Does Amtrak Need a Newer More Powerful Locomotive?

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cocojacoby

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It seems that every 6000 hp freight locomotive recently designed has failed.  Many recent posting here and elsewhere have talked about Amtrak cutting back train length and removing cars so that they can operate with just one locomotive to reduce costs.  However, this practice severely restricts revenue generation and is hurting the bottom line.

It seems that Amtrak's single locomotives are a bit too under-powered and two locomotives are overkill.  Any new modern Siemens units are going to present the same dilemma.

Is there another solution?  After doing some quick research I found a possible answer.

These are an EMD American design.  They are full cowl.  They are 6300 hp.  I don't know how reliable they have been but there are over 300 out there being used everyday so perhaps the bugs have been worked out.

Add a little American styling and modern systems and electronics (Tier 4?) and perhaps this could be a better solution:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/China_Railway_HXN3

P.S. Cummins has a Tier 4 6000 hp engine 



HXN3_0243.JPG
 
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cpotisch

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So you’re suggesting Amtrak buy some new special type of locomotive with roughly 1.5 times the horsepower of Amtrak’s current diesels, because it is often overkill to run two P42s or Chargers on one train, and therefore this would be a good middle ground? Just seems...unnecessary.
 
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Devil's Advocate

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It seems that Amtrak's single locomotives are a bit too under-powered and two locomotives are overkill.
I've yet to see any evidence that Amtrak's locomotives are underpowered relative to their intended purpose.  So far as I am aware when an Amtrak train with two locomotives is disabled by the loss of one it's due to operational or contractual reasons rather than the physics of motive power and traction.
 

railiner

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I would prefer having two locomotives like the present setup.   Better redundancy if one is disabled, or damaged at a grade crossing incident....
 

cpotisch

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I've yet to see any evidence that Amtrak's locomotives are underpowered relative to their intended purpose.  So far as I am aware when an Amtrak train with two locomotives is disabled by the loss of one it's due to operational or contractual reasons rather than the physics of motive power and traction.
Exactly. The TE is six Superliners and a baggage car, yet runs just fine with a single P42. The only issue with them doing that is the risk of it breaking down or something without a backup. So again, maybe reliability is more important here than horsepower.
 

west point

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cocoj - -----------  If you review all the Amtrak alerts you will find that there are many due to locomotive problems.  That is the main reason for operating most LD trains with 2 fairly reliable locos.
 

ehbowen

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Personally, I'd be happy if we could just get GE to reopen the P42 production line (I know, emissions would need to be addressed) or to buy more Chargers. Edge to the P42 because with their clearance profile they can go anywhere on Amtrak including the East Coast tunnels; not sure how the Chargers stack up in that regard.
 

cpotisch

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Personally, I'd be happy if we could just get GE to reopen the P42 production line (I know, emissions would need to be addressed) or to buy more Chargers. Edge to the P42 because with their clearance profile they can go anywhere on Amtrak including the East Coast tunnels; not sure how the Chargers stack up in that regard.
Chargers and P42s are both 14’ 4”, so that’s not an issue.
 

cpotisch

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Now, if they could just create a dual-mode design to replace the old P32s on Empire Service and such, then we'd really have something!
Indeed. And considering the full diesel Gennies are never used on the NEC, anyway, the only case where the height really would matter would be in the case of a P32 replacement. I personally think that it wouldn’t be too hard for Siemens to make a Charger that is primarily diesel but can run on third rail when necessary, though.
 

ehbowen

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Indeed. And considering the full diesel Gennies are never used on the NEC, anyway, the only case where the height really would matter would be in the case of a P32 replacement. I personally think that it wouldn’t be too hard for Siemens to make a Charger that is primarily diesel but can run on third rail when necessary, though.
I'm sure both Siemens and GE are quite qualified in that regard; as Mr. Bratkinson points out, all it takes is funding.
 

railiner

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Good points, above...

The P32 will probably get rebuilt perhaps, and become the oldest road locomotives on Amtrak...just like their FL-9 predecessor...
 

Siegmund

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If I were going to have two basic flavors of diesels rather than one, I'd go in the opposite direction, making the new design lower-powered, perhaps in the 2500 neighborhood.

The idea would be that the runs with 3-car trains would benefit a little bit from lower acquisition and operating costs, and the runs that are right on the cusp of managing with one high-horsepower unit might have 2 lower-HP units assigned (instead of the current 2 high-HP.)

Though, to be honest, I think the Colorado Railcar DMU proposal of several years ago was the more realistic solution for almost all the short-distance trains. Was sorta surprised it fizzled.

Re the 6000 HP idea, remember too that if you are limited by grades, you need weight on drivers, not just horsepower, and you can't make the current 4000HP engines 50% heavier without breaking a lot of rails. Super-high horsepower per axle only works for high speed on level ground.
 
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jis

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ehbowen said:
Now, if they could just create a dual-mode design to replace the old P32s on Empire Service and such, then we'd really have something!
They are working on it, as the NGEC report says.

As for DMU, my guess is that something like the Americanized FLIRT in various configurations is what will become a common sight on short/medium distance service, in addition to Siemens Viaggio derivatives with two derated Charger like powerheads.
 

NSC1109

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Personally, I'd be happy if we could just get GE to reopen the P42 production line (I know, emissions would need to be addressed) or to buy more Chargers. Edge to the P42 because with their clearance profile they can go anywhere on Amtrak including the East Coast tunnels; not sure how the Chargers stack up in that regard.
To my knowledge, no final decision has been made yet, but a P42 rebuild was an option listed for the overhaul of the fleet. Although to the general public that it would seem that Amtrak is simply refurbishing/repainting old engines, it would really be a totally new locomotive on its old frame. The P42s are an Amtrak signature, and hearing the distinctive "chug" always brought a smile to my face as a kid. 

They are working on it, as the NGEC report says.

As for DMU, my guess is that something like the Americanized FLIRT in various configurations is what will become a common sight on short/medium distance service, in addition to Siemens Viaggio derivatives with two derated Charger like powerheads.
Metro-North canceled their procurement because funding sources changed and now they have to rework the proposal to include federal funding clauses. Amtrak's stuff isn't listed, but they were working on the procurement together according to previous documents. 
 

west point

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The P-42 rebuild is supposed to include AC traction motors.  If that is so that is the only way we can support the rebuild program instead of new SC-44s .  We still prefer the new SC-44s as it would probably seal current SD and LD trains.  That would allow for the unlikely event that Amtrak could expand LD services by keeping the P-42 in service that are the most reliable. ?
 

frequentflyer

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They are working on it, as the NGEC report says.

As for DMU, my guess is that something like the Americanized FLIRT in various configurations is what will become a common sight on short/medium distance service, in addition to Siemens Viaggio derivatives with two derated Charger like powerheads.
Some thing like this-

https://railcolornews.com/2018/12/12/ca-via-rail-canada-orders-charger-locomotives-and-passenger-trains-from-siemens/

I think sets like what Brightline has and VIA will be getting are in competition with any FLIRT order. With as many orders Siemens is getting for their Viaggio, I gotta think the price is pretty compelling compared with what Stadler is offering.

As regards locomotives, Siemens will offer a maintenance contract on its new locomotives, which is the way the transportation segment is going. I doubt GE or whoever own the locomotive divison now will offer the same mx deal even if the diesel and traction motors are new.
 

railiner

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As regards locomotives, Siemens will offer a maintenance contract on its new locomotives, which is the way the transportation segment is going. I doubt GE or whoever own the locomotive divison now will offer the same mx deal even if the diesel and traction motors are new.
I would think that if one manufacturer is offering some sort of maintenance contract or benefit...it's rival's would have to do likewise, if they hoped to remain competitive....
 

frequentflyer

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I would think that if one manufacturer is offering some sort of maintenance contract or benefit...it's rival's would have to do likewise, if they hoped to remain competitive....
I should have been more clear, new Siemens versus refurbished or rebuilt GE locomotives. Doubt a rebuilt unit comes with a mx contract, maybe they do.
 

jis

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I should have been more clear, new Siemens versus refurbished or rebuilt GE locomotives. Doubt a rebuilt unit comes with a mx contract, maybe they do.
Of course just because the P4xs were originally manufactured by GE does not imply that they must be remanufactured by GE, specially if changing out the guts in its entirety. Some outfit like Alstom, Bombardier MPI for example could as well do the remanufacturing.
 

cpotisch

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Of course just because the P4xs were originally manufactured by GE does not imply that they must be remanufactured by GE, specially if changing out the guts in its entirety. Some outfit like Alstom, Bombardier MPI for example could as well do the remanufacturing.
Is that sort of like how Pullman-Standard built the Superliners Is but Bombardier built the Superliner IIs, or how Budd built the original Viewliner prototypes, Morrison-Knudsen built the Viewliner Is, and CAF builds the V-IIs? Or is that a different sort of thing because the differences between iterations in those examples are much more significant than what a remanufacture of the Gennies would likely look like?
 
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