Posts Tagged ‘Chargers’

Charging Through Arcola, Illinois

July 29, 2020

The massive grain elevator complex in Arcola, Illinois, has been a favorite backdrop that I’ve used over the years when photographing Amtrak trains on the Chicago-Carbondale-New Orleans corridor.

The way the schedule works out, the complex best works as a backdrop for the northbound Saluki.

The southbound City of New Orleans would have to be really, really late to catch in daylight and the window for getting its northbound counterpart is very small.

The Illini in both directions passes through Arcola in daylight but by then the sun is behind the grain complex.

So that leaves the Saluki, which I’ve photographed here a few times.

My motivation for getting No. 390 this year has been to recreate an image I did years ago but with different motive power.

The P42DC units that were mainstays on the Chicago-Carbondale trains have given was to Siemens SC-44 Chargers.

Last Sunday No. 390 was about 10 to 15 minutes off its published schedule as it blasted through Arcola.

There is a restored Illinois Central depot here, but Arcola has never been a scheduled Amtrak stop.

This is the second time I’ve photographed No. 390 in Arcola this summer. Back in mid June the Saluki carried a Heritage baggage car.

That has since been replaced by a Viewliner baggage car. In both cases, the baggage car was in the consist to enable the train to meet a minimum axle count required by host railroad Canadian National.

Chargers Pull Test Train on Empire Builder Route

February 3, 2020

Amtrak is operating a test train on three routes that is being pulled by a pair of Siemens Charger locomotives.

The consist included two SC-44 units, a P42DC locomotive, a Horizon Fleet car, three Viewliners baggage cars, a Viewliner passenger car and four Superliner cars.

The train operated from Chicago to Seattle last Tuesday and was designed to simulate the weight and length of a long-distance train.

“The purpose of this trip is to gather data,” said Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari, adding that officials from Amtrak and Siemens were on the train.

Additional tests runs are being made on the routes of the Coast Starlight and California Zephyr.

An online report indicated that the test train departed on the route of the Zephyr on Sunday morning and is due into Chicago on Tuesday afternoon.

Amtrak said in December 2018 that it would purchase 75 Siemens Charger locomotives for long-distance trains to replace its GE-built P40 and P42DC locomotives.

The Genesis series locomotives have been in service for more than 25 years.

The Chargers are expected to begin arriving at Amtrak in mid 2021.

Currently Chargers are in service on corridor trains in the Midwest and West.

Wolverines Being Pulled by Chargers

January 9, 2020

An online report this week indicated that all Amtrak Midwest Corridor trains in Michigan are now being pulled by Siemens SC-44 Charger locomotives.

Chargers have been pulling some Amtrak trains in Michigan for several months, most notably the Blue Water between Chicago and Port Huron.

But the units were slow to be assigned to Wolverine Service between Chicago and Detroit (Pontiac).

The delay in introducing Chargers to the Detroit corridor was due to the need to develop software for positive train control that was compatible with the Incremental Train Control System used on Amtrak-owned tracks between Kalamazoo, Michigan, and Porter, Indiana.

The first Charger to enter revenue service for Amtrak did so on Aug. 24, 2017, on a Hiawatha Service train between Chicago and Milwaukee. The units are not commonly used on corridor trains in Illinois, Wisconsin and Missouri.

The Chargers used by Amtrak in the Midwest were ordered by the Illinois Department of Transportation in conjunction with state transportation agencies in Michigan, Missouri and Wisconsin that also fund Amtrak corridor service.

Amtrak in December 2018 ordered 75 Chargers that will replace GE P42DC locomotives on long-distance trains starting in 2021.

Cleaner Chargers Touted on Earth Day in California

April 25, 2019

Amtrak celebrated Earth Day this week by touting the inauguration of 14 new Siemens Charger locomotives in Pacific Surfliner Service.

The locomotives are not actually new, having been shown off at a media event last October.

Amtrak, the California Department of Transportation, and the Los Angeles-San Diego-San Luis Obispo Rail Corridor Agency said that Chargers now pull most of the 24 daily Pacific Surfliner trains.

The locomotives were built in Sacramento, California, and have been certified as meeting the Tier IV emissions standards of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Officials have said the Charges are 90 percent cleaner than the 20-year-old locomotives that they replaced.

Caltrans funded the locomotives with $100 million in state, federal and local funds.

The North Country Transit District plans to buy Chargers for use on its Coaster trains between Oceanside and San Diego.

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.

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.

Amtrak to Put More Chargers Into Service

August 29, 2017

Amtrak will soon place into service its new Charger locomotives on three more Midwest corridor routes.

The Siemens-built SC-44 locomotives have already entered revenue service on the Hiawatha Service route between Chicago and Milwaukee.

Amtrak officials said the units are expected to enter service this week on Chicago-Quincy, Illinois, trains

In the near future, Chargers are expected to be assigned to Chicago-Carbondale, Illlinois, service and to the Pere Marquette to Grand Rapids, Michigan.

The new locomotives are being withheld from Chicago-St. Louis trains, and the Blue Water and Wolverine Service trains pending testing of Wabtec’s I-ETMS positive train control system and the two versions of Incremental Train Control installed on the routes of those trains.

“These are new installations, it’s a different locomotive, and the systems have to be merged and integrated with the Siemens software, so we will continue to run 110-mph between Porter and Kalamazoo with the existing P42  locomotives until testing is completed,” said Tim Hoeffner, director of Michigan’s rail office.

A similar situation exists in Illinois on Union Pacific track in the Chicago-St. Louis corridor. A 110-mph section between Dwight and Pontiac is reverting to 79 mph until the new system is in place.

The maximum speed of Lincoln Service trains will increase to 90 mph after track and signal work are completed.

Once the Federal Railroad Administration certifies that the positive train control system on the route is reliable, then top speeds will rise to 110 mph.

Amtrak superintendent of locomotives Mike Yates said that 12 of the 33 Chargers that were ordered are now on Amtrak property and 10 are ready to be put into revenue service.