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Amtrak Gets Siemens Locomotive to Serve U.S. Northeast

Amtrak, the U.S. long-distance passenger railroad, is receiving the first of 70 electric locomotives made by Siemens AG intended to replace equipment that’s as old as 35 years.

The first three locomotives bought with money from a $532 million U.S. Federal Railroad Administration loan come off the Siemens Rail Systems production line in Sacramento, California, today. They will be tested for about 2 1/2 months before going into service in the U.S. Northeast by November, Amtrak Chief Executive Officer Joseph Boardman said.

“The loan will be repaid essentially from revenues from the Northeast Corridor,” Karen Hedlund, deputy administrator of the rail administration, said today on a conference call with reporters. “It’s evidence of the financial stability they’ve gained in the last several years.”

Amtrak’s loan also paid for spare parts and maintenance facility upgrades, she said.

Amtrak placed the $466 million order in 2010 to replace its entire locomotive fleet on the Northeast Corridor and supply power to Keystone Corridor trains between Philadelphia and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Replacing existing equipment with new technology that can recapture energy from braking will save about 3 billion kilowatt hours over their 20-year lifespan, said Michael Cahill, president of Siemens Rail Systems U.S. division. In today’s dollars, that’s worth about $300 million, he said.

Amtrak also plans to issue a request for proposals by the end of the year to replace its Acela high-speed train sets of engines and passenger cars, Boardman said.

“Siemens would like that to be theirs as well,” he said, saying “a lot” of companies have expressed interest in building as many as 60 trains to add Acela units, replace the existing equipment and supply equipment for California, which is building tracks capable of high-speed service.

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