By Justin Franz
CHICAGO — Get your cameras ready because the “new face” of America’s Railroad is making its debut this week. On Tuesday afternoon, two Siemens Mobility ALC-42 locomotives will lead the Empire Builder west out of Chicago. It will be the first time the new passenger units have been used in revenue service.
The ALC-42 locomotives are the first new long-distance diesel locomotive acquired by Amtrak in a generation and will eventually replace its aging fleet of General Electric P42 locomotives. Locomotives 301 (in the “Day 1” heritage scheme) 302 are expected to lead the train west to Portland and Seattle. A brief ceremony will be held at Chicago Union Station to mark the occasion shortly before departure.
Last month, ALC-42 300 was sent west along the Empire Builder route so that crews could get familiarized with the new locomotives. The ALC-42 locomotives are based on Siemens’ successful Charger series of locomotives but with larger fuel tanks, 4,200 horsepower and a new front-end that makes it easier to repair out in the field. Amtrak officials said the locomotives will become the “new face” of passenger railroading in America.