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Rail News: Amtrak

Amtrak's new electric locomotives begin extensive testing at TTCI


New Amtrak Cities Sprinter (ACS-64) electric locomotives have entered a rigorous testing phase at the Transportation Technology Center Inc. (TTCI) in Pueblo, Colo., in preparation for entering service in the Northeast Corridor this fall.

Yesterday, Amtrak President and Chief Executive Officer Joseph Boardman, Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph Szabo and Siemens Rail Systems President Michael Cahill visited TTCI to observe a testing demonstration.

"These locomotives are the new workhorses of the Amtrak fleet in the Northeast and they must meet our performance-based specifications and reliability needs so we can keep the region's people and economy moving," said Boardman in a press release.

Two locomotives at the facility will undergo a series of tests, including maximum speed runs, acceleration and braking, operating with attached Amtrak passenger coach cars and overall locomotive performance. Additional tests and validation exercises will be conducted as part of the commissioning process to make sure the locomotive operates and performs as designed, Amtrak officials said.

The testing process demonstrates "the extraordinary safety standards" that the Federal Railroad Administration requires manufacturers and railroads to meet when building passenger-rail equipment, said Szabo.

In addition to the tests at TTCI, a third locomotive will undergo field tests on the Northeast and Keystone corridors this summer, and be used for training Amtrak locomotive engineers and mechanical crews. A fourth locomotive will be tested in a climate-controlled chamber to determine how it performs in extreme temperatures.

Amtrak chose Siemens to design and manufacture 70 next-generation, electric locomotives to replace existing locomotives that have been in service for 25 years or longer. Siemens is assembling the locomotives at its plant in Sacramento, Calif.

The new locomotives will operate at speeds up to 125 mph on the Northeast Corridor along the route between Washington, D.C., New York City and Boston, and at speeds up to 110 mph on the Keystone Corridor between Philadelphia and Harrisburg, Pa.

The new locomotives also will power all long-distance trains operating on the Northeast Corridor, Amtrak officials said.