- Amtrak has a new locomotive that will be the face of the rail corporation.
- The ALC-42 Siemens Chargers can reach a top speed of 125 miles (201km) per hour while burning less diesel.
- An $850 million contract was awarded for 75 locomotives to be delivered through 2024.
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Amtrak last month unveiled the new upgrades to its Superliner and Viewliner fleet that including redesigned seats, enhanced rooms, and the restoration of traditional dining.
But the passenger cars were not the only aspect of Amtrak’s long-distance trains to receive an upgrade. The locomotives that will soon be driving the trains are a brand-new type for Amtrak.
Amtrak chose the ALC-42 Siemens Chargers to replace its current locomotives on all of its long-distance routes, as well as many of its state-sponsored routes.
A total of 75 trains will be delivered over the next three years as part of an $850 million contract, completely overhauling Amtrak’s rolling stock. Meet the ALC-42 Siemens Chargers
Siemens designed the ALC-42 based on existing locomotives in North America and Europe, even some currently in service with Amtrak.
Frequent Northeast Corridor customers will note that the design of the ALC-42 shares features with the ALC-64 electric trains that run between Boston and Washington, DC.
But the new trains aren’t designed to run on electrified tracks. Rather, diesel engines generate electricity that is then used to power the electric motors on the locomotive.
Hence, you won’t find the locomotive on Northeast Regional or Acela Express services.
Even the Empire Corridor between Albany and New York won’t be able to accommodate the new locomotives due to an electrified stretch of track in Manhattan that’s off-limits to diesel-only trains.
The ALC-42 is called as such because it has a 4,200-horsepower output. The “ALC” part of the name is an acronym for “Amtrak Long-distance Chargers.”
That engine output enables a top speed of 125 miles (201km) per hour, making it around 15 miles (24km) per hour faster than the locomotives it is replacing.
Increases in head-end power and fuel capacity will allow larger trains to be pulled by the locomotive with fewer fuel stops on longer runs.
Upgrades found on the ALC-42 will also mean less frequent visitors to the repair shops.
Siemens builds the locomotive at its Sacramento, California facility and says that most of the materials are sourced in the US.
The P-series locomotives being replaced entered service more than 25 years ago. Passengers can’t tell their age from the outside but updating the locomotives has benefits in safety and emissions.
Safety systems found on the ALC-42 include positive train control and crash energy management.
Positive train control, already implemented on Northeast Corridor trains, is a system of computers, transmitters, and signals that can help monitor trains and enforce speed limits and signals.
Increased sustainability is also a feature of the ALC-42 as its 16-cylinder Cummins QSK95 engine has “Tier 4 Emissions Technology” that reduces nitrogen oxide by around 89% and particulate matter by 95%.
The ALC-42 also boasts better fuel consumption to help Amtrak lower fuel costs while meeting its sustainability goals.
The first ALC-42 to be delivered to Amtrak is painted in a special livery commemorating Amtrak’s 50th anniversary of rail service.
But other deliveries will arrive painted in the blue and gray paint scheme that customers most easily recognize. That is until Amtrak settles on a final design.
Amtrak is painting a select few locomotives, including the P-42s that are on their way out, in various special liveries.
It’s a sign that while new locomotives are on their way, the old GE Genesis P-42s will be sticking around for quite some time.
Amtrak will be taking delivery of the new Siemens trains from now until 2024 but it won’t be a one-to-one replacement of the GE fleet.
In any case, long-distance riders can look forward to riding on newly upgraded rolling stock from the passenger cars all the way to the locomotive.