Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Amtrak ACS-64 testing under way

Written by  William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief
Amtrak’s new ACS-64 (Cities Sprinter) electric locomotives from Siemens Mobility are now in a comprehensive and rigorous testing program in preparation for entering service on the Washington-Philadelphia-New York-Boston Northeast Corridor and Philadelphia-Harrisburg Keystone Corridor this fall.

Two locomotives are at TTCI to undergo a series of tests, including maximum speed runs, acceleration and braking, operating with Amtrak passenger cars, and testing the overall performance capabilities of the locomotive. Engineers are also validating the onboard computer system and software, as well as evaluating ride quality by using instruments to measure things such as noise and wheel vibrations.

A variety of additional tests and validation exercises are being conducted as part of the commissioning process to ensure the locomotive is operating and performing as designed and that it is ready to provide reliable service for Amtrak passengers.

In addition to the robust testing regime at TTCI, a third ACS-64 will run field tests on the Northeast and Keystone Corridors and be used for training Amtrak locomotive engineers and mechanical crews. A fourth locomotive will be tested in a climate-controlled chamber to determine how well it performs hot and cold temperature extremes.

Amtrak selected Siemens to design and manufacture 70 next-generation electric locomotives “that will provide improved reliability, efficiency and mobility for intercity rail passengers traveling on the Northeast and Keystone Corridors.” The new locomotives will replace existing AEM-7 electric locomotives that have been in service for 25-35 years, with an average of 3.5 million miles traveled.

The ACS-64 locomotives are being assembled in Siemens’ Sacramento, Calif., rail manufacturing plant, with parts supplied from its plants in Norwood, Ohio, Alpharetta, Ga., and Richland, Miss., and nearly 70 suppliers representing more than 60 cities and 23 states. The first units being used in the testing program rolled off the assembly line in May.

The new locomotives will operate on Northeast Regional trains at speeds up to 125 mph on the Northeast Corridor and on Keystone Service trains at speeds up to 110 mph. In addition, the new locomotives will power all long-distance trains operating on the NEC. Once the locomotives are commissioned in the fall, production of the remaining units will ramp up for monthly delivery through 2016. The new locomotives are part of a comprehensive Amtrak Fleet Strategy Plan.