Posts Tagged ‘Charger passenger locomotives’

Make Way for the Saluki

September 4, 2019

In the nearly 50 years that Amtrak trains have used the former Illinois Central mainline between Chicago and Carbondale, Illinois, a wide range of motive power and passenger equipment has traveled these rails.

It began in 1971 with Illinois Central E units and progressed through E units of other railroads painted in Amtrak colors to SDP40Fs to P30CHs to F40PHs to the P40 and P42DC units of more recent years.

Now the Chicago-Carbondale trains are pulled by Siemens SC-44 Charger locomotives that have entered service in the past two years.

Shown is the northbound Saluki racing through Pesotum, Illinois.

No Time to Waste at Pesotum

July 26, 2019

A tardy southbound Saluki races past the former Illinois Central Railroad depot in Pesotum late on a Tuesday morning.

No. 391 had earlier met its northbound counterpart at Rantoul, where the southbound train was 24 minutes behind schedule.

It lost another 14 minutes between Rantoul and Champaign and by the time it reached DuQuoin it was 1 hour, 8 minutes down.

But through the “miracle” of recovery time, a.k.a. schedule padding, No. 391 pulled into Carbondale a mere 32 minutes late.

No passenger train has been scheduled to stop at the depot in Pesotum for several decades.

Charging Through Michigan

July 16, 2019

A visit last weekend to Durand, Michigan, netted the information that SC-44 Chargers are now operating on the Chicago-Port Huron, Michigan, Blue Water.

The Chargers, which the Michigan Department of Transportation helped to buy for Amtrak Midwest corridor services, were slow to be assigned to Michigan trains used Amtrak-owned track west of Kalamazoo, due to the need to upgrade the software on the locomotives to be compatible with the line’s positive train control system.

Apparently those upgrades have been made.

Nos. 364 and 365 operate with locomotives in each end to avoid having to turn the train in Port Huron during its nightly layover.

No. 365 is shown leaving Durand for its next stop of East Lansing before continuing on to Chicago.

Amtrak Buying 75 Chargers for Long-Distance Trains

December 21, 2018

Amtrak said it will purchase 75 Charger locomotives for use on long-distance trains starting in fall 2021.

The Siemens locomotives will replace aging P42DC units that have been the mainstay of long-distance trains for several years.

In a news release, Amtrak said it will have options to purchase additional Chargers for use on some state-funded corridor routes.

Trains expected to be assigned the new Chargers are Auto Train, California Zephyr, Capitol Limited, Cardinal, City of New Orleans, Coast Starlight, Crescent, Empire Builder, Lake Shore Limited, Palmetto, Silver Meteor, Silver Star, Southwest Chief, Sunset Limited, and Texas Eagle.

Funding for the locomotives was not disclosed other than a statement that they will be paid for through available funds and comply with Buy American provisions.

The units will be built in Sacramento, California, with all of them expected to be in service by 2024.

The Chargers will have 4,400 in horsepower capability, 16-cylinder diesel engines with modern control systems and A.C. propulsion.

Each unit will have Tier 4 emissions technology, reducing nitrogen oxide by more than 89 percent and particulate matter by 95 percent while providing an average of 10 percent savings in diesel fuel consumption.

“These new locomotives will offer increased reliability, more hauling power, improved safety features and lower emissions,” said Amtrak CEO Richard Anderson in a statement.

The first of the Chargers will be delivered in summer 2021.

Amtrak currently operates Chargers on state-funded routes in California, Illinois, Wisconsin, Missouri, Michigan and Washington.

Some of the GE-built P40 and P42 locomotives the Chargers will replace have been in service for more than 25 years.

California Shows Off New Chargers

October 10, 2018

California officials and Amtrak recently showed off the livery to be used on the 14 new Charger locomotives that are being assigned to Pacific Surfliner service.

The locomotives and their livery were introduced at a ceremony at Los Angeles Union Station that was sponsored by the California Department of Transportation, Amtrak and the Los Angeles-San Diego-San Luis Obispo Rail Corridor Agency.

The units were built by Siemens in Sacramento, California, and have received the Tier IV emissions certification from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, making the Charger one of the cleanest diesel-electric passenger locomotives in operation.

Caltrans funded the locomotives with $100 million in state, federal and local funds. The Chargers will replace Amtrak-owned locomotives that are nearly 20 years old.

First Glimpse of a Charger

July 24, 2018

Amtrak’s SC-44 Charger locomotives have been in service for several months on Midwest corridor routes, but it was only recently that I got my first glimpse of one.

I was in Effingham, Illinois, to observe the arrival of the northbound Saluki, which is shown above.

The Chargers are operating on most Midwest routes with the notable exception of Wolverine and Blue Water trains.

Amtrak has said the Chargers won’t be assigned to those trains until the positive train control system can be aligned with the PTC system used on Amtrak-owned track in Michigan and Indiana.

My first impression of the Chargers was favorable unlike my first thought about the now ubiquitous P42 and P40 units.

The nose of the Charger is similar in design to that of a Genesis locomotive and we’ve all had years to become accustomed to the latter.

Chargers Pulling Lincoln Service Trains

March 1, 2018

SC44 Charger locomotives have been assigned to Chicago-St. Louis Lincoln Service trains.

The first train to be pulled by a Siemens-built locomotives operated on Feb. 21.

Due to the lack of a device compatible with Union Pacific’s hybrid automatic train control-incremental train control system, trains pulled by Chargers are limited for now to 79 p.m.

The system allows for a 110 mph top speed between Dwight and Pontiac, Illinois, for trains with the proper PTC equipment.

In the weeks ahead the Feb. 21 trip, Chargers had operated on Lincoln Service trains but in the trailing position because of the need to pass “pre-revenue service acceptance” tests on the route.

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.

Chargers to Sport Amtrak Midwest Logo

August 30, 2017

The new Charger locomotives that are entering service on Amtrak’s Midwest corridor route will sport an Amtrak Midwest logo on their noses.

Amtrak showed off the new locomotives earlier this week at a press conference in Chicago.

The passenger carrier in a news release touted the SC-44 locomotives built by Siemens for their enhanced smoothness, speed capability and safety features.

The locomotives are owned by the state departments of transportation that pay for the corridor trains that will use the new units.

Thirty-three Chargers will be based in Chicago to serve trains that carried more than 2.6 million Amtrak passengers last year.

Chargers will also be assigned to the Missouri River Runner trains between St. Louis and Kansas City.

The locomotives were built in Sacramento, California, and are being promoted for their lower maintenance costs, reduced fuel consumption and quieter operation.

The SC-44 is powered by a Midwest-made 4,400 horsepower Cummins QSK95 diesel engine.

The locomotives came operate at speeds up to 125 mph, with faster acceleration and braking for better on-time reliability.

They are the first higher-speed passenger locomotives to meet the EPA Tier 4 standards, meaning a 90 percent reduction in emissions and a reduction in fuel consumption of up to 16 percent compared to the previous locomotives.
The locomotives were purchased with $216.5 million in federal funds.