New Amtrak Locomotives: The Facts

Amtrak Cities Sprinter

Yesterday, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden stood beside U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx and Amtrak CEO and President Joe Boardman to announce the launch of our Amtrak Cities Sprinter locomotive at an event held at 30th Street Station in Philadelphia. Go here to see photos from the memorable event.

The first locomotive goes into service today, traveling from Boston to Washington, D.C., on our Northeast Regional service. The remaining locomotives are scheduled for delivery two per month through 2015. Want to learn more? Scroll down for facts about our Amtrak Cities Sprinter. 

1. Made in America
The assembly of the Amtrak Cities Sprinter (ACS-64) will provide work for 69 local manufacturers in 23 states across 60 cities in the United States.

2.Shiny and New
The 70 new locomotives are replacing equipment that has been in service for more than 25 years and average mileage of more than 3.5 million miles traveled. The new locomotives are part of our comprehensive Fleet Strategy Plan to modernize and add equipment.

3. Keeping it Green
Our new locomotives will be easier to maintain, more energy efficient and provide improved performance for regional and intercity routes.

4. Powerful
The ACS-64 can reach speeds up to 125 mph pulling up to 18 Amfleet coach cars.

5. East Bound
Amtrak Cities Sprinter will operate on the Northeast and Keystone corridors as well as on long-distance trains on the Northeast corridor.

6. Testing Makes Perfect
Over the summer, three locomotives underwent a variety of testing  including ride quality, maximum speed and diagnostics. The testing took place at the U.S. Department of Transportation facility in Pueblo, Colorado and on the Northeast corridor.

16 comments
IulianAlex
IulianAlex

I thinq are similar  with EURO SPRINTER locomotive. The EuroSprinter family of electric locomotives is a modular concept of locomotives for the European market built by SIEMENS. The internal Siemens product name is ES 64, with ES for EuroSprinter and the number 64 indicating the 6,400 kW power at rail. The ES 64 U2 can also operate on 25 kV 50 Hz AC. It is operated by ÖBB as Class 1116, by Deutsche Bahn AG as Class 182 and as well as by MAV and as a hire locomotive from Dispolok.
On 2 September 2006 the locomotive 1216 025-5 (prior to delivery to ÖBB) set a new world record for conventional electric locomotives, during the trials near Nurenberg ( Germany ) it reached a top speed of 357 km/h (222 mph).

Patrick_TheLIRRToday
Patrick_TheLIRRToday

Can't wait to see these things in service on the NEC!

I saw a video of locomotives being moved up to Oakland for shipment to Pueblo and the NEC, but it was all covered up!  Who knew it was so camera shy!

~ Patrick @ The LIRR Today

razmetaz1
razmetaz1

I just checked my information and posted the following to a previous post I had made on FB about this locomotive. 

"The PRR used the front-forward box cab design in their Class O locomotive design in the early 30's. The design was carried forward initially to the P5 Class (an experimental design) and ultimately to the P5a (the production model design). However, as Wikipedia states, "A fatal grade crossing accident on the New York Division confirmed traincrews' concerns about safety when the crew were killed after colliding with a truckload of apples. A redesign was undertaken, giving the locomotives a central "steeple cab", raised higher, with narrower-topped, streamlined "noses" to the locomotive to enable the crew to see forward. This design was carried forward to the GG1, R1, and DD2 designs." The design of Amtrak's new locomotive then goes back to a failed design concept. Is that a surprise?"

Here's a link to a Wikipedia article:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PRR_P5

I then dug a little deeper and it would seem that Amtrak tried to replace the GG1 in 1975 with a pre-existing freight locomotive, the E60. That was a failure. Based on the Wikipedia article about the GG1 ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PRR_GG1 ), "Amtrak attempted to replace the GG1s in 1975 when it introduced the General Electric E60; however they were not a success, a 102-mile-per-hour (164 km/h) derailment during testing had to be investigated (the E60 used the same trucks as the P30CH diesel then in service with Amtrak), which delayed acceptance, and the hoped-for 120 miles per hour (193 km/h) service speed was never achieved – as the E60s never received clearance for speeds over 90 miles per hour (140 km/h).

Then look at the design of the E60 at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GE_E60. Look vaguely familiar?

I think a redesign of Amtrak's 'new' design locomotive is definitely in order, especially considering it's planned to be around for 40 odd years!! 

razmetaz1
razmetaz1

I have to also say that besides being ugly the design itself is flawed. The GG1 was a benefiting decendent of another electric locomotive (I believe it was the P-5 unit) that had a major design problem that was discovered in a crash that killed the crew. It had the same 'cab-forward' design that the new Amtrak unit has. Experience showed that putting the cab at the front end put the crew at risk in a crash. Don't we look to past experience in creating current day designs?

razmetaz1
razmetaz1

One last thought about the ugliness of this new modern powerful locomotive, and my confusion about why we can't design something that's also attractive. It just occurred to me that the PRR built a powerful locomotive that was technologically advanced for its time AS WELL AS sleek and attractive and created a following for that unit that lasts to this day. The locomotive? the GG1. Why could that be done about 80 years ago but not today?

EricKrupa
EricKrupa

They're very classy looking! They just need a new paint job. Phase IVB needs to go....Although i'm really digging the flag ;p

DougDeNunzio
DougDeNunzio

in terms of the fleet management.....Amtrak will run well for the next 40 years or so

DougDeNunzio
DougDeNunzio

but we don't need them right away....i guess

DougDeNunzio
DougDeNunzio

i need these locomotives out by tomorrow....as long as they do well with the current replacement of the fleet of the AEM7's and the HHP8's

Mr Delgado
Mr Delgado

What About the West Coast our Long Distant Trains Travels just as Far and could use a Few of these.. Dam

razmetaz1
razmetaz1

The locomotives may be super-sophisticated and powerful; but they are incredibly UGLY. Couldn't you do a better job. The boxy shape with a blunt nose and a face-on view that a friend described as looking 'angry' leaves a lot to be desired.

RyanCohick
RyanCohick

@razmetaz1You do realize that crumple zone technology has come a long way since the days of the PRR, right? Cab forward technology is way different than it used to be. Your information is way outdated. Now come up with crash examples from the European counterpart of the new Cities Sprinters, and then maybe you'd be onto something. But only a little... because engines in the United States have to adhere to stricter standards involving head-on collision scenarios than their European counterparts.

Fairmontrrmotors
Fairmontrrmotors

@razmetaz1In case this was missed (see above):I grew up with, and riding behind, the GG1- even rode INSIDE them a few times. Awesome, in every sense.They were the final evolution of the steam locomotive, in some ways. They may have been the best examples of machinery the US, and only the US, could build. But you'd never want to build one today, for so many reasons. Collision protection, you say: Amtrak has CLOSED the grade crossings on the corridor. The Europeans don't really have collision issues, and they go MUCH faster than we do. This is about a modern intelligent solution that is not driven by sentimentality. It IS, however, of value to examine history at the same time.

Fairmontrrmotors
Fairmontrrmotors

@RyanCohick @razmetaz1 I grew up with, and riding behind, the GG1- even rode INSIDE them a few times. Awesome, in every sense.They were the final evolution of the steam locomotive, in some ways. They may have been the best examples of machinery the US, and only the US, could build. But you'd never want to build one today, for so many reasons. Collision protection, you say: Amtrak has CLOSED the grade crossings on the corridor. The Europeans don't really have collision issues, and they go MUCH faster than we do. This is about a modern intelligent solution that is not driven by sentimentality. It IS, however, of value to examine history at the same time.

razmetaz1
razmetaz1

@RyanCohick @razmetaz1

Hi Ryan,

Thanks for your thoughts. 

Since I wrote my initial comments I had a great exchange with Gary Fairbanks at DOT regarding this subject. He assured me of the same issue you raise and I'm on-board with it—at least conceptually. He also provided me with a link to information regarding the crash energy management system and the safety cage around the occupied crew area in a report published by the Federal Railroad Administration on the “Regulations.Gov” public docket at: 

http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=FRA-2012-0036

As I told Gary, I likely wouldn't understand the report; but it's clear that engineering work has been done on the matter. It's also been driven home in the outcome of the CT railroad crash recently and the advantages of the high design standards required by the DOT (re the ability of the cars to withstand 800,000 psi crash forces). 

Nonetheless, I still have some trepidations about the 'blunt-cut oblong cigar' shape design. Those same trepidations would ever prevent me from buying a 'Smart Car', no matter it's claims of crash worthiness, unless I planned to use it ONLY on city streets at speeds up to 40mph. I tend to remain skeptical of engineering claims that come out of cost cutting efforts and pure human arrogance that 'everything is under control' when I consider the sinking of the Titanic; the Deepwater Horizon Gulf Oil debacle; and the Japanese nuclear reactor meltdown. I love the following quote in all those (and other engineering) regards:

{structural engineering is}...
“the art of molding materials we do not really understand
into shapes we cannot really analyze,
so as to withstand forces we cannot really assess,
in such a way that the public does not really suspect.”
-- Eric H. Brown

Besides  the 'blunt-cut oblong cigar' shape design being downright ugly (no one will ever convince me otherwise) I really don't understand why we wouldn't 'create' a design that incorporated crash cage and crumple zone technology with additional front-end structure that would both provide for added protection and allow for improved styling. Regardless of whether or not I believe or accept the engineering claims, given the use of the locomotive on one of the most important rail corridors in the country and the reality that they'll be in service for an expected 40 years (or perhaps more), I still have to give AMTRAK an F for their overall design. 

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