ACE charges ahead with Siemens

Written by William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief
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Siemens Charger locomotive in Amtrak service in the Midwest.

The San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission (SJRRC) has awarded Siemens a contract to build four Charger diesel-electric locomotives for Altamont Corridor Express (ACE) service, with an option to purchase four additional units.

Delivery of the locomotives will begin in December 2019. Funding through Bay Area Air Quality Management District, San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District, Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program and the Low Carbon Transit Operations Program grants.

The new Chargers will be able to haul 10-car trains, a 43% increase from the current seven-car capacity cars. Using the EPA Tier 4-compliant, 4,400-hp Cummins QSK95 16-cylinder diesel engine, they will provide a 90% greenhouse gas emissions reduction and a 16% fuel efficiency improvement over existing SJRRC locomotives. Buy America-compliant, these locomotives will also be “Made in California” at Siemens’ Sacramento rail manufacturing plant, which is also powered by up to 80% renewable energy. Main components are produced in Siemens U.S. plants: gearboxes and traction motors in Norwood, Ohio, and traction converters in Alpharetta, Ga. The diesel engines are manufactured by Cummins in its Seymour, Ind., plant. Siemens has also “established a robust and diverse base of U.S. suppliers across the country to support production of the Charger locomotives,” the company says.

Starting with just two daily round trips in 1998, ACE is now carrying 1.3 million passengers annually. ACE runs four daily round trips starting at the Cabral Station in Downtown Stockton, with stops in Lathrop/Manteca, Tracy, Vasco Road, Livermore, Pleasanton, Fremont, Great America, Santa Clara and San Jose’s Diridon station. All ACE trains are ADA-accessible with free WiFi. ACE annually provides the equivalent of 43.5 million highway vehicle-miles, and each train replaces the equivalent of 695 cars in the nation’s worst-congested commute areas. The agency operates a 187,000-square-foot. rail maintenance facility, the first of its kind in the U.S. to achieve LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Silver certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

“Our service is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, and we are proud of the important part that this line has played in developing a strong, sustainable link between Stockton and the greater Bay Area,” said Steve Dresser, Chair, SJRRC Board of Directors. “We will be taking even more cars off the road, and providing a quieter, smoother ride for our growing number of passengers.”

Siemens Charger locomotives are currently servicing transportation agencies across the U.S., including California (Caltrans), Illinois (IDOT), Washington (WSDOT) and Maryland (MTA). Additional states served by the locomotives are Oregon, Wisconsin, Missouri, Michigan and Iowa. Charger locomotives are also powering new trainsets for Brightline, the higher-speed passenger rail service connecting South and Central Florida.

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