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Rail News: Mechanical

Siemens' Charger locomotives begin rolling in California, Illinois

A Charger locomotive built for the California Department of Transportation.
Photo – Siemens


By April 30, Siemens' new Charger locomotives will begin a 30-day revenue testing period on California's Capitol Corridor passenger route.

The units meet Tier IV emissions standards and can operate at speeds up to 125 mph. Six locomotives have been ordered for Northern California.

Once testing is completed, the Chargers will begin service on the Capitol Corridor and San Joaquin routes, Siemens officials said in a press release.

The units are part of a larger multistate order from transportation departments in California (Caltrans), Illinois, Washington and Maryland. Additional states receiving locomotives from that procurement are Oregon, Wisconsin, Missouri, Michigan and Iowa.

The Charger locomotives are equipped with electronically controlled regenerative braking systems that use energy from traction motors during braking to feed the auxiliary and head-end power systems. The feature is expected to minimize fuel consumption, Siemens officials said.

In addition, the units' diesel-electric operation is designed to enable better acceleration, cleaner emissions and low noise levels. The locomotives feature a 4,400 horsepower Cummins QSK95 diesel engine.

Not only will the locomotives contribute to a more sustainable transportation system, they also are expected to improve reliability and help efforts to double current statewide ridership of 5.4 million passengers by 2040, said Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty.

Meanwhile, the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) yesterday wrapped up testing of a Charger locomotive pulling empty Amtrak cars between the Chicago-Milwaukee, Chicago-Carbondale and Chicago-Quincy lines. The Charger units are expected to go into full-time service later this spring, IDOT officials said in a press release.

IDOT has ordered 33 total Charger locomotives from Siemens. Additional testing on the Chicago-St. Louis line will be conducted later this year.