Amtrak to shed decommissioned Superliner, Amfleet equipment

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A plant grows out of a heavily-damaged dining car at Amtrak's Beech Grove, Ind., shops on Dec. 14, 2018. The car, out of service since 2002, is not among those included in Amtrak's latest list of equipment for sale.
Bob Johnston
WASHINGTON — Superliners and Amfleet cars are among the latest batch of inactive rolling stock Amtrak is offering for sale — equipment that has languished for years at maintenance facilities in Beech Grove, Ind.; Bear and Wilmington, Delaware; and Niles, Michigan.

Previous equipment sales in late 2018 included more recently retired single-level heritage dining cars, sleepers, and baggage cars [see “Amtrak equipment sale reflects lack of emphasis on growth, revenue,” Trains News Wire, Oct. 22, 2018, and “Amtrak castoffs wait for next chapter,” Jan 21, 2019, photo gallery].

The only bilevel cars included in those November and December sales were four heritage ex-Santa Fe hi-level coaches and five hi-level lounges, the latter used as Coast Starlight “Pacific Parlour Cars” from the mid-1990s to early 2018. [See “Michigan’s Steam Railroading Institute acquires two Amtrak Pacific Parlour Cars,” Trains News Wire, March 21, 2019.]

The 22 Superliners and 19 Amfleet or ex-Metroliner coaches included in Sales Offer 2019-80 may be much less roadworthy, many as a result of wreck damage. The sale also includes 11 material-handling gondolas stored at the company’s Niles, Mich., maintenance base (once used for trackwork on the Amtrak-owned Michigan Line), two P40 locomotives, a Pacific Surfliner cab car, and one AEM-7 electric locomotive that has yet to be sold or scrapped.

Many of these cars and locomotives were evaluated for repair multiple times but passed over because they were more expensive to rehabilitate compared with similar sidelined equipment. They have been kept on the property for spare parts that would otherwise have to be manufactured at great expense, but this cannibalization has greatly diminished their value and any prospects for a return to service.

Another issue Trains News Wire discovered while attending a Beech Grove car sale in December was that any rehab work will likely require asbestos remediation, a costly, labor-intensive process. However, not all of the wreck- or fire-damaged cars we observed are included in this offer.

These Superliners are being offered for sale at Beech Grove. They have been out of service for years, having been sidelined in incidents ranging from 1995’s Sunset Limited sabotage wreck in Arizona (one dining car) to a March 2016 derailment of the Southwest Chief (three coaches and a coach-baggage car). That accident in Kansas came after a farm truck knocked track out of alignment.

Superliner I coaches: 7                                            

Superliner I coach/smoking lounge: 1                     

Superliner I coach-baggage: 2                                 

Superliner I and II Sightseer lounges : 5                   

Superliner I sleepers: 3                                              

Superliner II transition sleeper: 1                            

Superliner I diner-lounges: 2                                    

Superliner I dining car: 1                                        

Total: 22

Bids are due by May 31, 2019.

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