The new Amtrak Cities Sprinter electric locomotives are now in a comprehensive and rigorous testing program, and are being put through the paces before entering Northeast service this fall.
On July 29, Amtrak President and CEO Joe Boardman, Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph Szabo and Siemens Rail Systems President Michael Cahill traveled to the U.S Department of Transportation (DOT) Transportation Technology Center (TTC) facility in Pueblo, Colo., to get an update on the testing program and to observe a testing demonstration.
“This will be the workhorse of the Amtrak fleet,” Boardman said.
The new trains will go into service in Amtrak's northeast corridor in fall, which runs between Washington, D.C., and Boston. The trains will reach speeds of up to 125 mph along the corriodor.
During a press conference at the facility, Szabo said he was amazed how quiet the new trains were compared to when he was an operator in the 1970s.
“When testing is complete, we’ll know these locomotives are ready to enter service on our nation’s busiest rail corridor,” he said.
Cahil said a lead engineer at the testing facility described the tests as "boring," which he laughed and said meant the trains are working as they were designed.
"We’re very proud to be part of this project,” he said.
Siemens is producing 70 locomotives for Amtrak, which is being financed by a $562 million loan from the Federal Railroad Administration. Szabo said anaylsis done on the loan made the department feel comfortable Amtrak would be able to repay the money under its current revenue projections and the new units will only further improve the agency's financial status.
In addition to increased ridership the Boardman said the trains are also expected to save 3 billion kilowatt-hours of power.