Amtrak, Siemens demo testing of new locomotives

Posted on July 31, 2013

The new Amtrak Cities Sprinter (ACS-64) electric locomotives are now in a comprehensive and rigorous testing program, and are being put through the paces before entering Northeast service this fall.

Amtrak President/CEO Joe Boardman, Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph Szabo and Siemens Rail Systems President Michael Cahill traveled to the U.S Department of Transportation (DOT) Transportation Technology Center (TTC) facility in Pueblo, Colo., to get an update on the testing program and to observe a testing demonstration.

"These locomotives are the new workhorses of the Amtrak fleet in the Northeast and they must meet our performance-based specifications and reliability needs so we can keep the region's people and economy moving," said Boardman.

Two locomotives are at the TTC facility to undergo a series of tests, including maximum speed runs, acceleration and braking, operating with Amtrak passenger coach cars attached and testing the overall performance capabilities of the locomotive. Engineers are also validating the on-board computer system and software, as well as evaluate ride quality by using instruments to measure things such as noise and wheel vibrations.

A variety of additional tests and validation exercises are being conducted as part of the commissioning process to ensure the locomotive is operating and performing as designed and that it is ready to provide reliable service for Amtrak passengers.

"Safety is our number one priority," said Szabo. "Today's testing regime demonstrates the extraordinary safety standards FRA requires manufacturers and railroads to meet when building passenger rail equipment. One in seven Americans lives along the Northeast Corridor and as demand for passenger rail service continues to grow across the country, we will continue to ensure that rail equipment is safe, reliable and efficient."

In addition to the robust testing regime at TTC, a third locomotive will run field tests on the Northeast and Keystone Corridors this summer and be used for training Amtrak locomotive engineers and mechanical crews. A fourth locomotive will be tested in a climate-controlled chamber to determine how well it performs in extreme heat and cold temperatures.

Amtrak selected Siemens to design and manufacture 70 next-generation, electric locomotives that will provide improved reliability, efficiency and mobility for intercity rail passengers traveling on the Northeast and Keystone Corridors. The new locomotives will replace existing locomotives in service for 25 to 35 years with an average of 3.5 million miles traveled.

Using Siemens' innovative and proven rail technology, the Amtrak Cities Sprinter (ACS-64) locomotives are being assembled in Siemens' Sacramento, Calif., rail manufacturing plant powered by renewable energy, with parts built from its plants in Norwood, Ohio, Alpharetta, Ga., and Richland, Miss., and nearly 70 suppliers, representing more than 60 cities and 23 states. The first units being used in the testing program rolled off the assembly line in May.

Michael Cahill, Joseph Boardman and Joseph Szabo.
Michael Cahill, Joseph Boardman and Joseph Szabo.
The new locomotives will operate on Northeast Regional trains at speeds up to 125 mph on the Northeast Corridor (NEC) along the Washington – New York – Boston route and on Keystone Service trains at speeds up to 110 mph on the Keystone Corridor from Philadelphia to Harrisburg, Pa. In addition, the new locomotives will power all long-distance trains operating on the NEC.

The new locomotives are designed for easier maintenance, will improve energy efficiency by using a regenerative braking system that will feed energy back into the power grid and will enhance mobility for the people, businesses and economy of the entire Northeast region. They also meet the latest federal rail safety regulations.

Once the locomotives are commissioned in the fall, production of the remaining units will ramp up for monthly delivery through 2016. The new locomotives are part of a comprehensive Amtrak Fleet Strategy Plan to modernize and expand its equipment.

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