New York Turboliners being scrapped

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A Rohr Turboliner emerges from Oscawana Tunnel along the Hudson River heading from Albany to New York in June 1993.
Steve Glischinski
GLENVILLE, N.Y. – Four Turboliner train sets owned by the state of New York are being scrapped this week in Glenville. Seven train sets were purchased by the state from Amtrak in late the 1990s, and were to be refurbished by Super Steel in Schenectady, N.Y., for use on Amtrak’s Empire Service between New York and Albany. Super Steel refurbished three of the trains, but they were ultimately plagued with operational and air conditioning problems, and high fuel costs due to their turbine power plants. The remaining four trains were moved to Glenville and stored. The state was paying $150,000 a year just to store the trains, so New York Gov. Cuomo decided to sell them and related parts supplies.

The scrapping brings to an end a saga that began in 1998, when New York and Amtrak began the “High Speed Rail Improvement Program,” an effort to improve service over the Empire Corridor. A key component of the program was to be the reconstruction of seven Turboliners that had been manufactured for Amtrak by Rohr Industries in 1976-77 and used on the Empire Corridor and Adirondack Service until the mid-1990s. New York selected Super Steel to perform the work, with the first two trains scheduled to enter service in 1999. After numerous delays they finally entered service in 2003. One of the rebuilt trains was tested on the night of Feb. 15, 2003, reaching 125 mph. Only in service for a brief period in 2003, the three rebuilt sets have remained in storage in Bear, Del., ever since.

In April 2005, New York State reached a settlement with Super Steel to close the rehabilitation project for $5.5 million, cover any remaining costs, and move the four unfinished trains to storage at Glenville. This settlement, when added to the $64.8 million previously spent, brought the total amount spent on the project to $70.3 million. The state sold the four trains for scrap for $420,000.
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