Amtrak Cities Sprinter (ACS-64) is an advanced electric locomotive designed and built by Siemens for the US passenger rail operator Amtrak.
Amtrak awarded a contract worth $466m to Siemens in October 2010 to deliver 70 ACS-64 units. The order marked the beginning of Siemens’ entry into the American locomotive market. The procurement was financed with a Federal Railroad Administration’s (FRA) loan under Railroad Rehabilitation & Improvement Financing (RRIF) that will be repaid with NEC revenue.
The new locomotives will be operated in Amtrak’s Northeast and Keystone Corridor lines as part of the company’s fleet rejuvenation initiative under the $11bn modernisation programme. The new Cities Sprinters will replace the electromotive diesel locomotives that have been in operation since 1978 and 1988.
The first unit of Amtrak Cities Sprinter was unveiled in May 2013. The first three of the 70 new locomotives ordered are scheduled for comprehensive testing in 2013. Two of them will be tested at the US Department of Transportation facility in Pueblo, Colo, and one on the Northeast Corridor.
The 70 new locomotive units will be delivered in phases by 2016.
Features of Amtrak Cities Sprinter
The Amtrak Cities Sprinter is suitable for high-speed commuter and long-distance passenger services on regional and intercity routes. It has been designed as an energy efficient and high performance locomotive incorporating features from Siemens’ Eurosprinter and Vectron product lines.
The locomotives can be operated on 25kV, 12.5kV and 12kV power lines.
Amtrak Cities Sprinter offers a power output of up to 6.4MW capable of pulling 18 train cars at a maximum speed of 200km per hour. It allows the trains to operate in closer headways with increased passenger capacity. The locomotive also provides 1,000kW of onboard power for interior lights and air conditioning.
Amtrak Cities Sprinter is equipped with a regenerative braking system that feeds back 100% of the generated energy during braking into the power grid. Other features of the locomotive include safety, reliability and low maintenance costs.
Design of the Amtrak locomotive
The Amtrak Cities Sprinter is 20.32m (66ft 8in) in length, 2,984mm (9ft 9.5in) in width and 3,810mm (12ft 6in) high excluding the pantograph.
The locomotive’s design complies with the FRA’s latest safety and crashworthiness standards. The new locomotive body features a crumple zone designed for crash absorption during collision. It has a safety cage for driver’s protection during crash. The locomotive design also integrates the anti-climber feature for safety.
North East Corridor (NEC) is a 457 mile (735.5km) railway line connecting highly urbanised areas in the United States. It is the busiest railroad in North America, stretching from the north to the south and passing through eight states. It starts from Boston, Massachusetts, and ends at Washington, D.C., via New York, and linking several intermediate cities to the District of Columbia.
The locomotive is installed with a microprocessor system, which identifies technical issues in the locomotive. The identified technical/maintenance issue is automatically notified to the engineer and operator through the on-board computer system. The on-board computer is also designed to take self-corrective action to ensure operation and safety.
The locomotive is designed for easy maintenance and servicing. The traction motors and the wheel, for example, can be taken out independently for replacement without lowering the bogie.
Another notable feature of Amtrak Cities Sprinter design is the provision of dual auxiliary inverters, which ensure constant onboard lighting and air-conditioning even if one inverter fails.
Production of Amtrak Cities Sprinter locomotives
The Amtrak Cities Sprinter locomotives are being assembled in Siemens’ Sacramento rail manufacturing plant in California. The manufacturing plant is powered by renewable energy. Various parts for the locomotives are being built at Siemens’ plants in Norwood, Ohio, Alpharetta.
The Amtrak Cities Sprinter manufacturing involves 69 local suppliers representing 60 cities and 23 states in the USA. The manufacturing of new locomotives well surpasses Amtrak’s Buy American standards that call for procuring minimum 51% of components from local suppliers.
Scheduled operation of the Amtrak Cities Sprinters
The Amtrak Cities Sprinters will be operated on Amtrak’s highly travelled Northeast corridor that runs along the Washington-New York-Boston route and the Keystone corridor that runs from Philadelphia to Harrisburg.
The new fleet of locomotives will be operated at speeds up to 200km (125 miles) per hour on the Northeast corridor and up to 180km (110miles) per hour on the Keystone corridor.