By Justin Franz
WHITEFISH, Mont. — Amtrak and Siemens have been testing Charger locomotives on three long-distance trains this summer. The tests are gathering information that Siemens will use to construct 75 brand new Chargers for long-distance passenger service. The new locomotives are expected to start arriving in 2021.
According to an Amtrak spokesperson, the locomotives have been used in recent weeks on the Empire Builder, Coast Starlight and California Zephyr routes. The Chargers, taken from Amtrak’s Midwest fleet, are usually placed behind the train’s regular P42 locomotives. It’s unclear how long the tests will last. In January, Amtrak tested a pair by themselves along the same three routes.
The new locomotives will feature a 4,400 horsepower, 16-cylinder engine and will be capable of 125 miles per hour, although most long-distance trains usually top out at 70 miles per hour. The entire fleet is expected to be in service by 2024 and will replace the older P40 and P42 locomotives on all the long-distance routes.