The new Charger SC-44 locomotives were tested last weekend on three routes in the Midwest and are expected to enter revenue service this spring.
The Illinois Department of Transportation said the locomotives built by Siemens ran with empty trains of Amtrak passenger cars on routes linking Chicago with Milwaukee; Carbondale, Illinois; and Quincy, Illinois.
The locomotives will be tested on the Chicago-St. Louis corridor later this year.
“The delivery and testing of these attractive new locomotives will certainly get attention now and in years to come as they serve riders in our great Illinois communities,” said Illinois Transportation Secretary Randy Blankenhorn.
“Their arrival will be a welcome sight and put us one step closer to providing more efficient and reliable passenger rail service throughout our state and our neighboring states.”
During the test runs, engineering staff from Amtrak and Siemens rode the locomotives and performed required tests while monitoring each engine’s performance.
The Chargers are compliant with EPA Tier IV emissions standards and can operate at speeds up to 125 mph.
IDOT along with state transportation departments in Wisconsin, Michigan, Missouri, Oregon, Maryland, California and Washington collaborated on ordering the locomotives.
Midwest state agencies acquired 33 of the 4,400-horsepower locomotives, which were purchased through $216.5 million in federal funding and built in Sacramento, California. All of the Midwest-based locomotives are to be delivered by late 2017.
Revenue testing is to begin for 30 days on April 30 in California on the Capitol Corridor route. Six Chargers are expected to operate in Northern California on the Capitol Corridor and San Joaquin routes.
In a news release, Siemens said the Chargers are equipped with electronically controlled regenerative braking systems that use energy from traction motors during braking to feed the auxiliary and head-end power systems. The feature is expected to minimize fuel consumption.
The diesel-electric operation is designed to enable better acceleration, cleaner emissions and low noise levels. The locomotives feature a 4,400 horsepower Cummins QSK95 diesel engine.