Watch: Amtrak Midwest Siemens Ventures (Updated)

Written by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor
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Four Siemens Mobility “Venture” cars for Amtrak Midwest service are being tested this week. A train with the new single-level passenger cars left Pontiac, Mich., around 7 a.m. on Jan. 26 bound for Chicago, on Michigan’s state-supported Amtrak Wolverine route.

Part of an 88-car order for the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), the Venture cars will be used on Midwest Coalition service trains represented by IDOT. (Download the Venture car spec sheet below.)

Amtrak is operating the test train on behalf of IDOT and the other Amtrak Midwest partners, Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), Missouri Department of Transportation (MODOT), and Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT). (See video link below.)

Under 49 CFR Part 238.111, Amtrak is responsible for planning, conducting and reporting to the Federal Railroad Administration that the new rolling stock is compliant with all the provisions set forth under current passenger equipment safety standards. FRA is monitoring the testing and expects to receive from Amtrak a final report summarizing the results. Under FRA regulation 238.111(a), Amtrak is also required to test the new passenger equipment to ensure that the operating system is compatible with the new equipment. This must be completed prior to revenue service. Amtrak successfully completed this test on Jan. 25 and Jan. 26. 

This picture of the new Venture cars was taken in Battle Creek, Mich., during testing on Jan. 25. (Michigan Department of Transportation, Twitter)

In August, IDOT began taking delivery of the Venture cars, which are being built at Siemens’ Sacramento, Calif., plant.

The Siemens/IDOT contract dates to November 2017, when Caltrans and IDOT amended a $317 million contract for new passenger cars, replacing Nippon Sharyo with Siemens, which partnered with Sumitomo Corp. of Americas to fulfill a delayed multi-state order. The revised contract involved 137 single-level passenger railcars—49 for Caltrans and 88 for IDOT. Under the original terms of the deal, Sumitomo had subcontracted construction of bi-level cars to Nippon Sharyo of Japan. The revised pact substituted Siemens as a subcontractor, changed specifications to single-level cars, and accelerated delivery from five years to 24-34 months.

Click the image above for a link to the video.


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