Surfliner Chargers make their entrance

Written by Stuart Chirls, Senior Editor
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Photo: Amtrak

Always a big railroad moment, three California passenger rail agencies unveiled the next-generation motive power for Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner trains.

The Los Angeles–San Diego–San Luis Obispo (LOSSAN) Rail Corridor Agency, California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and manufacturer Siemens introduced the new Charger locomotives Tuesday at Los Angeles Union Station.

State and local officials toured one of 14 new Chargers that will begin powering Pacific Surfliner services starting this fall between San Diego, Los Angeles and San Luis Obispo.

“The production and delivery of new locomotives and railcars does more than provide an environmentally friendly way to travel around the state,” said Brian Annis, Secretary of the California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA). “It also directly employs more Californians in well-paid jobs, while indirectly generating more jobs throughout the state’s economy.”

The four-axle 4,400-hp Charger, powered by a Cummins QSK95 16-cylinder prime-mover, is the first diesel-electric passenger locomotive to receive Tier IV emissions certification from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

“These locomotives were proudly produced by the 1,300 Siemens employees who work in our solar-powered plant in Sacramento, Calif., one of the most well-established, comprehensive manufacturing facilities of its kind in the country,” said Michael Cahill, President of Siemens Rolling Stock in the U.S.  “Siemens is grateful for the opportunity to work with Caltrans and is proud to be a part of its efforts to provide clean and efficient transportation for the state of California.”

The new locomotives were funded by Caltrans with approximately $100 million in state, federal and local funds, and will replace Amtrak-owned EMD F59PHI units, which are nearly 20 years old.

“I’m excited for these new locomotives, which will provide safe, clean and reliable passenger rail service in Southern California,” said Caltrans Director Laurie Berman. “I’m very proud of partnerships like this – working together helps Caltrans do more for the mobility of Californians.”

Twenty-four daily Pacific Surfliner trains providing service along the Southern California coast between San Luis Obispo and San Diego Santa Fe Depot.

“The Charger locomotives are almost 90% cleaner than the locomotives they will be replacing, and their 4,400 horsepower engines are more powerful and reliable too,” said Bryan MacDonald, chairman of the LOSSAN Agency, which oversees Pacific Surfliner service. “These locomotives will allow us to expand Pacific Surfliner service to meet growing ridership demand while also significantly reducing emissions in the communities we serve.”

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