Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak motive power’

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

Blue Water and Gold Trees

November 3, 2022

The rear SC-44 Charger locomotive on Amtrak’s westbound Blue Water passes a colorful stand of trees in Porter, Indiana, On Oct. 23. The train is on Amtrak’s Michigan District but is in the process of getting onto Norfolk Southern’s Chicago Line. It operates with a locomotive on each end to avoid having the turn the the consist in Port Huron, Michigan, the eastern terminus.

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.  

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.

Amtrak Releases Sustainability Report

August 22, 2022

Amtrak emphasized achievements in becoming more environmentally friendly in its 2021 sustainability report that it released last week.

The report noted that much of the new equipment it plans to purchase with funding made available by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will be more “climate friendly.”

This will include dual-power equipment that can operate on electricity or diesel power.

The dual-power equipment is slated to be assigned to the Northeast Corridor and select state-funded corridor routes.

New Siemens-built ACL-42 Charger locomotives being phased into revenue service on long-distance routes meet the fuel efficiency standards of EPA Tier 4 standards, Amtrak said.

This includes emitting 89 percent less nitrogen oxide and 95 percent less particulate matter than the P42DC locomotives being replaced.

Other highlights of the report included the Amtrak Connects US plan that was released during federal fiscal year 2021 that calls for development of 39 new routes and enhancement of 25 existing routes.

The passenger carrier said it has designed and deployed solar-powered technology to improve security on the Northeast Corridor in preparation for the launch of new Acela service.

Amtrak’s sustainability report said train travel is on average 46 percent more energy efficient than travel by car and 34 percent more efficient than domestic air travel.

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.

LSL Along the Hudson

May 1, 2022

The leaves are turning to their fall colors as the New York City section of the Lake Shore Limited rolls along the Hudson River at Breakneck Ridge, New York, in October 1998. On the point is P32DMAC No. 709, which was built by General Electric in August 1995. This segment of the route of Nos. 48 and 49 features some of the best scenery between New York and Chicago that can be viewed from this train.