All aboard! Starting this week our new state-of-the-art Amtrak Cascades locomotives are rolling on the tracks from Vancouver, British Columbia to Eugene, Oregon.
The eight Siemens Charger locomotives are significant upgrades from our existing machines. They meet the strictest Environmental Protection Agency emission standards and are lighter and quieter. They also provide greater rates of acceleration and top speeds even though they’ll only be travelling up to 79 mph on our route. In addition, the locomotives include computerized on-board positive train control safety equipment, which will automatically stop the train when there are dangerous situations on the rails, once the system is activated corridor-wide next year. The locomotives, which boast 16-cylinder, 4,400 horsepower Cummins engines, also will be more reliable than the existing aging fleet and will be used on all routes.
|Our new locomotives, seen here at King Street Station earlier this year, started running this week.|
The Charger locomotives feature the traditional Amtrak Cascades colors along with WSDOT
and ODOT logos, for the two states that support the service.
The public got a peek at the new locomotives during a May unveiling at Seattle’s King Street Station. Since then they’ve been undergoing field modifications and acceptance testing to ensure everything operates safely on our corridor. They’re now ready for their official debut in revenue service and will be phased in to all Amtrak Cascade routes during the next few weeks.
The American-made locomotives feature the traditional evergreen, cappuccino and cream Amtrak Cascades colors, along with logos from Washington and Oregon -- the two states that jointly own and manage the Amtrak Cascades service. The paint colors, inspired by the Pacific Northwest, coordinate with the exterior paint on the existing Amtrak Cascades trainsets (passenger and baggage cars) used throughout the Amtrak Cascades system.
|This interior shot of one of our eight new locomotives shows the locomotive control panel during initial testing.|
All the Amtrak Cascades trains operate in a push-pull configuration that allows them to make a roundtrip without turning the train around. Initially, the trains will run with a new locomotive at one end and an older locomotive on the other end. This is part of the final process to break in the locomotives. Therefore, sometimes you’ll see the new locomotives pulling the train from the front and, at other times, they’ll be pushing the train from the back. The existing Amtrak F-59 locomotives will be phased out of service on this corridor over the next year.
The locomotives are just one part of a nearly $800 million investment in passenger train service in Washington state. We oversaw 20 federally funded projects throughout Washington, ranging from new tracks in Blaine, near the international border, that let passenger trains move more quickly around freight customs inspections to a new train trench at the Port of Vancouver that separates passenger trains from freight trains. In between are numerous projects and improvements to tracks, signals and even catchment walls to help prevent landslides from reaching the tracks and stopping train service. The work also includes the new Point Defiance Bypass route and station in Tacoma opening on Dec. 18. Together these projects will allow Amtrak Cascades to:
- Add two daily roundtrips between Seattle and Portland
- Reduce travel time between Seattle and Portland
- Improve on-time reliability
|The new locomotives were unveiled to the public in May at Seattle’s King Street Station|
and are now moving into service along the Amtrak Cascades corridor.
So, the next time you catch a train, or just see one passing by, take an extra moment to check out the new face of Amtrak Cascades.