News & Reviews News Wire Amtrak seeks information on zero-emissions replacements for diesel fleet

Amtrak seeks information on zero-emissions replacements for diesel fleet

By Trains Staff | April 17, 2024

Move is first step in pursing alternative-propulsion locomotives

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Amtrak logo.WASHINGTON — Amtrak on Tuesday announced it has released a Request for Information seeking information on zero-emission technologies for the company’s rail fleet as a step toward eliminating its current diesel locomotive fleet.

“Finding the cleanest technologies to carry customers across our vast network will be transformative as we deliver a new era of rail,” Amtrak President Roger Harris said in a press release. “We are excited to take this important step toward providing safe and reliable service with a smaller impact on the environment.”

Amtrak’s procurement website says the company is seeking “vendor information in relation to the industry options for Zero-Emissions locomotive and trainset-compatible technologies. This includes battery, hydrogen, and overhead contact systems to replace the current convention diesel fleet used on Amtrak’s National Network in both revenue and non-revenue service.” Responses are due by July 31. The company says results of the RFI “will inform Amtrak’s future decisions to procure the most energy efficient and environmentally friendly fleet for deployment across Amtrak’s network.”

In 2022, the company announced its goal of Net Zero emissions by 2045 [see “Amtrak sets goal of net zero …,” Trains News Wire, Sept. 23, 2022]. That came just after the state of California announced it had ordered hydrogen-fuel cell trainsets that were initially presented as being for use in Amtrak California service, which would represent the first alternative power-source equipment for any Amtrak operation [see “Stadler unveils first hydrogen train for U.S. …,” News Wire, Sept. 21, 2022]. A subsequent addition to that order indicates the equipment is intended for the planned Valley Rail service, which covers both the Altamont Corridor Express commuter service and Amtrak’s San Joaquins [see “California orders six more …,” News Wire, Feb. 15, 2024].

11 thoughts on “Amtrak seeks information on zero-emissions replacements for diesel fleet

  1. Amtrak wrote in its RFI for locomotives with “…overhead contact systems to replace the current convention…” which means they should have also requested information on the facility requirements for an “electric overhead contact system” since they don’t have one now in California. The cost of that system will easily exceed the cost of all of the “…locomotives and trainsets…” or did they just think they would get free use of in-place systems wherever they might be built by someone else which has historically been the case elsewhere when those facilities already existed. They can’t use the NEC for that information because it is old technology and its cost is not based on replacement, but the contributions it receives from long distance and state funded sources. PLus the cost of electrical wire, poles, transformers and other like equipment has tripled since the end of COVID. My confidence that Amtrak can bid any of these types of projects with ANY alacrity (ie; briskness, smartness) is dubious at best since everything they seem to eventually buy is doomed before it is begun… ( the Super Steel HH-8 Locos, the Acela trainsets, the Talgo trainsets, etc;)

    Contumacious! Hah!

  2. The goal of this Amtrak initiative should be to reduce auto emissions, which will have greater impact if reliability and availability are aggressively pursued. Mr. Johnson is quiite correct in this. Zero emissions equipment has NO impact if the people do not or cannot use the service. Amtrak leadership is looking in the wrong end of the telescope.

  3. diesel locomotives running on bio fuels can help the environment too in addition to hydrogen and battery locomotives

  4. Agree on this. “Zero Emissions” is one, if not the top one, of the more over-used statements these days.

  5. Reducing emissions for the environment should be a secondary goal! The number one goal should be reliability!!; that has not been the case for Amtrak’s new rolling stock. Issues with the water pipes in cold weather and tray table magnet problems in the Siemens Venture cars and let’s not even talk about the new ALC-42s underperforming. Earlier this week an Illinois Central SD-70 had to rescue a disabled City of New Orleans after both of its ALC-42s shut down and we’re not even facing extreme weather.

  6. No such thing as a “zero emissions” technology. These so-called “green” technologies are, if anything, quite the opposite.

    1. When is Trains going to add a Thumbs Up button to their comments section? As I often do, I agree fully with Charles.

    2. Electric trains running off hydro power is pretty close to zero-emmissions, maybe if each locomotive at a houseplant that would get to net-zero.

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