In a commemorative ceremony held at Philadelphia’s 30th Street rail station, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx joined Siemens and Amtrak executives to debut the first Siemens-built electric locomotive for Amtrak, the nation’s intercity passenger rail service and high-speed rail operator. The advanced technology locomotive enters passenger service today.
Amtrak awarded Siemens a $466 million (€338 million) contract in October, 2010, to deliver 70 electric locomotives. For Siemens, this order marked the company’s entry into the American locomotive market. The locomotives, known as the Amtrak Cities Sprinter, are being assembled at Siemens’ solar-powered rail manufacturing plant in Sacramento (California). The equipment includes parts built from Siemens plants in Norwood (Ohio), Alpharetta (Georgia) and Richland (Mississippi) and nearly 70 other suppliers, representing more than 60 cities and 23 states.
Capable of pulling 18 train cars at a maximum speed of 125 mph (200 km/h) these new Amtrak locomotives will safely and efficiently power commuters along the heavily traveled Northeast corridor between Washington, New York and Boston. Amtrak operates more than 300 intercity trains daily on a railroad network of almost 21,300 miles that serves 500 cities in North America. Its ridership continues to grow, with the company transporting 31.6 million passengers in 2013, an all-time annual record, and the 10th such record in 11 years.
The Amtrak Cities Sprinters are based on Siemens’ Eurosprinter and Vectron locomotives and are designed for improved reliability and easier maintenance, leading to faster turn-around times and increased availability for service. The 70 new locomotives are equipped with regenerative braking that allows energy to be fed into the power system for use by other trains. When fully deployed and operated as designed, the regenerative braking feature may result in the generation of 3 billion kilowatt hours of energy. At an estimated 10 cents per kilowatt hour, the energy generated equals $300 million in electricity being returned to the power system for use by other trains.
A state-of-the-art microprocessor system performs self-diagnosis of technical issues, takes self-corrective action and notifies the locomotive engineer. In addition, there are redundant systems to ensure power is maintained to the passenger cars to keep heating and cooling systems working, the lights on and the doors operational. The locomotives meet the latest federal rail safety regulations, including crash energy management components.
The locomotives are equipped to operate with the three contact line voltages of 25 kV, 12.5 kV and 12 kV in use in North America and offer a power output of up to 6.4 MW, which far exceeds the performance of older locomotive generations. Thanks to its simple and easily accessible component structure, the locomotive’s technical design also enables quick and cost-efficient maintenance, potentially saving Amtrak several hundred million dollars in operating costs over the fleet’s entire life cycle.