Wednesday, February 15, 2017

New Amtrak Charger locomotives testing on Cascades route

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Siemens Charger locomotive at King Street Station in Seattle. Siemens Charger locomotive at King Street Station in Seattle. Courtesy Washington State Department of Transportation

National certification testing of Amtrak’s new Charger locomotive is being conducted by the Washington State Department of Transportation.

The WSDOT said that the Siemens SC-44 Charger units are testing on the Amtrak Cascades corridor throughout February. If all goes well they are scheduled to enter regular service later this year.

The WSDOT has ordered eight of the 4,400-horsepower locomotives, which are being assembled by Siemens in Sacramento. Siemens is headquartered in Germany. 

Washington, along with Illinois, California, Michigan and Missouri jointly developed specifications for the Charger. Washington operates the Cascades Corridor service with the Oregon Department of Transportation.

Florida’s privately-run Brightline passenger service has been testing the first of an order of five Charger trainsets delivered in January.

Hauling a Cascades trainset sans passengers, the Chargers will transit various sections of the existing Vancouver, British Columbia to Eugene, Oregon corridor. Amtrak and Siemens staff will test and monitor how the locomotive performs.

The agency added that because its eight locomotives are under construction in California, an Illinois unit has been deployed for testing. The WSDOT units are slated to arrive in April.

The Charger was previously tested at the AAR’s facility in Colorado.

The new locomotive is part of WSDOT’s $800 million federally funded Cascades High-Speed Rail program.

The added motive power and other improvements will enable the WSDOT to add two more daily Amtrak Cascades roundtrips between Seattle and Portland beginning in the fall.

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