By Roy L Hales
Siemens obtained a $225 million contract, to build 32 “Charger” diesel-electric locomotives, in its Sacramento CA rail manufacturing facility.
Five states are ordering locomotives. The Illinois Department of Transportation’s order is connected to an overhaul of their Chicago to St Louis route. California, Washington, Michigan and Missouri have joined the deal, which includes options for an additional 75 locomotives for regional use and another 150 locomotives for mainline transportation. The locomotives are scheduled to be delivered between fall of 2016 and mid-2017.
“For Siemens this order marks our entry into the U.S. diesel-electric locomotive market and strongly underscores our long-term vision for the U.S. passenger rail market”, Jochen Eickholt, CEO of the Siemens Rail Systems Division, emphasized.
“The new Charger locomotives represent the next-generation of equipment advancing high performance intercity passenger rail in the Midwest, California and Pacific Northwest,” said Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph C. Szabo. “This state of the art equipment will accelerate and brake more quickly, reducing trip times for passengers, as well as being more fuel efficient and burning cleaner than previous locomotives for the benefit of the environment.”
The lighter weight locomotives can operate at speeds up to 125 mph. A diesel version of the “Charger” is currently pulling some 1,600 passenger and freight trains through-out Europe. The electric version was introduced in the US last year and already at work in the Northeast.
The charger’s 4400 hp-rated Cummins QSK95 diesel engine was designed to ensure compliance with the US Railroad Administration EPA Tier IV emissions regulations, required to be in place in 2015.
Some of the other features described in the Siemens press release include:
A state-of-the-art microprocessor control system manages the performance of the locomotive and performs self-diagnosis of technical issues, takes self-corrective action and notifies the locomotive engineer and the remote maintenance facility of any required corrective action. In addition, there are redundant systems to ensure optimal performance and availability such as a totally redundant auxiliary power supply for the passenger coaches to keep primary systems such as lighting, communications, heating and cooling systems working. The locomotives meet the latest federal rail safety regulations, including enhanced carbody structure safety with crash energy management components.
In total, this new rail equipment can help operators achieve cost savings by enabling reduced trip times, while improving reliability and efficiency for its passenger rail service. The lighter weight of these locomotives ensures the ability to safely operate the locomotives at speeds of up to 125 mph more efficiently, requiring less maintenance for both the locomotive and the infrastructure.
All the locomotives main components will be produced in Siemens plants in the United States.