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70 Electric Trains for Amtrak

Siemens Corporation has won a $466 million contract to manufacture seventy electric locomotives for Amtrak. The electric train deal means about 250 new jobs will be added — 200 in Sacramento CA and 50 in Alpharetta GA. Another green aspect of the electric train project: the Sacramento plant where some of the trains will be produced uses up to 80 percent solar power. Called Amtrack Cities Sprinters, the electric locomotives run entirely on electricity and can  cruise at 125 miles per hour. They also can achieve a peak of 10,000 horsepower.

“Not only will we use renewable energy to build them, the locomotives will also include energy efficient features, such as regenerative braking that can feed up to 100 percent of the energy generated during braking back to the power grid,” Oliver Hauck, president of  Siemens Industry’s Mobility Division, said.  (Source:

The new electric trains will be used on Northeast Corridor, connecting Washington D.C. to Boston, and on the Keystone Corridor, between Philadelphia and Harrisburg. The trains will begin to enter service in 2013, but it will be 2019 before they are all completed. All seventy of the trains will be locomotives and replace diesel versions which have been in service since the 1980s. Moving people with trains is more energy-efficient than cars or planes. Each locomotive weighs about 215,000 pounds.

Amtrak President Joseph Boardman said, “We have the financial capital of the world, we have one of the major medical corridors, educational institutions, and even fashion industry that are depending upon a reliable system of intercity transportation.” (Source: Amtrak carried over 28 million riders in the year ending this September 30th.

Diesel locomotives emit air pollution,”they continue to emit large amounts of nitrogen oxides and particulate matter (PM), both of which contribute to serious public health problems.”  So replacing seventy of them with electrics should at least make a dent in reducing it. Additionally, with electrics, no pollution will be coming directly from them, so they will not be polluting on rail lines which are frequently located near people.

Last year an electric locomotive was put into service for moving freight trains. It is a zero-emissions vehicle, although there would be emissions created if the power it uses comes from coal.

European Version of Siemens Electric Locomotive:

Image Credit: Amtrak

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12:54PM PST on Dec 14, 2010

I estimate my idea below would cost $100 per train for old rail wheels put on converted buses. But these should be electric bus conversions, which would up the cost a few hundred dollars more for recycled electric motor and recycled deep cycle batteries or some 100,000 recharged watch batteries.

12:48PM PST on Dec 14, 2010

Great idea in electric trains other than the cost. Why not recycle old buses by converting them to run on rail, taking the weight out of the buses wherever possible. Or completely redesigning an eco(and economical) train to be ultralight and ultrastrong using the new ultralight steel and composite materials, made out of little more than sheet metal and framing on an ultralight chassis, braced for strength, but made exclusively of ultralight materials.

9:29AM PST on Dec 2, 2010

Excellent news! Use trains extensively when I travel. No
car ownership also member of Zipcar, do lots of
walking and avid user/supporter of public transit.

9:06AM PST on Nov 20, 2010

Great now if only the electricity came from a greener source...

5:26AM PST on Nov 14, 2010

Three major problems with this story:
1. The trains will be RUN mostly on electricity from coal fed electric plants which is like using roughly 473 H2 Hummers to generate the energy needed for the trains to move down the track.
2. The trains are , in large part, made in other countries via legislation recently; thereby supplying roughly 32,000 jobs overseas and made in ways that are VERY environmentally unhealthy.
3. Many of the new jobs being filled with this project are foreign professionals and NOT home-grown folks.

Dr P.

1:47PM PST on Nov 8, 2010

Nice job... keep on going!

7:33AM PST on Nov 8, 2010

Very good choice, I wish we could have a link like this in OZ, Melbourne - Canberra - Sydney

8:30PM PDT on Nov 6, 2010

It's a start!

4:06AM PDT on Nov 6, 2010

hope and change...

1:54AM PDT on Nov 5, 2010

This is a start, and a very encouraging one. Now if 'Amwreck' can just keep the things from trying to outdo air liner crashes, we'll be in good shape. BTW, will it lower the ticket costs?

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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