Posts Tagged ‘SC-44’

2 for Amtrak’s 50th Anniversary

May 3, 2021

I wanted to get out and photograph Amtrak on its 50th anniversary day last Saturday. I began my quest by setting next to the CSX Monon Subdivision south of Linden, Indiana, to capture the westbound Cardinal.

No. 51 was right on the money about 10 minutes past 5, having made a station stop, in Crawfordsville about 12 minutes earlier. It was about a half-hour after sunrise.

Next I motored over to east central Illinois to get the northbound Saluki, a corridor train funded by the Illinois Department of Transportation that originates in Carbondale and travels to Chicago.

No. 390 is shown above taking a signal at Humboldt, Illinois. It, too, was running on time.

None of the equipment seen in these photographs existed in 1971 and most of it had not been created yet as a concept.

The Amfleet coaches and food service car of the Cardinal come closest because Amfleet equipment was based on the design of the Budd Metroliners of the 1960s. Superliner equipment was inspired by the Hi-Level cars of the Santa Fe.

In 1971 EMD E and F units with a handful of passenger equipped geeps, U boats and SDs were the common motive power. It all wore the markings and liveries of its owners.

The Saluki does not normally operate with Superliner equipment, but has since Amtrak reduced the frequency of most long-distance trains last year to tri-weekly.

Starting May 24 Amtrak plans to begin to restore daily service to most long-distance trains — the Cardinal and Sunset Limited are exceptions — so the Superliners now on the Saluki probably will be replaced with Horizon and Amfleet equipment.

But not for long as Amtrak has begun taking delivery of and testing the new Siemens Venture cars and they are expected to begin revenue service later this year.

The long distance trains are also slated to begin receiving Charger locomotives similar to the SC-44 seen above pullking the Saluki albeit with a difference livery.

With Amtrak things are always changing even if it doesn’t always appear that way at first glance.

Charging Past Some Late Fall Color

November 24, 2020

There was still some good fall foliage to be had in Pesotum, Illinois, in early November when I caught Amtrak’s northbound Saluki.

On the point is a Siemens Charger leading a consist of Superliner cars that likely have been bumped from long-distance train service when most of those trains shifted to tri-weekly operation this past October.

Amtrak No. 303 at Chenoa

September 17, 2020

Although I’ve written dozens of posts in the past years about the project to upgrade Amtrak’s Chicago-St. Louis route for higher speed service, it has been more than a decade since I visited that line.

On a recent Friday morning I drove to Chenoa, Illinois, to photograph Lincoln Service No. 303, which barrelled through on time.

Much has changed since I last saw operations on this route. The trains travel faster, the tracks have been rebuilt, new signals have been installed and the motive power is SC-44 Chargers.

Many of the grade crossings are no horn zones with barriers and fencing having been installed for safety.

But the consist of Horizon and Amfleet cars was the same as what I saw during my previous visit years ago. Some things have not changed.

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.

First Amtrak Charger to be Delivered in Early 2021

July 15, 2020

An SC-44 Charger owned by the Illinois Department of Transportation pulls the northbound Saluki through Humboldt, Illinois, on July 13, 2020.

Amtrak expects to begin taking delivery early next year of new Siemens Charger locomotives to be used to pull its long-distance trains.

The passenger carrier has ordered 75 Charges that will be similar to the SC-44 locomotives currently used by Midwest Corridor trains.

The first Charger to be used for long-distance service is expected to arrive in February or March 2021.

Amtrak has not said when it expects its new Charger locomotives to enter revenue service.

In a related matter, the Next Generation Equipment Committee has reported that 51 new passenger cars of an order of 137 have been assembled or are being constructed.

The Committee, which is comprised of representatives of Amtrak, the Federal Railroad Administration, Amtrak’s host freight railroads, equipment manufacturers, and state and other operators, said cars built for the Illinois Department of Transportation are expected to be delivered to that agency this month.

The cars will be used in corridor service in the Midwest and California.

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.

Going to be Crowded Trains Today

November 27, 2019

The Thanksgiving travel period is a busy one for Amtrak and is one of the few times of the year when the passenger carrier operates extra sections of some trains.

The Chicago-Carbondale, Illinois, corridor is not one of those routes that is getting or have had extra sections in the past, but Amtrak did plan to increase the capacity of trains in the corridor.

Shown is the southbound Saluki arriving at its station stop in Mattoon, Illinois, on Nov. 24.

The image was made from the Richmond Avenue bridge north of the station.

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.