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Rail News: Amtrak

Amtrak receives RRIF loan for NEC locomotive purchase


Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) announced it has approved a $562.9 million Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing (RRIF) loan for Amtrak, which will use the proceeds to purchase 70 electric locomotives for the Northeast Corridor.

The loan is the largest to be issued through the RRIF program to date, according to the USDOT.

In October 2010, Amtrak contracted Siemens to build the locomotives under a $466 million contract. The Amtrak City Sprinter ACS-64 locomotives will operate on the Northeast Corridor at speeds up to 125 mph, and on the Keystone Corridor at speeds up to 110 mph. The locomotives will replace units that are 20 to 30 years old.

Siemens expects the locomotive order to create 250 new jobs. The firm will manufacture the traction motors and gear units in Norwood, Ohio; produce traction converters and braking choppers in Alpharetta, Ga.; and complete final assembly in Sacramento, Calif.

Siemens plans to tap other U.S. suppliers to provide components for the locomotives, the USDOT said. For example, the locomotive builder already has contracted PHW Inc. to manufacture safety-related parts.

Amtrak also will use the RRIF loan to upgrade maintenance facilities and purchase spare parts for the new locomotives.

“The RRIF program is a model of how we can leverage federal dollars to spur private investment and build up the economy,” said Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph Szabo in a prepared statement. “It provides steady, affordable financing for major rail construction and expansion projects, and best of all, it comes at zero cost to the taxpayer.”

Siemens currently is working on the locomotives’ final design.