Amtrak plans $7.3-billion investment into new multi-powered trains

July 8, 2021
The railroad awarded an initial contract to Siemens to build 83 new trains, which also includes a long-term service agreement.

Amtrak has awarded a contract to Siemens Mobility Inc. to manufacture its new intercity trainsets. The contract also includes a long-term service agreement for technical support, spare parts and material supply.

Siemens’ contract worth $3.4 billion includes a new fleet of up to 83 modern trains and options for up to 130 additional trains to support Amtrak growth plans. Amtrak’s larger investment of $7.3 billion also includes facility modifications and upgrades and other program expenses.

“These new trains will reshape the future of rail travel by replacing our aging 40-to-50-year-old fleet with state-of-the-art, American-made equipment,” said Amtrak CEO Bill Flynn. “This investment is essential to preserving and growing our Northeast Regional and state-supported services and will allow our customers to travel comfortably and safely, while deeply reducing criteria pollutants.”

The initial equipment on order will arrive starting in 2024 and will operate on the Northeast Corridor, long distance Palmetto and various state-supported routes. The new fleet will include modern amenities that Amtrak believes will attract more than 1.5 million annual riders.

The new amenities include more comfortable seating, individual power outlets and USB ports, onboard Wi-fi, enhanced lighting and panoramic windows, a more contemporary food service experience including self-service options, as well as state-of-the-art customer trip information, digital seat reservation system and navigation display systems. Amtrak notes the trains were designed with the latest health and safety standards, including enhanced HVAC, touchless restroom controls and automated steps.

The new trains will also be manufactured to the railroad’s new standard for accessibility, which includes inductive hearing loops, accessible restrooms and vestibules, an accessible Food Service car and lifts for customers with reduced mobility, including wheelchair users.

“Amtrak’s procurement of new rolling stock is historic. These state-of-the-art trainsets will allow Amtrak to operate and provide services more safely, efficiently and reliably,” said Federal Railroad Administration Deputy Administrator Amit Bose. “More importantly, doing so will give riders the modern passenger rail accommodations, amenities and comforts they want and deserve.”

The new equipment will replace Amtrak-owned Amfleet, Metroliner and state-owned equipment on certain routes throughout the country. In addition to the Northeast Regional, other routes will include the Adirondack, Carolinian, Cascades, Downeaster, Empire Service, Ethan Allen Express, Keystone Service, Maple Leaf, New Haven/Springfield Service, Pennsylvanian, Vermonter and Virginia Services.

In addition to rider amenities, the new fleet will be smarter and more connected. The new trains include remote monitoring and fully integrated digital diagnostics, which Amtrak says will increase reliability. These advanced features will enable Amtrak to test and develop new technology and introduce new maintenance approaches to drive efficiency, increase availability and reduce long-term costs.

The order includes dual power and hybrid battery trains, with the first Venture Hybrid battery train set to begin testing in 2025. Siemens explains the trains will provide a substantial environmental benefit through reduced emissions compared to the existing fleet.

The trains will be manufactured at Siemens Mobility’s rail manufacturing facility in Sacramento, Calif., and will comply with the Federal Railroad Administration Buy America Standards.

“These new trains, some of which will be our first hybrid battery operations in the United States, will transform the way Americans travel. Offering a more sustainable and comfortable travel experience, they will be built for excellence and built with pride in Sacramento, California,” said Michael Cahill, president of Siemens Mobility, Rolling Stock in North America. “Over the past decade, we’ve worked closely with Amtrak and its state partners to develop and deliver trains that meet the needs of America’s travelers, these next generation trainsets build on that experience and offer much more.”

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Group Editorial Director

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine and group editorial director of the Infrastructure and Aviation Group at Endeavor Business Media. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the editorial direction of the group and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.