrak’s current Long Distance fleet.
This once-in-a-generation, multi-billion-dollar procurement will start reequipping a fleet that provides vital train service from coast to coast and is made possible through funding provided by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Congress.
“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.”
This new fleet will allow Amtrak to introduce an updated product that meets current and future market expectations, improves customer experience, reimagines onboard accessibility and mobility, improves operational efficiency, and bolsters sustainability, resiliency, and ridership.
“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.
This step follows a formal Request for Information (RFI) issued in December 2022—sent to potential railcar builders defining and describing the scope of replacing the Long Distance fleet. Multiple suppliers responded to the RFI in early 2023, which helped to shape this RFP.
The RFP 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. Fleet deliveries are projected to begin in the early 2030s.
“The Federal Railroad Administration firmly believes that intercity passenger rail service, including Long Distance service, has an important role to play in America’s transportation network,” said FRA Administrator Amit Bose. “Millions of Americans depend on Long Distance service annually as a transportation alternative to congested highways and airports, and they deserve a modern, safe, and convenient experience.”
The Long Distance fleet replacement RFP is one of several Amtrak investments aimed at upgrading and enhancing the Long Distance customer experience—including refreshing passenger car interiors, restoring stored equipment to active service and improving stations, onboard amenities, sales and support channels. These recent highlights specifically include:
- Purchasing 125 ALC-42 Long Distance locomotives, with more than three dozen already in service. Made in the U.S., these locomotives are cleaner, faster, more fuel efficient and more environmentally friendly than their predecessors.
- Investing $28 million for interior upgrades to 400 bi-level Superliner and 49 Viewliner cars. Nearly 200 Superliner cars have been refreshed and are now in revenue service and the Viewliner refresh will begin in 2024.
- Restoring and repairing 63 idled railcars by the end of 2024.
“Designers, suppliers, and the traveling public have all been waiting for a long time for this exciting news. Issuing this RFP kicks off what will be the biggest rolling stock acquisition since the 1940s, when the New York Central turned to three manufacturers for a blockbuster order for more than 700 cars,” said Rail Passengers Association President & CEO Jim Mathews. “Rail passengers deserve a safe, modern, clean, reliable and exciting onboard experience, and today’s announcement is a vital step in ensuring that for generations to come.”
Amtrak Long Distance ridership grew by more than 12% across the network in FY23 (Oct. 2022-Sept. 2023), serving nearly 3.9 million customer trips.