Amtrak has unveiled the first of the new Siemens Charger trains at Chicago Union Station, which will be deployed to serve commuters travelling between Illinois and Wisconsin in the US.

The new fleet of 33 locomotives will provide state-sponsored services in the Midwest region and exhibit a new 'Amtrak Midwest' logo that represents the five-state network of connecting trains.

The vehicles will be deployed on Amtrak’s services from Chicago to various different destinations that served a combined 2.6 million customers last year.

Amtrak State Contracts senior director Michael Franke said: “Our individual Amtrak Midwest routes are made even stronger by being part of a network of connecting trains, stations and reservation systems, which are a product of our state partners working together under the Amtrak umbrella.

“These locomotives will power the Amtrak Midwest brand, bringing even better service to our customers.”

The new locomotives have been built at Siemens’ rail manufacturing hub in Sacramento, California.

Siemen's new trains require lower maintenance costs than previous models and feature improved smoothness, speed capabilities and safety features.

"Our individual Amtrak Midwest routes are made even stronger by being part of a network of connecting trains, stations and reservation systems."

Additionally, the Charger locomotives are equipped with Midwest-made 4,400 horsepower Cummins QSK95 diesel engines and are said to consume less fuel and generate less noise than older variants.

They are capable of operating at speeds up to 125mph and have been built to comply with the latest safety and environmental regulations.

The locomotives were purchased through a $216.5m federal funding grant, and are claimed to release 90% less emissions and consume 16% less fuel compared to the previous locomotives.

Passenger rail services between Illinois and the Midwest are expected to improve significantly following the introduction of the whole fleet.

Image:  The new Amtrak’s Siemens Charger Units. Photo: courtesy of Marc Glucksman at the Amtrak Chicago Maintenance Facility.