Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak motive power’

Amtrak Seeking Locomotive Proposals

June 2, 2018

Amtrak issued this week a request for proposal for new or rebuilt diesel locomotives.

In a news release, Amtrak said it is looking to acquire 50 to 75 next generation locomotives that have the latest safety features, have more horsepower, and boast the lowest emissions possible.

The RFP, which is posted on the Amtrak website, calls for vendors to rebuild the passenger carrier’s existing P42DC locomotives with AC propulsion or to provide new locomotives built with alternative power and structure options.

Amtrak plans to use the locomotives on its long-distance trains and on some state-funded routes.

The winning vendor will receive a contract with options to rebuild or acquire additional units.

A pre-proposal conference for vendors will be held on June 20 in Philadelphia with proposals due by Aug. 23.

“Our diesel locomotive fleet is nearing the end of life expectancy and we must act now to modernize Amtrak for the future,” Amtrak CEO Richard Anderson said in a statement. “We expect that any new, state-of-the art locomotive will offer improved reliability, a smoother ride, improved safety features and make major contributions towards lowering emissions and we’ll also consider how rebuilding options of the current fleet could achieve these goals.”

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Late Day in Jackson

June 1, 2018

It is late afternoon in Jackson, Michigan. Amtrak’s eastbound Lake Cities is making its scheduled stop at the venerable former Michigan Central station en route to Pontiac via Detroit.

To avoid having to turn the motive power in Pontiac, the Lake Cities and other trains on the Chicago-Detroit route at the time operated with a locomotive or cab car on one end.

I don’t recall what No. 353 had on the head end, but on the rear was P42DC No. 34 in the Phase IV livery.

When this image was made on Sept. 12, 2003, the Genesis locomotives had been mainstays on Amtrak corridor and long-distance trains for about a decade.

Some things have changed on the Chicago-Detroit corridor since I made this image. All trains have been renamed Wolverine Service and the trains no longer have locomotives or cab cars on both ends.

The Jackson station no longer has a ticket agent, only a caretaker to open and close the depot at train time.

Yet the P42DC remains the mainstay motive power, at least for now. Amtrak was to begin assigning Charger locomotives to this route, once it gets some positive train control issues worked out.

Chicago Union Station, May 1997

May 5, 2018

It is May 1997 and this is the state of the art of Amtrak rolling stock and equipment as seen at Chicago Union Station.

Partly visible at far left is a Superliner train, perhaps the inbound Southwest Chief from Los Angeles.

In the middle is a Midwest corridor train, perhaps a train to or from Detroit. In this era, trains on that route operated with former Metroliner cab cars facing west.

To the right is another Midwest corridor train with a P32-8 wearing the one-of-a-kind livery in which those units were delivered.

Many wags described them as “Pepsi cans” because the scheme resembled a brand look of the beverage that was used at the time.

This livery proved to be fairly short lived and the P32s would later be repainted in the Phase IV livery that Amtrak adopted in 1997.

Amtrak Wants to Replace Amfleet, P42s

April 12, 2018

Say goodbye to Amtrak Genesis locomotives and Amfleet equipment. Well, maybe some day.

Richard Anderson

Amtrak CEO Richard Anderson told Amtrak employees this week that the passenger carrier hopes to award a contract by the end of this year to replace its fleet of P42DC locomotives and its Amfleet passenger cars.

The P42DC units were built by General Electric and have been the mainstay of long distance and corridor trains since the 1990s.

The original Amfleet cars, used primarily in Eastern corridor service, were built in the 1970s by the Budd Company.

“These are two big programs for us,” Anderson told the employees during a town hall style meeting. “We want to get a [request for proposals] completed and contracts awarded this year. There is no reason why we can’t.”

Anderson indicated that Amtrak is seeking “more modern, lightweight, environmentally sensitive, [Americans with Disabilities Act]-compliant equipment that will give us a completely different product.”

In particular, he indicated that Amtrak might be looking for DMU trainsets such as those that will be used on commuter rail service expected to begin in Fort Worth, Texas, next year and in the Santa Rosa-San Rafael, California, corridor this year.

Anderson described them as models for the modern way of train travel.

“If we want to appeal to a millennial generation in high-density urban markets, we need the same kind of modern unit trains we see operating in Europe and Asia,” he said. “Making these investments now will benefit the next generation of Amtrak.”

On some corridor routes in the Midwest and Pacific Northwest, Amtrak has been operating Charger locomotives built by Siemens and purchased by the departments of transportation in the states funding those trains.

The same coalition of states has also contracted with Siemens to build new single-level passenger cars that will begin operating on those routes in the intermediate future.

Siemens also built locomotives and passenger cars being used by the privately operated Brightline intercity rail service that began operations earlier this year in Florida.

That 90s Look at Lewistown

December 26, 2017

I made this image of  Amtrak’s eastbound Broadway Limited at Lewistown, Pennsylvania, in 1992. In my mind, it was’t that long ago. Yet its been 25 years since this photograph was made on color negative film.

Much can change in a quarter century and there is much to be seen here that is gone.

That starts with the Broadway Limited itself, which would made its last trips between Chicago and New York in September 1995.

On the point on this day is GP40TC No. 192, one of eight such units that Amtrak operated in the 1990s. All were built for Toronto’s GO Transit agency and were purchased by Amtrak in October 1988.

The locomotives could be found in service on routes east of the Mississippi River, but have since been retired.

Behind the GP40TC is an F40PH. Most of those have been retired by Amtrak, but a handful have survived as cab cars while others have gained second lives on other railroads.

The consist includes seven material handling cars, which were common on long distance trains in the 1990s. Amtrak had begun earning additional revenue hauling mail and the MHCs were acquired for that purpose. They’ve since been retired and Amtrak no longer carries mail.

Most of the passenger cars in the consist of No. 40 are Heritage Fleet cars, including the baggage car. Most of those have been retired although in late 2017 a handful of Heritage dining cars continue to work in revenue service.

Soaring Over the Huron River

December 6, 2017

Amtrak train No. 350 crosses over the Huron River in Ann Arbor, Michigan, on a recent Sunday afternoon.

The first Wolverine Service train of the day out of Chicago arrived in Ann Arbor a few minute early on this Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

The dam in the background is one of four in the city on the Huron River and the only one that still produces electricity.

Charges Assigned to Cascades Corridor

November 27, 2017

Eight Siemens Charger locomotives have been assigned to the Cascades corridor between Eugene, Oregon, and Vancouver, British Columbia, via Seattle and Portland.

Amtrak expects to assign the 4,400-horsepower engines to all Cascades routes over the next few weeks.

The locomotives are jointly owned by the Washington and Oregon departments of transportation.

The engines are said to be lighter and quieter than the motive power currently assigned to the corridor.

21 More Chargers Due in Chicago in January

November 16, 2017

Amtrak expects to receive 21 additional Charger locomotives in January. They will supplement the 12 that were delivered last August.

The locomotives have been assigned thus far to Hiawatha Service trains between Chicago and Milwaukee, and routes linking Chicago with the Illinois cities of Quincy and Carbondale.

Chargers also were expected to begin revenue service this week between St. Louis and Kansas City, Missouri.

Scott Speegle, the passenger rail communications manager for the Illinois Department of Transportation, said the passenger experience should be improved.

“They will provide a better acceleration and deceleration, and so we’ll have a smoother ride and better on-time performance,” Speegle said.

He said the new locomotives make it easier for more passenger cars to be added during peak travel days.

“They could pull more cars more efficiently than the older locomotives,” Speegle said. “We generally look to add cars at times there is a greater demand.”

The Chargers were built by Siemens in California and are also being used on West Coast corridor routes.

They have a Cummins engine that was built in Indiana, can reach speeds up to 125 mph and are capable of having positive train control.

Amtrak has labeled the Chargers with an “Amtrak Midwest” brand. The locomotives are owned by the states of Illinois, Missouri, Wisconsin and Michigan and are leased to Amtrak.

The locomotives were purchased with $216.5 million in federal funds.

Amtrak Head Acknowledges Need for New Equipment

November 15, 2017

Amtrak needs to replace or overhaul the rail car fleet that serves its long-distance trains, its co-CEO told the National Association of Railroad Passengers earlier this month.

Richard Anderson

Co-CEO Richard Anderson said rebuilding or replacing aging Superliners and Amfleet cars will receive a “first priority.”

He also said the diesel locomotive fleet used to pull that equipment also needs replacement and/or rebuilding

Anderson said that the first up will be renovations of  Amfleet I and Amfleet II cars followed by new Acela Express trainsets.

New diesel locomotives are being placed into service on corridor routes in the Midwest and West.

Amtrak also expects CAF USA to complete soon an order for 25 new Viewliner II diners to be completed. Last on the list that Anderson ticked off was overhauling the current Acela fleet.

Despite saying it is a priority, Anderson did not describe a plan to replace or rebuild the Superliner fleet.

Amfleet II coaches are used on single-level long-distance trains such as the Lake Shore Limited, Cardinal, Crescent and Silver Service.

Anderson did, though, describe the importance of long-distance trains by emphasizing their role in “connecting small and large communities and bringing the most utility to the most Americans across the country.”

He said Amtrak’s 15 long-distance trains serve a series of markets with just 6 percent of riders traveling from endpoint to endpoint.

Many of those markets have lost or seen their level of intercity bus and airline service greatly diminished.

Anderson said Amtrak faces “risk points” with host railroads delaying Amtrak trains, the Trump administration’s efforts to end funding of long-distance trains and a dire need for capital.

The latter is most acute in the Northeast Corridor although some might say capital is desperately needed to buy new rolling stock and locomotives.

The former airline executive also said Amtrak needs to become more customer-focused.

Changing of the Motive Power Liveries

October 19, 2017

It is August 2001 and the eastbound Pennsylvanian is passing through Berea, Ohio, en route to Philadelphia from Chicago.

Although the Phase V livery had been introduced in 1999 on AEM-7 electric motors, it is now migrating to the P42DC fleet.

But Genesis locomotives still wearing the venerable Phase III livery in which they were delivered are still around.

On this day, the Pennsylvanian was modeling two generations of motive power appearances.

P42DC No. 54 will eventually wear the Phase V look and skip Phase IV.