Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak locomotives’

Back to 1978 on the Northeast Corridor

November 9, 2022

The wayback machine has taken us to the first decade of Amtrak operations in the Northeast Corridor. Amtrak GG-1 Nos. 910 and 905 are leading an Amtrak train through Morrisville, Pennsylvania on Aug. 23, 1978.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

When Amtrak Had Alcos

October 30, 2022

We usually don’t think of Amtrak for operating Alco locomotive. Most of Amtrak’s road power has been built by EMD or General Electric.

However, the passenger carrier did have an Alco fleet that it used for work train service. Amtrak at one time had 45 RS3 road switchers on its roster.

Three of the Amtrak work train Alcos were rebuilt with EMD engines. All of the Amtrak Alco have since been retired by the passenger carrier.

No. 110 was built in May 1952 for the New York Central. Shown in New Haven, Connecticut in 1977, it was retired by Amtrak in April 1980.  

Amtrak OIG Report Finds Company Could Do More to Reduce Excess Locomotive Idling

October 22, 2022

The Amtrak Office of Inspector General said this week the passenger carrier could be doing more to reduce excess locomotive idling in order to be more environmentally friendly.

The OIG report added that Amtrak should train its employees to better understand the corporation’s sustainability goals.

Taking those steps, the OIG report said, will help Amtrak achieve its goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and increase the purchase of carbon free and renewable electricity.

Amtrak has set a goal of reducing GHG emissions to 40 percent below its 2010 baseline by 2030.

Aside from purchasing locomotives that emit fewer emissions, Amtrak also is seeking to use more energy-efficient LED lighting in its facilities and stations.

It also has reduced idling of locomotives by 21 percent during the period of October 2016 through March 2022.

Amtrak has installed automatic engine stop/start devices on locomotives that shut them down after two hours of idling except during prescribed circumstances such as cold temperatures or a need to maintain air pressure in brake lines.

However, the OIG found that the passenger carrier “could take additional steps to more easily achieve these goals, including leveraging data it already gathers to further reduce excessive idling of its diesel locomotives and mandating training on sustainability goals for management staff.”

Taking those steps also would reduce fuel costs and engine wear.

The OIG investigation determined that in Chicago there were 500 times in June 2021 when a locomotive shut down after two or more hours of idling but was restarted less than 30 minutes later.

Such incidents can indicate a mechanical problem or maintenance error such as a leaking air hose.

The OIG also found that Amtrak was not currently using data it has available to better track when idling locomotives are or are not providing head-end power to passenger cars.

The report recommended that Amtrak further analyze the data it already collects and collect additional data to identify opportunities to reduce excess idling. This could include analyzing trend data on excess idling over time, by location, and by locomotive. 

That data could then be used to establish and implement a process to reduce excess idling company wide and provide real-time alerts for the mechanical staff that would allow them to make needed repairs to prevent excess idling. 

Amtrak management agreed with the OIG report’s findings and indicated it plans to take action by September 2023 to address them.

Late in the FL9 Era

September 3, 2022

Amtrak inherited 12 FL9 locomotives that it used in third rail territory for trains serving New York’s Grand Central Terminal. All had been built for the New York, Hartford & New Haven in 1957.

The FL9 was eight feet longer than a standard F unit and featured a unique B-A1A truck arrangement that made it capable of operating as a diesel locomotive or as an electric locomotive in third rail territory.

Initially numbered 231-242, the units were renumbered 480-491 in 1977 in order to clear room on the roster for F40PH units.

Six FL9s were rebuilt by Morrison-Knudsen between 1979 and 1981 to receive head-end power capability.

Amtrak began disposing of the FL9 units in 1979 with the last of the fleet remaining on the roster through June 2002 when those units were sold to the Morristown & Erie.

One of the latter assignments of the FL9 at Amtrak was pulling the New York section of the Lake Shore Limited.

In the photo above, No. 486 is leading No. 48 at Breakneck Ridge, New York, on Aug. 25, 1994.

ALC-42 Charges Now on 3 Routes

September 3, 2022

Amtrak’s new ALC-42 Charger locomotives are operating on three long-distance routes, but not all trains on those routes are yet pulled by the Siemens-built locomotives.

A report on the website of Railfan and Railroad magazine said Chargers have seen service in recent weeks pulling the Empire Builder (Chicago-Seattle/Portland), the City of New Orleans (Chicago-New Orleans) and the California Zephyr (Chicago-Emeryville, California).

Four ALC-42 locomotives were in the motive power of a recent eastbound California Zephyr, although just two of them were online with the other two new deliveries being towed.

Those new deliveries were later towed by the Chicago to Washington Capitol Limited.

Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari told the magazine that it will be some time before all runs on the three aforementioned routes will be covered by ALC-42 units.

Magliari said 11 Chargers are in service in long-distance train service but not all 11 are necessarily operating at the same time.

At least 25 locomotives are needed to cover all runs of the three routes.

The ALC-42 Chargers debuted last spring on the Empire Builder. It was a troubled inauguration with technical issues hindering the positive train control system of the locomotives.

Those issues largely have since been worked out.

The Railfan and Railroad report said that often an ALC-42 is paired with a P42DC. The report said typically the Charger trails the P42 on westbound trips of the Empire Builder.

However, Chargers have worked as solo units on the City of New Orleans in recent weeks. Between Chicago and Carbondale, Illinois, on the City route, Amtrak crews are already familiar with similar locomotives, the SC-44 Chargers.

On the Empire Builder route, an ALC-42 often leads Train 7 from Spokane, Washington, to Seattle as a solo unit while a P42 pulls the Portland section.

Amtrak has agreed to purchase 125 ALC-42 units and all of them are expected to be in revenue service as replacements for P42 and P40 units by 2029.

My First Look at an ALC-42 Charger

August 22, 2022

Shown above is the first of what I expect to be dozens if not hundreds of photographs of Amtrak trains pulled by Siemens-built ALC-42 Charger locomotives.

The City of New Orleans is just under an hour late as it rips through Humboldt, Illinois, on the Champaign Subdivision of Canadian National with No. 304 in charge.

Amtrak began phasing the new Charger locomotives into revenue service last spring on the Chicago-Seattle/Portland Empire Builder. The CONO was the second train to receive the units.

However, not all CONO train sets have the ALC-42s. The day before this image was made, the northbound CONO was pulled by a P42DC.

Over the next few years the ALC-42 units will replace P42 and P40 locomotives on long-distance and select corridor service trains. In the Midwest, corridor trains have been pulled for the past three to four years by Siemens-built SC-44 Chargers.

The ALC-42s have introduced Amtrak’s Phase VII livery, which features a dark blue carbody with red accenting and white stripes.

Perhaps in time I’ll become as tired of seeing this livery and locomotive as I’ve come to be with seeing the P42DC in action in the Phase V scheme. But that day is years away for now.

Going Beyond the Mask

August 7, 2022

Amtrak released this photograph of ACS-64 No. 606, which has received a special wrap to promote the exhibition “Beyond King Tut: The Immersive Experience” at the National Geographic Society in Washington.

The electric locomotive will be used in revenue service between Washington and Boston to promote the exhibit, which runs through February 2023.

In a news release, Amtrak said the King Tut locomotive will operate through Sept. 30.

The locomotive wrap is vinyl and features an image of King Tut, and the message, “Go Beyond the Mask,” which promotes the exhibit centering on the life and times of one of history’s most well-known pharaohs.

The exhibit is being held in connection with the 100-year anniversary of the discovery of King Tut’s tomb.

Amtrak ACS-64 Gets King Tut Exhibit Wrap

August 2, 2022

An Amtrak ACS-64 electric locomotive has received an advertisement wrap to promote an exhibit at the National Geographic Society in Washington.

The wrap on No. 606 promotes the “Beyond King Tut” exhibit. It is the second Amtrak locomotive in the Northeast Corridor to carry an advertisement wrap.

ACS-64 No. 662 is in its “Phase III” throwback colors for Dovetail Games promoting Train Sim World 2.

The King Tut exhibit will run through February 2023 and marks the 100th anniversary of the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings.

The locomotive wrap is black and gold and is the second wrap for No. 606. In late 2019 and early 2020 it wore a winter billboard for Coca-Cola.

Amtrak Finalizes Charger Order

June 24, 2022

Amtrak said on Thursday it expects to place in service by 2029 another 50 ALC-42 locomotives that it has ordered from Siemens Mobility.

The passenger carrier had said in February it planned to buy the additional Charger locomotives, but this week’s announcement indicated that terms of the purchase have now been completed.

A handful of the 4,200-horsepower locomotives have begun revenue service on the Chicago-Seattle/Portland Empire Builder with additional Chargers slated to soon begin pulling the City of New Orleans between Chicago and New Orleans.

In all Amtrak plans to buy 125 ALC-42 units to be used on long-distance routes and select corridor routes in the national network.

The Chargers are replacements for aging General Electric-built P42DC and P40 locomotives that began operating in the 1990s.

The ALC-42 locomotives are similar to SC-44 locomotives built by Siemens that now pull corridor trains in the Midwest, California and Pacific Northwest.

Amtrak’s first order of 75 ALC-42 locomotives was announced in 2018. That order plus the supplemental Chargers it now has on order are expected to cost $2 billion for the locomotives and a maintenance support program.

The new Chargers are Tier 4 compliant and will be built in Sacramento, California.

Being Nosey

June 9, 2022

A pair of Amtrak P42DC locomotives are nose to nose in the motive power consist of the westbound Lake Shore Limited in Cleveland on Nov. 15, 1997. Both units were trailing in the three-locomotive consist. They’ve picked up some ice during their journey through upstate New York and along the Lake Erie shoreline between Buffalo and Cleveland.