Amtrak to order 50 more long-distance Siemens Chargers

Amtrak to order 50 more long-distance Siemens Chargers

By Bob Johnston | February 8, 2022

Technical issues delay first revenue trip for new locomotives

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Black locomotive in station with RV cameraman in foreground
The news media turns out at Chicago Union Station on Tuesday to see ALC42 No. 301 prepare to lead the westbound Empire Builder. PTC issues led to the addition of a standard P42 locomotive leading the train. (Bob Johnston)

CHICAGO — On the day Amtrak placed its first Siemens ALC42 locomotives into revenue service — although not without some problems — the company announced it will acquire more of the locomotives.

In a event at Chicago Union Station, Amtrak Vice President and Chief Mechanical Officer George Hull used the operating debut of the two long-distance Charger diesels to announce the company’s board of directors has authorized exercising the option to add 50 more to the 2018 production order of 75 now rolling out of Siemens Sacramento, Calif., production facility.

Unit 301, in the “Day One” design mimicking a hastily painted EMD E8 locomotive created for Amtrak’s 1971 launch, had been tapped to lead sister No. 302 and heritage-painted P42 No. 161 on Tuesday’s westbound Empire Builder out of Chicago Union Station following a presentation from Hull and Siemens Mobility Rolling Stock vice president Michael Cahill. Operating three locomotives is standard practice in winter on the Builder to Seattle and Portland, Ore.

However, after the media photo opportunity concluded, an additional P42 was added on the point, Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari tells Trains News Wire, “for technical reasons related to positive train control.” The train was 34 minutes late when it arrived at its first stop in Glenview, Ill, and lost another 32 minutes at the station in Glenview. This also delayed the scheduled 3:15 p.m. Hiawatha departure from Chicago to Milwaukee for almost a half hour.

The two ALC42s had undergone testing on a number of Amtrak routes for the past six months. These long-distance Chargers have 1,000-kilowatt head-end power capability, compared with 600 kw on Brightline, VIA Rail Canada, and Amtrak regional versions. They also have 2,200-gallon fuel tanks instead of the 1,800-gallon capacity of units in Midwest and West Coast service. The ALC42’s 4,200-hp rating is similar to locomotives ordered by VIA and greater than Brightline’s 4,000 hp. SCB-40s, but less than the 4,400 hp of the SC44s in Amtrak regional corridor service.

Hull says, “Later this spring you will see new looks on these locomotives as they come from the factory.”   

Four locomotives leading passenger train
Running more than an hour late, barely 20 miles into its trip, Tuesday’s Empire Builder approaches Tower A20 in Northbrook, Ill. PTC issues led to P42 No. 84 being added in front of the two Siemens ALC42 locomotives making their first revenue trip. (Trains: David Lassen)
Black, blue, and red and silver locomotives.
What might have been: the locomotives that had been intended to lead Tuesday’s Empire Builder. (Trains: David Lassen)

6 thoughts on “Amtrak to order 50 more long-distance Siemens Chargers

  1. Built at the Siemens Mobility’s rail manufacturing hub in Sacramento-CA, the ALC-42 Siemens Charger diesel rail giants are developed for Amtrak’s long distance services.
    Assembly of the first ALC-42 began in March 2020; by February 2021, 12 units had begun production, with the first locomotive, AMTK 300, delivered to Amtrak on June 17.
    The first ALC-42 locomotives entered revenue service on the Empire Builder on February 8, 2022 after extensive testing in the midwest and on the Empire Builder route [Of the 2 units on the inaugural service, one was Amtrak’s “Day One” heritage unit #301].
    On the same day, the Amtrak administration harbingered that they had ordered an additional 50 ALC-42s, bringing the total amount of locomotives ordered to 125. Step by step, they will primarily replace the Amtrak P40 and P42 locomotives, some of which have been in service for more than 25 years.
    This is, indeed, another colorful and considerable milestone in the colorful and considerable history of the dynamic 51-year-old marathon runner across the country rails, Amtrak (National Railroad Passenger Corporation)! Hope to witness many more!

    Dr. Güntürk Üstün

  2. The safe, robust, powerful [4200 hp (3100 kW)], fast [maximum speed in service is 125 mph (201 km/h)] and environmentalist new Amtrak diesel-electric chic locomotives will power trains used on these services: “Auto Train” (suburban Washington to suburban Orlando), “California Zephyr” (Chicago to San Francisco Bay), “Capitol Limited” (Washington to Chicago), “Cardinal” (New York to Chicago), “City of New Orleans” (Chicago to New Orleans), “Coast Starlight” (Seattle to Los Angeles) “Crescent” (New York to New Orleans), “Empire Builder” (Chicago to Seattle/Portland), “Lake Shore Limited” (New York/Boston to Chicago), “Palmetto” (New York to Savannah) “Silver Star & Silver Meteor” (New York to Miami), “Southwest Chief” (Chicago to Los Angeles), “Sunset Limited” (New Orleans to Los Angeles) and “Texas Eagle” (Chicago to San Antonio).
    Run dear ALC-42s run, in the company of winds blowing from all directions!

    Dr. Güntürk Üstün

  3. PTC issues were not the only thing that delayed the Builder yesterday. An electrical fire in the Superliner Lounge car led to the removal of that care in Milwaukee.

  4. I will take a guess seeing that these are 2 new engines. The PTC transponders I am guessing were not fully registered in the national database and could not interact with the network.

    1. Ah, thank you. Still, considering the planned ceremony, I would have thought AMTRAK would seen that everything was in order.

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