Amtrak riders will soon be traveling on a brand-new type of locomotive that can go 125 miles per hour: Meet the ALC-42 Siemens Chargers

Amtrak's new ALC-42 Siemens Chargers at Chicago's Union Station - Amtrak ALC-42 Siemens Chargers Tour
An Amtrak ALC-42 Siemens Chargers. Thomas Pallini/Insider
  • 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.
An Amtrak Superliner train car - Amtrak Superliner
An Amtrak GE Genesis P42 locomotive. Thomas Pallini/Insider
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's new ALC-42 Siemens Chargers at Chicago's Union Station - Amtrak ALC-42 Siemens Chargers Tour
An Amtrak ALC-42 Siemens Chargers. Thomas Pallini/Insider
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.
Amtrak's new ALC-42 Siemens Chargers at Chicago's Union Station - Amtrak ALC-42 Siemens Chargers Tour
An Amtrak ALC-42 Siemens Chargers. Thomas Pallini/Insider
Source: Amtrak 
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
Amtrak's new ALC-42 Siemens Chargers at Chicago's Union Station - Amtrak ALC-42 Siemens Chargers Tour
An Amtrak ALC-42 Siemens Chargers. Thomas Pallini/Insider
Siemens designed the ALC-42 based on existing locomotives in North America and Europe, even some currently in service with Amtrak.
Amtrak's new ALC-42 Siemens Chargers at Chicago's Union Station - Amtrak ALC-42 Siemens Chargers Tour
An Amtrak ALC-42 Siemens Chargers. Thomas Pallini/Insider
Source: 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.
Amtrak Train
An Amtrak train passes through Elizabeth train station Saturday, March 12, 2016, in Elizabeth, N.J., along Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor. AP Photo/Mel Evans
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.
Amtrak's new ALC-42 Siemens Chargers at Chicago's Union Station - Amtrak ALC-42 Siemens Chargers Tour
An Amtrak ALC-42 Siemens Chargers. Thomas Pallini/Insider
Hence, you won’t find the locomotive on Northeast Regional or Acela Express services.
Amtrak Acela
Amtrak’s Acela service, which runs between Washington D.C., New York City, and Boston, is its most profitable route. Kyodo News Stills via Getty Images
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.
An Amtrak long-distance train
An Amtrak long-distance train. Ian Dewar Photography/Shutterstock.com
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.”
Amtrak's new ALC-42 Siemens Chargers at Chicago's Union Station - Amtrak ALC-42 Siemens Chargers Tour
An Amtrak ALC-42 Siemens Chargers. Thomas Pallini/Insider
Source: Amtrak
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.
Amtrak's new ALC-42 Siemens Chargers at Chicago's Union Station - Amtrak ALC-42 Siemens Chargers Tour
An Amtrak ALC-42 Siemens Chargers. Thomas Pallini/Insider
Source: Amtrak
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.
A rendering of Amtrak's ALC-42 Siemens Chargers locomotive - ALC-42 Siemens Chargers
A rendering of ‘s ALC-42 Siemens Chargers locomotive. Amtrak
Source: Amtrak
Upgrades found on the ALC-42 will also mean less frequent visitors to the repair shops.
A rendering of Amtrak's ALC-42 Siemens Chargers locomotive - ALC-42 Siemens Chargers
A rendering of ‘s ALC-42 Siemens Chargers locomotive. Amtrak
Source: Amtrak
Siemens builds the locomotive at its Sacramento, California facility and says that most of the materials are sourced in the US.
Siemens Sacramento, California production facility
Siemens’ Sacramento, California production facility. Lezlie Sterling/Sacramento Bee/Tribune News Service/Getty
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.
Amtrak
Source: Amtrak
Safety systems found on the ALC-42 include positive train control and crash energy management.
A rendering of Amtrak's ALC-42 Siemens Chargers locomotive - ALC-42 Siemens Chargers
A rendering of ‘s ALC-42 Siemens Chargers locomotive. Amtrak
Source: Amtrak
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.
A demonstration of positive train control - Amtrak
A demonstration of positive train control. Amtrak
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%.
A rendering of Amtrak's ALC-42 Siemens Chargers locomotive - ALC-42 Siemens Chargers
A rendering of ‘s ALC-42 Siemens Chargers locomotive. Amtrak
Source: Amtrak
The ALC-42 also boasts better fuel consumption to help Amtrak lower fuel costs while meeting its sustainability goals.
A rendering of Amtrak's ALC-42 Siemens Chargers locomotive - ALC-42 Siemens Chargers
A rendering of ‘s ALC-42 Siemens Chargers locomotive. Amtrak
Source: Amtrak
The first ALC-42 to be delivered to Amtrak is painted in a special livery commemorating Amtrak’s 50th anniversary of rail service.
Amtrak's new ALC-42 Siemens Chargers at Chicago's Union Station - Amtrak ALC-42 Siemens Chargers Tour
An Amtrak ALC-42 Siemens Chargers. Thomas Pallini/Insider
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
Amtrak is painting a select few locomotives, including the P-42s that are on their way out, in various special liveries.
An Amtrak GE Genesis P42 locomotive - Amtrak ALC-42 Siemens Chargers Tour
An Amtrak GE Genesis P42 locomotive. Thomas Pallini/Insider
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.
An Amtrak GE Genesis P42 locomotive - Amtrak ALC-42 Siemens Chargers Tour
An Amtrak GE Genesis P42 locomotive. Thomas Pallini/Insider
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.
An Amtrak GE Genesis P42 locomotive - Amtrak ALC-42 Siemens Chargers Tour
An Amtrak GE Genesis P42 locomotive. Thomas Pallini/Insider
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.
An Amtrak GE Genesis P42 locomotive - Amtrak ALC-42 Siemens Chargers Tour
An Amtrak GE Genesis P42 locomotive. Thomas Pallini/Insider