Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak motive power’

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.

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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.

Hiawatha Route Hosts Solo Charger-led Trip

August 25, 2017

A new Siemens SC-44 Charger locomotive operated solo for the first time on Thursday, pulling Amtrak Hiawatha train No. 329 from Chicago to Milwaukee.

No. 4620, which is owned by the Illinois Department of Transportation, became the first Charger to make a solo revenue trip since arriving in Chicago last spring.

IDTX Nos. 4611 and 4604 were the first to arrive in Chicago from Seattle following several months of testing in the Pacific Northwest.

Altogether, 69 Chargers have been built for the departments of transportation in Illinois, California, Michigan, Missouri, Washington and Maryland.

The Illinois-owned Chargers will be used on state-funded Amtrak routines radiating from Chicago.

Capitol Limited at Harpers Ferry

August 8, 2017

Amtrak’s westbound Capitol Limited is shown crossing the Potomac River at Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, on July 25, 2017.

Nearly a week later, the Nos. 29 and 30 began operating only between Chicago and Pittsburgh after a CSX freight train derailment on Aug. 2  closed the Keystone Subdivision at Hyndman, Pennsylvania, for several days.

Rail traffic began moving through the area on Sunday, Aug. 6. The Capitol resumed serving Harpers Ferry and other points east of Pittsburgh that day.

In the interim, passengers had been accommodated by a bus.

Locomotive Failures Raise Concerns in N.Y.

May 26, 2017

Deteriorating track conditions at New York Penn Station isn’t the only source of frustration with Amtrak these days in New York State.

New York State Department of Transportation officials are noting that the locomotives used to haul Empire Corridor trains from upstate New York are breaking down, stranding passengers on some trips.

Two locomotives have malfunctioned this spring in the tunnels leading out of Penn Station, marooning hundreds of passengers on Empire Service trains. The locomotive of a third train broke down in the Mohawk Valley.

NYDOT officials wants new locomotives ordered before the breakdowns become chronic, but have been rebuffed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.

The locomotives in question are P42DMAC units, most of which were built in 1995 but some of which were constructed in 1998.

The locomotives were designed to be dual mode, meaning they could operate as diesel-electrics or as straight electrics in third-rail territory.

The locomotives pull some Empire Service trains as far as Niagara Falls, New York.

“GE [Transportation] has … stopped manufacturing new replacement components, which combined with age and intense use makes it difficult and costly for Amtrak’s Rensselaer Maintenance Facility to keep these locomotives in service,” said Jack Madden, a retired engineer at the NYDOT’s rail division, who argued for replacing them in an opinion piece in The Daily Gazette of Schenectady. “The average failure rate in service for the (dual-mode) fleet is increasing, leading to more frustrating delays to passengers.”

Public Gets Close Look at Charger

May 25, 2017

The public got its first look official look at one of the new Siemens SC-44 Charger locomotives that will be going into service on Amtrak corridor routes this year.

A Charger was displayed at King Street Station in Seattle this week ahead of it being put into service on the Cascades route in Washington, Oregon and British Columbia.

Siemens, which built the Chargers in Sacramento, California, has touted the locomotive as among the cleanest diesel-electric locomotives ever built and the first high-speed passenger locomotive to receive Tier IV emissions certification from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The Chargers have a 16-cylinder, 4,400-horsepower Cummins engine.

Visitors were able to view the exterior of the locomotive close up, but could not see the interior due to safety issues, the Washington State Department of Transportation said in a news release.

A Late Lake Shore Limited

May 24, 2017

Sometimes you are just not in the right position to get a good photograph. Such was the case when I “caught” Amtrak’s eastbound Lake Shore Limited passing through Willoughby, Ohio.

I didn’t know it had not come through yet, that it was running 1 hours, 28 minutes late. I might have known that had I checked on its status with Amtrak. But I didn’t.

The appearance of No. 48 caught me by surprise and the best I could do was get this image looking down Erie Street.