Hi-tech engines will power Amtrak Cascades passenger rail service

The Washington State Department of Transportation moved one step closer to introducing eight state-of-the-art locomotives that will provide passenger rail...

The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) moved one step closer to introducing eight state-of-the-art locomotives that will provide passenger rail service between Eugene, Ore., and Vancouver, BC.

In February, workers at Siemens rail manufacturing hub in Sacramento, Calif., used an overhead crane to install the first of nearly six-dozen 16-cylinder Cummings diesel-electric engines — each manufactured in Indiana, weighing 42,000 pounds, and measuring eight feet tall — that will offer passenger rail service in seven states. Eight Charger locomotives are scheduled to be delivered to Washington State later this year following extensive testing and commissioning, and will power the Amtrak Cascades service that is jointly administrated by WSDOT and the Oregon Department of Transportation.

“The future of passenger rail service is rolling into the Pacific Northwest with these state-of-the-art locomotives,” said WSDOT Rail Director Ron Pate. “They are truly impressive machines that will be more effective, produce fewer emissions, and will keep our expanded service operating reliably.”

According to WSDOT officials, the new locomotives will have higher acceleration rates, a top speed at 125 miles per hour, and on-board positive train control safety features.

The $65.8 million locomotives purchase is part of a larger $800 million federal grant to improve passenger rail service. Once complete, the Cascades High-Speed Capital Rail Program will add two more daily round trips between Seattle and Portland, reduce travel time between the cities by 10 minutes, and increase on-time performance to 88 per cent, according to WSDOT officials.

The new locomotives are scheduled to be in service in early- to mid-2017.

More information is available online here.

The first new Cummings engine is lowered into a Siemens Charger locomotive body. (PHOTO COURTESY WSDOT)
The first new Cummings engine is lowered into a Siemens Charger locomotive body. (PHOTO COURTESY WSDOT)

To read the Tacoma Daily Index‘s complete and comprehensive coverage of the Amtrak Cascades service, visit our Web site for the following articles:

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