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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Amtrak's Private Rail Car Standards

Since my first train ride on Amtrak's Capitol Limited during the summer of 1993, I've been in love with stainless steel rail passenger cars. I remember very clearly the consist: a dome car, heritage diner, lounge, sleepers and Amfleet coaches. Over the years, Amtrak has sold off most if not all of its heritage fleet. Some of these cars made it into the hands other railroads, historical rail groups and private owners. Some private owner’s cars are still running, others are now static displays. Not all private car owners picked up their cars from Amtrak. Some were lucky to pick them up when railroads or the Pullman Company started selling their passenger equipment.

Some of the cars in private ownership are Amtrak compatible. To achieve that status, the car must have the following:
Amtrak PC1 - Annual Amtrak car inspection. Must be signed off by PC1 or PC2 approved Amtrak inspector.
Amtrak PC1a - Car Data
Amtrak PC2 - 40 year rebuild of trucks. Must be signed off by a PC2 approved Amtrak inspector.
Amtrak PC3 - Route/Mileage Log
Amtrak PC4 - Shop report. This must be a complete report of mechanical, electrical, and structure upgrades/repairs. Be ready to take pictures, have drawings made to document upgrades/repairs.
Amtrak PC5 - Car Clearance data.

Sound simple? These standards are just the tip of the iceberg. Performing work on a car and meeting Amtrak standards requires a lot of time, money and equipment. Depending on the car you pick up, you might need a few minor things done that will take 6 months or 10 years to complete. Some cars are restored to the way they came out of the factory while others are turned in modern plush pimp rides.

More to come on this subject.

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