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Siemens to build new Amtrak electrics

Written by William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief

Amtrak has awarded a six-year, $466 million contract to Siemens Mobility (a division of Siemens Industry, Inc.) for 70 “Cities Sprinter” ACS-64 electric locomotives for Northeast Corridor service. Designed to operate at speeds up to 125 mph between Boston and Washington D.C. and 110 mph between Philadelphia and Harrisburg, the 8,580-hp (6,400-kW) locomotives will eventually replace all of Amtrak’s existing electric fleet.

amtrak-siemens-cities-sprinter.jpgAs the new locomotives enter service beginning in 2013, Amtrak plans first to retire all its 20 existing AEM-7 d.c. traction electric locomotives. These workhorses, built by ASEA of Sweden (now Bombardier), have been in service for as long as 30 years and have accumulated as much as 3.5 million miles of service. This will be followed by replacement of all 29 AEM-7 a.c.-traction locomotives, which Alstom Transport rebuilt in the late 1990s. The remaining 21 locomotives in the order will be used to replace all 15 Alstom/Bombardier HHP-8 locomotives and support anticipated service expansion.

The ACS-64s are funded with federal transportation money and as such must contain 100% U.S. content. They will be built at Siemens’ Sacramento, Calif., plant, with certain components manufactured at Siemens plants in Norwood, Ohio and Alpharetta, Ga. Siemens says 250 jobs will be created, primarily in Sacramento.

Siemens says the ACS-64 “meets the latest federal safety regulations and includes additional safety features not yet required, such as CEM (crash energy management) components like anti-climbing technology and push-back couplers designed to keep the train upright, inline, and on the tracks in the event of a collision. The design also allows for easier maintenance, leading to faster turnaround times and increased availability.” In addition, the new locomotives will be more energy efficient, as most of the older units they’re replacing do not have regenerative braking systems that automatically return electricity to the catenary power grid.

In February 2010, Amtrak released its long-term Fleet Strategy Plan to replace aging and outdated locomotives and passenger cars “in order to enhance operations, attract more riders, reduce maintenance costs and delays, improve ontime performance, and expand services on current and new routes,” said President and CEO Joseph Boardman. “The report lays out the basis for recapitalizing the entire fleet over a period of time in a manner that will not only provide new and modern equipment for passengers, but will also develop and sustain the domestic production capacity needed for the long term viability of intercity passenger rail in the U.S.”

The 70 ACS-64s are the second major equipment procurement undertaken since July 2010, when Amtrak announced the award of a $298 million contract to CAF to build 130 single-level Viewliner II passenger railcars to support growing ridership on its long-distance trains.

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