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Old June 3rd, 2005, 06:45 PM   #1
hkskyline
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Bombardier Abandons North American High Speed Rail

Bombardier puts the brakes on N.A. high-speed train plans
Unit's president sees little appetite for it here - no projects are under discussion

BERTRAND MAROTTE
3 June 2005
The Globe and Mail

MONTREAL -- Bombardier Inc. has put on ice its once-ambitious plans for high-speed train travel in North America.

André Navarri, president of Bombardier Transportation, said in an interview yesterday that there is little appetite for high-speed rail in North America, unlike in Europe and parts of Asia.

“For the time being, there is no project which is close to being promoted,” he said. Asked about the potential for its once highly touted JetTrain technology in North America, he replied: “As there is no high-speed corridor for the time being, there is no JetTrain.”

Bombardier Transportation spokeswoman Hélène Gagnon said later that Bombardier is no longer in discussions with any government bodies anywhere in North America regarding the funding of high-speed train travel.

“There is no project of any kind in Canada or the United States that is the subject of discussions,” she said.

Bombardier Transportation is the rail unit of the global plane and train maker.

Montreal-based Bombardier had for the past several years been running a major campaign to spark interest in its high-speed train technology in the United States and Canada.

A high-profile attempt to win approval in Florida for its 240-kilometre-an-hour JetTrain failed last November after taxpayers voted it down.

And Bombardier, along with French partner Alstom SA, has been plagued by technical and other problems with their Acela Express train operated by Amtrak in the Washington-New York-Boston corridor, the only existing high-speed train in North America.

“Is there a market in North America for a very high-speed train? It's a difficult issue,” Mr. Navarri said at corporate head office.

While high-speed trains have staked out a place in the popular, well-established rail system of Europe, “it's a little more difficult to find the right [rail] corridors in North America,” he said.

“We are still prepared to discuss the [high-speed] potential in North America, but in North America we will mainly focus on the mass transit market,” said Mr. Navarri, a former senior executive at Alstom who was hired last year by Bombardier to lead a sweeping restructuring at Bombardier Transportation.

It is difficult to get all the players — especially governments — to agree on how best to develop high-speed train travel in North America, he added.

“Up to now, it has not been possible to find this agreement, with the exception of Acela.”

In Canada, Bombardier had high hopes for its JetTrain, particularly in the Quebec City-Windsor, Ont., corridor, and had been lobbying the federal government for financial assistance to upgrade the corridor at a cost of up to $3-billion.

“Quebec City-Windsor for the time being is on ice, for financial reasons,” Ms. Gagnon said.

Other city-to-city links that Bombardier had identified included Calgary-Edmonton, Chicago-St. Louis, Los Angeles-San Francisco and Orlando-Miami.

Mr. Navarri said he is not disheartened by an embarrassing series of technical glitches, delivery delays and contractual disputes related to the Acela Express.

He said he is confident that the latest snafu — the Acela was yanked out of service in April after cracks on brake components were discovered — will be amicably settled and won't degenerate into a legal brawl, as happened four years ago over costly design changes.

Meanwhile, Mr. Navarri said he expects strong growth from Eastern European countries as they join the European Union and become eligible for funding to upgrade their aging rail equipment.

Bombardier Transportation — the world's largest manufacturer of rail transportation equipment — also sees growth from the planned standardization of Europe's patchwork rail signalling system, as well as from the boosting of its services unit to about 30 per cent of revenue from 17 per cent today, he said.

Outside Europe, China represents a huge potential market for Bombardier, Mr. Navarri said.

He also said Bombardier Transportation's restructuring plan — announced last year — is on track and even ahead of schedule, with a work force reduction of about 15 per cent, to about 30,000 from more than 35,000 and the closing of seven facilities in Europe by the end of this year.

“All these plans are starting to show good results, especially in terms of profitability,” and the rail unit should reach its target of 6-per-cent profit margins in the medium term as expected.

Six per cent is not the ultimate goal, he added.

“After that, we want to go even further.”
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Old June 3rd, 2005, 08:40 PM   #2
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Too bad. Although much of the USA is too sparsely populated for high speed rail, there are a couple of corridors where it could do very well. Unfortunately that ain't happen either.

One of the reasons include the safety rules of the American railroad administration (FRA). These rules are made to survive crashes and lead to very heavy trains -> perfect for the heavy freight trains which are common in the USA, but not economical for high speed trains. In all other countries, high speed trains have very light trains, which is possible due to advanced safety systems which prevent crashes in the first place.

So, if the FRA would make a second safety ruleset, meant for high speed trains, high speed rail would become much more economical. Still of course a question if there would be enough political support for it, but such a thing would make chances higher at least.
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Old June 3rd, 2005, 08:46 PM   #3
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Bad news...
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Old June 3rd, 2005, 10:26 PM   #4
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I would have thought a line down each coast would be perfect.
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Old June 3rd, 2005, 10:50 PM   #5
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Too bad, I always have hoped for high speed rail from Calgary to Edmonton.
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Old June 4th, 2005, 02:48 AM   #6
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What did Bombardier expect with N.A. gov'ts spending billions of dollars on shiny new/refurbished airports.
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Old June 4th, 2005, 05:05 AM   #7
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In Europe gas is twice the price and the cities more densly populated. Upgradeing busy lines to higher speeds and capacity is great but in Canada for example, I'd rather see that $3bil for urban transit.
In stead of carrying a few thousand people a day it could carry millions.
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Old June 4th, 2005, 05:05 AM   #8
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^I meant hundreds of thousands not millions...........d'oh!
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Old June 4th, 2005, 02:34 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roch5220
What did Bombardier expect with N.A. gov'ts spending billions of dollars on shiny new/refurbished airports.
Or freeways.
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Old June 4th, 2005, 09:52 PM   #10
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Why am I not surprise??? Bombardier has brought nothing but suffering and grief to the rail rapid transit world. I think they should stick to snowmobiles and leave trains and planes up to the true leaders of the industry such as Seimens and Embraer. I'm confident that high speed trains will flourish in North America but the suppliers will be the true experts in the field, not just some Canadian corporate welfare child. :bleh:
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Old June 4th, 2005, 10:07 PM   #11
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They don't even make snowmobiles anymore.
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Old June 5th, 2005, 06:06 AM   #12
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Acela May Return to Service by This Month
3 June 2005
The Wall Street Journal

MONTREAL -- Bombardier Inc., leader of the consortium that supplies Amtrak's Acela Express trains, expects to begin returning the high-speed trains to service this month, a senior official of the Montreal company said.

Andre Navarri, president of Bombardier's rail-equipment division, said the consortium should be able to get all of the Acela trains back in service by the end of summer, subject to approval of the process by the Federal Railroad Administration.

The Acela trains have been idled since mid-April, when an inspection detected cracking in the spokes of brake discs on the passenger cars. Germany's Knorr-Bremse AG, which supplies the brakes to Bombardier, is furnishing newly designed discs that will be used to get the trains back in service, officials said. The new discs are expected to be more robust in service than the original ones, according to Bombardier.

David Gunn, president of Amtrak, said "We are happy; the contractors have worked very hard to get the trains back in service." He added that "I hope [Mr. Navarri] is right" about the timing "but if they slip a little I wouldn't be surprised."

Amtrak has estimated it is losing more than $1 million every week the Acela is out of service. The popular trains, which run on the busy Northeast Corridor between Washington, New York and Boston, account for roughly a quarter of Amtrak's revenue.
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Old June 5th, 2005, 07:13 AM   #13
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^ Is Bombardier going to compensate Amtrak for the faulty products they sold to them? They have to be held accountable for their unreliable trains so they will think twice before selling inferior products.
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Old June 6th, 2005, 12:22 AM   #14
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goodbye! bye!
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Old June 6th, 2005, 06:50 AM   #15
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Even though Bombadier has purchased Henchel (the good old German Rolling Stock Producers for Thai Railways or so), it seems to me that they could NOT copy what the good old Germany firm have done ...so SRT refuses to purchase ANY roling stocks from Bombadier ...better stick on General Electric or Siemens Instead

BTW, What is Embraer? I have NEVER heard this firm before
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Old June 6th, 2005, 07:04 AM   #16
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They're the major regional jet maker from Brazil.

And don't forget the Japanese consortiums!
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Old June 6th, 2005, 11:13 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wally
^ Is Bombardier going to compensate Amtrak for the faulty products they sold to them? They have to be held accountable for their unreliable trains so they will think twice before selling inferior products.
Amtrak was furious over Bombardier's Acela trains. I believe a lawsuit was filed in 2001.

Further information : http://www2.cdn-news.com/scripts/ccn.../0317008n.html
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Old June 6th, 2005, 11:41 PM   #18
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Its all bullshit.

What did Amtrak expect when they ran a 21 century train on 1950s tracks?

Like someone else said, the US is willing to buy the trains, but cant afford to upgrade the track.

As a Bostonian, I am always interested in the quickest and most convienient way to get to NYC. Unfortunately, Amtrak is niether.

One of the reasons why rail travel from Boston to NYC could be better then flying would be flexibility. Having traveled Europe extensively, one time I decided to try the Acela Express. I was selling my car to someone in NYC and needed a way to get back to Boston. A couple of days before my trip, I decided to buy a return ticket with Amtrak.

I love trains, because if you make a last minute change to your plans (ie I'm gonna stay in the city for dinner) you just hop on the next train and be on your merry way. Not with Amtrak.

I decided to get on the Acela that left NYC two hours later than the train I originally booked. THEY WOULDNT LET ME GET ON THE TRAIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!! They said that since I bought the ticket for the earlier train, I couldnt get on the later one. I had to go to the Amtrak office to change the ticket. Seriously, WTF?????? Where is the convieniece????? I might as well just fly and save 1 hour and 120 dollars.

I ended up going to the airport, rented a car, and drove back.

Seriously Amtrak sucks, and not just the trains. Forget the rest of the country, privatize the NE corridor and get rid of the rest of the system. I mean who the hell is going to take the train from LA to NY???? Trains (High speed or otherwise) dont make sence for intercity travel in N America.
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Old June 6th, 2005, 11:55 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by czm3
As a Bostonian, I am always interested in the quickest and most convienient way to get to NYC. Unfortunately, Amtrak is niether.
.
Take the Fung Wah Bus, $15 return. Goes from Boston Bus terminal, to Chinatown, and it runs regular intervals. Its cleaner then greyhound, and popular amoung students. 3.5 hours is not bad considering the time going to the airport.
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Old June 7th, 2005, 12:18 AM   #20
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Thanks Roch, I'll check them out next time I go.

Back on topic though, it is a true shame that they cannot get the DC-NYC-Boston train route to work properly.
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